The Gerson Therapy for Cancer
The Gerson therapy is a dietary regimen that was developed by Dr. Max Gerson in the 1920s and 30s. It began as a personal protocol to solve the doctor’s own problems with migraines, but evolved into a therapy for degenerative diseases and eventually became recognized in alternative circles as an intervention to treat cancer.
The Gerson therapy is reported to have helped many cancer patients restore health. However, there is currently no scientific evidence to support these claims. The benefits are anecdotal and only documented in case reports (small-scale observational studies).
Dr. Gerson believed that cancer was a metabolic disease caused by the accumulation of toxinsA poison made by certain bacteria, plants, or animals, including insects. in the body, which damage healthy cells, impair organ function, and lead to metabolic dysfunction. The Gerson therapy uses intensive detoxification methods that are reputed to remove waste, regenerate the liver, activate the immune system, restore the body’s vital defenses and balance enzymeA protein that speeds up chemical reactions in the body., mineral, and hormone systems .
The protocol is based on the philosophy that the body has an extraordinary ability to heal itself under the right conditions. The Gerson therapy consists of three main parts: diet, supplements, and detoxification support .
The specialized diet is plant-based and organic. It is naturally high in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, micro-nutrients and extremely low in sodium, fats and proteins. Fresh pressed juices provide high-quality nutrition and are a staple of the diet. By juicing, a typical patient will consume the nutrients and enzymes from up to 15 pounds of fresh produce per day. In addition to the Gerson juices, patients also have 3 plant-based meals per day .
The regimen includes specific vitamins and minerals such as potassium solution, Lugol’s iodine, pancreatic enzymes, B vitamins, vitamin A, C, and niacin, flaxseed oil, and pepsin. The therapy previously included raw calf liver juice injections, which Gerson believed offered support and regeneration to the liver, but this is no longer used as it was made illegal by the FDA in 1989 due to bacterial contamination risks .
Regular coffee enemas (4+/day) are the final component of the protocol. Coffee enemas are believed to dilate the bile ducts in the liver, allowing the liver to release waste products more quickly into the intestine and support the elimination of toxins from the body .
There is currently no scientific research on the specific components of this treatment regimen, therefore safety and efficacy of the protocol is unknown.
Dr. Max Gerson developed the Gerson therapy in the 1920s and 30s in Germany. He first devised the therapy to help manage his own debilitating migraines, but eventually his approach would become a treatment for serious degenerative diseases, and most famously, cancer .
His inspiration for developing the Gerson therapy came from his study of the history of medicine and respect for Paracelsus who proposed that diet should be the cornerstone of medical treatment . One of Dr. Gerson’s early patients who followed his “migraine diet” discovered that it had resolved his skin tuberculosis. Under the supervision of famed thoracic surgeon Ferdinand Sauerbruch, Gerson set up a skin tuberculosis treatment program at the Munich University Hospital .
Dr. Gerson carried out a successful clinical trial in which 446 out of 450 skin tuberculosis patients treated with the Gerson diet recovered completely . His most famous patient was perhaps the wife of Albert Schweitzer, a Nobel Peace Prize winning philosopher, humanitarian and physician. Dr. Gerson is said to have cured her of lung tuberculosis . The respect and praise he received from Schweitzer brought the therapy into the limelight and garnered the attention of the medical community .
Dr. Gerson went on to experiment with his diet and successfully applied it to many other conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney failure, and eventually cancer. In 1938, Dr. Gerson started a medical practice in New York City, USA where he claims to have successfully treated hundreds of cancer patients .
Initially, Dr. Gerson did not believe that his diet would work as a cancer treatment in its own right, but rather as a supportive dietary approach. However, in 1958, after treating cancer patients with his regimen for over 15 years, he published his complete theory, including the results of 50 case studies . He declared that his protocol was an “effective treatment for cancer, even in advanced cases” .
Nevertheless, there was controversy surrounding the efficacy of the Gerson therapy throughout Dr. Gerson’s life. Articles from the Journal of the American Medical Association came to the conclusion that the therapy was of no value  . The National Cancer Institute cast a shadow of doubt over Dr. Gerson’s case studies stating that basic criteria for demonstrating clinical benefit were not met .
Dr. Gerson passed away in 1959 without leaving a systematic way of offering his treatment. However, his daughter Charlotte Gerson Straus continued to give lectures about the Gerson therapy and went on to set up the Gerson Institute in 1979. To this date The Gerson Institute maintains licensing programs so treatment facilities can offer the Gerson therapy to patients .
