[back] Gerson

The Gerson Therapy, by Charlotte Gerson and Morton Walker, DPM (2001)
NY: Kensington Publishing Corp. ISBN 1-57566-628-6 (Trade paperback, 371 pages, plus appendixes and index.)

Review by Andrew Saul

It has been said that more people live off cancer than die from it. The Gerson Therapy is a book that can put a stop to this travesty. Here is a very practical, highly detailed guide to the intensive nutritional treatment of cancer and other life-threatening diseases that many would consider to have been impossible to obtain. But thanks to the work of Max Gerson, M.D., and his daughter, author Charlotte Gerson, this knowledge is readily available for all who need it.

Max Gerson cured cancer. He did so with a strict fat-free, salt-free, low-protein, essentially vegetarian dietary regimen, based on great quantities of fresh vegetable juice, supplements, and systemic detoxification. Ms. Gerson explains:

“Dr. Gerson found that the underlying problems of all cancer patients are toxicity and deficiency. He had to overcome both these difficulties. He found that one of the important features of his therapy had to be the hourly administration of fresh vegetable juices. These supply ample nutrients, as well as fluids to help flush out the kidneys. When the high levels of nutrients re-enter tissues, toxins accumulated over many years are forced into the blood stream. The toxins are then filtered out by the liver. The liver is easily overburdened by the continuous release of toxins and is unable to release the load.” Dr. Gerson found that he could provide help to the liver by the caffeine in coffee, absorbed from the colon via the hemorrhoidal vein, which carries the caffeine to the portal system and then to the liver. The caffeine stimulates the liver/bile ducts to open, releasing the poisons into the intestinal tract for excretion.” 

The Gerson Therapy book consists of nearly 400 pages of treatment specifics, instruction, hints, cautions, recipes, case histories, and references, all held together with an authority that only experience can bring. Some of the blunt, uncompromising statements Ms. Gerson makes are certain to get up the medical profession’s collective nose. Too bad for them, for she is right. Charlotte Gerson’s entire life has been immersed in healing people, first learning while assisting her father, and later teaching his method to the world.  Co-author Dr. Morton Walker is one of my favorite medical writers, and putting these two talents together in The Gerson Therapy was a master stroke.

I personally have seen what the Gerson program can do for a terminally ill cancer patient. I have been called upon to help in a couple of high-profile but last minute cases. One patient was a well-known sports figure. He was given some months to live and was not happy about it, as he was still in his 50s. He asked what his best shot would be for inoperable, untreatable metastasized cancer. I told him: the Gerson therapy. He did it, not in its entirety, but with enthusiasm. And, he lived considerably longer that he was expected to. But what really impressed me was the dramatic improvement in his energy level. From fatigue and weakness, he went instantly to a vibrant life, commencing from the very week he started the program. He maintained a more-than-full schedule for so long that even people who knew he was sick forgot that he was sick. 

Years later, people that never knew of my involvement in the matter would bring up his name, invariably recalling how active he was and how good he looked until, almost as a surprise, he died.

I saw a similar level of success with a prominent New York businessman, the owner of a chain of stores and afflicted with untreatable liver cancer.  He began to do much, but by no means all, of the Gerson program, and was subsequently able to extensively travel the world with his family.  He lived years longer than expected, with a high quality of life confirmed by all who saw him.

Looking only at these two patients, wanton critics of Gerson’s method might think that, without complete and unequivocal cure, there is little to crow about.  Such a view is unproductive, for neither of these patients followed the Gerson program completely. It is a tough sell, even to a person with a terminal diagnosis. 

Why is this?

Ignorance and arrogance make a bad combination, and “modern” medicine has been guilty of both for decades. Political physicians did not heed Dr. Gerson. In fact, they publicly condemned him. The news media have been their willing accomplices. The misinformation they spew to this day is fraught with fabricated frights of natural therapies, while in the same breath they spew forth the wonders of pharmaceutical drugs. When is the last time you saw a favorable mention of the Gerson program in the newspaper or on TV? Since pharmacological doctors have no sure-fire cure for cancer (an understatement if there ever was one), they might at least back a winning horse. The Gerson approach has been shown, for over six decades, to significantly improve both quality of life and length of life in the sickest, the most hopeless, of cancer patients. Many people have been completely cured on the Gerson therapy.

And the directions are in this book, which costs about $17.

