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An Alternative Look at Cancer
Gerson Therapy
by Eva Urbaniak, N.D.
What is Cancer?

Cancer may be defined as tissues composed of cells that have become independent of the normal growth-controlling forces of the host. Cancer cells are less affected by their environment, including neighboring cells, and can secrete their own masking hormones and other substances which can sometimes fool the immune system into not recognizing them. Metastasis, or spreading of cancer cells may occur by direct invasion to tissues immediately adjacent to the primary tumor, or through blood and lymphatic vessels. The immune system has a vast array of specialized cells to combat abnormally growing cells. Some are: B-cells, white cells which produce anti-bodies; T-cells, lymphocytes that mature in the thymus gland and are involved in cellular mediated immunity and communicate with or "turn on" other disease fighting cells; monocytes and macrophages, which produce immunity to certain bacteria and viruses and play and important role in immunity by "presenting" them to T-cells; null cells, which mediate natural killer cells, which kill invading organisms by direct contact or by producing a cytotoxin, or cell poison; helper and supressor T-cells, which stimulate and suppress B-cells respectively, and killer T-cells, which can destroy cancer cells and other cells bearing recognizable structures. The immune system is incredibly complex, and its optimal functioning is dependent on factors such as normal activity of hormones, enzymes and nutrients in the body. In treating cancer, the main goal should be to enhance the function of the immune system, since it is within this system that the battle is fought.

Conventional Therapies Do Harm

One very serious problem with most current conventional allopathic treatment of cancer in the United States is the disregard for the necessity of strengthening and boosting the immune system of the patient. The main focus is on removing, shrinking or killing the cancerous tumor(s) with surgery, radiation and/or toxic chemicals. There is substantial trauma to the body and psyche associated with all three of the main approaches, but an additional risk factor for surgery is the potential for spreading disease-causing cells, through the vascular and lymph spaces, if the tumor ruptures.

My medical dictionary defines "chemotherapy" as follows: "In the treatment of disease, the application of chemical reagents which are not harmful to the patient but which have a specific and toxic effect upon the disease-causing micro-organism." The key words here are "not harmful to the patient." Side effects of chemotherapy are, loss of hair, strength and energy, immune system functioning, appetite and ability to eat; severe bone marrow suppression; aplastic anemia; fungal and bacterial infections; inflammation of the mucous membranes and ulcerations of the mouth. Not harmful? Are patients to believe their doctors who insist that chemo is the treatment of choice? (I have great resistance to using the term "chemotherapy," because I have seen it do harm to cancer patients, and I agree with the original definition that a therapy should not only, "do no harm," but should, in fact, make a patient feel better and stronger.)

Empower and Educate Yourself Before Making Treatment Choices

In this series of articles, rather than focus on the state of conventional cancer treatments in our country today, I wish to share with you stories of long term survivors of cancer and the therapy choices they made. Their choices allowed them to be a living testament that cancer is not a death sentence, but a systemic disease, that needs to be addressed systemically for total cure. Too often, patients resign themselves to what the doctors think is best for them and suffer dire consequences, or earlier death as a result.

To be a survivor, a cancer patient today needs to become educated about his or her dis-ease and the treatment options available. (The hyphen is intentional to indicate that any disease represents a departure from living with ease.) Taking the time to find out where the imbalance and disharmony is and changing it, for many has had very positive effects. One thing is for sure, change does need to occur, whether it be a change in diet, taking specific supplements, detoxifying the body, getting counseling or psychotherapy, or finding God again. There are many excellent books on alternative therapies for cancer, and the Internet also can be of help. Doing what feels right for the individual is of paramount importance. Ultimately it is the patient who must decide for him- or herself which path is the right one to follow, and that decision should be respected, even if we may not agree.

Every long term survivor I interviewed has certain characteristics. Among them are taking responsibility, abandoning self-pity, feeding the body super-nutrition, becoming a student, facing reality, connecting with a Higher Power, and acquiring hope. Hope is an integral part of wellness, especially if one is subjected to the doomsday attitudes of the doctors who insist that patients undergo therapies that do more harm than good.

Non-Toxic Gerson Therapy Produces Long Term Survivors

The Gerson therapy was developed by Dr. Max Gerson, a German physician, born in 1881, who cured his own migraine headaches with diet, and in the latter stage of his career, applied a dietary regime to cancer and published a book, A Cancer Therapy: Results of Fifty Cases. Gerson therapy has been reported in peer reviewed scientific literature to cure many diverse conditions. The Gerson Institute resides in Bonita, California, and the therapy center is in Mexico. A new therapy center has recently opened in Tucson, Arizona. Most patients attend the therapy centers and afterwards remain on a modified dietary plan for life. The basic premise of the therapy is that when cancer is present, there is an aberrant functioning on the cellular level. The sodium/potassium balance of the cells changes causing edema of the cells. Sodium enters and potassium is depleted, and the cellular edema is believed to be the inciting factor which causes cancer to grow. Patients who have undergone toxic therapies are not accepted for treatment to the centers. Gerson therapy boasts a 50% cure rate for terminally ill patients, when cancer is considered incurable by "orthodox methods", when metastsis has occurred to liver, pancreas or elsewhere in the body, and 70 to 80% cure rate for earlier cancers. These numbers are considerably better than what conventional therapies offer.

