Gerson therapy aims to treat the whole person, not just symptoms. It is a general cleansing therapy for the entire body. The therapy can achieve the following: detoxification, restoration of metabolic functions, enabling the digestion and elimination of cancer masses through the blood stream, and recovery of the organs, especially the liver.
Max Gerson was a pioneer in the world of alternative medicine. His therapy proved itself by providing a cure for just about every degenerative disease that plagues modern society, at a time when the first rumblings of disenchantment with so-called "modern medicine" were being heard. Among his initial successes was a 99% cure rate at a sanitarium for tuberculosis, unheard of with allopathic medicine. Beginning his work in the 1920s in Germany, he later immigrated to the United States, where in 1938 he was licensed to practice in New York. In 1946 he became the first physician to demonstrate recovered cancer patients before a U.S. Congressional Committee. Gerson had a 50% success rate even with terminal cancer patients that allopathic medicine had given up on. Albert Schweitzer referred to him as "a medical genius that walked among us."
Gerson first began to develop his therapy when he discovered that he could cure himself from terrible migraines by eating nothing but fresh fruit and vegetables.
Gerson therapy has reported successes with the following: cancer, migraine, ulcers, asthma, glaucoma, edemas, eczema, diabetes, schizophrenia, emphysema, epilepsy, allergies, psoriasis, tuberculosis, arteriosclerosis, heart diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney diseases, lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, and high blood pressure; all of them common diseases and conditions. Gerson demonstrated that dramatic initial improvements can be expected within one week of starting his therapy, which involves taking nothing but absolutely fresh fruit and vegetable juices, coffee, chamomile and castor oil enemas, and additional nutrients according to the prescription of a practitioner who is conversant with the principles of the Gerson therapy.
Gerson described how our food has been affected by the lowering of the quality of soil with the use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides. He went on to describe the growing of fruits and vegetables as the human being's "external metabolism." He lists numerous examples in his book of people from around the world who were living the same existence that they have lived for centuries, untouched by "civilization." These people, he noted, were living free of the diseases that modern societies considered commonplace.
It is essential that the juices for this therapy are organic; any traces of pesticides will prevent success with diseases such as cancer, for it is only when complete detoxification can be achieved that the body will be able to overcome such scourges.
The length of therapy will probably be between two weeks and two months, depending on the illness. But for cancer patients, it may be necessary to follow with an easier form of the diet in order to prevent a recurrence. The cost of therapy varies. If carried out at home under the supervision of a physician, the major expenses will be doctor's visits and organic fruit and vegetables. If clinic treatment is preferred, the Gerson Institute can help and advise.
The central theory of the Gerson therapy is fresh juices, which should be drunk immediately after they are prepared. When they are left for longer than 20 minutes, the vital enzymes begin to oxidize, and after about 40 minutes, will no longer be suitable for the therapy. The following should also be observed:
- A press-type juicer should be used; centrifuges do not produce satisfactory juice for this treatment.
- Fresh veal liver should be juiced (under 4 lb) and the juice drunk raw (Gerson could find nothing better for replacing vital enzymes necessary for repairing the human organism).
- Cooking and enema water should be free of chemicals.
- Salt, tobacco, alcohol, and black tea are forbidden.
- No drugs should be taken except aspirin. Gerson's prescription for pain relief consisted of the following: coffee enemas (given every two hours if necessary), 5 g of aspirin, 100 mg of vitamin C and 50 mg of niacin, up to four times in the course of 24 hours. He noted that this also produced restful sleep in even the worst cases.
- Toothpaste or anything containing fluoride should be eliminated.
- Aerosol sprays, air fresheners, insecticides, paint fumes etc., should be avoided completely.
- Deodorants, hair dye, perms, cosmetics and aluminum cooking pans should be eliminated.
- Proteins fats and oils must be eliminated, along with all smoked, canned and processed foods.
- The diet should be strictly adhered to, along with all medication, and the prescribed enemas.
- Chemotherapy, radiation therapy etc., must be avoided as they damage the immune system and hinder healing.
The Gerson therapy is a powerful tool for detoxification, and can produce healing crises. Most patients suffer from nausea and fevers when the initial flush of toxins is released into the bloodstream. Enemas are designed to help with this, and peppermint tea is also recommended. In the case of seriously ill patients, it is advisable to have an understanding practitioner on hand to help with this difficult process. Some of the methods used in Gerson therapy have produced bad outcomes. Coffee enemas have been known to cause deaths and patients undergoing Gerson therapy have been admitted to the hospital with bacterial infections most likely caused by ingesting raw calf's liver.
Patients are warned that after detoxification by the Gerson therapy, the body becomes hypersensitive to drugs, particularly anesthetic. Dentists should be advised of this, and no drugs should be taken without the advice of a physician.
Research & general acceptance
In 1946 Gerson's therapy was out-voted in congress by four votes in favor of surgery, radiation, and chemicals. This situation remains today, despite increased popularity of alternative and complementary medicine. In 1990, two agencies reviewing patient records could find no evidence that the method was effective in treating cancer. However, many alternative practitioners have shown that detoxification can improve the effectiveness of healing techniques.
Training & certification
The Gerson Institute maintains a list of practitioners specializing in the Gerson method.
Gerson, Max. A Cancer Therapy, Results of Fifty Cases. Bonita, CA: Gerson Inst., 1958.
"Gerson Method." Cancer (July-August 1990): 252-255.
Hunter, Beatric Trum. "Improving the Quality of One's Life (Book Corners)." Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients (July 2002): 131.
The Gerson Institute. P.O. Box 430, Bonita, CA 92002. (619) 585-7600. Fax: (619) 585-7610. http://www.gerson.org.
Teresa G. Odle