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The Body’s Defenses

The human body is a wonderful living precision instrument, whose every part is closely connected to every other part. Each of its trillion cells has its own intelligence, function and place in the total system. It is no exaggeration to say that the body is a living miracle, whose potential is far from being fully understood. Despite the rapid development of high technology research, scientists are only just beginning to unravel the enormous complexities of life on the cellular level.
The body, left to its own devices and given the right conditions, functions in order to survive and remain in the state of homeostasis, i.e., a state of dynamic equilibrium. In this state the human organism maintains stability while adjusting to changing conditions. As soon as this stability becomes endangered, several built-in defense systems spring into action. Let us now explore these sophisticated systems in depth.

The Immune System

All through Nature, millions of living organisms prey on others. This applies to the human body, too, as it is daily exposed to attacks by germs, viruses and parasites that carry disease. Its main protector is the immune system, which has in recent times gained some recognition among the general public, mainly through advertisements offering some preparations “to strengthen the immune system.” Irrespective of whether these work or not, people buy them without knowing anything about the immune system—what it consists of or even where it is located. Yet the subject deserves attention.
The immune system is not a single organ or a single gland: its parts are located all over the body. Several organs, such as the liver, the brain and the pancreas are so important that they have their own immune mechanism, the reticulo-endothelial system, which gives them extra protection. Then there is the lymphatic system, which transports excess fluid from body tissues into the bloodstream. The lymph itself is a straw-colored liquid, containing cells which fight infection. The system consists of some 700 nodes in a normal person, distributed all over the body. Unlike the bloodstream, circulated through the pumping action of the heart, the lymph is moved round the body by muscular action.

However, the main basic component of the system is located in the bone marrow, where the white blood corpuscles are formed. When they are released, they are not complete. Some wander to the thymus gland, where they are completed, and released as T-lymphocytes. Others drift to

the spleen and lymphoid tissue and mature into B-lymphocytes. All of them have the job to ingest germs, viruses, malignant cells or toxic substances, killing or otherwise neutralizing them.
As all other parts of the organism, the immune system is made up of cells that need to be nourished. They require a full complement of minerals, enzymes and vitamins in their natural form that is easily assimilated. Pills and drugs cannot cover that need—sometimes they are not absorbed at all. Here, as in the rest of the body, the need is for fresh, living, organic substances to nourish and maintain this essential life-preserving system.

The Enzyme System

Enzymes are generally poorly understood by the lay person. According to one authoritative definition, they are “complex proteins that are capable of inducing chemical changes in other substances without being changed themselves

.” 1 Everything that happens in the body, from taking a breath in order to supply oxygen to the blood to digesting food, and then on to combining digested foods with oxygen in order to produce energy—hundreds of such processes require enzyme activity.

The body must build its own enzymes, since it cannot utilize the ones found in raw foods or animal products. In order to produce the hundreds needed, the organ systems require specific minerals as catalysts. (Catalysts are substances that speed up a reaction without themselves being altered.) Researchers Dixon & Webb

2 did a detailed study into how the body builds enzymes. They found that in most of the enzymes they studied, the body needed potassium as a catalyst, while sodium acted as an enzyme inhibitor, i.e., blocking substance. Other research came up with the finding that the body is unable to build enzymes from dead or processed foods. If it doesn’t receive fresh living nutrients, such as the Gerson Therapy supplies, serious difficulties will arise, particularly in patients already facing major health problems—poor digestion, poor appetite, constipation, diarrhea and painful gas. The pancreatic enzymes are not doing their job of attacking tumor tissue, the oxidizing enzymes are not producing adequate energy—to name just a few deficiencies.

The reason why enzymes, especially pancreatic ones are able to attack and destroy tumor tissue while digesting foods is this: they recognize tumor cells as ‘foreign,’ needing to be eliminated. However, the basic function of these same enzymes is to digest proteins. Since the average diet is high in animal proteins, most of the pancreatic enzymes are used for digestion, and little—if any—is available to destroy tumor tissue, allowing the latter to grow and spread.

Clearly, inadequate enzyme activity is one of the major problems sick people, especially cancer patients must contend with. The answer lies in providing them with toxin-free, i.e., fresh organic food, and speeding up their intensive detoxification by means of coffee enemas. Moreover, supplying extra doses of digestive and pancreatic enzymes is an integral part of the

Gerson protocol, alongside fresh juices with their high oxygen content.