There is currently no peer-reviewed scientific research on the Gerson therapy. To date there have not been any animal or human studies carried out on the approach. Clinical trials would be required in order to ascertain if the Gerson therapy could be recommended for cancer patients.
However, there are case studies published by Dr. Gerson himself and also from the Gerson Institute, which document positive results and report that patients have completely healed while undergoing the therapy.
Dr. Gerson’s own published research paper from 1978 states that 30 years of experimentation has led to an effective holistic cancer therapy, which has successfully treated many cases of advanced cancer .
In 1995 The Gerson Research Organization published an analysis of survival rates of melanoma patients treated with the Gerson approach. The results showed considerably higher 5-year survival rates compared to averages reported in the scientific literature. For stage III patients the 5-year survival rate was 71% compared with standard rates of 27% to 42%. The 5-year survival rate for stage IV patients was 39% compared with 6% in the published literature  .
A case study from 2007 on six people with aggressive forms of metastatic cancer showed (despite the presence of some confounding variables) that the patients benefited both physically and psychologically from the Gerson therapy. They survived longer than expected and had an improved quality of life .
Given that no controlled studies on the use of the Gerson therapy in cancer patients have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, there is not sufficient scientific evidence to support claims that the therapy is an effective cancer treatment. Further research is still needed .
The Gerson therapy has been applied for patients with many different cancer types, including advanced cases of metastatic cancer. However, The Gerson Institute states that brain cancer and pancreatic cancer after chemotherapy do not respond well to the therapy. The Gerson Institute claims that the therapy has achieved good results with the following cancer types:
- Breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
There is not currently any published scientific research on the Gerson therapy to be able to outline any scientifically validated benefits for cancer patients or determine any potential therapeutic applications for the diet. However, from case reports and studies published by Dr. Max Gerson and The Gerson Institute, the potential benefits of the regime are listed below.
- Eliminate toxins from the body
- Provide high levels of nutrients and antioxidants
- Improve organ function (especially liver and kidney)
- Boost the immune system
- Support mental and physical wellbeing
- Remove excess sodium from the body
- Restore damaged cells to a healthy normal state
- Heal damaged tissues
- Support the natural healing of a diseased system
- Help to restore healthy metabolic function
- Increase survival rates
- Improve quality of life
How the therapy is believed to work:
The Gerson therapy’s all-encompassing holistic approach sets it apart from most other cancer treatment methods. It aims to restore the body’s incredible innate ability to heal itself, rather than treating the symptoms of any specific disease . It is rooted in the belief that cancer is a disease of the entire organism. Dr. Gerson believed that the manifestation of a tumor is merely a symptom of a systemic imbalance in a diseased body .
Dr. Gerson believed that cancer was caused by a combination of damaging factors, notably the accumulation of toxins, which in turn results in the breakdown of the entire metabolic system. The goal of the Gerson therapy is to restore normal metabolic function and keep the metabolism in balance .
Dr. Gerson discovered that cancer patients often presented with severely degenerated organs, especially the liver. He attributed this to an increase in toxic materials, such as tumor breakdown products, which needed to be cleared from the body via the liver. Dr. Gerson’s regimen therefore focuses heavily on supporting liver detoxification and restoring optimal liver function.
An integral part of the therapy is an abundance of potassium in the diet and tight restrictions on sodium. Gerson studied early cancer cell biology and realized that healthy cells had a high ratio of potassium to sodium, while diseased cells had a low ratio of potassium to sodium . When patients began the diet they excreted large amounts of sodium in their urine and the cells in the patients’ bodies, which had initially been bloated, began to shrink as the fluid was released. Dr. Gerson came to the conclusion that the diet was correcting tissue damage caused by excess sodium .
This hypothesis was later echoed by the findings of laboratory studies carried out by Gilbert Ling on the function of sodium and potassium in living cells . According to Ling’s research using frog muscle cells, the proteins of a cell are able to exist in two different configurational states: either healthy or damaged. In a healthy cell the proteins have a normal structure and a strong affinity for potassium rather than sodium . However, in a damaged cell the protein structure is altered. Proteins lose their affinity for potassium and their ability to structure water. The result is that potassium leaves the cell and is replaced by sodium. The cell then swells up with water .
