As a firm believer of “Nature provides us with what we need”, I didn’t see why anyone would need any extra nutrients other than what their meals provide them with. Until a friend reminded me -that’s what friends are for- of the fact that my diet is pretty different from your typical Canadian/Belgian/Western family.
Plus, I am blessed with good health.
Note: I do work for this you know, by trying to make conscious (food)choices.
Most families in the US & Canada eat according to the SAD (and yes, this Standard American Diet does make your body sad a.k.a. sick – pun intended).
First of all, a SAD-diet does not provide us with all the nutrients we need: animal products, dairy, hydrogenated fats, refined sugars, chemical additives, flavor enhancers, excess sodium, and cholesterol are well-known disease-causing factors.
You can take that literally: our body feels dis-eased by them, a.k.a. not good, a.k.a. sick.
Let’s explore this train of thought a bit further: a sick or dis-eased body can not function well. Different systems, like the digestive system, will start lacking. Nutrients are not absorbed like they should, creating nutrient deficiencies over time.
Step in the supplements. In these cases, they can be helpful to speed up the healing process. The body needs all the help it can get to restore its nutrient deficiencies so the cell metabolism can run normally again.
This reason is exactly why the orthomolecular based Gerson therapy prescribes 9 nutritional supplements to help you heal. Let us take a closer look at each one of them.
1. Acidol pepsin
As a digestive enzyme, pepsin's main function is to break down protein. The inactive form, pepsinogen, is produced in the lower part of the stomach. To convert inactive pepsinogen into active pepsin that starts breaking down protein, a certain amount of hydrochloric acid (HCl) is needed to maintain the stomach pH level below 3.0 which is paramount for pepsin to do its work. This is where acidol comes in.
Knowing that a well-functioning digestive system is key to absorbing vital nutrients for healing, it is pretty clear why this nutritional supplement is advised. They aid the digestion of the foods and juices of this nutritional based therapy.
Dosage: 2 capsules before each meal, three times a day. This can vary depending on pathology, previous treatments, and patient’s goals.
2. Vitamin B12
This is a water-soluble vitamin important for energy metabolism, heart protection, nervous system, mental health and good skin. There are different forms of this supplement on the market: methylcobalamin is advised when doing the Gerson therapy.
The body can store up vitamin B12 in liver, kidneys, and heart for up to one year. This means depletion is usually detected when B12-stocks are completely run out. These B12 reserves can rapidly decrease, in less than one year, when there are processes going on in the body that need more vitamin B12, e.g. when a malignant tumor is growing or during growth spurts in children.
Dosage: Orally or sublingually at 1000 mcg daily or alternatively a 1 cc injection per week. This can vary depending on pathology, previous treatments, and patient’s goals.
3. CoQ10 enzyme
This compound is well-known as an additive in beauty products. It is similar to vitamins and can be found in every cell of the human body. It's an antioxidant that, similarly to vitamin B12, supports a healthy energy metabolism and healthy digestive system.
CoQ10 can also be found in foods, although in small amounts. Taking CoQ10 as Ubiquinol is advised when doing the Gerson therapy.
Dosage: Working up from a low dose to 300 mg a day with meals. This can vary depending on pathology, previous treatments, and patient’s goals.
4. Desiccated liver capsules
This supplement is rich in vitamins of the B-complex, vitamin A, trace minerals and heme-iron (an absorbable form of iron). The term desiccated basically means it is dried or dehydrated.
The capsules promote liver regeneration and increase the liver's ability to detoxify. They help increase energy, stamina, strength and prevent further liver damage.
Note: These capsules contain liver extract from animal sources, usually cattle. They are not suitable for vegans.
Dosage: three capsules three times a day. If this causes stomach upset, take the capsules with meals and digestive enzymes. The dose can vary depending on pathology, previous treatments, and patient’s goals.
5. Lignan free flaxseed oil
This is the only source of fat allowed on the Gerson therapy. As a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid and unsaturated fatty acids, it actively helps to lower serum cholesterol when consumed in the right amounts. The reason the flax seed oil needs to be free of lignans is that the latter are rich in protein which makes them hard to digest.
This therapy stresses the importance of an easy and smooth digestion so patients can preserve their energy for healing, not digesting food.
Paramount: NEVER heat this oil or use it to cook with. Wait until a steaming potato or other hot vegetables have cooled down before putting flax oil on it. The heat changes the chemical bonds of the fatty acid chains, turning them into a toxic, harmful form.
Dosage: 2 tbsp of organic, cold-pressed, lignan-free flaxseed oil daily for the first month, then reduce to 1tbsp daily. Flaxseed oil is best taken at lunch or dinner as part of the salad dressing or drizzled on potatoes or vegetables.
Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is critical in the energy cycle to revert energy created by the mitochondria (which are tiny-but-super-powerful energy-factories in each cell) to oxygen, it is also involved in the fat- and protein metabolism, a healthy digestive tract, nervous system and skin.
This nutrient is a vasodilator; after taking it blood vessels will open more, allowing a better blood flow, and thus a more efficient supply of nutrients to the different organs.
