I do not usually review films, but this is an important exception.
The Gerson Miracle
Reviewed by and copyright 2004 Andrew W. Saul
"The cure for cancer has been discovered. In 1928." These are the opening
words of the new one-and-a-half hour documentary movie, The Gerson Miracle.
No one that views it can possibly misunderstand its uncompromising
assertions that cancer is curable, and that Dr. Max Gerson repeatedly proved
When Max Gerson, M.D., testified before the U.S. Senate on July 1, 2, and 3,
1946, he likely had high hopes of acceptance of his work. No such luck. In
1958, he published all the how-to-do-it details in A Cancer Therapy: Results
of Fifty Cases. He died the next year, under suspicious circumstances. (More
on this in the Newsletter's interview section, below.)
Even today it is necessary for persons seeking Gerson treatment to leave the
country to obtain it. As the film's narration says, "Laws in virtually all
of the United States prohibit any other treatment of cancer than radiation,
chemotherapy and surgery, even though they are usually ineffective at best,
and completely ineffective at worst. Chemotherapy, for example, does not
cure cancer at all, and usually merely poisons the patient instead of the
Strong words, those. If Oscar-winning documentarist Michael Moore initially
had difficulty obtaining distribution for his "Fahrenheit 9/11" movie, you
can be sure there will be some hefty opposition to this one.
And yet, the heart of the Gerson therapy is ecological common sense. I think
this is why it makes a good subject for film, and why it appealed so to
producer/director Steven Kroschel. Kroschel's previous documentary credits
include work for the Learning Channel, National Geographic, PBS, and the
BBC, as well as contributions to a number of Hollywood features including
"Straight Up," "Vertical Limit," and "I Spy." Not surprisingly, Kroschel
personally follows the Gerson diet.
The narration continues:
"The soil, and all that grows in it, is not something distant from us, but
must be regarded as our external metabolism, which produces the nutrients
for our internal metabolism. Therefore, the soil must be cared for properly.
It must not be depleted or poisoned Otherwise, changes will result in
serious degenerative diseases in animals and humans."
This sounds much like text from any biology textbook that I've taught from.
"Mass-produced, commercially-grown fruits and vegetables are fertilized with
only three minerals: nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous," says the
narrator. Yet plants "need over 50 more." As a consequence, "the plants are
sick, and must be kept on life support with toxic chemicals until market."
On the other hand, organic farming methods enable both the plant, and you,
to resist disease. This especially includes cancer.
The film states that the two key factors that are "the underlying cause of
cancer are deficiency and toxicity." A radical, organic raw vegetable
juice-based diet is proposed as the primary remedy. Why juiced? Because "Dr.
Gerson discovered early in his research that fruits and vegetables must be
juiced to flood the body with nutrients that have been lacking within the
human organism for so very long, sometimes for decades. . . When juice is
drunk, it can enter the blood stream almost as fast as alcohol. . . Dr.
Gerson required his patients to drink one 8 ounce glass of juice 13 times a
day." That amounts to some 20 pounds of produce, yielding "an organic
medication straight from the table of Mother Nature."
The Gerson therapy calls for an expensive grind and press juicer, such as a
Norwalk. On the other hand, the film states, Norman W. Walker, that
particular juicer's inventor and namesake, died June 6, 1985 at the age of
117. All of Max Gerson's brothers and sisters died in the Holocaust.
Now for the second aspect of the Gerson therapy. Drinking such enormous
quantities of fresh juice every day "dislodges accumulated body poisons,
which are absorbed by the liver, somewhat overwhelming it." Therefore, to
help out the hard-working liver, the Gerson approach employs an unusual
detoxification technique. "Organic body-temperature coffee administered
rectally stimulates the liver's bile ducts to then dump those scavenged
toxins into the colon for evacuation." This, the film states, ensures that
"the immune system will now have the upper hand" and the patient is more
likely to recover.
