Fresh-air dietician fails TV show's challenge

Yahoo News, October 25, 1999

A DIETICIAN who claims it ispossible to live off fresh air has failed in a television documentary to practise what she preaches.

An Australian programme, 60 Minutes, asked Jasmuheen, a former financial adviser whose real name is Ellen Greve, to demonstrate that she could live healthily without any nutrients other than air for one week.

Last month, Verity Linn, an Australian environmentalist, was found starved to death by a loch in West Sutherland with a copy of the teachings of Jasmuheen in her belongings. Ms Linn died one week after beginning a planned three-week fast.

Jasmuheen, who claims not to have eaten real food for years, agreed to be cut off from the outside world for the test. But the programme-makers were forced to call a halt to the trial after four days when she showed signs of becoming seriously ill.

Jasmuheen had initially been confined to a hotel room in Brisbane with teams of female security guards in constant attendance. Her progress was checked by a female doctor, Dr Berris Wink, president of the Queensland branch of the Australian Medical Association.

But when she began showing signs of stress, high blood pressure and dehydration after just 48 hours, the self-styled guru blamed it not on food and fluid deprivation, but polluted air.

The cult leader claimed that her confinement close to a busy main road meant she could not get the nutrients she needed to survive as a Breatharian. Dr Wink told her she was already clearly suffering the effects of dehydration. "You are now over 5 per cent dehydrated. If we let this go much longer, that's going to damage your kidney," she said.

60 Minutes moved Jasmuheen on day three to a mountainside retreat about 15 miles away from the city , where she was filmed enjoying the fresh air she said she could now live on happily. However, as the filming progressed, it became obvious that Jasmuheen was becoming ill. Her speech was slow, her pupils dilated and she had lost almost a stone. One doctor advising 60 Minutes urged Jasmuheen and the programme to stop the challenge. After four days, Jasmuheen told the programme's presenter, Richard Carlton: "I feel really good, now I'm here. Well, I look like I've lost a lot of weight and the doctor confirms that."

Dr Wink told her: "You are now quite dehydrated, probably over 10 per cent, getting up to 11 per cent." She also announced: "Her pulse is about double what it was when she started. The risks if she goes any further are kidney failure. 60 Minutes would be culpable if they encouraged her to continue. She should stop now."

Jasmuheen challenged the decision, saying: "Look, 6,000 people have done this around the world without any problem" She blamed 60 Minutes for putting her beside a busy main road at the start of the experiment. "I asked for fresh air. Seventy per cent of my nutrients come from fresh air. I couldn't even breath," she said.

Dr Wink told the programme, which decided not continue the test after the four-day period: "Unfortunately there are a few people who may believe what she says, and I'm sure its only a few, but I think it's quite irresponsible for somebody to be trying to encourage others to do something that is so detrimental to their health."

Next month an Australian doctor and his wife who say they are Breatharians are due to go on trial charged with manslaughter after a woman died in their care.

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