The Gerson Miracle: A Film

MOVIE REVIEW

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 it.

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 cancer."

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 investigation.

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 nutrition."

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 she is."

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 doing.

(The Gerson Miracle. 91 minutes; 2004. VHS: 29.95; DVD: $24.95, from Charlotte Gerson, 355 Greenwood Place, Bonita, CA 91902. lg27win@cox.net . Shipping is $3, CA residents add 7.5% sales tax. On-line ordering: http://www.gerson.org/store/default.asp)

A reminder: The Doctor Yourself Newsletter has no financial connection with anyone. Period.


Interview with Charlotte Gerson

DoctorYourself.com


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