Abstract and key points
- Gerson therapy uses a special diet, supplements and coffee enemas with the aim of detoxifying and stimulating the body’s metabolism.
- No substantial evidence exists in the scientific literature to support the claims that the Gerson therapy is an effective alternative therapy for cancer.
- Some evidence exists to suggest that elements of the therapy (coffee enemas in particular) are potentially dangerous if used excessively.
- The specific safety problems, advice to stop conventional cancer therapies and the lack of substantial evidence for efficacy outweigh any benefits associated with the Gerson therapy.
The Gerson therapy uses a special diet, supplements and also coffee enemas to detoxify and stimulate the body’s metabolism. Proponents of the Gerson therapy have made claims that it is an effective treatment for cancer and other illnesses, through balancing the levels of potassium and sodium in the body, removal of toxins and regeneration of liver function and also improving overall nutritional status.
Based on one methodologically flawed retrospective study and several case reports, there is no clear evidence that Gerson therapy is an effective treatment for people with cancer. A small best case series review concluded that both physical and psychological benefits, appeared to be offered by this regime, but these findings have not been replicated in any acceptable trials.
Some evidence exists to suggest that elements of the therapy (coffee enemas in particular) are potentially dangerous if used excessively. In addition to this the excessive demands of time, money and other resources on the patient undergoing the therapy may be extreme.
CitationHelen Cooke, Helen Seers, CAM-Cancer Consortium. Gerson therapy [online document]. http://www.cam-cancer.org/The-Summaries/Dietary-approaches/Gerson-therapy. February 8, 2017.
Assessed as up to date in February 2017 by Barbara Wider
Assessed as up to date in April 2016 by Barbara Wider.
Assessed as up to date in January 2015 by Barbara Wider.
Assessed as up to date in August 2013 by Barbara Wider.
Most recent update and revision in September 2012 by Helen Cooke.
Fully revised and updated in August 2011 by Helen Cooke.
Fully revised and updated in November 2009 by Helen Cooke.
Summary first published in July 2005, authored by Helen Seers and Helen Cooke.
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