Although opponents of the Gerson Therapy argue that no scientific studies exist and that the Gerson Therapy has not been scientifically proven effective, the basic components of the therapy such as enzymes, oxygenation, plant-based diet and antioxidants have been extensively studied separately by a large amount of scientists and shown to be effective in the treatment of cancer. However, there are only two studies on the Gerson therapy itself showing its success rate. They are reported by Gar Hildenbrand. The melanoma study and the report from Austria show significant positive results.

Research Studies and the Gerson Therapy:

  1. The melanoma study shows a higher 5-year survival rate in Gerson therapy patients than non-Gerson patients.
  2. A second study “The Report from Austria” shows better health in patients doing the Gerson protocol than those not doing it.

“Since 1984 a modified form of Gerson’s therapy has been in use at the Second Department of Surgery of the Krankenhaus in Graz, Austria”, reports Gar Hildenbrand. In this modified version they are omitting liver juice and niacin, using thyroid only in hypothyroid patients, and limiting caffeine enemas to two per day. Peter Lechner and his colleagues, all of them surgeons, have been testing the Gerson method as an adjunct, often with chemotherapy or radiation, in 60 post-operative cancer patients, male and female, ranging in age from 23 to 74, and representing many different forms of cancer. By pairing each patient who was willing to use the Gerson method (GP) with one of similar age and condition who chose not to try it (NGP) and observing the comparative progress of the disease in the two groups over a four-year period, Lechner and his colleagues have approximated a controlled study of admittedly imperfect structure (Lechner, 1987).

Their findings show that the Gerson therapy made a notable difference in several forms of cancer. Although GPs with bone metastases had no better survival or tumor response than NGPs, their relief from pain and absence of hypercalcemia made for a better quality of life. GPs with lung metastases required fewer procedures to relieve pleural effusion. GPs with brain metastases experienced decreased edema and lived four months longer than their paired NGPs. Premenopausal and perimenopausal breast cancer GPs tolerated conventional treatments better, with fewer side effects; showed better liver and kidney function and blood counts; and had fewer local recurrences and no metastases. Breast cancer GPs with liver metastases tolerated chemotherapy better, and one of three has been in a steady state.

Toxicity and Carcinogens

Cancer is due to excessive use of carcinogenic compounds in our environment and our food. These carcinogenic compounds are chemicals that cannot be eliminated. Lipophylic carcinogens are stored by the fat tissues of the body. They eventually affect the cell genome.

Excerpts of Gar Hildenbrand’s Studies on the Gerson Therapy

Gerson believed that cancer changes the body’s normal sodium/potassium balance, already disturbed by modern diet. Thus, his therapy used foods low in sodium (no salt added), high in potassium, and rich in vitamins A and C and oxidizing enzymes. He excluded fats and dairy products for the first four to six weeks, considering them dangerously burdensome to the digestion in the extremely sick patients who usually came to him only after having exhausted conventional measures. Above all it was essential for patients to eliminate excess sodium, which Gerson believed responsible for altering cellular electrochemistry in favor of cancerous growth.

Although Gerson used caffeine enemas primarily to facilitate excretion of toxic wastes, especially from necrosing tumors, we now realize that these enemas also promoted the absorption of vitamin A, a process requiring the action of bile acids (Simone, 1943, 64). Thus the enemas that brought ridicule from Gerson’s enemies actually enabled his patients to use the enormous amounts of vitamin A, which his diet provided (recently estimated at about 100,000 IU daily: see Seifter, 1988). Vitamin A, in turn, plays a vital role in immune function, perhaps by causing the helper cells to induce the production of interleukin-2, or by causing killer cell precursors to activate cytotoxic mechanisms, or by causing suppressor T cells to eliminate down regulation (Keusch, 1983, 330-331).

Gerson also found that caffeine enemas greatly reduce pain, a particular boon in his regimen, which avoids the use of opiates and other painkilling drugs that might overtax the liver at a time when its limited capacity is needed for immune functions and for eliminating the toxic products of tumor breakdown.

His therapy aimed to detoxify the body and restore its healing apparatus, especially the liver, the visceral nervous system, and the reticulo-mesenchymal system.

After losing several cancer patients to hepatic coma rather than to direct effects of the disease (Gerson, 1958, 191), he realized that “The digestive tract is very much poisoned in cancer’. The liver and pancreas failed to function: “nothing is active” (Gerson, 1958, 407). To stimulate the liver, he began to use coffee enemas, which 0.A. Meyer of Goettingen had found effective in opening the bile ducts in animals and which American surgeons in that period were using in acute adrenal insufficiency and in shock from postoperative hemorrhage and bleeding peptic ulcer (Beeson, 1980, 90, 96; Rothstein, 1987, 124). As he watched the progress of his patients, he found that he could accelerate detoxification by giving coffee enemas more frequently, with the addition of castor oil, by mouth and by rectum (Gerson, 1958, 81).

