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The Practicalities of the Gerson Therapy

by June Butlin(more info)

listed in detoxification, originally published in issue 24 - January 1998

After attending the Gerson therapy training day I realised that the practicalities of the therapy were far from simplistic and it could well be the most intense and extreme nutritional approach to chronic disease. The therapy can take up to two years or more to reverse and repair the damage caused by cancer. The treatment is split into three important elements: the nutritional support of the diet, the detoxification process and the supplementation, which is mainly used to increase metabolism.

The main premise of the nutritional approach is to regenerate the body to health by flooding it with vast amounts of nutrients. The diet is individualised to meet the needs of every patient, but it does have uniform components. It consists of three lacto vegetarian meals each day, freshly prepared from organically grown fruits, vegetables and wholegrains. Thirteen glasses daily of fresh raw carrot/apple and green leaf juices are taken hourly. These supply oxidative enzymes and are rich in vitamins and minerals, in particular potassium to offset the sodiumisation in the cells of cancer patients, as well as beta carotene which inhibits tumour growth. The juices are drunk as soon as they are prepared to preserve the fresh enzymes and life force which can die within 15 minutes. There are certain foods to avoid such as mushrooms, cucumber, avocados, pineapples or berry fruits. The diet is restricted in salt and is fat free except for the essential fatty acids contained in linseed oil. Grains feature hardly at all except for oatmeal, and baked potatoes are taken regularly.

A specially prepared soup is eaten daily, consisting of potatoes, tomatoes, celeriac, celery, onions, parsley, herbs and garlic. The recipe reputedly came from Hippocrates, and was discovered in a 1200 page book of folk medicine on The Healing of Cancer, in 1928.

All water used in the preparation of the foods and for washing utensils is free of fluorine, chlorine and other chemicals. All artificial chemicals are also avoided. During the first stages of the therapy there is a temporary protein restriction which aids oedema absorption.

Protein repletion with non fat cultured dairy products occurs after six weeks in most cases.

The preparation of the food is very time consuming and takes approximately 40 hours a week. All heated food is cooked slowly until tender so that the cell walls remain intact. The juices are crushed, not pulped, in such a way as to preserve the cell walls and their precious nutrients.

The detoxification process of the therapy is of major importance. Once the immune system starts working it begins to break down the tumours releasing high levels of toxins into the blood stream. To aid in the detoxification process up to five coffee enemas can be taken each day. The caffeine contained in the enemas is drawn into the blood and tissues, particularly the liver, which is stimulated to excrete its toxins. These toxins are passed to the bile duct which in turn empties into the intestines and are then expelled naturally. Castor oil is also used as an enema or can be taken orally for those patients who have not undergone chemotherapy, as their detoxification needs to be of a much slower nature. Its effects are similar to coffee in that it helps the body to rid itself of toxins. These enemas also help to relieve pain. It is essential that both the nutritional and the detoxification parts of the therapy are undertaken if there is a chance of success without overtaxing the liver.

Supplementation is prescribed on an individual level and then a certain number are administered to all patients as part of the therapy.

Potassium compound is of major significance as there is an imbalance in the Na/K balance in all cancer patients. This imbalance allows excess water into the cells and promotes the growth of tumours. To increase the metabolic rate thyroid hormone and lugol's solution (iodine + potassium iodide) is given. More recently CoQ10, which is manufactured in the liver and takes part in the process of cellular energy production, has been added to the list. Other nutrients are: injectable crude liver extract and liquid liver extract which contains highly bio-available nutrients including iron, B vitamins and trace minerals, injectable B12, pancreatic enzymes, niacin and flax oil which is proved to inhibit tumour growth.

Blood counts, serum electrolytes, urinalysis, T3 and T4 tests are taken frequently and the medication is altered accordingly

There are constant investigations carried out by the Gerson Research Organisation to further Gerson's ideas. So far the adjunct therapies that are accepted are exercise, acupuncture, massage, Reiki and homeopathy.

The success rate of this therapy is high, but this gruelling regime is certainly not a magic bullet for all people. The practicalities and the extra help needed, along with costs of up to £200 a week for food and £200 a month for medication alone would cause stress to many.

For others who believe wholeheartedly that the treatment is going to work it could be their lifeline. In American cancer specialist, Bernie Siegal's words, `If the absolute certainty of healing is there the road taken is secondary'.

One person who took this road is Josephine Merhar who had terminal uterine cancer in October 1978. The uterus was twice the normal size and there was excessive bleeding. She began the Gerson therapy in December 1978 with a violent protest from her physician who said that she would die within a year. She recovered completely and was cancer free 17 years later.

Further insight into the therapy can be gained through Beata Bishop's book, A Time To Heal, (Beata is a regular contributor to PH and her writings can be found under articles/regulars) which tells of her recovery from spreading melanoma. She describes her diabetes clearing and her senses rejuvenating. In her healing her secondary melanoma never reduced in size. It grew a hard protective shell which encapsulated and sealed off the active cancer cells so that it could later be harmlessly removed by surgery – such is the healing power of the body!

Further Information

Gerson Institute Suggestion Resources, The Gerson Institute and cancer caring society, Box 430, Bonita, CA 91908
History of the Gerson Therapy: contract report by Patricia Spain Ward PhD, for office of Technology Assessment, 1988. Now in its 5th edition. Gerson Institute.
Gerson Support Group, Lesley Pearce, 1, Park Rise Close, Leatherhead, Surrey, KT22 7JA
A Cancer Therapy – Result of Fifty Cases. Max Gerson. Published by the Gerson Institute, 1958. ISBN 0882681052
A Time To Heal Beata Bishop. Published by Severn House Publishers Ltd, 1985. ISBN 0450 500853
Love, Medicine and Miracles, Bernie Siegal. Published by Rider, 1986. ISBN 07126 12645
Five-Year Survival Rates of Melanoma Patients Treated by Diet Therapy after the Manner of Gerson: A Retrospective Review. Hilderbrand, GL Gar et al. Alternative Therapies 1(4): 29–37, 1993.



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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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