The Gerson therapy: an alternative treatment to cancer - Ka Leo O Hawaii: Opinion

The Gerson therapy: an alternative treatment to cancer

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Posted: Monday, March 17, 2014 5:00 am

Each year, about 14 million  people around the world are diagnosed with cancer. Of those  diagnosed, almost 8 million will die. It has taken many lives too early. 

Treatments for this deadly disease have improved, and although they are often effective, they come with horrible side effects. The Gerson therapy is an alternative treatment that approaches cancer in a natural way. Many of its supporters claim that this treatment works; however, there is evidence that questions the effectiveness of this controversial alternative. 


According to the American Cancer Society, both external factors, such as the use of tobacco, and internal factors, such as genes, are known causes of cancer. Both factors can equally or individually promote the growth of cancer cells. 

Cancer develops when cell growth becomes out of control. As the abnormal cells continue to divide and spread they begin to form tumors. These tumors will grow, and they will interfere with proper body function. The National Cancer Institute states that there are more than 100 types of cancer.

Popular treatments for cancer include radiation, chemotherapy and surgery. These treatments are accompanied with various side effects such as hair loss, headaches, bleeding problems, extreme fatigue and nausea.  


The Gerson therapy is a holistic approach to cancer. It is a natural treatment that utilizes natural supplements, raw juices, coffee enemas and an organic and vegetarian diet to allow the body to heal itself. Its emphasis is to detoxify the body and boost the immune system.

The therapy involves a low-salt, low-fat and low-protein diet. It is strictly vegetarian, and only  organically grown fruits and vegetables are consumed. The goal is for the body to ingest between 15-20 pounds of organically grown fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. 

Juicing is an important part of the diet, and the regiment consists of drinking 13 glasses of fresh raw juice every day. Supplements such as vitamin B12, thyroid hormones and pancreatic enzymes are also taken. 

To detoxify the body, the therapy recommends using coffee enemas as the primary method of helping the liver rid the body of toxins. According to their website, a patient may perform this procedure up to five times a day. 


There are many personal claims stating that the Gerson therapy worked for them. In 1958, Max Gerson, the founder of the therapy, published a book in which 50 cases of various types of cancers were cured from the therapy. Supporters of the Gerson therapy also believe that it can treat arthritis, allergies, heart disease, diabetes and many other degenerative diseases.

However, many medical doctors do not believe in this treatment. The current data to support that the therapy works is not enough to meet the requirements that are set for any treatments to qualify for the warrant of being effective.

There is also a limited amount of well-controlled studies published that show that the therapy is successful in treating cancer. Researchers from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center pointed out that none of the seven human studies that have been presented or published were randomized controlled groups.

The therapy is also illegal to market in the United States because the Food and Drug Administration has not approved it as a treatment for cancer or any other ailments. The Gerson Institute does not own a treatment center but has two licensed privately owned business clinics, in Mexico and Hungary, where patients are referred.

The price for the treatment is expensive, and they are not covered by any insurance. The cost for the recommended two-week stay at their clinics, which has to be paid upfront, is $11,000 and does not include travel expenses. Additionally, the supplements, products and necessities required to continue the therapy at home are between $2,000-$4,000. 

There is also concern about the use of coffee enemas, which can lead to electrolyte imbalances, constipation problems and can weaken the colon’s normal function.  


It is ultimately up to those who are faced with cancer to decide which treatment they want to undergo. Being faced with a killer disease is difficult, and decisions are often a life or death situation. However, the Gerson therapy should be the last option for any person to consider after all other possible treatments have been tried. 

Even if it the effectiveness of the Gerson therapy might be in question, it does promote a diet that is full of fruits and vegetables. And although the requirements for the therapy might be a little extreme, it highlights the benefits of eating healthy.

Since cancer is partly influenced by external factors, our food choices play an important part in the prevention against this disease. We may never know what can happen in the future, but we can control how healthy we want to be.

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