This treatment modality is used in place of conventional therapies to treat cancer. Seek advice from a qualified physician before replacing standard cancer therapy with Gerson therapy.
What does the Gerson therapy involve?
Dr. Max Gerson created the Gerson program in 1945 based on the belief that cancer patients have sodium and potassium imbalances in their bodies. The Gerson program is a nutritional approach to cancer treatment and requires that patients comply with a vegetarian diet that contains no sodium, extreme fat restriction, high potassium supplementation and large amounts of fruit and vegetable juices. Frequent coffee enemas are given to detoxify the liver and the body. Previously, patients were required to drink three glasses of fresh calf liver daily but this aspect has since been discontinued because several patients experienced toxicity.
How is the Gerson therapy thought to treat cancer?
The program consists of three central tenets that claim cancer patients do not efficiently metabolize carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals:
- enzymes are critical to support the vitality of intestinal flora
- the liver and other vital organs must be detoxified and functioning efficiently to support the breakdown of tumors
- potassium and sodium intake must be balanced, usually by sodium restriction and potassium supplementation, to restore metabolism, and ultimately, health.
What has been proven about the benefit of the Gerson therapy?
Laboratory studies in 1983 and 1985 provided evidence that upsetting the potassium/sodium balance may play a role in malignancy. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center conducted an extensive human studies literature review of the Gerson therapy and found six studies applicable to cancer. Several of the studies indicate higher survival rates and tumor regression in patients treated with the Gerson therapy, especially for patients with melanoma, colorectal and ovarian cancers. However, no statistics were presented to indicate significance. Michael Lerner states in his book Choices in Healing that "the Gerson therapy does not approach being a decisive cure for any type of cancer." However, he continues to predict "that the therapy will prove to be a significant adjunct to the judicious use of conventional therapies for those cancers [melanoma, colorectal, ovarian]. Further, it may also improve outcomes for some cancers where conventional treatment would bring few-if any-results."
What is the potential risk or harm of the Gerson therapy?
Patients may experience flu-like feelings, loss of appetite, perspiration with a strong odor, weakness, dizziness, cold sores and fever blisters while receiving treatment. Patients may also suffer high fever, intestinal cramping, diarrhea and vomiting. Coffee enemas may produce colitis, severe inflammation of the colon, and fluid and electrolyte imbalances.
How much does the Gerson therapy cost?
At the Gerson clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, treatment costs $4,000 per week plus an additional $200 per week for laboratory testing. Some insurance providers reimburse costs associated with treatment.
For additional information:
Healing The Gerson Way / Defeating Cancer and Other Chronic Diseases by Charlotte Gerson. Totality Books, 316 Mid Valley Center #230, Carmel Valley, CA, 93923.
Choices in Healing by Michael Lerner. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1998.
1572 2nd Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
Web site: www.gerson.org
The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
1515 Holcombe Boulevard
Houston, TX 77030
Web site: www.mdanderson.org/departments/CIMER/
Note: Information about therapies is intended to help you make informed choices, not to endorse any particular therapy. The information is courtesy of "Integrating Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Cancer Patients," a handbook written as an independent study project by Heather Morein. For more information, see the full text of the handbook (PDF), including all references and appendices.