“In the United States, two-thirds of Americans are overweight and 20 million of us have diabetes, half of all Americans take prescription drugs and the cancer rate has gone from 1 in 50 in 1900, to almost 1 in 2 at the present time in industrialized countries,” says filmmaker Steve Kroschel in Dying to Have Known, a documentary of his 52-day investigation of the Gerson Therapy.

Cancer. We hear about it too much these days. It triggers the saddest and most depressing emotions. Most of us probably have known or know someone who has it. For us it’s a monster—a monster we must fight and defeat. So we hold fundraisers to raise money for cancer research and we wait for the messiah who will finally discover the cure for cancer.

It’s a lesser known truth that many people around the world have found their cure in the Gerson Therapy. In the 1930s in Germany, Dr. Max Gerson first developed this diet-based therapy to treat his persistent migraines. Then he found that the diet had healed one of his patients’ skin tuberculosis. He did further studies and held a clinical trial at Munich University under the supervision of established surgeon Ferdinand Sauerbruch. Out of 450 skin tuberculosis patients, 446 were successfully treated and the work was published in several leading medical journals worldwide. In the following years, this treatment showed positive results in the treatment of other ailments such as heart conditions, kidney failure and even cancer.

The Gerson Therapy targets the body as a whole. It’s based on a strict organic vegetarian diet combined with coffee enemas and the use of other natural supplements. Patients consume fresh raw fruit and vegetable juices that contain living enzymes and other minerals and nutrients that are usually killed in conventional juicers, up to 13 times a day. Large quantities of raw and cooked solid foods also form part of this diet, all of which are designed to continuously pump the body with an abundance of enzymes, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and micronutrients to strengthen organs and systems weakened by disease. And coffee enemas have been scientifically proven to help the liver in eliminating toxins. The Gerson Institute explains the concept behind the regime:

The Gerson Therapy‘s all-encompassing nature sets it apart from most other treatment methods. The Gerson Therapy effectively treats a wide range of different ailments because it restores the body’s incredible ability to heal itself. Rather than treating only the symptoms of a particular disease, the Gerson Therapy treats the causes of most degenerative diseases: toxicity and nutritional deficiency.

Degenerative diseases render the body increasingly unable to excrete waste materials adequately, commonly resulting in liver and kidney failure. The Gerson Therapy uses intensive detoxification to eliminate wastes, regenerate the liver, reactivate the immune system and restore the body’s essential defences—enzyme, mineral and hormone systems. With generous, high-quality nutrition, increased oxygen availability, detoxification, and improved metabolism, the cells—and the body—can regenerate, become healthy and prevent future illness.

According to Howard Strauss, author of Dr. Max Gerson: Healing the Hopeless and grandson of Dr. Gerson, more than 50 journals around the world published Gerson’s work, providing detailed accounts of his therapies. And hundreds of articles have been published in esteemed journals by other medical researchers and scientists confirming his work.

After being licensed to practice in New York in 1938, he continued treating cancer patients under the Gerson Therapy for twenty years, and in 1958, a year before his death, he published 50 success stories in his book A Cancer Therapy: Results of 50 Cases. From the time he began submitting papers on his cancer treatment in the United States, he was rejected by the medical establishment and to this day, his work is considered quackery by mainstream medical communities. As Kroschel found during the making of his film, American medical experts believe the Gerson Therapy has never cured anyone and that patients who attribute their wellness to the therapy probably didn’t have cancer, or the cancer went away on its own. As Dr. Stephen Barrett says in the film, they don’t believe there’s any evidence that “any diet will affect the course of any cancer.”

Despite the widespread denunciation of the Gerson Therapy, numerous survivors of cancer and other degenerative diseases have testified on the life-changing impact of the therapy. Some of them were diagnosed with diseases such as breast cancer, lymphosarcoma, malignant melanoma, testicular cancer and even multiple sclerosis and were advised by their gynecologists and physicians that they were making huge mistakes. Many of these patients, however, have survived anywhere from six to 50 years after pursuing the Gerson Therapy. And many, at the time of the initial diagnosis, were given only from one to six months to live. In just one week, one woman gained weight and was beginning to feel better. An elderly man’s  blood was so clear after therapy, the doctor couldn’t tell he’d ever had cancer.

Some professionals who trust the scientific legitimacy of the Gerson Therapy, believe the therapy is denigrated by the medical and pharmaceutical industry as it puts their interests at risk. Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of Death by Modern Medicine, says Gerson’s documented successes published in Europe were not allowed in the United States. The reason, she says, is that Gerson Therapy is a natural therapy, which allows people to be in control of their own health without being dependent on drugs. The therapy is based wholly on food and supplements found in nature. Other medical professionals reject the therapy due to lack of scientific proof of its effectiveness. However, Dean explains, “The scientific model only tests for one variable at a time, and the Gerson Therapy uses hundreds of variables,” which makes the Gerson Therapy incompatible with scientific testing.

Modern medicine, which is based on drugs and surgery, follows a standard scientific method to study and test medicines before they can be administered to people. But drugs tend to target the symptoms of the disease and often have side effects, which require further medication. Often, drugs are prescribed before a person’s body has the chance to fight the disease or before remedies are looked for in nature. Why do we automatically turn to artificial aids when something goes wrong?

Wholistic therapies, such as the Gerson Therapy, identify and attack the root of the disease. Dr. Gerson called the soil our external metabolism and believed that without fertile, organic soil, our food cannot sustain us. Artificial fertilizers and other chemicals have diminished the nutritional value and richness of our soils. Dr. Paul R. Hepperly of the Rodale Institute notes these chemicals are poisoning us and the environment and are definitely correlated to the increase in cancer cases and other degenerative diseases. The Gerson Therapy follows a nutritional model as opposed to modern medicine’s chemical model and, according to Hepperly, the former approach could have prevented these diseases in the first place. Dr. Andrew Saul is another proponent of the nutritional model. In his view, if the Gerson Therapy was permitted in the United States, we could see deaths from cancer decreasing by over 50 percent. “There are no drugs in the Gerson Therapy. It’s all based on nature, it’s all based on common sense, it’s all based on nutrition, detoxification and metabolic theory. It makes so much sense, that it doesn’t make very many dollars,” he says.

Today, there are only two Gerson clinics in the world—one in Mexico and one in Hungary—both licensed by the Gerson Institute (founded by Dr. Gerson’s daughter, Charlotte Gerson). More than half of the 500 patients treated by two allopathic doctors at the Loma Linda Clinic in Japan using Gerson Therapy have recovered and the doctors have kept thorough records of the patients for many years following the treatments. In Holland, Dr. Wilko van der Vegt, has been doing the same for 16 years, with a 75 percent success rate.

The Gerson Therapy will probably remain a controversial practice for many reasons. It’s possible that it’s being suppressed by powerful commercial players since it’s not overly profitable, or it could be that medical professionals will not be convinced of its effectiveness until it can be scientifically proven. But the Gerson Therapy and therapists cannot simply be considered “quack” since they have too many positive results to their credit. Conventional medicine doesn’t have all the answers. And if the Gerson Therapy saved lives when the former couldn’t, people deserve to, at the very least, know about it.

Watch Dying to Have Known here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoUl7F7dWdE

image: beetroot juice via Shutterstock