Of the nearly 11 million people worldwide who are diagnosed with cancer each year, thousands of patients choose to treat themselves with an alternative, diet-based treatment called Gerson therapy. Sometimes known as the Gerson therapy diet, Gerson therapy is a scientifically unproven method of treating various forms of cancer through a strict dietary regimen, various health supplements and coffee-based enemas. Gerson therapy treatment operates on the theory that cancer patients have too much of the mineral sodium within their cells, and not enough potassium.
Gerson cancer therapy, created by a German doctor who immigrated to the United States in the 1930s, was originally used to treat migraines, including those of the regimen's creator, Dr. Max B. Gerson. He expanded the scope of his treatment to include arthritis, tuberculosis and cancer. The initial report on Gerson therapy for cancer was released by Dr. Gerson in the 1945 publication, “Review of Gastroenterology.” Upon studying these preliminary reports as well as patient records, the National Cancer Institute found that the treatment had no conclusive effect upon patients. Despite this determination, Dr. Gerson continued to tout his therapy as a means to cure cancer, and his practice was continued by his daughter, Charlotte, after his death in 1959.
Charlotte Gerson founded the Gerson Institute in 1977. The Gerson Institute does not own any physical medical facilities, but instead licenses clinics and health practitioners to oversee patients' treatment. Gerson therapy typically begins as an inpatient regimen, and there are only two licensed clinics in existence, one in Tijuana, Mexico, and another in Budapest, Hungary. The Gerson Institute also facilitates classes to provide information for home caregivers and licensed health professionals.
The Gerson therapy treatment involves a vigorous, restricted salt and low-fat diet that is also vegetarian. Most patients receiving Gerson therapy drink juice extracted from nearly 20 pounds (9.07184 kilograms) of organic fruits and vegetables each day, one glass of which is consumed every hour. In addition to this, patients are administered supplements that include, but are not limited to, several sources of potassium, vitamin A and flaxseed oil. Patients are also given enemas that are coffee- or chamomile-based to cleanse toxins from the body.
The Gerson therapy treatment is not considered an approved cancer therapy in most locations, and is thought to pose certain health risks to patients. There have been three deaths linked to the coffee-based enema treatment that is a staple of Gerson therapy, but it should be noted that enemas of any kind may interfere with the body's natural balance of chemicals. It is recommended that any individual seeking alternative treatments speak with a trusted healthcare professional, and use caution when researching any unapproved alternative treatments for medical conditions.