Does Intermittent Fasting Improve Repair Processes?

After I blogged about benefits of alternate-day fasting, a software engineer named Brandon Berg commented:

I had had plantar warts for a couple of years prior to starting IF (eating in a four-hour window each night). They cleared up almost immediately.

I had never heard about this effect of fasting. And the Wikipedia entry on plantar warts said nothing about this. I asked Brandon for details.

When and where did this happen?

I was working full time while also attending college with a 12-hour schedule or so. That may or may not be relevant; I was under a lot of stress, both in terms of the pressure to serve both masters, and the sleep I sacrificed to make it happen. So that may have contributed to my development of the warts. I actually don’t remember whether I developed them before or after I went back to school, but I was definitely in school when they went away. I was 23 when they disappeared, and I lived in Seattle at the time. This was back in 2004, so I’m a bit fuzzy on the details.

Did you have any idea what had caused the warts?

Presumably a viral infection, since that’s what causes warts, isn’t it? I did a lot of walking around barefoot when I lived with my parents before going off to college in 1998; maybe I was infected then, and carried the virus asymptomatically until the stress triggered the development of the warts? But again, I don’t remember whether they were there when I went back to school.
Had you tried other ways of getting rid of the plantar warts?
I might have tried apple cider vinegar on a select few. I distinctly remember that working for a wart on my thumb, but the ones on my feet were too numerous to treat them all that way. I never saw a doctor about them, since I always figured they’d just go away sooner or later, and they didn’t bother me that much.
Why did you do the intermittent fasting?
This was back when the studies about IF extending lifespan in mice first started hitting the media. Or the first time I was aware of them, anyway. Living longer sounded good to me.
Did you expect it to affect your plantar warts?
I had no particular expectation that it would affect the warts.
How did others react to the fact that the IF got rid of the plantar warts?
I lived alone, so I never really told anyone else about them. I’ve mentioned this to a couple of people in passing, but don’t recall any notable reaction, other than “Oh, that’s interesting,” or something similar.
How fast did they clear up? (= what does “almost immediately” mean?) 
I don’t remember, exactly. It was definitely within a month. I checked my email archives and see that in 2008 I said that it took less than a week. I remember mentioning this to a friend on ICQ back when it happened, and I *may* still have the logs from that on a hard drive in my closet, but I currently have no way to access it since I just moved to Tokyo and only have a notebook with no eSATA port, and I’m not planning on getting a desktop until I find a permanent apartment. Sorry I can’t be more precise here. Obviously the probability that it was a coincidence is much lower if they cleared up in a week than if they cleared up in a month.
How do you explain their disappearance?
I’m not sure. It’s entirely possible that they’d run their course and it was just their time to go. My pet theory is autophagy: Starved for protein, my body started scavenging for expendable tissue and resorbed the warts. There were two small wart-like growths–one on my thumbprint and one on my nose–that persisted for years afterwards, so it’s definitely not a surefire cure.
On a related note–and this also may be purely coincidental–the last two times I’ve felt a cold coming on, I tried to combat it with a full-day fast, on the theory that this would ramp up my cellular resistance to oxidative stress and reduce the severity of my symptoms. In both cases, I did have a much less severe cold than I usually do, with symptoms reduced to a more or less negligible level by the next day, where I usually get 3-5 days of moderately severe symptoms.



8 Replies to “Does Intermittent Fasting Improve Repair Processes?”

  1. hi Seth, speaking of fast, any updates on your ADF routine? Still a success? Glycated hemoglobin trending down or has that stabilized at pre-fasting levels?

    Seth: I’m in China now where it is hard for me to get HbA1c measurements I trust. It is still a success in other ways: easy, losing weight, saving time. The discipline it requires — not much, but some — is somehow pleasant, like physical exercise.

  2. This may have happened to me as well. I had a plantar’s wart on my foot for a few years. Around the time I stopped eating breakfast in the morning, it disappeared inexplicably and in definitely less than three weeks.

  3. I was given a different method for getting rid of warts – plantar and on my hand. Cover the wart with a bit of banana skin – soft side inside. tape in place for a few hours. After about 24 hours, the centre of the wart dies and goes black. Wash/ scrub this off. If necessary repeat. Usually 2 treatments clears them, and only once have I had to do 3 – that was a very deep wart. I have got rid of several, on several different occasions. Somebody said what do you do with the banana? Might as well eat it!

    I think this must be a chemical reaction affecting the wart.

    Seth: that’s fascinating. I wonder how it was discovered.

  4. Have never heard of the banana skin cure for warts – very interesting.

    Also, if fasting reduces aspects of blood sugar, and warts are caused by a virus, maybe the virus needs sugar (in some form) which plummets in the system when fasting and without enough it dies.

    1. “maybe the virus needs sugar (in some form) which plummets in the system when fasting and without enough it dies.”

      Blood sugar goes down when fasting to 80 or so. Fasting probably produces dozens of changes. Maybe even hundreds of changes.

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