Gerson Therapy is a scam! It is a dietary-based alternative cancer treatment whose proponents erroneously believe that cancer is a symptom of a disease and not disease itself. The therapy, which has been shown to be both ineffective and dangerous, is based on the belief that disease is caused by the accumulation of unspecified toxins and that hourly glasses of organic juice along with various dietary supplements will rid the body of said unspecified toxins. In addition, proponents of this quackery promote enemas of coffee, castor oil and sometimes hydrogen peroxide or ozone to “strip the gut of harmful bacteria and pollutants”. Despite the treatment and constituents being relatively cheap and easily available, descendants of the therapies developer Max Gerson have transformed his gift to the world into a lucrative business. Operating out of a clinic in Tijuana, Mexico – because the US forbids doctors to practice it the Northern Baja Gerson Centre – charges it patrons $6,250 a week (2 week minimum) to cure not just cancer but most chronic, degenerative diseases.
I was first introduced to the disturbing and parasitic world of Gerson Therapy whilst researching Prince Charles’ history of using his privileged position to open the door to quacks and charlatans, enabling them to erode away our health care system. The heir to the throne has never made a secret of his love affair with alternative medicine going so far as to sell his own detox potions. He was able to do this after personally contacting the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) who coincidentally soon after relaxed the rules governing labelling on such products in a move which was widely condemned by scientists and medical bodies.
In 2004 the Prince, who has a Bachelor of Arts and no formal medical training, somehow became the President of the British Medical Association (BMA) and gave an enthusiastic endorsement of Gerson Therapy to a room of over 200 healthcare professionals.
‘I know of one patient who turned to Gerson Therapy having been told she was suffering from terminal cancer and would not survive another course of chemotherapy. Happily, seven years later, she is alive and well. So it is vital that, rather than dismissing such experiences, we should further investigate the beneficial nature of these treatments.’ – Prince Charles
Charles’s spokesman refused to say who the woman he was referring to was a friend, family member, or someone he met in his role as a patron of four cancer charities. What we do know is that Prince Charles was first introduced to Gerson Therapy from his interior designer Dudley Poplak who, despite having knowledge of this cancer cure, would himself go on to die of cancer. He handed Prince Charles a copy of Time to Heal: My Triumph over Cancer – one of many books published on the dietary-based alternative cancer treatment by someone who if you were to believe their stories was told to “go home and die” by their doctors, but because of Gerson Therapy is now alive and well without any ill effects.
The Gerson treatment for cancer is the original “metabolic therapy” of which there are now countless different varieties all claiming to cure various diseases by “detoxifying” the body and, in recent years by “boosting the immune system”. It was developed in the 1920s by the German-born American doctor Max Gerson after he allegedly cured his own migraine through diet. He would later recommend this diet to fellow migraine sufferers and patients who reported that as well as stopping his migraine, his diet also miraculously cured his skin tuberculosis. Over time Gerson developed his nutritional program which, when combined with vigorous purging, would treat all forms of tuberculosis as well as other conditions such as arthritis and arteriosclerosis. He later reported using the same treatment for cancer stating that:
“Cancer is not a single cellular problem; it is an accumulation of numerous damaging factors combined in deteriorating the whole metabolism, after the liver has been progressively impaired in its functions.” – Max Gerson
Gerson believed that the cancer rate in the population was increasing because of the use of chemical fertilizers. Not that these fertilizers are carcinogenic themselves, but that their use in agriculture lowers the potassium content and raises the sodium content of fruits and vegetables and this somehow causes cancer. Rather confusingly and paradoxically, his cancer cure calls for the consumption of the very thing he believed causes cancer.
The daily schedule for the first three to four weeks of the Gerson regimen calls for 13 hourly eight-ounce glasses of juice (one of orange, four of “green leaf”, five of apple/carrot, and originally three of pressed raw calf’s liver which was later discontinued after ten patients – five of which comatosed – were hospitalized). All of which need to be selected and prepared in a highly specific way and have potassium added to counter their carcinogenic properties. Water must also be free of fluoride because… reasons.
Meals are restricted to oatmeal, salad, baked potatoes, and cooked and raw vegetables and fruit. Salt, oil, berries, nuts, bottled drinking water, and all canned, refined, preserved, or frozen foods are forbidden. Rather confusingly coffee is also forbidden but in order to “stimulate the liver and increase the production of bile”, five daily coffee enemas (a dilute one-quarter solution) four hours apart are required.
