HomeHealth articlesgerson therapyWhat Is Gerson Therapy?

Gerson therapy is an organic vegan diet that is rich in nutrient supplements. Read the article below to know more.

Written by

Dr. Sowmiya D

Medically reviewed by

Shakuntala Srivastava

Published At August 25, 2022
Reviewed AtAugust 25, 2022


Gerson therapy is a specific organic vegetarian diet with rich nutritional supplements. It was first discovered in the 1930s by Sir Max Gerson. Sir Max Gerson is a German physician who went to the United States and started his clinical practice. He has recorded observations during his clinical practice and used his knowledge of research in cellular biology.

He developed this diet regimen on his own while trying to find a cure to treat his migraines which were causing excruciating pain. It is also called the Gerson diet, Gerson Regimen, and Gerson method. He believed that his migraines were reduced as a result of following this diet. So he kept on trying to treat other conditions like tuberculosis and cancer as well. There is no scientific evidence supporting this diet.

This specific diet is believed to treat multiple ailments along with cancer. Though there is no scientific evidence of this diet treating the claimed ailments, it has been followed by many people due to its rich nutritional content. Any nutrition-rich diet boosts innate immunity and so the people believed and followed Gerson therapy. There is no evidence that Gerson diet has cured his migraines or any other diseases. Many people believe that following a nutrition-rich diet helps in increasing immunity, which is true. But there is no scientific proof that Gerson regimen has cured diseases.

What Is Gerson Therapy?

Gerson therapy is a complex vegetarian diet believed and used to treat cancer and other diseases. There are three main parts of this therapy.

  • Diet: It contains fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that are rich in potassium and low in sodium.

  • Supplements: Vitamin and mineral supplements and certain enzymes are among this diet that boosts cellular energy and supports the body’s life process.

  • Detoxification: This involves removing toxic substances from the body. Detoxification is attained by enemas that include coffee or castor oil.

It was promoted as an alternative treatment for cancer. There has been no conclusive evidence that this diet treats any illness or cancer. This therapy is believed to remove toxins from the body and increase the body's immune system, which in turn helps the body retain its regular metabolic activity. This therapy is believed to help the body heal itself. More than the evidence, the followers' belief spread led few people to rely entirely on this therapy, resulting in severe consequences.

In the United States, Gerson therapy is not sanctioned, though many follow this diet at home. According to Dr.Gerson, cancer is caused when cellular metabolism becomes abnormal and the level of toxic substances increases in the body. As a result, the liver becomes overloaded. Dr. Gerson said that patients suffering from cancer have too much sodium and low potassium in the body, causing tissue damage, thereby organ damage. Dr. Gerson believed that by restoring cellular metabolism and detoxifying the body, cancer might be cured. He said that this could be made possible by diet and supplements.

What Foods to Consume in Gerson Diet?

The treatment regimen proposed by Dr. Gerson includes the following:

  • Fresh, organically grown vegetables and fruits.

  • Consuming whole grains.

  • Juices are made out of 9 kilograms of fresh fruits and vegetables every hour a day.

  • Enemas include coffee, chamomile, or castor oil that help in removing the toxins from the body.

  • Avoid using aluminum cookware.

  • Avoid using salt, oil, and spices while cooking food.

  • Consuming vitamin and mineral supplements along with pancreatic enzymes. There have been a few changes made in this part. The dietary supplements include

  • Potassium solution.

  • Lugol’s solution (potassium iodide, iodine, and water).

  • Flaxseed oil.

  • Pancreatic enzymes.

  • Pepsin.

  • Vitamin A, B3, and C.

  • Injectable liver extract with vitamin B12 (this is no longer used as a part of the regimen).

The main principle of Gerson regimen is to take over the control of body processes, what goes into the body, and what goes out of the body. This can be achieved by a strict diet, dietary supplements, and enema. Gerson diet is strictly vegetarian and animal proteins are not allowed.

This diet has to be followed for six weeks. It contains specific fruits and vegetables that can be consumed either raw or in stew form. Whole grains like oatmeal are suggested to consume. Cooking oil along with salt and spices is completely avoided. Food has to be cooked only in cast-iron ware and not aluminum cookware. Fresh juices are prepared only by crushing instead of grinding and pulping. The fruits and vegetables used during the diet must be organically grown, i.,e is free from pesticides and fertilizers. Protein and other milk products must be avoided, though buttermilk can be consumed depending on the individual.

Potassium and Lugol’s solution is to be included in hourly juices per day. Potassium solution increases the potassium to sodium ratio, while Lugol’s solution is supposed to increase the metabolic rate of the body. The live crude extract is injected into the patient through Vitamin B12.

Later, the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) banned using crude liver extract and juices as it was contaminated with campylobacter. Crude liver extract is now replaced by Q 10, a coenzyme. Enemas are supposed to dilate the bile duct that enables the removal of the breakdown of products or toxins from the body. There is not much evidence that the dilation of the bile duct happens.

What Are the Uses of Gerson Therapy?

There is no scientific evidence to support the Gerson regimen. Though this regimen has claimed to treat the following conditions:

  • Allergies and asthma.

  • Arthritis.

  • Cancer.

  • Heart diseases.

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome.

  • Detoxification.

  • Diabetes.

  • Hypertension.

  • Fertility.

  • Migraines.

  • Multiple sclerosis.

  • Peptic ulcers.

  • Tuberculosis.

What Are the Side Effects of Gerson Therapy?

  • Weakness.

  • Dizziness.

  • Cold sores.

  • Fever.

  • Body odor.

  • Enemas may cause severe electrolyte imbalance leading to serious consequences such as colitis, dehydration, seizures, and pleural and pericardial effusions.

  • Coma due to low sodium levels.

Is This an Effective Treatment for Cancer?

Gerson therapy is supposed to cure cancer through a special diet. Cancer is a terrible disease that often defies conventional treatment. Gerson therapy is not a valid or effective treatment for cancer. It should never be replaced with therapies like surgery, radiotherapy, or chemotherapy. To work out a treatment plan for any disease, like cancer, clinical trials shall be conducted. Trials compare the people undergoing treatment with people without treatment. But with Gerson therapy, such studies have not been conducted.


The followers of Gerson therapy use it to treat cancer in the patient by making diet changes. However, this regimen is based on observations noted by Dr.Gerson during his practice, and there are no laboratory or animal studies to support that Gerson regimen can treat cancer. Therefore, it is always recommended to consult your doctor and then decide on the diet and treatment for any disease.

Shakuntala Srivastava
Shakuntala Srivastava


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