This flushing effect happens quite often. Don't be afraid when you too experience a temporary and harmless redness, itchiness and heat after taking the supplement.
I would only advise you not to take niacin in the hours before a meeting, job interview or first date. Unless you don't mind getting known as "Red Lobster Ruby", "Red Striped Stephie", "Polka Dottery Dorothy" at your new firm or by your future boyfriend :) ...
Just remember these side-effects are completely normal, and no reason to stop supplementation. Only when women are menstruating or patients experience any type of bleeding should they stop taking niacin.
Dosage: six 50 mg tablets daily for the first 6 months. The dose can vary depending on pathology, previous treatments, and patient’s goals.
7. Pancreatic Enzymes
These enzymes can be divided into three groups:
- Lipases: necessary to digest fats;
- Amylases: necessary to digest starches;
- Proteases: necessary to digest protein. There is some scientific research that shows how proteases help break down tumor cells, pathogens, and abnormal cells.
When the body lacks in any of these enzymes, the digestion will be impaired which results in nutrient deficiencies. Taking these enzymes with every meal is advised to enhance the digestion and absorption of large amounts of food and juices.
Dosage: three tablets of 325 mg four times a day, not for patients with a sarcoma. The dose can vary depending on pathology, previous treatments, and patient’s goals.
8. Adjunctive thyroid medication
Adjunctive thyroid medication, iodine potassium compound salts have a synergetic effect and will increase the energy capacity of each cell in the body.
By boosting the mitochondria which are responsible for the production of ATP molecules we know as “cell energy”.
The Gerson Institute advises supplementing with natural thyroid medication that contains both T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine), hormones produced by the thyroid gland.
When the thyroid gland can’t function properly because of illness, the production of these hormones will be impaired causing a cascade of health-issues.
Dosage: ranging from 1 to 5 grains per day depending on pathology, previous treatments, and patient’s goals.
Iodine is taken as Lugol’s solution which combines the mineral iodine and potassium iodide dissolved in purified water. Iodine and potassium work synergistic. When taken simultaneously, their power is greater than the sum of their strength when they would be taken separately.
This supplement is critical, especially for cancer patients, doing the Gerson therapy. Iodine invades the cancerous cells, elicits normal cell growth and thus aids in eliminating cancer.
Dosage (Lugol’s 2,5%): 6 to 18 drops a day, taken with juices (never in a green juice). The dose will vary depending on pathology, previous treatments, and patient’s goals.
10. Potassium compounds salts
All degenerative diseases start with a deficiency of potassium ions in the cells caused by an invasion of sodium ions (i.e. salt, ingested via processed foods and excess use of table salt) and water.
This results in edema, abnormal enzyme formation, reduced cell oxidation and other cell malfunctions.
Potassium is involved in the formation of most enzymes as a catalyst. When there is not enough potassium in the body due to a potassium/sodium imbalance, there will be (a) a lack of enzymes or (b) malfunctioning enzymes. On top of that, sodium suppresses the production of enzymes.
Enzymes are necessary for the body to absorb nutrients. When there are not enough or only malfunctioning enzymes, the digestion will be ineffective leaving us with nutrient deficiencies.
Turning off our auto-pilot by eating mindful and being aware of our salt intake would be a good start to tackle this imbalance. Making an effort to eat less processed foods. Not grabbing the salt shaker every time we want to add more ‘flavor’ to our food (Because: really? Making it more salt doesn’t give it any more flavor tbh...).
A correct balance between both Lugol’s solution, potassium compound salts, and thyroid medication is vital for the success of the therapy.
Dosage: 1 to 4 tsp of the solution ten times a day, prepared as prescribed on the bottle. Add to any juice except pure carrot juice. The individual prescribed dose can vary depending on pathology, previous treatments, and patient’s goals.
Being an advocate of eating everything you need in its natural form, it is still interesting to know how each supplement has its role in this therapy.
They either stimulate the digestive system, help detoxification or support the immune system. It makes sense not to skip these medications when you want to get better, and since you're going through all the trouble and effort of doing the juices, the enemas, and the diet already anyway.
Note: always talk to a health practitioner to discuss if and what nutritional supplements you need and want to start with. In no way, this article encourages the intake of supplements without talking to a health expert first.
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- The Gerson Therapy: the proven nutritional program for cancer and other illnesses (revised and updated); Charlotte Gerson and Morton Walker, D.P.M.
- Richer Health Guidelines for nutritional supplements
- Kathryn Alexander’s Resource Guide for those following Gerson Therapy
- Medical Dictionary - thefreedictionary.com
Stephie Hennekam likes to think of herself as a knowledgeable foodie, wandering traveler, teacher, active yogi, lover of nature, free spirited writer & life long student. She loves going off the beaten path, following her (gut)- feeling and isn't shy to try new stuff. After all, nothing beats experiencing something yourself. As a former university college teacher, researcher, independent (sports)dietitian and jack of all trades at a vegan restaurant, she has now discovered her life goal of teaching & helping others to work towards a healthy, energised life filled with love, peace & happiness.