When a patient checks in for a minimum of three weeks, four to six weeks for seriously ill patients, he or she can expect:

1) A review of the patient's medical history, records, and a complete physical exam.
2) Thirteen glasses daily of various fresh raw juices prepared hourly from organically grown fruits and vegetables (including beet, carrot, celery, and potato).
3)Three full vegetarian meals daily, freshly prepared from organically grown vegetables, fruits and whole grains. The main features of the diet are:
a)sodium restriction
b)potassium supplementation
c)extreme fat restriction
d)periodic (temporary) protein restriction
e)high vitamin
f)high mineral
g)fluid rich
h)high micronutrient

4) Individual medications (classified as "biologicals," materials of organic origin which are normally found in the body supplied in therapeutic amounts) including:
a)potassium compound
b)thyroid hormone
c) Lugol's solution (an iodine compound)
d)injectable crude liver extract with vitamin B-12
e)pancreatic enzymes
f)enemas of coffee and/or chamomile tea (daily)
g)castor oil
h)additional antioxidants, vitamins A,C, E and trace mineral selenium
i)hydrotherapy procedures, wet sheet packs, hyperthermia, etc.

The Gerson therapy is an intensive, nutrition-based , medical treatment that works closely with nature to help the sick body rid itself of disease through the supportive effects of simple foods, juices, and non-toxic medication. Although the diet allows for some cooked foods, the emphasis is placed on the consumption of unaltered foods. Fresh, raw, fruits and vegetables are the source materials of all micronutrients in their pristine organic composition. Beyond supplying adequate amounts of all known nutrients, the use of specific raw fruits and vegetables and their juices ensures that patients receive even those health promoting factors not yet appreciated by science. Another essential part of the treatment is frequent detoxification of the tissues and blood by the administration of coffee enemas which cause stimulation of enzyme systems of the gut wall and liver, and promote excretion of toxic bile.

Patients are expected to attend lectures and are given extensive education to ensure correct extended practice of the therapy when they return home. Psychological support is also given to foster hope and build survivors. This may be key to the high success rate experienced by those who have done the therapy. What they learn about self-care and maintenance is a valuable tool to living disease free.

There are two big advantages of the Gerson therapy:

1)Recovery rate is higher than other non-toxic therapies because it addresses the underlying degenerative processes that lead to cancer and seeks to stop and reverse them. The body is supplied with generous amounts of nutrients,enzymes, and other necessary materials. Elimination of waste materials and toxins that interfere with metabolism enhances the efficacy of the nutritional program.

2) Reduction of pain and pain medications occurs with all patients. Patients feel more in control of their health. Mood and confidence are high, development of a fighting spirit and increased sense of well being occur, which enhance a patient's survival chances.

My good friend, Al Schaefer, who also happens to be a twenty year colon cancer survivor after having done the Gerson therapy, remains on a somewhat modified dietary plan suited to his needs. He believes, after researching all the alternative therapies, that the Gerson therapy is the best. Al lost his wife to cancer. When he was diagnosed with colon cancer twenty years ago, he decided that if the Gerson therapy worked for him, he would be around to tell people about it. Today, Al is very active in getting the word out about alternative therapies. He has his own television program called Wholesome Voices seen on cable channel 29, public access, on Thursday evenings at 8:30 P.M., was and still is involved with groups such as Cancer Victors and Friends and moderates Dr. Glenn Warner's weekly support group for people with cancer in Bellevue.

For more information on the Gerson Therapy, contact:
The Gerson Institute
P.O. Box 430
Bonita, CA 92002
tel.: (714) 267-1150

Gerson, M. A Cancer Therapy: Results of Fifty Cases. Published by Gerson Institute, Bonita CA 1986
Goldberg, Burton. An Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide to Cancer 1997 Future Medicine Publishing Inc.
Foster, Harold D. Lifestyle Changes and the "Spontaneous" regression of cancer: An initial computer analysis Healing Newsletter -Reprinted with permission from the International Journal of Biosocial Research vol. 10, No. 1, pp. 17-33 1988
James, Nicholas; Reed, Alison; Sikora, Karl. Round the World-Mexico: Juices,coffee enemas, and cancer The Lancet vol. 336 Sept.15, 1990 pp. 677-8
Cowley, Geoffrey. A Clue to Cancer Newsweek Magazine October 23, 1995 p. 92

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