What Is Gerson Therapy And How Can It Help The Body Heal?

The definition of a disease is "any harmful deviation from the normal structural or functional state of an organism, generally associated with certain signs and symptoms and differing in nature from physical injury," according to Brittanica. Sometimes diseases create ongoing conditions that can last for a year or more, and require medical attention. These types of conditions are called chronic diseases (via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). While the body can try to heal itself against chronic disease, it often needs a little help.

Here's a few examples of chronic diseases. Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial chronic infection that can affect multiple body parts like the brain, lungs, or spine, says the American Lung Association. TB is typically treated with a multi-month series of antibacterial medications. Another prominent chronic disease is cancer, which occurs when the body's cells grow in an abnormal, unhealthy manner. MedlinePlus lists chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery as some of the common treatments for cancer. There are also less conventional therapies to treat common chronic diseases. Here's everything you need to know about a controversial type of therapy that has been used to treat chronic diseases like TB and cancer.

Gerson Therapy: regimen and controversy

Gerson therapy was developed in the 1930s by Dr. Max Gerson to treat his own issues with migraine headaches (via National Cancer Institute). Initially, Gerson therapy emerged as a potential alternative treatment for tuberculosis, and eventually cancer. Gerson theorized that chronic disease stems from the overtoxification of the body, so he created a regiment of diet, detox, and supplements to process toxins and boost immunity (per Healthline). The Gerson diet focuses on limiting fats, sodium, and proteins while promoting a fruit- and vegetable-based diet that is primarily consumed through raw juice made by Gerson Institute-approved juicers. In addition, supplements — like potassium — are used to recalibrate cell metabolism. Finally, regular coffee enemas are used to support the liver during the detoxification process because of how hard it is working.

Gerson's work was reviewed by the National Cancer Institute, which concluded that it did not have enough evidence to be deemed effective. Gerson therapy is not FDA approved. It is also illegal in the United States, says Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. But a small 2007 study published in the journal Integrative Cancer Therapies found six instances where a person with metastatic cancer was given a short window to live if they denied conventional treatment. They denied it, and survived for much longer than expected using Gerson therapy. The author concluded that Gerson therapy should be better studied for the welfare of people who continue to turn to the regimen.