Studies by Ling have shown that high potassium and low sodium environments can restore damaged cell proteins to their normal healthy state. This is believed to be the mechanism of action by which damaged tissues are repaired when a patient follows the Gerson regimen . However, this hypothesis on the mechanism of action of the Gerson therapy is not backed up by any clinical research in humans to confirm if it is accurate or not.
Risks and Side Effects
Patients may report benefits from the Gerson therapy, but there are potential risks and some reported side-effects. The cases reported where patients have experienced side-effects are mainly related to highly frequent or contaminated coffee enemas, which can cause:
- Electrolyte imbalances
- Heart and lung problems
- Mineral imbalances
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal cramps
- Aching, fever and sweating
- Dizziness and weakness
There have been a handful of cases where quite severe adverse effects have been reported, but these cases are rare. It is always advised to speak to your doctor before starting any new dietary regime.
What is the Gerson therapy?
The Gerson therapy is a regimen developed by Dr. Max Gerson, which consists of three main parts: diet, supplements, and detoxification support. It is based on the principle that the human body can heal itself when toxins are removed from the system.
Is the Gerson therapy effective for cancer?
There is currently not enough scientific evidence to determine if the Gerson therapy is beneficial for cancer patients. There have been cases reported of the therapy helping cancer patients in terms of increased survival rates and improved quality of life. However, there is a lack of scientific evidence and clinical data to know if the therapy is safe or effective.
How long do patients normally follow the Gerson therapy?
18 months is the recommended duration stated in Dr. Gerson’s book. In more recent times, patients at The Gerson Institute often follow the protocol for 2 to 3 years depending on the stage and type of cancer. For other diseases aside from cancer, the duration of the protocol can be shorter. For advanced cancer cases patients are often reported to be on the diet for 3 to 5 years.
 The Gerson Institute. How it Works. https://gerson.org/how-it-works/
 National Cancer Institute. Gerson Therapy (PDQ®) – Patient Version. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/patient/gerson-pdq
 National Library of Medicine. Gerson Therapy (PDQ®) – Health Professional Version. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK66029/
 Freeman W. Cope, M.D. A medical application of the Ling Association-Induction Hypothesis: the high potassium, low sodium diet of the Gerson cancer therapy. Gerson Research Organization. September 8, 1978. http://gerson-research.org/research/medical-application-ling-association-induction-hypothesis-high-potassium-low-sodium-diet-gerson-cancer-therapy/
 Gerson M. The cure of advanced cancer by diet therapy: a summary of 30 years of clinical experimentation. Physiol Chem Phys. 1978;10(5):449-64. PMID: 751079. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/751079/
 Hildenbrand GL, Hildenbrand LC, Bradford K, Cavin SW. Five-year survival rates of melanoma patients treated by diet therapy after the manner of Gerson: a retrospective review. Altern Ther Health Med. 1995 Sep;1(4):29-37. PMID: 9359807. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9359807/
 Molassiotis A, Peat P. Surviving against all odds: analysis of 6 case studies of patients with cancer who followed the Gerson therapy. Integr Cancer Ther. 2007 Mar;6(1):80-8. doi: 10.1177/1534735406298258. PMID: 17351030. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17351030/
 Gerson M: A Cancer Therapy: Results of Fifty Cases and The Cure of Advanced Cancer by Diet Therapy. The Gerson Institute, 2002.
 Gerson's cancer treatment. JAMA 132 (11): 645-6, 1946.
 CANCER and the need for facts. J Am Med Assoc. 1949 Jan 8;139(2):93-8. PMID: 18101918. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18101918/
 US Congress, Office of Technology Assessment: Unconventional Cancer Treatments. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1990. OTA-H-405.
Top Five Facts about Gerson Therapy
- Gerson Therapy is suggested to be a metabolic therapy, using a special diet, plus supplements and a coffee enema, to fight cancer.
- The Gerson diet is naturally high in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, micro-nutrients, and extremely low in sodium, fats, and proteins.
- The Gerson diet is more than just what to eat and what not to eat, it is when the foods are eaten, how often they are eaten, how they are prepared, how not to prepare them, what to cook them in, how to package them, and more.
- One of the main benefits of the Gerson Therapy is its theorized rapid elevation of the pH, or alkalinity, of the body.
- Dr. Gerson’s research suggested that degenerative and chronic diseases are caused by toxicity and nutritional deficiency.
The Gerson Therapy was one of the first natural cancer therapeutics and has been used by patients for more than 80 years. Rooted in an organic, plant-based diet, raw juices, coffee enemas, and natural supplements, the Gerson Therapy is said to restore the body’s ability to heal itself.
