How the Gerson therapy heals

(Edited transcript of a lecture given at CHIPSA by Gar Hildenbrand, December, 1990)

I’m Gar Hildenbrand and I am the Executive Director of the Gerson Institute. What I want to cover are the basic scientific rationales of the Gerson Therapy. It is important that the basics go in, so that you know why you are doing what you are doing, so that things don’t seem unusual or odd.

Let me begin by giving you a bit of my background. I came to this work in late 1970’s and have worked side by side with Charlotte Gerson since my arrival here in California in January of 1980. When I came to work here, I came to be a communicator. I came from the professional theater where I was a professional writer, a contract playwright. I found immediately, as I began to work with Charlotte, that she didn’t need just help communicating, but help identifying and developing the nature of what was going to be communicated. And by faith and fortune I found myself a communicator who could teach me. That was Dr. Freeman Widener Cope, the father of modern Supramolecular Biology, who was a salt and water biophysicist. He was the chief of the Biochemistry Laboratory of the U.S. Naval Air Development Center, the Veterans Administration, Department of the Navy, Warminster, Pennsylvania. Dr. Cope was a medical doctor, physicist, and mathematician; a grandson of the creator of the Thorndyke Dictionary.

Also without Freeman Cope to educate me to help the Gerson Institute to communicate the nuts and bolts of current scientific implications of Gerson’s clinical observations, and subsequently our own observations, we probably would have never gotten the interest of the British team which recently published in the Lancet, September 15, 1990, which is a top journal in the world, an article called, Juices, Coffee Enemas, and Cancer about this little hospital. It is an article that uses very conservative language, but guardedly positive language. I’ll read a little bit of it to you because I think it is worth it:

Psychological information was obtained from the patients present at the centre by interview and by completion of visual analogue scales. Despite a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds the patients, most of whom had very poor prognoses, tended to agree on several points, including their dissatisfaction with their conventional therapy and doctors. They all rated very highly the support they received from their families resident with them and also the other patients, with whom many established close relationships. Another striking feature was the high degree of control the patients felt they had over their health and perhaps as a consequence, their high ratings for mood and confidence. Particularly intriguing were the low pain scores and analgesic requirements for all the patients, despite the presence of extensive metastatic disease in many and the fact that several had been on opioid medication previously.

We could find little objective evidence of an antitumour effect from the Gerson therapy, although most patients were not assessable because of concomitant conventional therapy (emphasis not in original). However, in a few patients definite tumor regression was documented. In view of the poor prognosis of most of the patients, perhaps it is more important that there was a subjective benefit both to them and to their families. There is evidence that a fighting spirit response is associated with a better prognosis, and Spiegel and co-workers have shown that patients with metastatic breast carcinoma treated with psychotherapy in addition to conventional chemotherapy had a significantly improved survival. Judged in this context, the improvement in the Gerson patients’ sense of well-being may take on a greater importance.

The nature of the therapy requires a positive contribution to be made by the patient to his or her health and meets a need not satisfied by conventional therapy, in which the role of the patient is essentially passive. These approaches may suggest ways forward for oncologists in the management of desperate cancer patients and their families.

The British came in with absolutely no positive expectations, and when they saw documented evidence of tumor regression they were astounded. And they couldn’t explain the low pain scores.

Coffee enemas

Now, the coffee enema is capable to remove circulating toxins and partial metabolites for one specific reason, and that is that the coffee enema not only dilates bile ducts –– which Gerson knew –– we now know, from the work of Wattenberg, Sparnins, and Lam at the University of Minnesota, Department of Pathology, Minneapolis, that coffee stimulates an enzyme system in the liver which has a five dollar name, glutathione-S-transferase, which enzyme system is capable to remove from the bloodstream a vast variety of electrophiles.


  • binds bilirubin and its glucoronides so that they can be eliminated from the hepatocytes.
  • blocks and detoxifies carcinogens which require oxidation or reduction to be activated. Its catalytic function produces a protective effect against many chemical carcinogens.
  • forms a co-valent bond with nearly all highly electrophilic substances, the so-called free radicals, which is the precodition of their elimination. The intermediate products of potentially hepatotoxic cytostatics also belong to this category.

–– From Lechner, Aktuelle Ernaehrungsmedizin, 1990

Electrophiles are referred to in popular literature as free radicals. Electrophiles are atomic particles with one or more electrons in unpaired spins. They have an affinity for electrons and they want to get involved where they should not get involved. They are charged particles, and they will damage membranes of cells and they will inflict disturbances in cellular metabolism.

Under the influence of a coffee enema, the glutathione-S-transferase enzyme system –– which as part of the ligandine enzyme system which accounts for about 3% of all enzymes in the liver is responsible for removing electrophiles from the blood stream –– will be increased in activity from 600-700% above normal. No materials other than coffee are known to stimulate it as much. That’s why people are known to get a buzz off of a cup of coffee in the morning, and why some people are too grouchy to do anything but read the newspaper until they’ve had their coffee, and why coffee is so effective in clearing heads. It also opens bile ducts, and that is why some people use it as a laxative in the mornings.

