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Chemotherapy versus Carrots -the Ideological Conflict in Cancer Medicine

Beata Bishop, London

"There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all

argument, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance.That principle

is condemnation before investigation."

Herbert Spencer

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Chemotherapy versus Carrots -

the Ideological Conflict in

Cancer Medicine 

Network No. 86 Winter 2004

Beata Bishop, London

"There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all

argument, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance.That principle

is condemnation before investigation."

Herbert Spencer

Let me declare an interest. I am a

former cancer patient, having recovered in 1983 on the

nutrition-based Gerson therapy. I

embarked on it in January 1981, when

orthodox oncology could offer me

nothing except more surgery for my

metastasised malignant melanoma,

with the warning that without an

immediate operation I only had

between 6 weeks and 6 months to live.

I refused both the offer and the

prognosis, and after two years on

Gersonís protocol have been enjoying

robust good health and well-being for

the past 21 years. My experience

convinced me of the great potential of

a non-invasive, non-toxic treatment

modality; it also forced me to explore

the wide field of complementary and

alternative cancer therapies and, just

as importantly, the politics and the

ideological divide that prevent the best

alternative approaches from being

properly researched and freely

practised. This paper is an attempt to

sum up my understanding of the

current situation.

Every now and then the media

report on a confrontation between

orthodox oncology and alternative

cancer medicine. The scenario is

predictable. Some news item or mild

reference to a successful alternative

treatment evokes vigorous attacks

from eminent orthodox doctors, who

unfortunately donít take the trouble to

explore just what they are attacking.

As a result their statements are wide of

the mark and, as a rule, nonsensical.

But the sensationalist and sniggering

way in which the equally ignorant

media reports this uncalled for conflict

leaves the general reader confused at

best, dismissive of alternative methods

at worst. It certainly prevents any

intelligent discussion of the subject.

benefit of the treatments; she also

wishes to find out why patients use

complementary and alternative

medicine.3 These naive questions are

hardly new, but they serve their

apparent purpose, which is to divert

research from its original, taxpayerfunded

target. Horace was right:

"Difficile est satiram non scribere".

The other main obstacle to research

is that the standard tool, RCT

(randomised clinical trial) cannot be

applied to complex, multifactorial

therapies, such as the Gerson therapy.

Unlike a single new drug or treatment,

a protocol that prescribes a complete

lifestyle change embracing hypernutrition,

detoxification, medication

and a range of complementary

techniques cannot be squeezed into the

narrow framework of an RCT. On the

other hand, the few available

retrospective reports are not taken

seriously in Establishment circles.

Prospective projects would involve

following the progress of a statistically

significant number of patients over two

years or more, requiring considerable

funding, which is not available. And so

the vicious circle spins on.

About Gerson

Dr Max Gerson (1881-1959), having

trained at four leading German

universities, started his career as a strictly

orthodox physician. Trying to cure his

debilitating migraines, for which no

treatment was available, he began to

experiment with various diets, assuming

that his problem had a nutritional cause.

After several failures he found that a saltfree,

low fat vegetarian diet, based on

raw and cooked fresh fruits and

vegetables, kept him free of migraines.

This "migraine diet", as he came to call

it, invariably helped his migraineafflicted

patients, too.

This is what happened last June,

when Prince Charles made a

thoughtful speech to a distinguished

audience of British and American

cancer specialists, on integrating

complementary therapies into cancer

care.1 He made a fleeting reference to a

woman patient with terminal cancer

who turned to the Gerson Therapy,

having been told that she would not

survive another course of

chemotherapy, and, seven years on,

was alive and well. "So it is therefore

vital that, rather than dismissing such

experiences, we should further

investigate the beneficial nature of

these treatments", the Prince added.

The Press turned this innocuous

remark into lurid headlines2

Oncologists accused Prince Charles of

advising cancer patients to abandon

orthodox treatments and embrace

unproven ones. The media

prominently featured the coffee enema,

the only factor of the Gerson

programme that could be trusted to

evoke ridicule. The rest of the Princeís

wise and considered speech was

ignored.Yet vis-a-vis the oncologists it

was he who represented the correct

scientific attitude, by urging research

into a potential new method of healing.

Indeed, research is badly needed.

