The Biological, Biochemical and Physiological Basis of The Gerson Therapy

The need to look at the whole body

The Concept of Totality:

Dr. Gerson believed the cause of cancer to be the accumulation of numerous damaging factors and where there is a breakdown of the whole body, and no single approach would effect a cure. The effects of single treatments without regard for the totality of biological rules, and the underlying metabolism that supports the disease, are doomed to fail. He said: “change the internal environment so the malignancy cannot survive, bring the body to a vitality to enable it to generate a healing inflammation (digestion of tumor), then eliminate the tumor products and other toxins in the body and you would see a healing.” “What is essential is not the growth itself, or the visible symptoms: it is the damage of the whole metabolism, including the loss of defense, immunity and healing power.”

There are many single treatment approaches now, both conventional and alternative:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Alternative: Herbs and nutrient
  • Substances that can:
  • Block angiogenesis
  •  Increase NK cell activity
  • Directly anti tumor
  • Stimulate fever, etc.

In and of themselves they may be helpful, but they do not necessarily address the functioning of the whole body, the integrity of the organs, the level of defense and immunity.


There are four main objectives or a four pronged approach that we are going to cover:

  1. Restore and re-establish and increase the oxidative metabolism of the normal cells and tissues.
  2. Initiation and support of the healing inflammation for parenteral elimination of tumor tissue.
  3. Increase the detoxification capacity of the liver and the entire system to keep up with the rate of tumor breakdown.
  4. Continue this process over a long enough period of time for all tumors to be absorbed and the essential organs to be restored to normal function.

We will discuss each of these and then weave it all together.


We know that disease arises when cellular metabolism is compromised. This happen from injury to cell – whatever the cause:

  • poor diet,
  • environmental toxins,
  • viruses,
  • oxygen starvation,
  • autointoxication, etc.

The same response occurs in cells throughout the body.

  1. Tissues lose potassium
  2. Tissues accept sodium
  3. Cell swells with water
  4. Loss of cellular energy production

Now the environment in the cell is not conducive to manufacturing energy or making ATP. BURNING SUGAR THROUGH OXIDATION. Without ATP the cell dies. Protein synthesis and lipid metabolism cease. So, salt and water management was a major basis for the therapy and thru the advancement of NMRI it is shown that a cell in its diseased state will lose intracellular potassium and sodium will enter the cell. This shift in the major minerals causes inhibition of the oxidative function—dropping now into a fermentation cycle or from aerobic gycolysis to anerobic glycolysis.

Otto Warburg’s research into oxidative metabolism, Nobel prize winner, theorized that cancer is a fermentative disease. Cancer cells do not use oxygen—they secrete large amount of lactic acid generated by anerobic glycolysis. This feeds back into the cycle, the burning of fuel is compromised, oxygen and potassium is rejected. (Kathryn Alexander)

Several other scientists have corroborated and studied Dr. Gerson’s work and using NMRI we have conclusive evidence and validation of his work. These were Ling, Cope and Damadian. The NMRI reads tissues electronically and we are able to determine the electrical fields within the body. Dr. Gerson was aware of dynamic energies behind the chemical substances—a force which energized and gave life to tissues, minerals and chemical substances. “We now know that what we have inherited is not a set of chemical substances, but a pattern of dynamic energies” “The system needs animating energies besides the pure substances”

What they saw with NMRI is that throughout the cytoplasm of our cells, water is structured, it is stacked because the dynamic energies in the cells hold water in an organized pattern. E.g. Ling’s work. He likens the cytoplasm of the cell to macromolecule in which an electrical current runs through and this force attracts paramagnetic ions. WATER BECOMES STRUCTURED. The water molecules line up—O2 molecules face one way and H ions face the other way. He theorized that it was this electrical field of the cytoskeleton that governed the ionic environment of the cell and not the Na K pump. No energy is required other than the attractive forces at the association sites. It would take too much energy if it was a pump. More association sites for K are formed (20). As more K sites are filled more are attracted. Interactive cooperativity. As the cells water organizes, the excess Na, water and toxins are eliminated. Once the sodium ring around the tumor was drained, the tumor would lose its protection and defense. Can lose up to 8 gm a day of sodium in urine. ATP production increases. We have successful salt and water management of tissue damage. IF CELLS ARE NOT ALREADY TOO DAMAGED.


In chapter 17 of “The Healing of Cancer”, Dr. Gerson starts off the chapter again with the reminder that cancer is not a specific illness, but a chronic degenerative disease develops where there is a general breakdown of the whole body. The theory of cancer, he states is a question of the defense of the mesenchyme (connective tissue). These cells are distributed all over the body, especially between all organs and tissues. It is now called the reticular endothelial system and it is a parenteral digestive apparatus. From pathology we learn that almost every tumor is surrounded by such tissue and this system is almost inactive and paralyzed in cancer, incapable of protecting the body any longer in defense and healing.