The coffee enema stimulates the glutathione-S-transferase system by 700%. During the time that the coffee enema is being held in the gut, all the blood in the body passes through the liver at least five times. Every three minutes, all the blood in your body goes through your liver. In addition to stimulating that enzyme system, the theobromine, theophylline, and the caffeine in coffee all have physiological effects among which are the dilation of blood vessels and bile ducts, the relaxation of smooth muscles, and the increase of bile flow, which also is caused by the palmitates which are the part of the coffee which actually stimulates glutathione-S-transferase.

In addition to that, the quart of water in your gut stimulates what is called the visceral nervous system. The viscera are the guts. The visceral nervous system is the nervous system that orchestrates what is called peristalsis, the weak force that moves materials through the intestines. The visceral nervous system is stimulated by a quart of water in the gut. Additionally, at least part of that quart of water passes through the wall of the gut and dilutes the hemorrhoidal and then the portal blood which goes into the liver, socks the liver, actually dilutes the bile, and causes more readily increased bile flow. Also, the net effect of the coffee enema is to cause a flushing of toxic bile, or bile that has been loaded with toxins by the glutathione-S-transferase, system out of the intestines.

Glutathione-S-transferase shuttles; it’s an enzyme catalyst. It’s out there catching free radicals, like an outfielder on a baseball team, and throwing them to the glutathione molecule of the bile. The glutathione molecule has a branch called the sulfhydryl part that adsorbs many electrophiles. It makes them inert in the same way that a clay slough can make atomic waste inert because it has great absorptive capabilities.

What then happens is that these things become bile salts. The bile salts are then flushed in the bile out of the gallbladder and the liver, and into the duodenum, and peristalsis carries this, then, through the small intestine and through the colon and out the rectum.

That is effective dialysis. The coffee enema is the only pharmaceutically effective choleretic in the medical literature that is repeatable many times daily; choleretic, like diuretic. Diuretics cause urination. Choleretics cause bile flow.

The coffee enema is safe and effective when used as a part of this program, as we use it.

Dr. Peter Lechner at the Landeskrankenhaus of Graz, Austria, has been, for six years now, working to study a very modified Gerson therapy. He has been using the coffee enemas as part of the post-surgical programs of the second surgery department of the Landeskrankenhaus. He did some rat experiments in which palmitates were extracted from coffee, the cafestol palmitates, and in which they were seen to increase bile flow in the rats. Lechner became convinced, and wrote in a journal called Aktuelle Ernaehrungsmedizin (Contemporary Nutritional Medicine), 2 Band 15, April 1990, that these palmitic acid salts could be very powerful liver protective drugs if they would be developed by a pharmaceutical corporation. But until that time, as he said, “we use the awkward coffee enemas”. Nothing else works. In the Zweiter Chirurgischen Abteilung am a.o. Landeskrankenhaus in Graz, he has a bunch of very normal colleagues who are, none of them, enthusiastic about alternative therapies. But none of them are willing to argue with scientific fact, as well. This is a six year long program. This is the second time it’s published.

So now you have coffee enemas cleansing the blood. What is the coffee enema removing? Ammonia products, toxic-bound nitrogen, protein derivatives that are often times charged particles, polyamines, amino acids, clumps, complexes.

When I first talked to Dr. William Donald Regelson –– who is in the news now in a big way over the so-called French abortion pill, RD486, as a proponent of the material because it shows promise in treatment of various diseases –– when I first talked to Regelson, in 1981, he asked me if the coffee enemas had been studied in the field of Ammoniapathophysiology. I said I didn’t know what he was talking about.

He said, “The name is Visik, the father of Ammoniapathophysiology. You probably haven’t been taught about it because it is veterinary medicine.” I said, “Oh, enlighten me please.” He said that it was very simple.

Visik proposed and proved that if you antibios feedlot animals, you’ll cut down on the amount of urea-splitting bacteria in their guts, lower their tissue and serum ammonia levels, and they will gain more carcass weight. You can get bigger, stronger, more muscle-loaded feedlot animals for more beef if you give them antibiotics. That is why we give antibiotics to beef.

We could give coffee enemas to animals and have the same effect. That’s why Regelson wanted to know if we had studied this in the field of Ammoniapathophysiology; that’s where the coffee enemas belong. We are actually altering the level of tissue ammonias; and if it can help cattle to gain carcass weight in a feed lot, eating those ridiculous high-grain diets which cause the bacterial problems in the first place –– cattle are not designed to eat a lot of grain –– if that can happen, certainly, coffee enemas, having similar effect in people who are not being subjected to high-grain diets, can improve tissue resistance. And they do.

When you improve the sodium ring around tumors and diseased tissue, the first thing that happens is that tissue gets better drainage and better circulation. And the cells begin to function normally. And when cells begin to function normally, they do what’s normal for cells; they behave like themselves. And that means our tissues are now themselves again. They bring, with normal function, requisite behavior for health, which is resistance to disease, and immunity against extant disease. That’s where tissue immunity comes from. That’s where tumor immunities come from: the health of the normal tissue.