What is Metabolic Therapy?

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  • Written By: C. Peete
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2019
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Metabolic therapy is a form of treatment that incorporates specialized diets, nutritional supplements, enzymes and other detoxification methods to build up the body's immunity against disease. This type of therapy is met with skepticism, because no scientific evidence exists to confirm the effectiveness in fighting disease. Metabolic therapy is considered an alternative form of treatment for cancer patients. The most commonly known types of metabolic therapy are Gerson therapy, Kelley's treatment, Issels whole body therapy and the Gonzalez treatment.

Proponents of metabolic therapy believe that toxins—additives and preservatives—present in the food and the environment contribute to chemical imbalances in the body that can cause diseases like cancer. Metabolic therapy is believed to eliminate these toxins and build up its natural immunity. Some proponents even go as far as to claim that this type of therapy can help cure major illnesses.

Metabolic therapy methods vary. Most involve the consumption of whole foods and vitamins. High enemas that involve cleansing the entire large intestine can use coffee, juices and exercises to help an individual relax.


Dietary supplements, detoxification and chiropractic adjustments are part of Kelley's treatment. The Gonzalez treatment centers on using animal organ extracts and enzymes that aid in digestion. In Issels whole body therapy, individuals have a limited diet absent of caffeine and tobacco, are encouraged to surgically remove any teeth that have previously had cavities filled and go to therapy to limit stress. Gerson therapy incorporates a strict diet, enemas administered with coffee and supplements.

It has not yet been determined whether the metabolism of certain cells in cancer patients differ from those in people without cancer. There is, however, a general consensus in the medical arena that optimal nutrition plays a vital role in the success of conventional treatment of cancer. There remains no evidence to support various claims made by proponents of metabolic therapy.

Remaining skepticism and reluctance to embrace this kind of therapy as a viable option may be partly due to the fact that some aspects of it can be harmful. There have been reported cases of complications associated with metabolic therapy. Several deaths have been linked to the injection of live cells from animals into humans, and complications related to liver cell injections have been reported. Laetrile, a drug often used in metabolic therapy, has been found to cause nausea, dizziness and even cyanide poisoning. Relying on metabolic therapy alone and avoiding conventional treatment could result in serious health problems that may or may not be effectively treated later on.


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