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The Gerson Therapy or Gerson Method is a particularly dangerous form of cancer quackery invented by Dr. Max Gerson (1881-1959) which continues to be peddled by his daughter Charlotte. The Gersons claim that cancer is caused by "toxins" in food that create an imbalance of potassium and sodium in the body. The alleged method for "curing" this problem is an extremely low sodium-high potassium diet including lots of juiced raw and/or organic fruits and vegetables, massive amounts of vitamin supplements, and enemas of coffee, castor oil, hydrogen peroxide, or ozone. This treatment is supposed to flush out the "toxins" and "repair" the liver. Most of the "research" supporting the therapy is in the form of case studies by Max Gerson. The National Cancer Institute reviewed some of his case studies and found the method to be ineffective. Furthermore, the American Cancer Society has issued warnings that the method can be harmful and there have been reports of comas, seizures, and death resulting from extremely low sodium levels and imbalance of electrolytes in the patients undergoing the "therapy."
Jessica Ainscough, aka The Wellness Warrior, was a writer, entrepreneur and advocate of Gerson Therapy, who died of epithelioid sarcoma age 29. She was diagnosed with epithelioid sarcoma aged 22. It is a rare, lethal, yet slow growing cancer, and at the time the only effective treatment was a forequarter amputation. She did also try isolated limb perfusion, before turning to the Gerson Protocol. As scientist David Gorski pointed out, it was entirely understandable to opt for palliative care instead of a major amputation . However Ainscough began marketing herself as 'successfully treating her cancer'; her mother, who had a far more treatable form of breast cancer, followed her daughter onto the therapy, which likely resulted in her unnecessary death.
- Gerson Institute
- Sloan-Kettering FAQ
- Overview at the American Cancer Society
- The (Not So) Beautiful (Un)Truth about the Gerson Therapy and cancer quackery, Science-Based Medicine
- Questionable cancer therapies, Quackwatch
- Alternative nutritional cancer therapies by Sheila Weitzman (1998) Int. J. Cancer Supp. 11:69–72.
- Questionable Cancer Therapies by Stephen Barrett (revised on July 24, 2015) Quackwatch.
- Gerson FAQ at the National Cancer Institute
- American Cancer Society on Gerson therapy
- The Gerson protocol and the Death of Jess Ainscough
- The Wellness Warrior - Denial, Delusion or Dishonesty