The Gerson diet is naturally high in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, micro-nutrients, and extremely low in sodium, fats, and proteins. A typical daily diet for a Gerson patient on the full therapy regimen features glasses of fresh, raw carrot-apple and green-leaf juices prepared hourly from fresh, organic fruits and vegetables; plant-based meals, freshly prepared from organically grown fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; and fresh fruit and vegetables available at all hours for snacking, in addition to the regular diet. 
Generally, a meal will include salad, cooked vegetables, baked potatoes, Hippocrates soup, and juice.
The Gerson Institute, a non-profit organization in San Diego, is dedicated to providing education and training in the Gerson Therapy. The institute provides referrals to licensed clinics, practitioners, and home set-up trainers. There are two licensed Gerson clinics: the Gerson Clinic in Mexico and the Gerson Health Centre in Hungary.
The Gerson Institute, a non-profit organization in San Diego, is dedicated to providing education and training in the Gerson Therapy. The institute provides referrals to licensed clinics, practitioners, and home set-up trainers. There are two licensed Gerson clinics: the Gerson Clinic in Mexico and the Gerson Health Centre in Hungary.
The Gerson diet is extremely detailed. It is not just the foods that are included and excluded; it is when the foods are eaten, how often they are eaten, how they are prepared, how not to prepare them, what to cook them in, how to package them, etc.
About Dr. Max Gerson
Dr. Max Gerson was born in Wongrowitz, Germany, in 1881. He attended the universities of Breslau, Wuerzburg, Berlin, and Freiburg, and graduated in 1909.
With Germany in the grip of Adolph Hitler's Nazi regime, Dr. Gerson left the country for Vienna in 1933. He also lived for a short time in France and England. Arriving in the United States in 1936, Dr. Gerson was licensed to practice in the state of New York in '38 and became a U.S. citizen in 1942.
In 1946, Dr. Gerson appeared before the Pepper-Neely Congressional Subcommittee, during hearings on a bill to fund cancer treatment research:
In 1958, after 30 years of clinical experimentation, Dr. Gerson published A Cancer Therapy: Results of 50 Cases to detail his theories, treatment, and results.
Dr. Gerson's research included soil issues, the electricity of cells, how cancer cells ferment glucoseA type of sugar; the chief source of energy for living organisms., oxidizing enzymes, sodium/potassium balance, connective tissue, and other technical issues related to cancer. His treatment and approach were a “whole body” approach.
He was focused on treating the liver. Several chapters of his book deal with various aspects of the organ. Dr. Gerson saw a parallel between the deterioration of the liver and the growth and progression of cancer. Because of his concern for liver problems, he did not favor fasting.
Dr. Gerson was also interested in the potassium group of minerals versus the sodium group. He favored the potassium group for treating cancer and his diet forbids adding salt to foods. The ratio of potassium to sodium was something he emphasized several times.
Howard Straus, the grandson of Dr. Gerson, chronicles the trailblazer’s life and development of his therapy in Dr. Max Gerson: Healing the Hopeless. The biography discusses the development of Dr. Gerson’s dietary therapy and the struggles he faced in challenging orthodox medicine with a nutritional protocol.
Even in the 1950s, Dr. Gerson was aware of the importance of organic foods. He felt that general farming practices left the plants — such as carrots — without enough nutrients, and that damage was done to foods by the way they were processed and packaged.
“Stay close to nature and her eternal laws will protect you.”
— Dr. Max Gerson
Dr. Gerson emigrated to the United States in 1936 and passed the medical board examination. Ten years later, he was front and center on Capitol Hill. Dr. Gerson appeared before the Subcommittee of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the U.S. Senate.
He addressed the Pepper-Neely subcommittee on behalf of S. 1875, a bill ostentatiously set forth to “authorize and request the President to undertake to mobilize at some convenient place in the United States an adequate number of the world’s outstanding experts, and coordinate and utilize their services in a supreme endeavor to discover a means of curing and preventing cancer.”
Dr. Gerson began his testimony with a recap of his background and his credentials — a member of the AMA, Medical Society of New York State, and Medical Society of New York County — and then addressed his approach to treating patients.
“The dietetic treatment, which has for many years been known as the ‘Gerson diet,’ was developed first to relieve my own severe migraine condition,” Dr. Gerson said. “Then it was successfully applied to patients with allergic conditions such as asthma as well as diseases of the intestinal tract and the liver pancreas apparatus. By chance, a patient with lupus vulgaris [skin tuberculosis] was cured following the use of the diet. After this success, the dietetic treatment was used in all other kinds of tuberculosis — bones, kidneys, eyes, lungs, and so forth.”
