Fasting for Health with Om Detox – The Retreat with Nick Knowles

Not a TV Fan

I am not usually a fan of “reality” TV, but the BBC series “The Retreat” which ran in 2017 is definitely worth watching as it promotes the benefits of a plant-based diet and also promotes veganism.

It’s more of a fly-on-the-wall documentary, which explains and documents very informatively the benefits of fasting, detoxing, following a plant-based diet and using meditation and holistic therapies for optimal health & wellbeing.

It was aired originally on BBC 2 and each episode got around 1 million viewers, so it was received extremely well on the BBC. It provided a wide and vast audience to allow retreat mentor/detox manager Dominique Julien to promote the true benefits of fasting and a healthy wholefoods plant-based diet.

The series now continues its popularity and is available on Netflix.

Joining the Vgang

Many people start off on their vegan journey for health reasons and then as they start to eat more compassionately, their inner seed of compassion is watered 3 times a day whenever they eat a meal. Once we start to water that seed it can bloom into something beautiful. started his “vgang” journey for health and weight issues; he lost almost 7 kilos and felt his health had dramatically improved after turning to a plant-based diet. He has since gone on to talk more openly about veganism in relation to the planet and the animals via his own social media channels.

The Retreat – Start of a 4 Week Detox

The Retreat  follows DIY SOS TV presenter Nick Knowles  and a small team of 8 others who head off to Thailand to do a retreat programme which is fully plant-based. Nick funded the series out of his own pocket!

The team spent 4 whole weeks detoxing through a pre-cleanse, a 7 day fast, and then they lived on an entirely healthy whole foods plant-based diet. They also practiced yoga, meditation and learned the benefits of Reiki, holistic therapies, and colon cleansers called “colemas” which they performed twice a day, every day. The detox was supported with amazing supplements like chlorella, spirulina, garlic, ginger, turmeric, alfalfa, wheatgrass and psyllium husk.

At first Nick and another team member Julian were grumpy and sceptical that this could work and kept referring to it being for “hippies”. Although Julian left slightly early for personal reasons, Nick saw it through to the end and was a changed man and lost 9 kilos into the bargain.


Since returning from Thailand Nick has published a meat-free cookbook called “Proper Healthy Food” and has opened up 2 vegan eateries in the UK; one in Richmond  simply called The Retreat Kitchen, and one in Shrewsbury, and he has started his own yoga retreat in the Maldives.

He’s not gone fully vegan; he’s plant based 80% of the time, and has almost cut out dairy. He confesses he sometimes has a “cheese night”, but admits he feels very ill the next day – I think that tells us something very important; dairy is not good for the human body, cows milk is for baby cows, goats milk is for baby goats and human milk is for baby humans…get the picture?  Hopefully with time Nick will go fully vegan as he continues to water that seed of compassion.


On arriving in Thailand, all the team were taken to a western style hospital to have bloods taken. The entire 28 days was overseen by a team of conventional medical professionals and experts, and the team taking part in the detox all had to pass a full medical and physical. Any ongoing medical conditions were looked at closely and with extra precaution.

Milton who was a smoker, suffering with obesity and weighing in at 18 stone, also suffered with high cholesterol and was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes just a year earlier; he was given a slightly tapered detox. Milton got a truly outstanding result by reducing and normalising his blood sugar levels at the end of the 28 days.

Milton’s great results inspired Nick Knowles, and he went from grumpy reluctant hippy, to becoming fully immersed in the programme.

A female police officer suffering with anxiety and depression who was signed off work also attended and through various therapies and the detox, she too got great results. She felt she had to do something drastic to try to heal herself, and she found this really helped.

There were smokers in the team of 9 who gave up while they were there, and Nick actually gave up completely (although he does admit if he’s out, or at a party and he feels like having a cigarette, he does).

Prep is Key

On their first day of the retreat they had to do a “Pre-Cleanse” – eating only raw food to prepare and alkalise the body for the 7 day fast. The 8 episodes follow the whole teams’ progress throughout the 28 days; each episode is under 30 minutes, so it’s an easy and very interesting watch.

If you are going to do this at home, make sure you follow the instructions first; Dominique recommends you prepare your body for around 2 weeks prior to fasting – if you are not already vegan, it’s recommended to follow a plant-based diet at least 2 weeks prior to your fast.

Click here for the preparation guidelines from Om Detox

Inspired & Impressed by Dominique

The part of the show I was personally most impressed with and inspired by was Dominique Julien herself. It was Dom who ran the retreat for the team at The Orion Healing Centre in Thailand. She is a naturopath and health coach along with being fully vegan, and she promotes not just a plant-based diet, but veganism as a lifestyle. Dominique has studied Naturopathy, Nutrition for health promotion and disease prevention, Nutrition for physical activity, and completed a Raw Nutrition certificate, to name a few.

On the series she was brave enough to show them vegan documentary Forks over Knives – you can watch it on Netflix, and I would highly recommend you do watch it if you haven’t already along with What The Health on Netflix too.

On the show, Forks over Knives provoked some really serious conversations the next morning about reversing Type 2 Diabetes through following a plant-based diet. Although Dom did meet resistance from some of the team members on watching those documentaries, (including Nick), many team members were touched and inspired by what they had learned.