The Hormone System

Hormones are substances produced in certain glands that release them directly into the bloodstream and are therefore called endocrine, i.e., ductless glands. Most people associate hormones specifically with sexual function, yet there are many others playing significant roles in the body, e.g. insulin, thyroxin, adrenaline and more. Hormones, especially thyroxin and adrenaline, regulate the entire metabolism.
The thyroid deserves special attention, as it is an important part of the immune system. Among its many other functions it regulates body temperature, including fever. If and when the organism is invaded by germs or viruses, the immune system responds by producing excess heat, namely fever. We must remember that most germs and viruses, and even tumor tissue, do not tolerate elevated temperatures, which healthy cells can easily bear. Hence the well functioning thyroid helps to restore health, provided it is supplied with iodine, which it needs in order to manufacture its vitally important hormone—thyroxin, Unfortunately these days iodine is in short supply. Chlorine in the water supply is able to remove it from the thyroid. Fluoride, a dangerous toxin, is even more powerful in blocking this important hormone. In addition, as a consequence of commercial farming methods, the soil contains too little iodine, thus producing iodine-deficient plant foods. In recognition of all this, the governments of many countries have made it compulsory to add iodine to ordinary table salt, on the grounds that as the public uses a great deal of salt, everybody was bound to consume some iodine with it. High salt consumption, on the other hand, is now known to be unhealthy and is, in fact, officially discouraged—resulting in a serious shortfall of iodine even in people on a good diet.
Other enzyme inhibitors include food additives such as preservatives, emulsifiers, coloring agents, artificial flavors and many other so-called food cosmetics, plus pesticides and other agricultural poisons in our food supply. Some pesticide residues have even been found to inhibit the production of male sperm. The hormone system, an important part of the body’s defenses, is itself under severe attack.

The Essential Organs

Certain organs, such as the liver, the pancreas, the lungs, the kidneys, the heart and the brain, are called ‘essential.’ And while they certainly deserve that name, one should not assume that for instance the colon is not essential! The same applies to the small intestine, the bone marrow, the spleen, even the appendix, which is part of the immune system. In fact there is nothing non-essential in the body.

In the course of healing it is therefore extremely important to deal with all the body systems. Since the liver plays a major part in healing the body, the Gerson Therapy pays particular attention to restoring its functioning as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. The liver is an amazing organ: the only one in the body that is able to regenerate and re-grow, if parts of it are removed. It is involved in most bodily processes; all physiological activities begin and end in it. Often described as an organ of detoxification, which it certainly is, the liver has many more functions—dozens, if not hundreds, which even the high technology facilities of modern medicine have not been able to define.
According to Dr. Gerson, each new generation of liver cells takes about five weeks to come into being. He assumed that it would take 12 to 15 generations of new cells to form a totally new, healthy liver. Thus he arrived at specifying a period of 18 months to fully heal and restore the liver of even advanced cancer patients and, with it, the whole organism. Unfortunately that is no longer a valid model. In the past fifty years or so, owing to deterioration of the environment and of the food supply, people have become much more seriously damaged than those whom Dr. Gerson had treated. Even more seriously a percentage of cancer patients choosing the Gerson Therapy have been pre-treated with chemotherapy, which means more damage to their systems. Therefore nowadays it takes two years, not 18 months, to recover fully; those pre-treated with chemotherapy may take even longer to detoxify and heal.

The Mineral Balance

In order to function well and keep its defenses fighting fit, the body needs a large number—some 52 or so—minerals. On the Gerson Therapy this requirement is amply fulfilled by the generous supply of fresh organic juices, made from produce grown on rich soil. However, Dr. Gerson also recognized that two minerals, sodium and potassium, were mainly involved in creating mineral imbalance in the body.
Over millennia the human body has become a ‘potassium animal,’ needing some 90% potassium vs. 10% sodium in its diet—the approximate percentage found in natural, fresh, organic vegetarian foods. Yet these days the average modern diet is far removed from these proportions; instead, it is overloaded with sodium, which the body must excrete. Excess sodium is an enzyme inhibitor, as described by Dixon & Webb

3.It has also been shown to stimulate tumor growth and produce edema, as the body ties it up with water to reduce its toxicity.To remedy this situation, Dr. Gerson introduced large amounts of potassium to the patient’s diet, in addition to the naturally potassium-rich food: up to 40 teaspoonfuls a day of a 10% solution for the first two to three weeks, in addition to the naturally potassium-rich diet. This resulted in an immediate reduction of edema, ascites, and pain. He also noticed that adding any other minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, iron etc., disturbed the patient’s mineral balance

and caused damage. His main warning was against adding calcium to the diet. Calcium, he discovered with his close friend, top biochemist Rudolf Keller, belonged to the sodium group of minerals and stimulated tumor growth.

4 Even in cases of severe bone destruction by tumor tissue, or in osteoporosis, the Gerson treatment with its high level of well-balanced minerals is capable of achieving bone restoration. In the light of all this, it is easy to see why mineral balance is an important component of the body’s defenses.


1. Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, F.A.Davis Company, 19932.
Enzymes, Malcolm Dixon & Edwin C.Webb, Academic Press, Inc. N.Y.19643. Ibid.
4. Dr. Max Gerson,
A Cancer Therapy—Results of 50 Cases, P.210. Gerson Institute, San Diego, 2002