Dr. Gerson added that his first cancer patient (bile ducts) was treated in 1928 with success. Seven favorable cases followed out of 12 and remained free of symptoms up to 7½ years.
During testimony Dr. Gerson noted that his diet protocol is condensed into three components:
- The elimination of toxins and poisons and returning of the displaced “extracellular” Na-group, connected with toxins, poisons, edema, destructive inflammation, from the tissues, tumors, and organs where it does not belong, into the serum and tissues where it belongs — gall bladder with bile ducts. connective tissue, thyroid, stomach mucosa, kidney medulla, tumors, and so forth.
- Bringing back the lost “intracellular” K-group combined with vitamins, enzymes, ferments, sugar, and so forth, into the tissues and organs where it belongs — liver, muscles. heart, brain, kidney cortex, and so forth. On this basis, iodine, ineffective before, is made effective, continuously added in new amounts.
- Restoring the differentiation, tonus, tension, oxidation, and so forth, by activated iodine, where there were before growing tumors and metastases with de-differentiation, loss of tension, oxidation, loss of resistance, and healing power.
“The great number of chronic diseases which responded to the dietetic treatment showed clearly that the human body lost part of its resistance and healing power, as He left the way of natural nutrition for generations,” Dr. Gerson surmised.
Today, the National Cancer Institute contends Gerson Therapy is “advocated by its supporters as a method of treating cancer patients based on changes in diet and nutrient intake. An organic vegetarian diet plus nutritional and biological supplements, pancreatic enzymes, and coffee or other types of enemas are the main features of the Gerson therapy. The regimen is intended to “detoxify” the body while building up the immune system and raising the level of potassium in cells.” 
The NCI also notes, “the regimen is empirically based on observations made by Max Gerson, M.D., in his clinical practice and on his knowledge of research in cell biology at the time (1930s–1950s). No results of laboratory or animal studies are reported in the scientific literature contained in the Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online database. Few clinical studies of the Gerson therapy are found in the medical literature.”
But that is only part of the story …
“I see in him one of the most eminent geniuses in the history of medicine.”
— Dr. Albert Schweitzer
Maybe it was a coincidence
While speaking to the Pepper-Neely subcommittee in 1946, Dr. Gerson contended, “The fundamental damage starts with the use of artificial fertilizer for vegetables and fruits as well as for fodder. Thus the chemically transformed vegetarian and meat nourishment, increasing through generations, transforms the organs and functions of the human body in the wrong direction.”
Conversely, Dr. Charles Thomas was named to Monsanto’s board of directors in 1942 and became a vice president the next year. By 1947 he was executive vice president. Dr. Thomas became president in 1950 and was named the chairman of the board in ‘60. He retired in 1970. It was this 30-year stretch of growth for Monsanto that laid the groundwork for today’s leading biotech behemoth.
Consider this: Between the pharmaceutical industry — buoyed by the Flexner Report and backed by the deep pockets of John Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie — and the agri-biotech industry — led by Monsanto — it’s not hard to surmise Dr. Gerson’s opinions were stomping on some mighty big toes. He even wrote in A Cancer Therapy, “Our modern agriculture decreased potassium and iodine in our nutrition, precisely the minerals essential for prevention of cancer.”
During the 1920s, Raymond Gram Swing migrated to radio, a burgeoning platform for journalists. After covering the 1932 presidential election, he was offered a job at CBS. Swing turned down the job and it was given to Edward R. Murrow. During the early 1950s, the now-legendary Murrow hired Swing to write news copy for him.
When the Congressional Subcommittee concluded it’s work on July 2, 1946, Sen. Pepper recognized Raymond Gram Swing, “one of our distinguished radio commentators in this country.” Swing said, “I think this bill is one of the most encouraging expressions of intelligent democracy. I hope that it gets the full approval of Congress. It has an inspired work to do, and I want to say in particular that before I came here today I have seen some of the cancer patients of Dr. Gerson, and I believe that research along these lines is so necessary and so hopeful that I am delighted that you, Senator, have had the heart and the courage to bring the doctor here, and some of his patients; and I thank you for it.”
