The Gerson Therapy is a natural alternative system that claims to prevent or treat cancer and other chronic diseases using a specialized diet, supplements, and detoxification. It calls for significant lifestyle and financial commitments, and despite its claims, almost no studies currently back it up.

The Gerson Therapy or Gerson Therapy diet is a natural alternative treatment system designed to supposedly help you prevent or treat cancer and other chronic life conditions by following a specialized diet with organic produce, supplements, and coffee enemas for detoxification. It was introduced by Dr. Max Gerson in the 1900s when he claimed that it cured his migraine and could potentially treat or prevent cancer and other lifestyle conditions. The Gerson Institute was formed in the 1970s to provide training on the Gerson Therapy and works closely with the Gerson Research Organization to conduct research on the Therapy. The Therapy takes more than $15,000 to kickstart it and has to be followed for at least 2 years; hence it requires lifestyle and financial commitments. Below is everything you need to know about the Gerson Therapy, including how it looks like, whether it treats cancer, and its benefits and drawbacks.

The Gerson Therapy: what does it look like?

The Gerson Therapy diet consists of an organic, plant-based diet with raw juices, coffee enemas for detoxification, and supplements that increase metabolic processes. Here are the three major components of the Therapy;

i. A specialized diet

The Gerson Therapy has a specialized diet comprising 7-9 kg of organic produce in the form of raw juices taken at least 13 times per day. A dieter under the Therapy drinks one 8-ounce glass of raw juice per hour about 13 times a day. The raw juices are prepared using grinders that extract pulp from vegetables then squeeze the juice out of them. Specialized Gerson Therapy-approved appliances are used for this purpose, and the Gerson Institute claims that they are 25%-50% more efficient at juice extraction.

ii. Supplements

According to the Gerson Institute, the specialized diet is sufficiently nutritious. As such, the supplements are taken to improve metabolic processes, and they include the Lugol’s solution (potassium iodide and iodide in water), potassium, vitamins B3 and B12, and pancreatic enzymes. The Institute emphasizes potassium since Dr. Gerson strongly believed that low potassium and high sodium concentrations in the body lead to disease development.

iii. Detoxification

The third component of the Gerson Therapy is the coffee enemas that support the liver. According to the Therapy, the 7-9 kg organic produce and supplements eliminate many toxins from the system, and the liver needs support to detox efficiently. As such, a dieter needs to take a coffee enema per every 3 glasses of raw juice. The Institute claims that the enemas widen the bile duct, helping it release toxins. However, no studies confirm that enemas widen the bile duct or that organic produce and supplements in the Therapy detox waste products.

Does the Gerson Therapy prevent or treat manage cancer?

Despite its popularity, no studies back up the Gerson Therapy or prove that it helps prevent or treat cancer. However, the Gerson Institute claims that some of the Therapy’s dieters have found results in following the diet. For instance, the Gerson Research Organization claims that 153 people with skin cancer who followed the Therapy experienced improved survival than those on conventional therapies. Besides, one independent case study followed six cancer patients who followed the Gerson Therapy and observed that they experienced improved life quality and survival than other cancer patients on conventional therapies.

Still, these studies are small-scale and would not accurately tell the efficacy of the Therapy. As if that’s not enough, some of these case studies were conducted by the Gerson Research Organization, a group under the Gerson Institute, and there is every possibility of conflict of interest. Lastly, other studies found that people on conventional cancer therapies survived three times much longer than those following a diet that resembles the Gerson Therapy diet. As such, more studies that narrow down to the efficacy of the Therapy need to be conducted.

What to eat/avoid in the Gerson Therapy

The Gerson Therapy encourages an organic lifestyle characterized by plant-based foods and discourages eating foods rich in fats, protein, and fat since it claims these foods disrupt the healing process. As such, a long list of foods, including most beverages, protein shakes, sugary drinks, legumes, spices, red meat, seafood, spices, nuts, seeds, oils, condiments, alcohol, cosmetics, mouthwash, baked products, etc. are to be avoided. Contrarily, you can eat specific vegetables, dried fruits, fruits, certain dairy products, grains, fats, and condiments specified in its guide. Besides, bread, quinoa, sweeteners, popcorn, bananas, sweet potatoes, and yams are only supposed to be taken occasionally.

Potential benefits of the Gerson Therapy

There are no extensive studies focusing on the potential perks of the Gerson Therapy, but its plant-based diet may be linked to several health benefits, including;

  • It supplies the body with nutrients, antioxidants, minerals, fibers, and vitamins, all of which help reduce the risks of inflammation, free radical accumulation, and the damaging effects of oxidative stress
  • It helps lower the risk of kidney stones and kidney failure since it ensures electrolytic balance
  • It may help relieve constipation, especially because the antioxidant and fibrous contents slow down food digestion and absorption
  • It may help promote bone health and lower the risks of arthritis, gout, and other complications related to mineral deficiency or purine production

Drawbacks of following the Gerson Therapy

There are several concerns in following the Gerson Therapy, including;

  • Self-administration of enemas at home comes with the risk of electrolytic imbalance, burns, infections, and death in worst cases
  • The Gerson Therapy is not fully backed by scientific studies, and the available case studies are small-scale, while others were conducted by the Gerson Research Organization, leaving questions about conflict of interest
  • Since it discourages drinking water, it may lead to dehydration, especially if you don’t take the organic juices
  • It is somewhat restrictive and makes attending social gatherings a challenge
  • The plant-based diet encouraged by the Therapy might not meet the body’s iron needs since ii does not efficiently absorb iron
  • The Therapy cuts out most protein-rich animal-based foods, which could lead to malnutrition, exhaustion, and fatigue


The Gerson Therapy is an organic plant-based alternative treatment for cancer and other chronic diseases. It was introduced in the 1900s and comprises a specialized organic diet with raw juices and select foods, supplements for improved metabolic processes, and coffee enemas for detoxification. Almost no research back up the Therapy, but a few case studies have shown its relationship to cancer. Nonetheless, it calls for lifestyle and financial commitments and has many concerns, including the risks of enema administration from home, malnutrition and fatigue, dehydration, and problems with social gatherings. As such, it would be unwise to opt for it, although its plant-based diet could add nutrients to the body, allowing a wide array of benefits

Crystal Kadir

MS, Durham University

The work of a family doctor includes a wide range of clinical diversity, which requires extensive knowledge and erudition from a specialist. However, I believe that the most important thing for a family doctor is to be human because the cooperation and understanding between the doctor and the patient are crucial in ensuring successful health care. On my days off, I love being in nature. Since childhood, I have been passionate about playing chess and tennis. Whenever I have time off, I enjoy traveling around the world.

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