Although the AMA Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry labeled as a “false notion” the idea that diet can affect cancer, recent researchers have found that “nutritional status plays a critical role in immunological defense mechanisms at a number of important levels” (Keusch, 1983, 345) and that nutritional factors “can have profound influences on … the development and manifestations of cancers” as well as other diseases (Good, 1982, 85). In “The Cancerostatic Effect of Vegetarian Diets” (1983), Siguel describes as the ideal way to strengthen bodily defenses against neoplastic cells a diet similar to Gerson’s: high in carbohydrates and vegetables, low in protein.

Like von Bergmann, Gerson believed that “every defense and healing power of the body depends on the capacity of the body to produce a so-called ‘allergic inflammation'” – a truth long recognized by surgeons, but somehow forgotten by medicine during the heyday of microbiology. To Gerson this capacity to produce inflammation was “the decisive part of the body’s ‘weapon of healing power'” (Gerson, 1958, 127-28).

Noting that fluid from a normal inflammation metabolism kills cancer cells, but that blood serum does not, von Bergmann concluded that a cancer metabolism occurs when the body can no longer produce this healing inflammatory reaction (Gerson, 1958, 120-121). Gerson agreed, but in contrast to von Bergmann and most of his contemporaries, Gerson believed it was often possible for the physician to help restore the vital power of inflammation, even in anergic patients with advanced cancer. If cancer was a degenerative disease caused by the cumulative effect of inadequate nutrition with foods grown in soils depleted by artificial fertilizers and poisoned by toxic insecticides and herbicides, doctors must respond by replenishing the entire human organism. For a condition that represented an ultimate failure of equilibrium in a poisoned metabolism, removal of tumors by surgery or radiation was merely superficial, symptomatic treatment. “Medicine,” Gerson said, “must be able to adapt its therapeutic methods to the damages of the processes of our modern civilization” (Gerson, 1958, 199).

He devoted an entire chapter of his book to a review of efforts, largely by German researchers, to alter metabolism by diet (Gerson, 1958, 89-104). He found special appeal in Otto Warburg, The Metabolism of Tumors, (London, 1930), in G. von Bergmann’s Funktionelle Pathologie (Berlin, 1932), and in Frederick Hoffman’s massive compilation, Cancer and Diet (Baltimore, 1937). Gradually, out of his bedside experience and his reading, he formed a unitary theory of degenerative disease (including cancer) which rested on one of the oldest and most pervasive concepts in the history of medicine: the vis medicatrix naturae or healing power of nature (Neuburger, 1926 and 1944; Warner, 1978). Endlessly seeking out the latest researches and theories in physiology, biochemistry, and – increasingly – immunology, Gerson rapidly integrated these massive bodies of new detail into the larger framework of what he called “the physician within”, that is, the natural powers of resistance, which we today call the immune system….Whether the damage occurs by oxygen starvation, by trauma, by any type of insult, the same response occurs in cells throughout every part of the body, no matter what the tissue of origin. First the cell will lose potassium, second the cell will accept sodium, and third, the cell will swell with too much water. Such cell swelling is called cellular edema. No matter what tissue in the body, and no matter what the cause of injury, the unifying set of occurrences in the tissue damage syndrome are 1) loss of potassium, 2) acceptance of sodium, and 3) swelling with excess water to create cellular edema.

Gerson’s therapy is aimed at increasing free energy production; making more ATP available in the cell. In order to do that, Gerson attempted to manipulate the tissue damage syndrome, which, although Cope did not describe it until 1977, was known clinically to Gerson in the 1920s; and he was active and correct in his management of it. What Gerson did was to eliminate sodium from the diet, to supplement a high potassium diet with additional potassium, and to try to find ways to remove toxins from the bloodstream, which inhibit normal cellular enzyme functions, metabolism, and respiration.

In order to insure that the mitochondria would function, Gerson gave thyroid, and he gave it in pretty high doses. Thyroid is an amino acid iodinated and oxygenated by the thyroid gland which, when administered in significant dosages, first signals cellular mitochondria to replicate, which they do independent of the cell because they have their own DNA and RNA, and second tells mitochondria to make more energy in the form of ATP by burning sugars fast.

Just as a note, if you think of the cell as a planet, the mitochondria are the industrial cities. They are the cities of industry. And when a cell has lost potassium and gained sodium and swollen with water, the sewers back up, and the industrial cities are shut down in their function. And energy cannot be made to clean out the sewers. That is the problem with tissue damage syndrome.