What is Gerson Therapy?
Gerson therapy is a health program that involves the use of dietary supplements, a specialized vegetarian diet, and enemas. Proponents claim that Gerson therapy can help treat cancer, migraines, and other diseases.
Gerson Therapy History
Gerson therapy was conceived by the German doctor Max Gerson. Initially developing the program in the 1930s to treat his own migraines, Gerson later expanded the therapy to treat other conditions (including cancer).
What Does Gerson Therapy Involve?
For patients undergoing Gerson therapy, treatment is typically begun at an inpatient clinic licensed by the Gerson Institute. The institute also offers a home therapy package.
Gerson therapy involves the following:
1) Drinking 13 glasses of juice freshly made from organic fruits and vegetables each day (one glass per hour).
2) Adhering to a dietary supplement regimen, which includes:
- coenzyme Q10 injected with vitamin B12
- vitamin A
- vitamin C
- vitamin B3
- Lugol's Solution (potassium iodine, iodine, and water)
- flaxseed oil
- pancreatic enzymes
3) Undergoing coffee or chamomile enemas regularly
4) Following a vegetarian diet based on organic fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Food must be prepared without salt, spices, oils, or the use of aluminum materials.
Is Gerson Therapy Beneficial?
According to Gerson therapy proponents, cancer develops due to buildup of toxic substances in the body. The goal of treatment is to remove such toxins and restore health to the liver (the main organ involved in detoxification). Gerson therapy is also said to stimulate the immune system so that the body is better equipped to fight off cancer.
Despite these health claims, there is a lack of scientific evidence (from laboratory research, animal studies, or clinical trials) to support the use of Gerson therapy in treatment of any condition.
In a research review from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, investigators analyzed seven human studies on the effects of Gerson therapy. Although one study (conducted by the Gerson Research Organization) reported increased survival rates for cancer patients, other reviewed studies failed to demonstrate that Gerson therapy is effective in treatment of cancer.
Is Gerson Therapy Safe?
The diet may result in certain nutrient deficiencies (including calcium and vitamin D). Patients undergoing Gerson therapy may also experience a number of adverse effects, including the following:
- loss of appetite
- cold sores
- high fever
- tumor pain
- intestinal cramping
- perspiration with foul odor
Given these potential health risks, it's crucial to consult a physician if you're considering the use of Gerson therapy in treatment of any health condition.
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 1(4):29-37.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. About herbs: Gerson regimen. Updated October 2009.
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Gerson Detailed Scientific Review.