You will not be disappointed to know that the film does indeed provide step
by step directions on exactly how to prepare a coffee enema. Boil 1 quart
distilled water, add 3 tablespoons drip ground coffee, reduce heat, and
simmer for 15 minutes. Strain and add sufficient water to again have 1
quart. Cool to body temperature, and then introduce eight inches into the
colon with an enema kit. Retain the enema for 12 to 15 minutes.
The movie's sound track music chosen to accompany the coffee enema recipe
preparation sequence is a performance of Beethoven's Concerto for Violin and
Orchestra in D Major by the City of Magenta, Italy Symphony Orchestra. The
violin soloist is Francesca Ettorina Dego, Dr. Gerson's great-granddaughter,
age 14. Her rendition is excellent.
There is more to the therapy than juices and coffee enemas. "Table salt is a
poison," says the narration. Our "unrelenting" use of sodium "causes
displacement of potassium found naturally in human cells, leaving them
vulnerable to attack by disease." For this reason, debated to this day, Dr.
Gerson gave patients on his already very-low-sodium, potassium-rich diet
still more supplemental potassium in the form of equal parts of potassium
gluconate, potassium acetate, and mono potassium phosphate. Flaxseed oil was
the preferred fatty acid source, and was to be "raw and cold" and not to be
used for a cooking oil. Pancreatin, acidophilus, and vitamin B-3 (niacin)
were also provided supplementally.
The most common criticisms of the Gerson program are that the diet is
restrictive and that the coffee enemas are excessive. It is true that the
Gerson therapy is an extreme diet, but then cancer is an extreme disease.
One extreme may indeed call for another; it takes a lot of water to put out
a burning building. Chemical, radiological and surgical extremes are the
oncologist's stock in trade. Why not nutrition?
I enjoyed the section of the movie where the camera follows Dr. Gerson's
daughter and successor, Charlotte, as she interviews patients under actual
treatment at the Gerson facility in Mexico. There, it is said, patients in
"as little as two weeks are free from cancer." 35 years after man first
walked on the moon, this remains a revolutionary statement, one that may
invite either a physician's ridicule or a cancer patient's serious
Charlotte Gerson, now 82, practices what her father preached. "I cancelled
my health insurance when I was 34 years old," she says. "The reason was that
I'm not interested in the kind of hospital or medical treatment that might
be covered by insurance, because it's toxic." She says she saved money, plus
feels good in the bargain. She is outspoken and emphatic. On camera, she
states, "I'm always telling women: 'Wouldn't it be wonderful if you never
had to worry about finding a lump in your breast?' But if you eat healthy,
that's what happens. Living in this manner, you don't risk cancer."
She is in a position to know, having seen her father's work at close range
for so many years. I asked Charlotte about this, and she told me, "My
earliest childhood memories of helping my father go back to my playing in
our sandbox when I was about five years old. My father's medical office was
in the same house where we lived and patients would come to see him there.
Many of those were from the agricultural area surrounding the city where we
lived, Bielefeld (Westphalia), Germany. The farmers who consulted my father
could hardly believe that one could survive in good health without meat and
animal proteins. So my father would send for me, a little dirty and full of
sand, to show me off. I was sturdy, tall for my age, healthy and
rosy-cheeked and presented a good picture of the effectiveness of vegetarian
She still does. Filmmaker Steven Kroschel says, "Working with Charlotte
Gerson touched me deeply, as she reminded me of my German Grandparents and
the old fashioned hospitality that went along with it. I have to say that I
cannot recall meeting anyone quite as honest, compassionate and giving as
Doctor-vexing patients' testimonials form the backbone of Kroschel's
documentary. There are plenty of them. One man with prostate cancer,
confirmed by biopsy, decided to go Gerson. After 18 months on the therapy,
his PSA was an extraordinarily low 0.06.
Ascites, the abdominal fluid buildup all to commonly accompanying cancer or
liver disease, may be reduced by way of the Gerson therapy. One patient
interviewed in the film reports a decrease of 8 cm on the first day of the
therapy, with 2 cm/day afterwards.
One woman, diagnosed with ovarian cancer and given 6 to 9 months to live,
speaks on camera of how she lived not nine months, but nine years and is
still in excellent, cancer-free health. Her therapy was the Gerson diet.
