What You Need to Know About Gerson Therapy

What is Gerson Therapy?

Gerson therapy is an alternative medicine program that involves the use of dietary supplements, a specialized vegetarian diet, and enemas. Proponents claim that Gerson therapy can help treat cancer, migraines, and other diseases.

Gerson therapy was conceived by the German doctor Max Gerson. Initially developing the program in the 1930s to treat his own migraines, Gerson later expanded the therapy to treat other conditions (including cancer).

What Does Gerson Therapy Involve?

For people undergoing Gerson therapy, treatment is typically held at an inpatient clinic licensed by the Gerson Institute. The institute also offers a home therapy package.

Gerson therapy involves the following:

1) Drinking 13 glasses of cold-pressed juice freshly made from organic fruits and vegetables each day (one glass per hour).

2) Adhering to a dietary supplement regimen, which includes:

3) Undergoing coffee or chamomile enemas regularly

4) Following a vegetarian diet based on organic fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Food must be prepared without salt, spices, oils, or the use of aluminum materials.

Why Do People Try It?

According to Gerson therapy proponents, cancer develops due to buildup of toxic substances in the body.

The goal of treatment is to remove such toxins and restore health to the liver (the main organ involved in detoxification). Gerson therapy is also said to stimulate the immune system so that the body is better equipped to fight off cancer.

Despite these health claims, there is a lack of scientific evidence (from laboratory research, animal studies, or clinical trials) to support the use of Gerson therapy in treatment of any condition.

In a research review from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, investigators analyzed seven human studies on the effects of Gerson therapy. Although one study (conducted by the Gerson Research Organization) reported increased survival rates for cancer patients, other reviewed studies failed to demonstrate that Gerson therapy is effective in treatment of cancer.


Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of Gerson therapy. The diet may result in certain nutrient deficiencies (including calcium and vitamin D). Patients undergoing Gerson therapy may also experience a number of adverse effects, including the following:

  • loss of appetite
  • cold sores
  • high fever
  • tumor pain
  • intestinal cramping
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • perspiration with foul odor

What's more, receiving coffee enemas may result in electrolyte imbalance, which could in turn cause infection, dehydration, colitis, constipation, and death.

Trying Gerson Therapy

Given the potential health risks and the lack of scientific support, it's too soon to recommend Gerson therapy for the prevention or treatment of any disease.

It's crucial to consult a physician if you're considering the use of Gerson therapy for a health condition. It's important to note that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. 


Hildenbrand GL, Hildenbrand LC, Bradford K, Cavin SW. "Five-year survival rates of melanoma patients treated by diet therapy after the manner of Gerson: a retrospective review." Altern Ther Health Med. 1995 1(4):29-37.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. About herbs: Gerson regimen. Updated October 2009.

University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Gerson Detailed Scientific Review.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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