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Gerson Diet
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Gerson Diet Overview

Written by Alice, sshowalter.

The Gerson Therapy Diet was developed by Dr. Max Gerson, M.D., in the 1920’s as a treatment option for cancer and other chronic diseases. The Gerson Therapy is said to activates the body’s natural defenses to heal itself from infection and cancer by inundating the body with high quantities of nutrients from fresh fruit and vegetables. Most of this is consumed in juice form with patients drinking 13 glasses of fruit and vegetable juice daily. This is thought to increase oxygen within the body and boost the immune system to fight against disease. Gerson Therapy stresses the importance of consuming foods that are organically or biologically grown. Max Gerson said "Stay close to nature and its eternal laws will protect you." He considered that degenerative diseases were brought on by toxic, degraded food, water and air.

Other important aspects of the Gerson Therapy include detoxification by coffee enemas and supplements to correct nutritional deficiencies.

Gerson Diet Specifics

The Gerson diet starts with an initial 6-12 week intense nutritional overhaul focused on increasing vitamins, minerals, enzymes and high quality nutrients from fruit and vegetable juices while limiting sodium, fat and animal products. Generally, about 13 juice drinks from fresh, organic, raw vegetables and fruits are consumed each day. The Gerson institute suggests using a two- stage juicer with a separate grinder and hydraulic press. Along with the 13 juices, 3 whole food meals of more fruits, vegetables and some whole grains are also incorporated into each day.

The Gerson diet also is customized for each individual patient depending on how they heal and what works best for their system. Specific foods will be ‘off limits’ for different people at varying times in their treatment and recovery. For all persons on the Gerson Therapy, all packaged, frozen, and highly processed foods are completely prohibited. These foods are thought to promote illness and reduce immune strength.

Drinking water

The Gerson therapy suggests patients avoid drinking water as it may dilute stomach acid and prevent the proper absorption of nutrients. The 13 juice drinks per day are thought to contain enough fluid to keep the body hydrated.

Supplements Suggested on the Gerson Diet

  • potassium
  • coenzyme Q10 injected with vitamin B12
  • vitamin A
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin B3
  • Lugol's Solution (potassium iodine, iodine, and water)
  • flaxseed oil
  • pancreatic enzymes
  • pepsin

Foods To Eat on the Gerson Diet:

(List from

  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Apples
  • Melons
  • Apricots
  • Oatmeal
  • Artichoke
  • Onions
  • Arugula
  • Beets and tops
  • Oranges*
  • Parsley and parsley root
  • Broccoli
  • Peaches
  • Brown sugar
  • Pears
  • Horseradish (grated, not bottled)
  • Pepper, green and red Bell pepper
  • Cabbage, red & leaves (smaller
  • Plums
  • quantities–gas producing)
  • Potatoes
  • Radishes (not the leaves)
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Raw fruit
  • Celery Knob or stalks
  • Rhubarb
  • Rice brown (if allowed)
  • Chards, all kinds
  • Romaine
  • Cherries
  • Rye bread (unsalted, non-fat)
  • Chicory
  • Spices (small amounts only): allspice, anise, bay leaves,
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Coriander, dill, fennel, mace, marjoram, rosemary, sage,
  • saffron, tarragon, thyme, sorrel, summer savory.
  • Corn (ONLY if allowed by physician)
  • Spinach (cooked only)
  • Currants
  • Squash
  • Eggplant
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Endives
  • Escarole
  • Swiss chard
  • Flax oil (organic, not high lignan)
  • Tangerines
  • Fruit dried unsulphured as raisins,
  • Tomatoes
  • peaches, dates, figs, apricots and prunes (stewed or pre-soaked only)
  • Vegetables (except mushrooms, leaves of: carrots,
  • radishes, spinach and mustard green)
  • Fruits fresh (except all berries and pineapple)
  • Vinegar (wine or cider)
  • Garlic
  • Grapefruit*
  • Watercress
  • Grapes
  • Yams
  • Green beans
  • Yogurt, non-fat, organic Horizon, Brown Cow, 7 Stars
  • Honey
  • (after the sixth week on the Gerson Therapy
  • Juices, freshly pressed, as prescribed
  • or as allowed by the physician)
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Lemons* * Patients with collagen related illnesses must avoid citrus juices and fruits. For all others, citrus juice is optional. Only one citrus juice a day is allowed and may be replaced for a carrot and apple juice.

Food to eat Occasionally on the Gerson Diet:

  • Breads made from whole rye – 1‐2 slices a day (if all of the foods are eaten first)
  • Sweeteners: maple syrup (grade B) or honey or unrefined blackstrap molasses may be used at 1‐2 teaspoons a day maximum.
  • Brown or wild rice – once a week
  • Yams and sweet potatoes – once a week
  • Banana – ½ a week
  • Organic popcorn – a holiday treat only

Foods not allowed on the Gerson Diet

  • Alcohol
  • Ice cream
  • Animal fats
  • Legume-based food products
  • Avocados
  • Manufactured (processed) foods
  • Baking soda
  • Margarine or oil based spreads
  • Berries
  • Meats
  • Bicarbonate of soda in food, toothpaste or gargle
  • Mushrooms
  • Black tea and other non-herbal teas
  • Mustard Bottled
  • Nut butters and any other source of dietary fats
  • Butter
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Cake
  • Oils and fats, and any foods that contain them. This includes corn oil, olive oil, canola oil, vegetable oil except flaxseed oil, as specifically prescribed
  • Candy
  • Cheese
  • Pineapples
  • Chocolate
  • Preserved; refined, salted, smoked, and sulfured foods
  • Cocoa
  • Protein powders or supplements, including barley or Coconuts algae based powders
  • Coffee as a regular beverage
  • Proteins and high-protein foods
  • Commercial beverages
  • Salt, table salt, sea salt, celery salt,
  • Creamvegetable salt, Bragg Aminos, Cream and other dairy fatstamari, soy sauce, “lite salt” or salt substitutes
  • Cucumbers
  • Seafood, and other animals
  • Epson salts, sodium-based baking powders, Soy and soy products and anything with “sodium” in its nameSpices, pepper, paprika, basil and oregano
  • Fluorine in toothpaste
  • Spinach (raw) (allowed cooked only)
  • Frozen foods
  • Sprouted alfalfa and other bean or seed sprouts
  • Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils’
  • White flour
  • Olean, Olestra or other “fat substitutes”
  • White sugar


  • The Gerson Institute. “Food for the Gerson Diet (pdf),” Gerson Institute. Healing with Nature, accessed November 3, 2011,
  • Alternative Cancer Care. “Cancer Diet: The Gerson Therapy Program,”, accessed November 5, 2011,
  • The Gerson Institute. “Gerson Therapy,” Gerson Institute. Healing with Nature, Accessed November 3, 2011,


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