Three other women she knew, all of whom selected chemotherapy, were, as
predicted, dead in nine months or less.
Possibly the most moving testimonial comes from a child, named Stephanie,
who was diagnosed with widespread cancer in the kidney, lungs, vena cava and
heart before she was even six years old. After conventional treatment had
been tried and had failed, she (and her parents as well) embarked on the
Gerson program. Asked what she thought of the diet, the girl responded quite
frankly: "The food? At first I thought it was kind of weird. But after,
like, a week, it started tasting better."
Stephanie, who had been given six months to live, was very much alive over
two years later and shown horseback riding. The narration presented her as
not fully cured, but "on the road to recovery" to the point that her doctors
were "astounded." Stephanie herself described her quality of life
improvement as well as it has ever been described: "I've been feeling lots
better. I've been having more energy when on the diet. I feel very healthy,
and stronger, and much better than I did."
The most skeptical viewer cannot possibly watch the scenes of this lass
horseback riding and not be at least a little bit persuaded.
Then there is Pat, a woman with pancreatic cancer which had spread to her
liver, gall bladder, and spleen. Throwing up blood, she was diagnosed at age
46, and given 3 months to live. That was in 1986. Pat's bleeding and pain
stopped in 10 days of Gerson therapy. After two years of Gerson, a CAT scan
showed that the cancer was gone. Pat is now 65.
Hollywood star Michael Landon was similarly diagnosed with pancreatic
cancer. He, too, had been given three months to live, and he likewise tried
the Gerson therapy. Landon appeared on the "Tonight" show, looking hale and
hearty after only a short time on the Gerson program. Immediately
afterwards, the narration says, Landon was warned off of the Gerson diet by
his physicians. He abandoned it, and his condition promptly worsened. He
later personally telephoned Pat and told her that he "should have stayed
with the Gerson therapy." Michael Landon died in 1991.
As a very young man, I made a documentary film about the pollution and
proposed reclamation of the Genesee River in Rochester, NY. Excessive camera
motion was the byproduct of my limited equipment and poor technique.
Although it may be an intentional stylistic tool, I for one would ask that
directors of feature documentaries everywhere lose the hand-held camera
reality-look and get themselves better tripods than I had.
The Gerson DVD has no menu for chapter selection, and for those wishing to
re-study any one of the 30 chapters in this 90 minute feature, a chapter
menu would be most helpful.
This film makes no attempt at conciliation nor compromise, with frequent
unabashedly in-your-face statements, such as: "The only area of which
established orthodox medicine in the US is superlative is in the cost."
Another: "The viability of life hinging essentially on what we pour into our
cups, and place on our plates, is so simple, and yet profoundly hard to
grasp by modern medicine." The film also emphasizes the detrimental effects
of all manner of pollution on our internal environment. Mercury-based dental
amalgam condemned; Ritalin is ridiculed, as is the Standard American Diet
("SAD"). Even milk-drinking is eschewed by the Gerson approach. "With every
meal, we are either digging our own graves with the silverware, or ensuring
a healthy and productive life."
There is something in The Gerson Miracle to provoke practically anybody. On
the other hand, there is such value in Gerson's therapy to justify the film
being seen by everybody.
We have to face the facts: Dr. Gerson's saved lives and his methods still
do. Here is the very first movie to offer this essential message to a new
and ever-widening audience. To say that such a message is somewhat
controversial is understatement akin to saying that the Beatles somewhat
influenced popular music, or that Citizen Kane was a pretty good flick. Fact
is, the Gerson therapy exists. You can say that it doesn't work, but you can
also find living, breathing people who will tell you differently. This
documentary does exactly that, and this is what documentaries should be
(The Gerson Miracle. 91 minutes; 2004. VHS: 29.95; DVD: $24.95, from
Charlotte Gerson, 355 Greenwood Place, Bonita, CA 91902. firstname.lastname@example.org .
Shipping is $3, CA residents add 7.5% sales tax. On-line ordering:
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