“Coffee enemas are a vital part of the detoxification process of the Gerson Therapy. The purpose of the enemas is to remove toxins accumulated in the liver and to remove free radicals from the bloodstream. In the 1920s, two German professors tested the effects of infused caffeine on rats. They found that the caffeine travels via the hemorrhoidal vein and the portal system to the liver, opens up the bile ducts and allows the liver to release bile, which contains toxins. The theobromine, theophylline, and the caffeine in coffee dilate blood vessels and bile ducts, relax smooth muscles, and increase the bile flow” – PDF on the gersons Institute website entitled “Scientific Basis of Coffee Enemas”
In reality the liver does not require caffeine, theobromine, or theophylline to detoxify, nor does increased bile flow mean the liver is “detoxifying”. The rationale for coffee enemas derives from the outdated concept of “autointoxication” which was dying out by the 1920s when Gerson developed his therapy. It was a popular concept in mainstream medicine in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but as our understanding of colon physiology improved, scientists realized there was no basis for the concept. Essentially the need for colon “detoxification” via coffee enema is based on an understanding of human cancer and physiology which was becoming outdated a century ago.
As well as coffee enema every other day, an oral dose of castor oil is given followed by a castor oil enema. As mentioned previously some “patients” are also given rectal hydrogen peroxide and rectal ozone treatment to “destroy infections and promote normal healing”. Ozone has also been given to patients via infusion in autologous heparinized blood or directly into patients’ blood vessels.
Gerson therapy also requires taking a number of supplements including Lugol’s Solution, flaxseed oil, pancreatic enzymes, and vitamins A, C and B3 to name a few. Laetrile, the all natural cancer cure that not only has been proven not to work, but it’s consumption may result in cyanide poisoning, is also recommended for some patients for “relief from pain”. Worrying daily injections of vitamin B12 originally combined with crude liver extract were also required.
Before undergoing Gerson Therapy patients are advised to study Gerson’s book “A Cancer Therapy”, and make a commitment to the diet for at least 24 months. Only by strictly adhering to every aspect of the diet and its techniques can the patient’s cancer be cured. A Gerson official estimated that between 40 and 50 hours a week are required for shopping, preparing the food, and cleaning the equipment as instructed. Juices cannot be prepared ahead of time and stored, and the “organically grown” liver cannot be frozen before use.
Usually within 3 to 10 days of starting the regime, the patient will experience what Gerson termed “an allergic inflammation reaction” that will recur every two weeks. Increasing the number of coffee enemas is said to provide relief to the flu like symptoms of nausea, vomiting, intestinal spasms, and headaches. However if the patient is unable to manage this “allergic inflammation reaction”, they will be unable to continue with the therapy. One patient reported having “a five-to-six week healing reaction where I couldn’t walk due to the pain”.
In 1936, Gerson emigrated to the United States, received a medical license in New York in 1938, and resumed the use of his treatments in a private clinic. In 1945 he published a preliminary report of his results in treating cancer and appeared with five of his patients before the US Senate Subcommittee which drew growing controversy about the treatments efficacy.
In 1946, scientists at the National Cancer Institute reviewed 10 cases submitted by Gerson. They found the data inconclusive since the patients were also receiving other anticancer treatments. Gerson was invited to submit additional data but did not do so. In 1957 a special subcommittee of the New York County Medical Society reviewed Gerson’s method for treating cancer and concluded:
“The nine cases that were officially reported were found to indicate that Dr. Gerson demonstrated a lack of understanding of the natural history of neoplastic disease. His presentation of cases left much to be desired in the way of either proof that some patients actually had malignant disease at the time they were treated or that actual cure or arrest of the malignant process, if present, has resulted from his treatment. He showed no cases in which it could be demonstrated that a cure of malignant disease had been obtained by his treatment.” – New York County Medical Society
Following the controversy, Gerson’s malpractice insurance was discontinued and he was suspended from membership in the New York County Medical Society. In 1958 he published his infamous book “A Cancer Therapy: Results of 50 Cases”, which documents 50 cancer patients who were supposedly cured with his treatment. These cases have been reviewed with many being underwhelmed by the questionable diagnosis, the fact some were cured with surgery before being treated with the Gerson protocol, and other inconsistencies with the stories as told in the book. According to retired general surgeon Peter Moran who reviewed each case:
- Two did not have cancer at all, or even the beginning of tumors.
- Eight did not have cancer at the time of Gerson’s treatment.
- Four had tumors or suspected tumors that were benign.
- Thirty-one did not have a biopsy or other incontrovertible evidence of cancer. This does not exclude cancer but leaves varying degrees of doubt.
