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The Gerson Therapy

by June Butlin(more info)

listed in cancer, originally published in issue 23 - November 1997

A diagnosis of cancer fills the heart and mind with fear and apprehension. Cancer is becoming g increasingly widespread. At the start of this century it claimed the life of one in 30, and today it is estimated to kill one in five.

In conventional terms there are many cancers, many causes, but few cures. Chemotherapy (drug based) with its extensive side effects including nausea, leukaemia and sterility is reputed to help no more than 5% of sufferers. Ulrich Abel PhD. examined all published literature dealing with chemotherapy and concluded that its success was - 'no less than appalling and there was no scientific evidence for its ability to extend in any appreciable way the lives of patients suffering from most organic cancers'. Radiotherapy appears to be no more effective as it kills many of the white blood cells which are needed to fight the cancer. Surgery has a poor record of success and can spread some cancers further.

Dr. Hardin Jones analysed conventional cancer survival statistics for several decades, and concluded in 1975, that patients were as well, or better off untreated. J.C. Bailer, in 1986, questions whether the body can ever really recover from chemotherapy or radiotherapy, writing 'the survival for many of the major tumours is no better now than it was for our grandparents'. These conclusion have been confirmed many times in further research to this day in spite of the fact that in America 80 billion dollars a year is spent on cancer.

Regarding alternative methods to cancer treatment one wonders whether they are any better. It is difficult to assess its effectiveness as there is little evidence and data. Indeed there is still not a dear definition as to what cancer is. It is also illegal for any practitioner in Britain to claim a cure and there are various reports of respected scientists in America being persecuted for their research and data.

Such alternative treatments include: Coley's Toxins, Hoxsey's herbs, Livingston's treatment, Kelley's treatment, Hydrogen peroxide, Macrobiotics, Vitamin and mineral supplementation and the Gerson therapy. Of all these treatments, the one that intrigues me the most, is the Gerson Therapy.

The Gerson dietary regime adopts a seemingly simplistic approach to cancer treatment, a perfect antidote to the 'Pottenger effect', with its essence in purity. The basis of the therapy lies in the conviction that cancer is a systemic disease, and given the correct nutrients, mainly derived from fruits and vegetables of organic sources, the body's own defence system will overcome the cancerous cells. The soil in which the food is nourished is equally important and Gerson referred to it as - 'our external metabolism'.

The therapy evolved when Dr. Gerson, director of a special department at Munich University Hospital, under the sponsorship of Dr. Sauerbruch, sought a cure for his migraines. By restricting his own diet, avoiding fat, salt, pickled and smoked foods and eating fruit and vegetables he found that he could control them. Sharing his ideas with his patients, one of them insisted that the migraine diet had cure his skin tuberculosis. A clinical trial using Gerson's methods was run on 450 patients suffering from tuberculosis. Dr. Sauerbruch recounts in his autobiography - 'once he had discovered and put an end to the smuggling of sausages, cream and beer to the patients in the late afternoon' - 446 patients achieved lasting cures. In 1924, Dr. Sauerbruch announced Gerson's dietary treatment as a cure for skin tuberculosis. Later, the diet was successfully used in pulmonary tuberculosis and arthritis.

In 1928, the diet was first used in cancer, at the insistence of a woman who had jaundice, high fever and two small liver metastases, after unsuccessful surgery for cancer of the bile duct. The woman fully recovered in six months.

There was much opposition to Gerson's work from the American Medical Association, particularly with his uncompromising opposition to tobacco and the chemicalisation of alcohol. However, he published his book, 'A Cancer Therapy: Results of 50 Cases', a year before he died in 1959. His daughter Charlotte continued his work and has opened two care centres that exclusively use the Gerson therapy in Mexico and Arizona.

In Gerson's time there was little scientific validation of his work, however, recent nutritional research is proving his methodology. This confirms Albert Schweitzer's statement that Gerson - 'was one of the eminent geniuses in the history of medicine'. Research shows that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, high in fibre, moderately low in fat and alcohol, and devoid of environmental carcinogens has a protective effect against cancer. Nutrients proven to aid in cancer are vitamins A, C, E, Beta Carotene, Selenium, B Complex, Calcium, Antioxidant Enzymes and Essential Fatty Adds. These factors are all considered in the Gerson therapy.

Two studies carried out to evaluate the effectiveness of the Gerson therapy show encouraging results. R Lechner's study published in 1990, found that the patients were in better general condition, had fewer complications, a reduced demand for pain killers and existing liver metastases progressed more slowly. Sikora K. et al. reported in the September 1990 Lancet, that patients had low pain scones, some tumour regression and were more confident with a sense of well being.

The 'Gerson Research Organisation' itself revealed the results of its 15 year retrospective survey of survival rates in malignant melanoma patients in 1995. The results were divided into the different stages of the melanoma and survival rates were of five years.

The study revealed that stages i and ii (localised) showed 100% survival, stage iii (regional spread) 71%, stage iv a (superficial distant spread) 39% and stage iv b (internal distant spread) was non assessable. These results exceeded the orthodox figures by a very large margin. If these figures can be confirmed by prospective trials it would represent a great step forward in cancer management.

I felt excited by this thought and decided to book on a Gerson training day to find out more about the practicalities of this 'seemingly simplistic' therapy


The practicalities of the Gerson Therapy

Books and Papers

Hildenbrand G. et al. Alternative therapies in Health and Medicine 1995; (4) 29-37
Series `Nutrition and Cancer' December 1993 – October 1994 issues of the International Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Sandra Goodman PhD.
Sikora K. et al. `Juices, coffe enemas and cancer' Lancet 1990;336:677-78
Lechner P. Kronberger L. Experiences with the use of dietary therapy in surgical oncology.Aktuelle Ernahrungsmedizin 1990;2 (15):72-78
Pottenger's Cats.F.M. Pottenger and R. T. Pottenger. Price Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, 2667 Camino Del Rio South, Suite 109, San Diego, CA 02108-3767, 1983
The Gerson Institute, PO Box 430, Bonita, CA 91908-0430,USA
Bailer J.C.Smith E.M. Progress against Cancer.N.Engl.J.Med. 1986 0-314-1226-32
What Doctors Don't Tell You Guide to Cancer. Published by the Wallace Press. Lynne Mc. Taggart
A Cancer Therapy Results of Fifty Cases. Max Gerson, M.D. Gerson published by the Gerson Institute. ISBN 0-88268-105-02
Nutrition and Cancer. State of the Art Sandra Goodman PhD. Published by Green Library, 1995.ISBN 0-946170-14-2


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About June Butlin

June M Butlin PhD is a trained teacher, nutritionist, kinesiologist, aromatherapist, fitness trainer and sports therapist. She is a writer, health researcher and lecturer and is committed to helping people achieve their optimum level of health and runs a private practice in Wiltshire. June can be contacted on 01225 869 284;

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