The next day, Swing addressed the Pepper-Neely hearing on his ABC radio broadcast:
“Let me first say that I well appreciate that one of the basic virtues of the modem medical profession is its conservatism. For without the most scrupulous conservatism in the statement and application of medical knowledge, there can be no confidence in the integrity of medical science. But for the very reason that the practice of medicine must be conservative, medical science must be bold and unceasingly challenging. Otherwise, medical science will not progress as it can and must, and will lose its integrity.
“A bill is before Congress, the Pepper-Neely bill, to appropriate a hundred million dollars for cancer research under Federal control. It proposes that the government go in for cancer research with something like the zeal and bigness with which it went for the release of atomic energy, turning the job over to the scientists with resources generous enough to solve the problem.
“This alone would make a good theme for a broadcast, just as an example of the use a great democracy can make of its intelligence and wealth. But the subject has been made peculiarly gripping by unprecedented happenings yesterday before the subcommittee which is holding hearings on this bill, and of which Senator Pepper is chairman.
“He invited as a witness a refugee scientist, now a resident of New York, Dr. Max Gerson, and Dr. Gerson placed on the stand, in quick succession, five patients. They were chosen to represent the principle prevailing types of cancer, and in each instance, they showed that the Gerson treatment had demonstrated what is conservatively called ‘favorable effect on the course of the disease.’ That in itself is remarkable, but it is all the more so because Dr. Gerson’s treatment consists mainly of a diet which he has evolved after a lifetime of research and experimentation. To say that Dr. Gerson has been curing cancer by a dietary treatment is medically impermissible, for the reason that there must be five years without [a] recurrence before such a statement is allowed. Dr. Gerson has cured tuberculosis and other illnesses with his diet, but he has only been working on cancer for four and a half years.
“Let me say right away that I am not discussing this Gerson diet as a cancer cure-all. It has produced remarkable results. It also has the failures in its records, which anything as yet unperfected is bound to show. It is not something that offers release from the most rigorous and conservative medical observance in its acceptance and application. Whenever something new and promising comes up in medicine, the temptation of the outsider and even some physicians is to run to glowing superlatives and expect too much from it. But anything that offers even a possibility of treating successfully at least some of the four hundred thousand existing cancer cases in this country is stirring news, no matter how conservatively it is formulated.
“There would be no Pepper-Neely bill to appropriate a hundred million dollars for cancer research if the existing research were coping with the need.”
Less than two weeks later, Swing was out of a job. Politics — not the kind on Capitol Hill but the even seedier corporate greed of pay-for-play politics — were his undoing.
According to Dr. Gerson’s daughter, Charlotte, “The executive directors of pharmaceutical companies producing cytotoxic agents for cancer treatment — members of the PMA [Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association] — threatened to cancel all radio advertising contracts for their drugs sold over the counter, an annual loss in revenue for ABC amounting to tens of millions of dollars.” 
It begs the question: What happened to the Senate’s 277-page Pepper-Neely anticancer bill of 1946 (Document No. 89471)? Augustus E. Giegengack, the Public Printer as head of the then-Government Printing Office, boxed up and stored the paperwork. No copies of the report were distributed to the press. Few medical journals have even attempted to follow up on Dr. Gerson’s testimony. Document No. 89471 now resides in the bowels of the Government Publishing Office with little hope of seeing the light of day.
Dr. Gerson died on March 8, 1959. “My father, aged 78, was in perfectly good health when, from one day to the next, he felt awful. They tested his blood and found a high level of arsenic,” Charlotte Gerson said. The family did not notify the police. “We had our suspicions,” she said, “but knew from experience that justice would not be done.”
“While writing the story of Gerson, I couldn’t help feeling it was too shocking to believe.”
— S.J. Haught
Like father, like daughter
When Dr. Gerson died in 1959, Charlotte vowed his work would not die with him. She has continued Dr. Gerson’s work through the Gerson Clinic in Mexico and the Gerson Health Centre in Hungary. In 1977 she founded the Gerson Institute with Norman Fritz, president of the Cancer Control Society. The Gerson Institute established treatment centers and trained holistic physicians, nurses, and kitchen help in the facets of Dr. Gerson’s treatment.
Dr. Gerson’s research showed that degenerative and chronic diseases are caused by toxicity and nutritional deficiency. Toxicity is accumulated from the pollution in the food, water, air and numerous chemical substances absorbed from your environment. Deficiency is the result of a diet that consists of artificially raised, chemically treated, processed and flavored foods. After a lifetime of chemical accumulation and low nutritional support, your body’s defenses break down and the result is the manifestation of “chronic” disease.