But research requires funding, which,

as a rule, is not available for alternative

therapies. Even in exceptional cases,

when money is forthcoming, the

research gets quickly blown off course,

like at the University of Southampton

medical school, which received a grant

of £300,000 from the Department of

Health to research the homeopathic

and herbal treatment of arthritic

conditions. However, Senior Research

Fellow Dr Sarah Brien mainly intends

to study the practitioner-patient

relationship and how it affects the

Eventually one of Dr Gersonís

patients reported that beside losing his

migraines, his skin tuberculosis (lupus

vulgaris) had also been healed. Since

lupus was considered incurable, and

any one treatment was supposed to

cure only one specific condition, this

case, and subsequent successful ones,

contradicted the official teaching and

forced the young doctor to think again.

Meanwhile his success with lupus

vulgaris led the famous lung TB

specialist, Professors Ferdinand

Sauerbruch, to set up a clinical trial at

his Munich hospital, using Dr Gersonís

method on 450 "incurable" skin

tuberculosis patients. Of the 450, 446

made a full recovery. Encouraged by

this impressive result, Dr Gerson

moved on, reasoning that beside lupus

other forms of tuberculosis - of the

lung, kidney or bone - should also

respond to dietary therapy. They did.

One of his lung TB cases was Helene,

the wife of Nobel Laureate Dr Albert

Schweitzer, who was terminally ill

when she was brought to Dr Gerson.

On his therapy she made a full recovery

and died at 70 from heart failure.

But TB was not to be the last

frontier.Many of the migraine and TB

patients found that their other

problems, such as hypertension,

asthma, arthritis, kidney damage,

hardening of the arteries and other

chronic degenerative conditions also

disappeared during their dietary

treatment. These startling results

forced Dr Gerson to acknowledge that

his dietary therapy, contrary to

received medical wisdom, was treating

not a particular disease, but the entire

organism, enabling it to heal itself. In

other words, he had inadvertently

moved from treating symptoms to

tackling their underlying causes. And

that meant a radical departure from

the usual approach of orthodox

medicine, which focuses on the

suppression of symptoms.

The Move into Cancer Work

One day in the late Twenties a woman

suffering from cancer of the bile duct

summoned Dr Gerson and demanded

to be put on his dietary therapy. He

refused, having had no experience of

cancer medicine, but the patient

insisted, and in the end he gave her

exact instructions on how to proceed.

Against his expectations the woman

recovered. So did two more patients

with stomach cancer, referred by her.

This was the beginning of the long

process which eventually led to the

development of the complete Gerson

therapy as it is used today, enriched with

additional elements, to heal cancer and

other chronic degenerative diseases.

When Hitler came to power, Dr

which allowed the cancer to develop -

which is singularly unhelpful advice.

After this the patient only has to attend

for periodic check-ups. If he or she is

lucky, some dietary and lifestyle advice

will be given by a nurse practitioner.

(Hospital dieticians seem to know little

or nothing about anti-cancer diets.)

But it is a matter of luck. Some patients

take the initiative of consulting a CAM

practitioner for expert guidance. If a

recurrence occurs, the patient only gets

more of the same treatment that hadnít

got rid of the disease in the first

instance, more radiation or stronger


Dr Gerson, however, saw the

tumour only as the symptom of a deep

underlying disease that involved the

whole organism suffering from a

malfunctioning metabolism, a

weakened immune system and a high

level of toxicity. In other words,

cancer was not a thing, i.e. the

tumour, but a process; and unless

the process could be stopped, there

was nothing to prevent the disease

from recurring, which happened

only too often. It is this ideological

difference that prevents the Gerson

therapy from integrating with

mainstream cancer medicine, forcing

it to remain an alternative method.

In Dr Gersonís view, getting rid of

the tumour by surgery was desirable,

but that was only the first step towards

the real work of healing, which

consisted of a long period of thorough

detoxification plus hyper-nutrition, to

enable the body to heal itself. The

nutritional programme was fine-tuned

to flood the debilitated organism with

all the vitamins, minerals, trace

elements and enzymes that are

contained in fresh organic vegetables,

salads and fruits. Although Dr Gerson

had no independent research facilities

- besides, research techniques of his

day were primitive by todayís

standards - by trial and error and with

remarkable intuition he managed to

create a programme whose rightness

has been repeatedly confirmed by the

latest research.

