The Gerson regimen is a diet-based therapy targeting cancer cell metabolism; it includes a specific diet, supplements, and coffee enemas.

Safety and precautions

Common side effects:1Hesse CC. Gerson Primer. Tijuana, Mexico. Curtis C. Hesse. 1982, as described in Questionable methods of cancer management: ‘nutritional’ therapies. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 1993 Sep-Oct;43(5):309-19.

  • Flu-like feelings
  • Loss of appetite
  • Perspiration with strong odor
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Cold sores
  • Fever blisters

Serious and even life-threatening side effects have been reported among people following the Gerson regimen:2Questionable methods of cancer management: ‘nutritional’ therapies. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 1993 Sep-Oct;43(5):309-19.

  • Sepsis
  • Coma due to low serum sodium
  • Serious infections and deaths from electrolyte imbalance

Commentary

CancerChoices advisor and integrative physician Keith Block, MD, and his colleague Charlotte Gyllenhaal state that the Gerson regimen can be rigorous and difficult to follow. They and Neil McKinney, ND, emphasize that this diet is deficient in protein and that monitoring the patient with cachexiaweakness and wasting of the body due to severe chronic illness for adequate protein intake is important. They caution that fruit juice intake may compromise blood sugar control.3Block K, Gyllenhaal C. Chapter 6: Nutritional Interventions in Cancer. In Abrams, DI, Weil, AT. Integrative Oncology. 2nd Edition. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. 2014. p. 144; McKinney N. Naturopathic Oncology, 3rd Edition. Victoria, BC, Canada: Liaison Press. 2016. p. 110.

Keep reading about the Gerson regimen

Author

Nancy Hepp, MS

Lead Researcher and Program Manager
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Ms. Hepp is a researcher and communicator who has been writing and editing educational content on varied health topics for more than 20 years. She serves as lead researcher, program manager, and writer for CancerChoices. Her graduate work in research and cognitive psychology, her master’s degree in instructional design, and her certificate in web design have all guided her in writing and presenting information for a wide variety of audiences and uses. Nancy’s service as faculty development coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine at Wright State University also provided experience in medical research, plus insights into medical education and medical care from the professional’s perspective.

Nancy Hepp, MS Lead Researcher and Program Manager

Reviewer

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS

Senior Clinical Consultant
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Laura Pole is senior clinical consultant for CancerChoices. Laura is an oncology clinical nurse specialist who has been providing integrative oncology clinical care, navigation, consultation, and education services for over 40 years. She is the co-creator and co-coordinator of the Integrative Oncology Navigation Training at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC. Laura also manages the “Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use” listserv for Smith Center/Commonweal. In her role as a palliative care educator and consultant, Laura has served as statewide Respecting Choices Faculty for the Virginia POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) Collaborative as well as provided statewide professional education on palliative and end-of-life care for the Virginia Association for Hospices and Palliative Care.

For CancerChoices, Laura curates content and research, networks with clinical and organizational partners, brings awareness and education of integrative oncology at professional and patient conferences and programs, and translates research into information relevant to the patient experience as well as clinical practice.

Laura sees her work with CancerChoices as a perfect alignment of all her passions, knowledge and skills in integrative oncology care. She is honored to serve you.

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS Senior Clinical Consultant

Last update: November 14, 2022

Last full literature review: August 2022

CancerChoices provides information about integrative in cancer care, a patient-centered approach combining the best of conventional care, self care and evidence-informed complementary care in an integrated plan cancer care. We review complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocial therapy, and acupuncture therapies and self-care lifestyle actions and behaviors that may impact cancer outcomes; examples include eating health-promoting foods, limiting alcohol, increasing physical activity, and managing stress practices to help patients and professionals explore and integrate the best combination of conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy and complementary therapies and practices for each person.

Our staff have no financial conflicts of interest to declare. We receive no funds from any manufacturers or retailers gaining financial profit by promoting or discouraging therapies mentioned on this site.

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