According to the Gerson Institute, toxicity results from the “better living through chemistry” philosophy of our modern world, where …
- Bug killer, weed killer, and chemical fertilizers are sprayed onto the plants we eat.
- Pollution is pumped into the air we breathe.
- Chemicals of all kinds are dumped into our oceans, lakes and water supplies.
- People are fed hazardous Fluoride waste under the pretense of being good for their teeth.
- Farm animals are given growth hormones so they produce a greater profit and antibiotics so they can survive their harsh lives.
- Pre-made Industrial foods are filled with chemicals that enhance taste so that you will buy more and turn off the “I’m full” switch in your brain so that you will eat more.
- Preserve and extend shelf life so their “merchandise” will survive longer on the shelf.
- Drugs are given for every ill, pain and strain.
- Soaps, shampoos, deodorants and almost all personal hygiene and cosmetic products contain degreasers, alcohols, parabens, fragrances, stabilizers, solvents and numerous other chemicals.
Nutritional deficiency comes from eating nutritionally depleted, genetically engineered, pesticide laden, salted and sugared foods, loaded with preservatives, dyes, artificial flavors, sweeteners, and thousands of chemicals.
The process of restoring your natural defenses and rebooting your immune system is simple:
- Drink flavorful organic juices throughout each day. The prescribed Gerson juices, made from organic fruits and vegetables, bathe your 100 trillion living cells in a constant stream of health-giving vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and enzymes.
- Follow an organic plant-based diet, with lots of raw and cooked foods. This floods your body with more vitamins, minerals, nutrients along with the critical health promoting enzymes necessary to repair your body.
- Detoxify your body at the cellular level using a powerful natural process that flushes chemicals and toxins from the liver.
- Prevent depletion of your organs and interruption of critical biological processes by eliminating industrial foods with chemicals, preservatives, dyes and additives, animal protein, alcohol, smoking, drugs, sugars, salts, fats, oils, dairy products, fluoride, chlorine.
- Eliminate further poisoning of your body by removing the sources of chemicals and toxins in your environment such as household cleaners, fabric softeners, non-organic soaps and shampoos, perfumes and deodorants, and air fresheners.
One of the claimed benefits of the Gerson Therapy is its rapid elevation of the pH, or alkalinity, of the body. Cancer is theorized to not survive an alkaline environment, and the proteolytic (protein-digesting) pancreatic enzymes that normally keep cancer in check are reactivated in an alkaline environment. Additionally, the red blood cells that supply every one of our cells lose their ability to carry oxygen at low pH (acidic) values. When the vegan diet raises the pH of the blood stream, disease processes become disabled while the body’s immune system, deactivated by an acidic environment, begins to become active again, attacking the disease-causing organisms. 
In April 2007, Alex Molassiotis, Ph.D., of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, wrote, “A considerable number of patients with cancer have used or are using the Gerson Therapy, an alleged anticancer metabolic diet. However, there is almost no scientific support for this regimen. Hence, the present case review study of six patients with metastatic cancer who used the Gerson Therapy aims at critically evaluating each case to derive some valid interpretations of its potential effect.
“All six cases had a cancer diagnosis with poor prognosis. Despite the presence of some confounding variables, it seems that the Gerson regimen has supported patients to some extent both physically and psychologically. More scientific attention needs to be directed to this area so that patients can practice safe and appropriate therapies that are based on evidence rather than anecdotes.
“Although the effectiveness of the Gerson regimen has not been rigorously proved, equally it has not been disproved either. … A definitive trial on the efficacy of the Gerson regimen is long overdue. Information from such a trial would be of great value as it would assist patients to make informed decisions, protect their safety, and add to the patients’ choices in improving their survival chances and quality of life in their fight against cancer.”
The National Cancer Institute notes that in 1990, a study of a diet regimen similar to the Gerson Therapy was done in Austria. The patients received standard treatment along with the special diet. The authors of the study reported that the diet appeared to help patients live longer than usual and have fewer side effects. The authors said it needed further study. In 1995, the Gerson Research Organization did a retrospective study of their melanoma patients who were treated with the Gerson Therapy. The study reported that patients who had Stage III or Stage IV melanoma lived longer than usual for patients with these stages of melanoma.
And yet, there have been no clinical trials that support the findings of these studies. Clearly, this begs the question: Why? The short answer: Drug companies are not interested in medicines that cannot be patented — and nature cannot be patented.