He was much concerned with the

ravages to the soil, caused by modern

agricultural methods with their

inadequate fertilisers and lavish use of

agricultural poisons. Itís easy to

imagine what he would say about

todayís levels of toxic chemicals in soil,

air and water, a thousand times worse

than the ones he knew about. He

maintained that the health of the soil

could not be separated from the health

of the plants, the animals and

ultimately the human beings who

consumed them. In this his thinking

ran parallel with the inspirers and

founders of the organic movement in

Gerson, who was Jewish, had to flee

with his wife and three daughters, first

to Austria, then to France and

England, eventually settling in the

USA. Aged 55, he had to learn English

and pass the necessary medical board

examinations before being able to

practise medicine. He soon built up a

thriving practice, specialising in cancer

cases. The more life-saving successes

he achieved, the more hostile the

American medical establishment

became towards him. Having escaped

the Nazi threat, Dr Gerson now found

himself ruthlessly persecuted by his

colleagues who resented both his

unorthodox methods and his

remarkable successes. His articles were

not accepted for publication, young

doctors anxious to work with him were

warned off, the editor of the Journal of

the American Medical Association

launched a smear campaign against

him, the completed manuscript of his

book was stolen, and his rights and

privileges as a member of the Medical

Society of the County of New York

were withdrawn. Despite all this, he

continued to work and write, until ill

health forced him to slow down. His

only book, "A Cancer Therapy - Results

of Fifty Cases" 4 appeared in early 1958.

He died a year later, at the age of 78,

shortly after tests showed that he was

suffering from arsenic poisoning. As he

had not had any contact with arsenic,

and the only possible conclusion was

that he had been deliberately poisoned.

His legacy has been kept alive by his

youngest daughter Charlotte, now in

her 80s and fully active, who has made

sure that her fatherís book remained in

print and has been lecturing about his

therapy for several decades. Thanks to

her work there is now a Gerson

Institute in San Diego, and a state of

the art clinic in Mexico, where the

therapy is practised by a group of

medical doctors. The hostility of the

American medical establishment

remains as strong as ever. Under the

terms of NAFTA, the AMA exercises

constant pressure on the Mexican

authorities which allow several

alternative cancer clinics to function

around Tijuana, demanding that they

be closed down.

Revisioning Cancer

Oncology today concentrates on the

removal or destruction of the tumour,

which it identifies with the disease

known as cancer. It does this by

surgery, radiation or chemotherapy,

known by its critics as "slash, burn,

poison". Once the tumour has been

eliminated, the patient is told to

resume his or her everyday life where it

had been interrupted by the disease;

that is, return to the circumstances

Network No. 86 Winter 2004


Britain - Sir Robert McCarrison, Sir

Albert Howard, Lady Eve Balfour -

and, in Switzerland, Dr Max Bircher-

Benner. Anyone familiar with Dr

Gersonís philosophy canít help

thinking, "He told you so sixty years

ago", whenever new data emerge

about the nutritional impoverishment

and high level of chemical toxicity of

basic foodstuffs not grown to organic

standards. Concurrently the EU

Directives and the Codex

Alimentarius are preparing to limit

both the number of freely available

vitamin and mineral supplements and

their permissible maximum strength,

setting it way below todayís

requirements; it seems that remaining

healthy in the so-called developed

world is getting increasingly difficult.

The Gerson Protocol

The Gerson nutritional programme is

based on the maximum input of

optimum nutrition and the total

exclusion of everything that falls below

that standard or is distinctly harmful,

like household chemicals. Salt and salt

substitutes, alcohol, coffee, tea, white

sugar and white flour, eggs, meat,

poultry, fish, cheese, butter, all fats

and oils (except flax seed oil), all

canned, frozen, smoked, sulphured or

otherwise preserved convenience

foods are forbidden; so is nicotine.The

diet is based on organic vegetables,

salads, a highly nutritious and

cleansing special soup, potatoes,

oatmeal, fruit, and, last but most

importantly, 13 glasses of freshly

prepared fruit and vegetable juices a

day, (especially carrot and apple or

carrot on its own), drunk on the hour

every hour, at 8 fl ozs a time. Patients

get three square meals a day and

unlimited fresh organic fruit at any

time of the day or night.

As organic food in itself is cleansing

and the juices and medication break

down cancer tissue, detoxification has

to be supported with several coffee

enemas a day - five a day to start with,

later tapering off. Coffee enemas were

first tested on rats after World War I by

Professors Meyer and Heubner of the

University of Goettingen; they found

that the rectally administered caffeine

stimulated the production of bile,

which then helped to remove toxins

from the liver.5 Dr Gerson successfully

adopted this method , whose rightness

was later confirmed by the

experiments of Djerassi6 and

Kaufmann et al,7 as reported by Dr

Peter Lechner in 1990.8 All

medications used in the therapy are

natural substances, designed to

strengthen the metabolism and restore

the sodium/potassium balance of the


outside the biomedical box. From

their point of view this is

understandable. The incidence of

cancer is rising inexorably, the rate of

cure isnít, and the periodic

announcements of yet another wonder

drug usually lead nowhere. Doctors

must feel frustrated and unhappy

about their poor results. Professional

pride and the macho side of medicine

also come into play, especially when

terminal patients whom they were

unable to help turn up fit and well

after two years on carrot juice, organic

food and coffee enemas, often to be

told that what they have experienced

was a spontaneous recovery.

