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Defeating Obesity, Diabetes and High Blood Pressure: The Metabolic Syndrome by Charlotte Gerson.

(This review originally appeared as Saul A.W. Review of Defeating Obesity, Diabetes, and High Blood Pressure: the Metabolic Syndrome, by Charlotte Gerson. J Orthomolecular Med, 2011. Vol 26, No 1, p 42-43. Reprinted with permission.)

When most people hear the words "Gerson Therapy," they think "cancer." The nutritional program of Max Gerson, M.D., first emerged back in the 1920s and has withstood many tests over time. Essentially, it consists of abundant consumption of raw vegetable juices and high-nutrient, organic foods, along with detoxification via body-temperature coffee enemas. There are well-documented cases of patients being cured of cancer with the perennially controversial Gerson approach. Even HRH Prince Charles has weighed in on this, saying: "I know of one patient who turned to Gerson therapy having been told she was suffering from terminal cancer and would not survive another course of chemotherapy. Happily, seven years later, she is alive and well."

From the beginning, Dr. Gerson insisted that his was not a specific therapy but a whole-body metabolic therapy. Indeed, Gerson did not develop it as a cancer therapy at all. He began the diet and juicing program for himself, and on himself, to cure his own severe migraine headaches. Patients knew him and sought him out as the "Migraine Doctor." In the course of treatment, many migraine patients started recovering from a variety of other, seemingly unrelated illnesses. Side benefits, as opposed to pharmaceutical preparations' side effects, is a very orthomolecular-friendly idea.

So is using nutrition to combat obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, the foci of this, the newest Gerson book. The author is the doctor's daughter, Charlotte Gerson. I have met Charlotte a number of times, first when she traveled to Ottawa for the induction of her father into the Orthomolecular Medicine Hall of Fame in 2005. I admit my bias as I say that Charlotte, now nearly 90, seems ageless and literally the picture of glowing health. One cannot fail to be impressed with her energy, and with her many decades of experience carrying on her father's work.

Obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure are real killers. There is much to be said for applying the Gerson Therapy to them, especially as all three are well-known to be diet and lifestyle related. A first impression of the Gerson approach may be that it is extreme and uncompromising. Consider the advice contained on the first two pages of the very first chapter: eliminate fast foods, meat, salt, and MSG. Drink four or more glasses of fresh, raw vegetable juice every day. Good heavens, by page 3, we have to start exercising and by page 7, cut out sugar.

Given the gravity of the diseases in question, I have a hard time seeing this diet as all that extreme. One does not have to open a Gerson book to be quite well aware that plant-based diets are nutrient-rich, high-fiber and low-calorie, and that salt should be avoided, that exercise is good, and that junk food isn't. For decades, Dr. Dean Ornish has been successfully treating cardiovascular patients with vegetarian diet and stress reduction. Dr. Benjamin Spock, the Baby Doctor himself, came to advocate vegetarian diets for kids. Allergist Dr. Benjamin Feingold emphasized the importance of avoiding food chemicals, especially colorings. Surgeon-Captain Thomas L. Cleave described and prescribed low- or no-sugar diets in the 1950s. Linus Pauling was firmly opposed to sugar. And Dr. Abram Hoffer is almost as famous for his "No junk!" food prescription as he is for niacin. Interestingly, among other supplements, the Gerson program currently urges 250 mg of niacin daily, about 15 times the US RDA. Max Gerson is in the very best of intellectual company. And, remarkably, Gerson was saying this back when first-class postage stamps cost three cents and Abram Hoffer was an undergrad.

Defeating Obesity, Diabetes and High Blood Pressure provides comprehensive advice ranging from how to reduce toxic environmental exposures, to how to reduce stress, to how to buy a juicer, to how to set up your kitchen. The book contains dozens of practical health hints, a question and answer chapter, interesting case histories and a conveniently-tabulated summation of the entire program. There are over 120 references to the scientific literature, and the book's organization and indexing are outstanding. Ninety full pages of Gerson-friendly recipes are included. Read them over and see if they don't look healthy - and tasty - to you. And lest we forget, Chapter 11 is about those coffee enemas. Yes, they have a history of valid medical use, and this chapter ably tells the story.

The book puts a lot of nutritional knowledge together, and then takes it further. "I am familiar with the Gerson method and believe that it has a lot of merit," Abram Hoffer has said. "I have always been frustrated that it was not taken seriously and studied intensively as it should be. I think it has a very good track record."

Defeating Obesity, Diabetes and High Blood Pressure is an open-it, read-it and do-it kind of book. There is something about Charlotte Gerson's writing style that inspires confidence. Maybe she is a natural-born author. Maybe she has great material. It is likely a good bit of each.

Reviewed by Andrew W. Saul
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Author:Saul, Andrew W.
Publication:Gerson Healing Newsletter
Date:Jul 1, 2011
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