However, there have been curricular suggestions for U.S. medical schools, including:
- Teach holistically — Students should be required to take courses in nutrition, exercise, stress management, and sleep hygiene.
- Test for nutritional knowledge — Med schools should consider competency examinations that cover factual knowledge and students’ ability to give sound advice on nutrition and wellness. These classes can operate as prerequisites for professional certification.
- Use teaching kitchens as laboratories — Can combining anatomy with culinary lessons actually teach students about the dietary impact of foods? This question has been the impetus for medical schools across the country that are taking students from the classroom to the kitchen for a taste of experiential learning.
If they get busy now, they only have about a century of work to catch up on Dr. Gerson …
“They have more money, they lobbied more, and got the law passed in their favor.”
— Dr. Richard Schulze
To Gerson or not to Gerson
What are the Gerson Therapy merits? Keeping in mind that choosing a dietary and lifestyle protocol is highly specific to your situation, the Gerson Therapy may — or may not! — be right for you.
From the time you are diagnosed with cancer, you have a myriad of options. Your oncologist will explore these with you, and you may seek a natural-minded physician on top of that counsel. The location of cancer and stage will influence treatment options no matter who you go to. Other lifestyle factors like accessibility to natural healthcare professionals, budget, and how much assistance you’ll have will play into it as well.
Background also factors into your cancer treatment options. Certain things, like stopping smokeless tobacco when you have mouth cancer, are obvious. But it can go further than that. If you’ve got stomach cancer, dietary needs may be different than that for bone cancer.
As you learn about and weigh protocol options, Gerson included, know that your options are not limited to your neighbor’s or friend’s options. Consider the evidence for and against it, and weigh what will be best for your situation.
Dr. Gerson developed his protocol on the premise that nutrient deficiency and toxic overload combined to create chronic and severe diseases, cancer included. These factors have only increased through the years, with both toxin exposure and cancer increasing in prevalence substantially since he began his studies.
In response, the Gerson protocol begins by completely eliminating sodium — a nutrient we have consumed in excess for years in processed, packaged, and canned foods — and bombards the body with organic fruits and vegetables, usually juiced, to the tune of 15-20 pounds every day. Supplements also are added.
Toxicity is a bit more challenging, as environmental pollutants are essentially impossible to completely eliminate. Rather than relying on avoidance only, Dr. Gerson hypothesized that the liver — our body’s main detoxification organ — could be supported. His method utilizes a coffee enema, intended to stimulate the liver to expel toxins into the intestines and feces to be eliminated.
Little has changed in the Gerson protocol through the years, with practitioners and patients claiming great success in strict adherence. This, of course, requires a great deal of support from those around the patient, as well as a financial commitment. As with any protocol, it is intended to be observed without modifications or combination with another dietary regimen.
With more than 50 years of application, Gerson’s website claims successful treatment of more than 50 severe illnesses. Dr. Gerson was not comfortable implementing his remedy until he had some solid experiential evidence, so their long track record of success has buoyed Gerson practitioners.
Formal evidence, however, is not as clear. A 2010 review in Oncology details the Gerson protocol, notes claims of 70-90 percent success rates, but also notes that formal case reviews have found little to no scientific basis for Gerson therapy success. One of the studies reviewed had analyzed patients with pancreatic cancer. Some chose a protocol very similar to Gerson, and some chose chemotherapy — with chemotherapy patients actually faring better. 
The commitment involved in adherence to the Gerson protocol is intense — but most alternate remedies will be difficult. If you choose to amend your diet and supplements to pursue Dr. Gerson’s remedy, be sure you have a strong network of support around you, preferably with a trained holistic cancer practitioner. They can help you monitor your progress, keep you accountable, and advise you along the way.
Cancer protocol is as varied as the individuals they treat, and this could be the remedy that you need while your neighbor or friend needs something else. Working with a holistic professional can help you determine the path that’s right for you.
- Institute, The Gerson. (2011). The Gerson Therapy | Gerson Institute. Gerson Institute. Retrieved 7 February 2017, from http://gerson.org/gerpress/the-gerson-therapy/
- Gerson Therapy | National Cancer Institute | https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/hp/gerson-pdq
- The Gerson Therapy | Kensington Publishing Corporation |
- About The Gerson Therapy | Gerson Health Media | http://gersonmedia.com/about-the-gerson-therapy/
- Cassileth B | Gerson regimen. – PubMed – NCBI | Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov | https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20361473