Gerson Therapy for Cancer?

Image Credit: cyclonebill / Flickr. This image has been modified.

Gerson Therapy is a largely diet-based alternative treatment for cancer that was invented by the late Dr. Max Gerson. What has 65 years of medical research concluded about its efficacy and safety?

According to a recent review out of Sloan-Kettering in the journal Oncology, for about $16,000, you can fly to a clinic in Mexico, and spend three weeks “consuming fresh raw fruit and vegetable juices” and “eliminating salt from the diet.” Sounds pretty benign. Patients are also given a number of supplements, including pancreatic enzymes, as well as coffee enemas to “stimulate metabolism.” I do not deny that coffee enemas would be stimulating, but I don’t recommend them, given the case reports I note in my two-minute video, Gerson Therapy For Cancerin which they’ve killed people. Is oral coffee okay? See my video Coffee and Cancer.

To their credit, modern Gerson practitioners have moved away from the original tenets of the plan—which included feeding people raw calf liver smoothies—after too many people died from systemic blood infections. (These infections were from the same fecal bacteria in chicken that I cover in my video Poultry and Paralysis.) After learning of the outbreak, staff at the Gerson Institute decided that the policy of drinking blended liver was to be altered, and they apparently started injecting raw liver instead.

But, hey, conventional cancer treatments are no walk in the park, either! The reason people choose them is in hopes that they work. How does the Gerson therapy compare? The first formal investigation into the treatment was back in 1947, and in the 65 years since, there have been over a dozen studies published. Most came to the same conclusion: Gerson therapy is useless or worse.

These negative reviews of Gerson Therapy were written before a head-to-head trial was published of a Gerson-style (Gonzalez) regime versus chemotherapy, in terms of survival and quality of life for pancreatic cancer patients. That’s the study I profile in my three-minute video Gerson-style Therapy vs. Chemotherapy. You can read the study for yourself here (you’ll note that I always list links to all of the papers I cover in my videos in the “Sources Cited” section beneath each video).

Dietary strategies associated with prolonged cancer survival can be found in my videos:

I’ve got dozens of other videos on alternative medicine in which I do my best to relay the balance of evidence. Just because it may be the best available science, though, doesn’t mean the science is particularly good (as demonstrated in my video, Gerson-style Therapy vs. Chemotherapy). But, how else can we make decisions, except with the best evidence available?

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here, and watch my full 2012 – 2015 presentations: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death; More than an Apple a DayFrom Table to Able; and Food as Medicine.

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