- Fifteen were diagnosed wholly upon Merson’s personal clinical judgment.
- Eight had cancer but their outcome can be attributed to other treatments they received.
- Four were not followed up for the cases to be meaningful.
- Two had clear indications of persistent or worsening cancer despite being treated by Gerson although Gerson tries to dance around this.
- Four are consistent with the natural progress of the condition or other treatment received.
This leaves only four of the fifty cases which moderately suggest that the treatment was effective; however no information is given on other treatments they received or that the biopsies or other evidence given for cancer was interpreted correctly.
Gerson died in 1959 of pneumonia, although some have speculated that he was murdered following a lifetime of supposed persecution. After his death, his daughter Charlotte Gerson continued to promote the therapy, founding the “Gerson Institute” in 1977. Although she had no formal medical training, she stated that she learned enough about medicine from her father to teach the Mexican physicians who staff the therapy canters to cure virtually anything, but evidently not pneumonia.
As previously mentioned, a stay at one of these centres will cost $6,250 a week with a minimum two week stay, but “How?” I hear you ask can Charlotte and her cohorts fleece money out of those attempting the diet at home? The answer is to convince desperate people suffering with cancer who don’t have the means to attend the clinic in Mexico that they can use an ordinary juicer to make their cancer curing smoothies.
“Dr. Gerson’s research indicates that it is imperative for cancer patients to have a two-step juicer with a separate grinder and hydraulic press. One step juicers generally do not produce the same quality of enzyme, mineral or micronutrient content.”
These juicers, recommended by the Gerson website, will run you in the neighbourhood of $2,000. Literature from the institute warns people that some of their patients have failed to cure their cancer after buying the wrong juicer.
“In fact some patients have failed to experience results simply by using the wrong juicer.” – Gerson Institute brochure
This stance on juicers is contradicted in the book “Censored for Curing Cancer” in which the author interviews the eldest daughter of Gerson Johanna Oberlander who states that her father had nothing to do with the juicers and that it is “immaterial” where his patients obtained them.
The Gerson Institute makes all sorts of claims about elated patients returning home, cured of their disease but no follow-ups are ever carried out. Survival statistics are based on a combination of the doctor’s opinion of the patient having a “reasonable chance of surviving” and feelings the Institute’s staff have about those who call in after they leave, of which only 25 present do so. The institute assumes that the rest are simply not following the program and therefore are discounted from their statistics. Whenever independent researchers have tracked down former patients, they find that most of them have succumbed to cancer within five years of having been “cured”. Even less informed is known about the success or failure of those who attempt Gerson Therapy at home. Despite this, the institute published a newsletter in 1987 claiming to have clinical data over a 10 year period from over 4,000 patients proving the effectiveness of Gerson Therapy. This information has not yet appeared and is at direct odds to institute officials a year earlier who stated that a failure of their physicians to gather data initially coupled with a fire which destroyed clinic records means that the clinical data gathered is of poor quality or no longer exists.
In an attempt to swindle more money from desperate people, Gerson’s daughter Charlotte has published countless booklets on virtually every disease all of which can apparently be cured if the patient follows the Gerson protocol. I bought four (Healing “Auto-Immune” Diseases, Healing Prostate & Testicular Cancer, Healing Ovarian & Female Organ Cancer, and Healing Colon, Liver & Pancreatic Cancer) all of which proudly say on their cover that they are the “all-natural solution for cancer and chronic disease…THAT REALLY WORKS!”. However, like all quack media they all start with a disclaimer stating that “This booklet, one of a series, lay no claim to being a scientific document”. This is not the only misleading statement on the cover, as none of them give a “quick overview” of the disease they claim to cure. Charlotte has also upgraded the status of Gerson Therapy from simply a cancer cure to an outright panacea in her booklets.
“When the treatment activates the body’s “Healing Mechanism” (as Dr. Gerson called it), it is impossible to selectively clear just one disease. Everything heals.” – Charlotte Gerson
Charlotte later goes on to contradict herself in the same small booklet.
“It would be a mistake to assume that this therapy is a cure-all that worked in every case.” – Charlotte Gerson
The booklets contain identical introductions to Gerson Therapy followed by a handful of testimonials ending with identical adverts for other booklets published by the institute. Essentially, I bought the same booklet four times and felt as I imagine many who purchased one out of desperation conned out of my money. Not only do these booklets not go into detail about the conditions they claim to cure, they only lightly touch on what Gerson Therapy is and what is required for someone to follow it. For more useful information you have to buy more books which as mentioned previously are handily advertised in the back. Essentially I and many others have wasted our money on Gerson Institute advertising material.