Personal Experience

I was personally so impressed by what I had watched, that I decided to give the Om Detox a go.

On January 9th 2017 (the very day Joey Carbstrong arrived for his Scottish visit), I began my 7 day fast. I vlogged most of my experience and you can find videos on YouTube on the Bo Hip channel (although some are a bit too long winded), but they might be helpful if you decide to do the detox as I talk you through each day.

I can honestly say it is one of the best things I have ever done in my life. I have done smaller fasts previously, but never 7 days before. I got great results both physically and mentally; I felt that I got a lot of mental clarity; I lost weight and although I was already following a healthy vegan diet, my body just felt so clean. I can highly recommend every single part of doing the detox with Om. Dominique is so highly qualified, knowledgeable and experienced, so you’re in good hands if you decide to go ahead and give your body this amazing healing, she is always happy to help anyone with any queries or questions. You can email her at

Fasting for Health

Fasting is one of the best things we can do for the body. It’s not about losing weight (although that does happen), it about optimal health.

Some of the benefits are –

  • Improves mental clarity and focus
  • Improves sleep
  • Aids in healing emotional problems
  • Increases willpower and self-mastery
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Can reverse some diseases like obesity and diabetes
  • Improves sensitivity to insulin
  • Decreases body fat
  • Decreases Inflammation within the body
  • Helps with the ageing process
  • Can prevent Alzheimer’s
  • Increases energy
  • Puts us completely in control of our life
  • Improves spiritual connection & growth
  • Helps us to heal from illness
  • Aids good digestion
  • Allows the body to eliminate candida, mucus & parasites

It is also simple to do and is convenient as can be done anywhere and can be done in our own homes – we don’t need to fly off to exotic locations to do it (although that it a beautiful way to do it).

It also helps us to change our eating habits and really helps to readjust our taste buds and helps us to enjoy the smells and flavours of food again. When I finished my fast, I wasn’t hungry, but I was really looking forward to tasting food again and I craved things like tomatoes, cucumber and melon.

We Didn’t Always Have Food…

Throughout our evolution we did go through periods of fasting simply because we couldn’t always find food to eat, it something that’s been done since the dawn of man for thousands and thousands of years; so it’s not a new fad!  Our ancestors were not people who ate 3 meals a day; humans would often go for days without eating. Our bodies are built to deal without food, this is why on around day 3, our body goes into a state of ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state where the body draws its energy from the ketone bodies in our blood. This is the state where the body starts to burn fat. We are built to be able to survive without food.

Dr Jason Fung

Listen to Dr. Jason Fung who is a Canadian nephrologist/kidney specialist.  Dr Fung wrote “The Complete Guide to Fasting” & “The Obesity Code”

Hippocrates, Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain were all advocates of fasting as are many religions; Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed all practised fasting as a method of purification. 

You can fast once a week, once a fortnight, once a month or once a year. You can try intermittent fasting, which is simply skipping a meal; so for example, you might fast from an evening meal until the next evening meal, or until the next day at lunch time; that allows the body to fast for 18 – 24 hours. You can do alternate day fasting, 7 days, 10 days or you can do as many days as you like. Fasting for longer periods than 3 days are when the benefits really kick in.

Don’t get caught up in the muscle loss idea either – as you fast after 36 hours, you are burning mostly fat. Again click here to listen to this interview with Dr Jason Fung and forward to 12.00 and he will explain it in detail for you!

However, don’t take my word for it, there’s a vast amount of amazing information on the internet which will help you make your own mind up.

Dominique Julien – The Retreat Manager 

Dominique went pretty much plant-based in spring 2012. Initially she still ate cheese, but she stopped that in the summer of 2012 after watching a documentary about the dairy industry. She watched Earthlings and never bought meat or eggs again – (it just took her a little longer to make the dairy connection). She also soon realised the other aspects of living the full vegan lifestyle, and so also in 2012 she changed those other areas including all of her clothing.

Dom worked at Orion Healing Centre for 2 ½ years from 2014 – 2016. After filming The Retreat with Nick Knowles she moved to Bangkok to manufacture the Om Detox products and set up her own company.

Bohemian Hippy/Om Detox Discount for YOU!

The TV show The Retreat was filmed at the Orion Healing Centre on Ko Phangan in Thailand, and unfortunately that may be too far and too costly for many people to attend a retreat there.

However, you can access Om Detox online, and then complete it in your own home.

Dom has very kindly offered all our Bohemian Hippy customers a discount – if you use the code bohemianhippy at the checkout, your will receive a $10 discount. And as if that isn’t enough, like I said, she has also offered free personal help and advice through emailing her – just mention our name and she’ll give you that special Dominique treatment.

I would personally like to say a massive thank you to Dominique for all she has done and is doing for veganism! Through The Retreat she reached a massive audience and continues to reach more people every day with it being on Netflix and of course now through her own company.

I would also like to thank her for offering our customers this discount and her amazing support.

Most of all I would like to thank her for all her help, support and friendship she has given to me personally since January of this year!

Keep doing what you are doing Dom!