The cancerous body is anergic (diminished reaction against an antigen) and cannot produce an active inflammatory metabolism. This system cannot function sufficiently when the entire body is poisoned and has lost the ionizing minerals of the K group and its electrical potential.

However, if the body could be detoxified enough to restore oxidative metabolism, then vitality could be raised enough to initiate this response.

When this response starts a a site, an exudate is formed with inflammatory cells. These cells have an oxidative and digestive metabolism which causes an acidosis of the inflamed tissue and a decrease of O2 and sugar (E producing substance) This acid formation and deficient energy substance brings about damage or destructions of inflamed tissue—a kind of swelling and degeneration. After the inflammation has killed the tumor mass, necrosis sets in—here is where the digestive power of the leukocytic enzymes digest fibrin and debris. Then a creation of new capillaries which penetrate into the mass and there is a build up of granulation tissue. This inflammatory process also produces TNF.

The fever that accompanies the healing inflammation amplifies the lymphocytic response and mobilization of WBCs, and is thought to be directly damaging to cancer cells. These flare ups involve fever, pain, redness and swelling at site of tumor or old or recent injuries. They will occur at certain intervals and are less intense as healing progresses.

Healing reactions There are actually 3 types of healing reactions. To be technical.

Toxin reactions: toxins being pushed out of cells where they have been harbored for many years, into the blood stream. Patient feels very toxic and experience HA, nervous irritability, mental and emotional instability, depression, unable to think clearly, foul taste in mouth, odors, vivid memories from the past, food cravings, joint and muscle pain. Especially around neck and shoulders and down spine.

Detox reactions: Symptoms of discharge of toxins to the outside—mainly into the digestive tract. Skin eruptions, foul smelling dark urine, foul sweat, menses. Nausea and vomiting, hemorrhoids, diarrhea, dark stools, cold sores, orange tinge to skin.

The Healing Inflammation: Fever, pain

Artificial means to cause healing reactions are autologus vaccines, Coleys toxins. However, Dr. Gerson felt stimulating a unnatural inflammation is not the same as a spontaneously generated healing inflammation. To induce an artifical fever while neglecting the cause of disease was of no benefit.

We need to bring the body to the state where it can initiate these healing reactions as often as needed. We can only do that when the body is detoxified. Artificial stimulations could possibly beneficial after that as an added help.

Difference between allergies and the healing inflammation. When body is cleansed, the liver, etc., it is healing – not reacting to foreign and noxious substances, undigested proteins. In fact it is necessary to keep away from the patient all substances which they could react to, as the sick body will produce allergic reactions, rather than the biologically stronger healing inflammation. Also very important to avoid infectious agents, viral and bacterial, and prevent all impeding infectious or poisonous reactions, drugs and food allergies, as these will impede the healing inflammation – especially first 9 months.


In chapter 22 Dr. Gerson writes that the underlying cause of cancer is from the poisoning of the of the liver. He states, “cancer is a disease of the liver” . The liver is lately called the balance wheel of life – where most metabolic functions are more or less concentrated. From here other organs can be pathologically influenced and damaged or poisoned. The origin of the cancerous disease is more probable where the reactivation of the oxidizing enzymes, one of the finest developed functions of the liver is impaired.

As naturopaths, we were trained to focus heavily on the liver. We had a motto which was “when in doubt – treat the liver”

For the past 50 years we have been exposed to an ever increasing amount of environmental toxins and concurrently we are seeing an escalating incidence of cancer. Now, our genetics have not changed that much in 50 or 100 years. So, we know it is from our lifestyle and environmental exposures. So as the body becomes more toxic – the liver has a greater burden and becomes more compromised in the process of trying to clear all the exogenous as well as endogenous toxins from the body. A toxic residual accumulates – back to one of the inciting causes of tissue damage syndrome. Now, the weaker the genetics – the greater the susceptibility.


The coffee enema is capable of removing circulating toxins and partial metabolites because it stimulates an enzyme system in the liver called glutathione-s-transferase. It removes electrophiles (free radicals) by stepping up this system by 700%. No other materials other than coffee are known to do this. The blood passes thru the liver every 3 mins so when the coffee is held for 15 min, it gets five passes thru the liver. In addition, the theobromine, theophylline, and the caffeine in the coffee all have physiological effects. They dilate the blood vessels and bile ducts, relax the smooth muscles and increase the flow of bile In addition, the quart of water in the gut stimulates the visceral nervous system which stimulates peristalsis. Net effect – the flushing of toxic bile.

We know a lot more today about the detox function of the liver than in Dr. Gerson’s day. We know it has two parts – Phase I and Phase II – two wash cycles so to speak. Some toxins are excreted after Phase I and others need a second wash in Phase II – they need to be conjugated with a carrier molecule. One of the most important systems of Phase II is the glutathione conjugation pathway which utilizes glutathione for the detoxification of deadly industrial toxins such as PCBs the for the breakdown of other carcinogens and xenobiotics including heavy metals.