I am especially pleased with the open-minded spirit of cooperation which I detect in reading The Gerson Therapy. The authors’ awareness of the realities of individual patient needs is well demonstrated with the inclusion of chapter sections discussing unavoidable modifications of the program. Instructions for home self-care, for patients undergoing chemotherapy, and for the treatment of very advanced cases, are all provided. Chapter 17, discussing treatment of illnesses other than cancer, needs to be greatly expanded. Ms. Gerson informs me that she is currently “preparing a booklet for each disease (including, among others) asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, diabetes, drug addiction, Crohn's disease, and fibromyalgia. They will start with a general description of the disease, then have a basic outline of how the Gerson therapy deals with it, then the specific description of the Therapy, followed by some dozen of recovered cases... I think each booklet will contain some 30-40 pages.”  I am looking forward to their early publication. (Update, 2002: Individual booklets about cancer of the breast, ovaries, liver/pancreas/colon, lymphoma and melanoma are now available for purchase from Charlotte Gerson, 355 Greenwood Place, Bonita, CA 91902. www.gerson.org The present book contains explicit instructions for the administration of the Therapy’s controversial but nonetheless crucial liver-detoxifying coffee enemas. (Yes, at body temperature.) The use of castor oil, a thorough listing of which foods to eat (and not eat), how to juice, psychological aspects of therapy, and generally favorable mentions of megadose vitamin C supplementation are also presented. The concise chapter (Chapter 6) on melanoma is extraordinary, easily the best I have read anywhere.

Dosage and rationale for the supplements Dr. Gerson prescribed is the focus of Chapter 11. Potassium, iodine, digestive enzymes, niacin and (by prescription) thyroid, liver extract and vitamin B-12 injections are all covered. Both this chapter, and the “Resources” section of the Appendix, are free of any attempt to market such products, a feature I wish to highlight for special praise.

I liked the inclusion of references at the end of each chapter, and the thoroughness of devoting a chapter to appropriate laboratory tests. And everyone will enjoy reading the success stories in Chapter 21.

In the next edition of The Gerson Therapy, I would like to see detailed charts that summarize exactly what a “Gerson Person” needs to do each day. I recall how helpful such charts were in this book’s predecessor, A Cancer Therapy: Results of Fifty Cases. My experience in working with very sick patients and their families is that they are easily overwhelmed with instruction, no matter how vital that instruction may be. Easy-to-read personal itineraries are virtually essential to ensure intelligent compliance with a complex nutritional program. To some extent, this need is met by way of a helpful Summary in the Appendix. However, such information can be presented in greater detail and in a more user-friendly manner, by employing graphics to full advantage.

Some years ago I watched a video tape of a Gerson patients’ “reunion.”  On stage were people from all walks of life, and most were advanced in age. One after the other they spoke of the cancer they were diagnosed with three, ten, or twenty years ago. All were recovered. Dr. Gerson was the reason. You cannot watch such an event and fail to be moved.

A special benefit of The Gerson Therapy is that it is not specifically a cancer treatment. Dr. Gerson saw it as a metabolic treatment, one that cleanses the human organism while strengthening the body’s ability to heal itself. Not surprisingly, therefore, the Gerson therapy is effective against all manner of diseases, some 50 of which are listed on page 21.

I am even more interested in the preventive aspects of the Gerson diet. As I write this, I have a cool quart and a half of carrot juice in my tummy. I do not particularly enjoy carrot juice, but I do want to prevent illness. Only time will tell for me personally, but I am going to take a Pascal-like viewpoint: there is no down side to juiced vegetables.

Well, maybe one: some people don’t wish to change their diet and lifestyle. Jack Benny, when asked “Your money or your life!” made radio comedy history with his delayed answer, “I’m thinking!” To a profoundly sick person, the question might be rephrased, “The Gerson Therapy or your life.” Too many persons have died thinking. 

Don’t be one of them.

"I see in Dr. Max Gerson one of the most eminent geniuses in medical history."  (Dr. Albert Schweitzer)

To learn more about how to do the Gerson Therapy:
http://www.doctoryourself.com/gersonspeech.html is the transcript of a speech by Dr. Gerson himself.

http://www.doctoryourself.com/bib_gerson_therapy.html is a bibliography of published clinical studies showing the demonstrated benefits of the Gerson treatment

http://www.doctoryourself.com/bib_gerson.html is a bibliography of all of Dr. Gerson’s scientific writings.

Review copyright C 2001 by Andrew W. Saul.

Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at http://www.doctoryourself.com/review.html ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at http://www.doctoryourself.com/saulbooks.html )