The booklets did however provide one piece of interesting information. Charlotte Gerson and the Gerson Institute believe that their panacea is untestable because of its complexity and their own failings to follow-up on this patient’s progress once they leave the clinic after treatment.
“Patients arrive from all parts of the world to a Gerson facility in Mexico and after a few weeks return home, where they are supposed to remain on the therapy for the treatment in a statistically meaningful form, it would be necessary to follow up individual patients scattered all over the globe, monitor their progress, assess their success or failure, and obtain full medical documentation of each case. The non-profit Gerson Institute has never had the funds or the manpower to carry out this expensive operation. Clearly, this puts it at a disadvantage from the orthodox medical point of view, which puts a high value on statistics and on randomized double blind clinical trials. The latter are suitable for testing a single new drug or treatment modality, but not complex, many-faceted system of healing whose every component interacts with all others. Until this basic difference is recognized by the critics of the therapy, it will be impossible to engage in meaningful dialogue.” – Charlotte Gerson
There is no evidence to prove that Gerson Therapy works as a cure for cancer. None! The Gerson institute by their own admission have admitted that their diet has not been tested or subjected to randomized controlled trials, which is why the clinics are in Mexico because it is illegal to market it in the States.
The National Cancer Institute in the USA did a review in 2010 and found no evidence that the diet can help people with cancer. In 2014 researchers looked at all previous research on Gerson therapy and concluded that none of the previous reports proved that it was effective. The American Cancer Society along with the NHS and Cancer Research UK warns that Gerson therapy can be very harmful to the body especially to those who are already weak and ill. Although eating low fat food and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables is healthy, only eating one food group without balancing it out can be extremely harmful. Cancer Research UK also warn that coffee enemas can cause infections, dehydration, fits, and incredibly, remove potassium from your body which if you remember Max Gerson believed was the cause of cancer.
The biggest danger the Gerson Institute poses to a cancer sufferer does not come from the possible side effects, some of which can be severe from their diet, but their cult-like crusade against standard cancer therapies. They actively encourage people not to have chemotherapy whilst on their diet because they believe that chemotherapy damages immunity.
“Unfortunately there are many factors that can prevent healing. The most common one is that patients come to the Therapy far too late: in terminal condition, most often having vainly tried to recover on conventional treatments, especially on highly toxic chemotherapy which destroys the patient’s remaining, already badly damaged immune system. Once the organism has declined beyond a certain point, there is no way to restore it.” – Charlotte Gerson
Patients who come to the sad realization that Gerson Therapy is a con and who return to standard cancer treatment often too late are often blamed for their own death.
Despite having no formal medical training and her father’s quack dietary-based alternative cancer cure being shown repetitively to be utter nonsense, Charlotte Gerson was invited to address the house of lords in 1999 to explain her theory. She was invited by the hereditary peer Lord Baldwin of Bewdley who, before his death was the chairman of the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board and joint chairman of the Parliamentary Group for Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Yes, Prince Charles was not the first first lingering relic of our archaic hierarchical class structure to attempt to force Gerson Therapy upon the British public.
Lord Baldwin, who had known the Prince of Wales for many years, was convinced of Gerson Therapy’s miraculous properties after his wife became seriously ill with breast cancer in 1996. She spent eight weeks at the Tijuana clinic, followed by another two years of using the regime at home and according to Lord Baldwin of Bewdley made a full recovery.
Unfortunately in 2001 (3 years before Prince Charles’ public promotion of Gerson Therapy) she died after her disease recurred. Lord Baldwin of Bewdley would later go on to blame his wife’s cancer on her inability to follow the diet.
“I watched my wife’s tumours shrink away but the treatment is very difficult one to follow.” – Lord Baldwin of Bewdley
By far Gerson Therapy is the most difficult of the alternative cancer treatments and I believe that is by design. The draconian rules are designed to extract as much money as possible from dying people by conning them into buying expensive pointless equipment or spending their life savings visiting an elaborate smoothie bar in Mexico. It is designed to give fraudulent data regarding their success rates by purposefully not following upon patients after leaving the clinics. And it is designed for people to struggle so when they inevitably fail they can be blamed for their death.
This is a generational scam where descendants of Max Gerson have targeted the people at their most vulnerable. After decades of negative attention from the medical and scientific community the Gerson family know that their “cure” kills but they don’t care. They are more than happy to perpetuate the scam leaving a wake of emaciated bodies and broken families behind them so long as they get paid.
This diet must be avoided at all costs!