Healing the Gerson Way: Defeating Cancer and other Chronic Diseases
By Charlotte Gerson and Beata Bishop
Gerson Health Media (2007)
Reviewed by Holly R. Layer, RD
The Gerson Way is an unorthodox approach to healing cancer through the elimination of common household toxins, a drastic diet change, enemas, supplementation and pain-control without medication. Charlotte Gerson writes of her father, German-born Dr. Max Gerson, and his work in the early 1900s using dietary approaches to heal migraines. Soon after, he realized his patients’ metabolisms and immune systems were improving as well. The book includes references to studies and books, many of which are biased toward the Gerson program.
Synopsis of Diet Plan:
According to the Gerson diet, only ‘foods that contribute to health and healing are allowed; all else is banned.’ The plan begins with two basic guidelines: all processed (to include frozen, canned and pickled, among others) foods are ‘forbidden,’ as well as allowing only organic fruits and vegetables. The list of ‘forbidden foods’ is long, and salt and fats are not allowed, except flaxseed oil. Meat and eggs are ‘temporarily forbidden foods’ and soy is always banned.
What participants do eat are meals made up of salads, fruit and some cooked foods, as well as 13 glasses of fresh juice per day. The diet relies heavily on these juices, either carrot, apple-carrot, green or orange, and specifies that they must be consumed immediately and be organic. Meal options include oatmeal cooked in distilled water, cooked potatoes and more cooked vegetables. Directions for preparing these foods are extensive. A special vegetable soup is eaten two times a day for the duration of the treatment.
Nutritional Pros and Cons:
In addition to being perhaps one of the most restrictive diet plans ever designed, the nutritional portion of the Gerson program is lacking in essential nutrients. The diet is almost completely fat-free, which limits fat-soluble vitamin (A, D, E and K) intake, as well as essential fatty acids. Also, by even temporarily restricting meat, eggs and legumes, protein intakes will be incredibly low, as well as B vitamin intakes. Without sufficient protein and fat, dieters run the risk of fat and muscle loss, as well as lacking satiety after meals.
Attempting to cure cancer through diet alone seems unlikely, and the nutritional inadequacies (protein, fat) are concerning. Additionally, the time and energy involved in food production (in addition to the other recommended treatments) may be too much for patients themselves, requiring the help of a caregiver. Nonetheless, alternative therapies offer a new way of viewing health issues, and if under the care of a Gerson practitioner, participants may indeed reap the same ‘cures’ that the testimonials in the book suggest.
The book contains approximately 85 pages of recipes.