Its activity accounts for 60% percent of the toxins excreted in the bile. There are 6 detox pathways in Phase II (glutathione conjugation, sulfation, peptide conjugation (taurine and glycine) glucoronidation, acetylation and methylation. They have the ability to back up for one another.

Back to glutathione, it can get depleted with the constant stress of excess toxins and so even stimulating with the coffee, we need a reserve of glutathione. That is where dietary nutrients are so important. Some of the foods that support are the cruciferous vegetables, flax seed oil, fresh fruits, garlic, other vegetables, onions. Supplements that do this are: CoQ10, B-12 Vitamin C – Important for patients to eat a great variety of veggies. Carotenes Niacin Milk thistle The liver must also be able to detoxify tumor breakdown products.


Dr. Gerson found that in cancer dietary protein stimulated tumor growth, and patients with high protein intakes could not be saved. He also noted that when he restricted dietary protein, the immune profile changed – the t-lymphocyte count went up – the branch of the immune system that fights tumors, viruses and fungi.

And he also found that restricting protein caused more sodium to be eliminated in the urine. He stopped protein for 6 to 8 weeks in order to cause Na to leave damaged cells and allow the edema to be absorbed. He believed that Na is trapped in the body with protein. Ling found this also. Excess protein creates acidity and puts extra strain on the kidneys and later the heart.

Dr. Robert Good, Director of Sloan Kettering Institute of Cancer Research, did studies with protein restriction on animal, mice and guinea pigs. Those on protein-calorie restriction, even genetically predisposed, did not develop CA and if they had it, it regressed. Also auto-immune dz.

Current research also shows T-cell immunity is raised and serum blocking antibody is depressed. In cancer, tumor specific antibody is produced by B cells which attaches to the antigenic sites on tumor cells, covering the antigenic sites. This prevents the T-cell from having access to the tumor and destroying it.

Use cultured non fat milk products. A typical patient loses around 40 gms protein a day through entrails. Mostly replaced by vegetarian diet. Dairy protein adds 30 to 40 gms more than is required – keeps in positive nitrogen balance.

The combined protein restriction, high K, Low Na regime removed the Na ring (edema) around the tumor improving circulation and immune activity at the site.


In most cancer patients, digestion is poor. Also important in the parenteral digestion of tumor tissue. Amylase, trypsin and chymotrypsin are especially important in trophoblast destruction. Need large quantities to overcome anti tryptic substances produced by tumor. 25 grams of crystalline chymotrypsin necessary in a single dose to neutralize the excess chymotrypsin inhibitor in the serum of advanced CA pts.

Here is an article:


Pancreatic enzymes – the body’s main anti-cancer defense

The Scottish embryologist Dr. John Beard first proposed at the turn of the century that pancreatic enzymes, in addition to their digestive function, represent the body’s main anti-cancer defense. Patients on the Gonzalez regimen take up to 45 grams of pancreatic enzymes a day, taken orally and spread throughout the day.

The value of enzymes in the treatment of cancer was demonstrated scientifically by Dr. Gonzales study “Evaluation of Pancreatic Proteolytic Enzyme Treatment of Adenocarcinoma of the Pancreas, With Nutrition and Detoxification Support”. Nicholas James Gonzalez and Linda Lee Isaacs


Historically, large doses of proteolytic enzymes, along with diet, nutritional supplements, and “detoxification” procedures, have been used in alternative therapies to treat all forms of cancer, without formal clinical studies to support their use.

A 2-year, unblinded, 1-treatment arm, 10-patient, pilot prospective case study was used to assess survival in patients suffering inoperable stage II–IV pancreatic adenocarcinoma treated with large doses of orally ingested pancreatic enzymes, nutritional supplements, “detoxification” procedures, and an organic diet.

From January 1993 to April 1996 in the authors’ private practice, 10 patients with inoperable, biopsy-proven pancreatic adenocarcinoma were entered into the trial. After one patient dropped out, an 11th patient was added to the study (however, all 11 are considered in the data tabulation). Patients followed the treatment at home, under the supervision of the authors.

As of 12 January 1999, of 11 patients entered into the study, 9 (81%) survived one year, 5 (45%) survived two years, and at this time, 4 have survived three years. Two patients are alive and doing well: one at three years and the other at four years. These results are far above the 25% survival at one year and 10% survival at two years for all stages of pancreatic adenocarcinoma reported in the National Cancer Data Base from 1995.

This pilot study suggests that an aggressive nutritional therapy with large doses of pancreatic enzymes led to significantly increased survival over what would normally be expected for patients with inoperable pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Nutrition and Cancer, 33(2): 117-124, 1999.