If only doctors were willing to ask

questions and listen to the answers,

instead of dismissing out of hand what

they know nothing about, more lives

could be saved. But they donít. And

those who know otherwise and work

for the other way of healing, have

neither money nor power to back them

up, only the living testimony and castiron

authority of recovered patients.

When Dr Gerson died in 1959, his

cured patient Albert Schweitzer wrote

this to his widow:

"I see in him one of the most eminent

geniuses in the history of medicine. Many

of his basic ideas have been adopted

without having his name connected with

them. He leaves a legacy which commands

attention and which will assure him his

due place. Those whom he cured will now

attest to the truth of his ideas."

 Her book about her experience of

cancer and recovery, A Time to Heal, has

been translated into 7 languages and is

temporarily out of print in English, but

can be obtained from the Gerson Support


With the emphasis on freshly

prepared food and juices and the need

for frequent enemas, the therapy is

labour-intensive, lengthy and

expensive. Despite its excellent track

record over sixty years it offers no

guarantee of a cure - but then neither

do conventional oncological

treatments. Today the therapy has a

much tougher job than it had in Dr

Gersonís lifetime. The world is much

more polluted, peopleís nutritional

status is much lower, and many

patients embark on the programme in

an advanced stage of cancer, after

conventional methods have failed

them. Obviously, all this makes the

healing process harder and longer.Yet

even so, results remain well above

average, especially with malignant

melanoma, one of the fastest-growing

and least curable cancers.9

Since this therapy treats and restores

the entire organism, in a reduced form

it also works against several nonmalignant

chronic degenerative

conditions, including heart and

circulatory disease, diabetes,

hypertension, arthritis, migraines, skin

conditions and many more. (I myself

was cured for good of diabetes mellitus

and osteoarthritis in the first six weeks

of the intensive therapy, and part of

my surgically mutilated leg grew

back.) If we consider the enormous

amount of suffering caused by chronic

disease, the growing death toll of

cancer and the parlous state of the

over-burdened NHS, itís obvious that

this simple, non-toxic, non-invasive

therapy has a great deal to offer and

could revolutionise medicine.


In the last few months media attacks

on alternative therapies, especially for

cancer, have intensified, both in

number and in degree of hostility.

Presumably they are largely inspired

by the pharmaceutical industry, which

faces difficulties on two fronts. One is

its loss of credibility as a result of

various drug scandals, the other is the

growing number of people who choose

to spend their money on alternative

and complementary therapies rather

than drugs. Money plays a huge role

right through the so-called cancer

industry. Itís often said that more

people live off cancer than die from it;

enormous sums of money are invested

in drugs, machinery, research and

development, training, clinical trials,

publications - the list is endless. On

the other hand, as Charlotte Gerson

likes to point out, carrots canít be

patented and only enrich the organic


Doctors also tend to react with

hostility to any healing modality

Network No. 86 Winter 2004





1. Speech by HRH The Prince of Wales, London,

24th June 2004

2. The Observer, 27th June 2004; Daily Express,

28th June 2004

3. Press Release from Southampton University

4. A Cancer Therapy - Results of Fifty Cases, Max

Gerson, M.D. Gerson Institute, San Diego.

ISBN 0-88268-105-2

5. A Cancer Therapy, P. 407

6. Djerassi, C.M.: The structure of the

pentacyclic Diterpene cafestol. J.Am.chem.

Soc.81 (1959) 2386-2398

7. Kaufmann, P. et al: Zur Kenntnis der Lipoide

in der Kaffeebohne III. Fette, Seifen u.

Arzneimittel 76/6 (1963) 529-532

8. P.Lechner, L.Kronberger: Erfahrungen mit

dem Einsatz der Diaet-Therapie in der

chirurgischen Onkologie. Aktuelle

Ernaehrungsmedizin, 2. April 1990. 51-96

9. Gar Hildenbrand et al: Five-year Survival

Rates of Melanoma Patients Treated by Diet

Therapy After the Manner of Gerson: A

Retrospective Review. Alternative Therapies,

Vol.1. No.4. September 1995.

Beata Bishop, writer, lecturer and

psychotherapist working along Jungian

and Transpersonal lines. Founder member

of the Gerson Support Group, P.O. Box

406, Esher, Surrey KT10 9UL.Tel: 01372





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