Join 90,000 others
in my newsletter and
get 5 chapters for free!

Hydrogen Medicine eBook Cover

Gerson Therapy & Sodium Bicarbonate

Published on March 12, 2013


Sodium is an essential nutrient required by the body for maintaining levels of fluids and for providing channels for nerve signaling. Some sodium is needed in your body to regulate fluids and blood pressure, and to keep muscles and nerves running smoothly.

Without appropriate amounts of sodium, your body may have a difficult time cooling down after intense exercise or activity. When the body is hot, you sweat. If you do not have enough sodium, your body may not sweat as much and you may then become overheated. This could then result in a stroke, exhaustion and dehydration.

Sodium is an energy carrier. It is also responsible for sending messages from the brain to muscles through the nervous system so that muscles move on command. When you want to move your arm or contract any muscle in your body, your brain sends a message to a sodium molecule that passes it to a potassium molecule and then back to a sodium molecule etc., etc., until it gets to its final destination and the muscle contracts. This is known as the sodium-potassium ion exchange. Therefore, without sodium, you would never be able to move any part of your body.

Excess sodium (such as that obtained from dietary sources) is excreted in the urine.[1] Most of the sodium in the body (about 85%) is found in blood and lymph fluid. Sodium levels in the body are partly controlled by a hormone called aldosterone, which is made by the adrenal glands. Aldosterone levels determine whether the kidneys hold sodium in the body or pass it into the urine.

Thus I was very disappointed to hear Dr. Max Gerson’s daughter Charlotte Gerson saying, “That sodium is never good, never in any form!” I really have put Gerson in the best light in my writings and his organization does hold the high ground for organic raw juicing but there are some things they say that have no grounding in medical science or clinical reality. Talk to Dr. David Brownstein and he will tell you that often the first thing a patient needs is water and salt but its real salt not table salt he is talking about and prescribing for his patients.

An essential component of Gerson’s cancer therapy is the use of a low Na, high K diet. Dr. Freeman Cope wrote, “The high potassium, low sodium diet of the Gerson therapy has been observed experimentally to cure many cases of advanced cancer in man, but the reason was not clear. Recent studies from the laboratory of Ling indicate that high potassium, low sodium environments can partially return damaged cell proteins to their normal undamaged configuration. Therefore, the damage in other tissues, induced by toxins and breakdown products from cancer, is probably partly repaired by the Gerson therapy through this mechanism.”

“The Gerson cancer therapy is an integrated set of medical treatments which has cured many cases of advanced cancer in man. It was developed empirically by Gerson in the course of 30 years of clinical experimentation. Essentially, he tried many variations and combinations of treatments on cancer patients, always retaining that which was successful and discarding that which was not. Gradually he evolved an integrated pattern of treatment which cured many cases of advanced cancer, 50 of which are described in clinical detail in his book,” continues Dr. Freeman Cope.

This is all correct but does not help a person much from one day to the next, not to mention from one minute to the next, which emergency room and intensive care doctors have to deal with. Also it is obvious from the Gerson diet that it is not all sodium but high amounts of sodium that are frowned upon by Gerson as low amounts of sodium  come naturally from just about any kind of diet even that of raw foods. I think Charlotte got a little ahead of herself saying no sodium in any form because fruits and vegetables have sodium. If we took her literally we would have to exclude fruits and vegetables but that is obviously not what she meant.

Using sodium bicarbonate to brush ones teeth or use it as an emergency room medicine or as a quick and very inexpensive cancer treatment with the power to affect the body’s alkalinity in the same positive direction in days that it would take weeks and months to get to with raw foods is simply good medicine. And it does not send up sodium or blood pressure levels because it is not the type of sodium (sodium chloride) that we have to be careful about. Refined table salt is harmful in high amounts and should be replaced with unrefined Real Salt, Celtic Salt or Himalayan salt.

I like the work of Dr. Max Gerson but I find it more useful in principle than in practice. It is quite elitist in that it demands finances for two years of sustained full time therapy consuming almost all of one’s time and energy, when you think of the five enemas and 13 juices you need to make yourself each day. There is expensive equipment and special training and is quite restrictive in almost every sense. Obviously it is not for everyone.

In the week or two it takes to set everything up for starting the Gerson program one can already have changed their pH significantly with baking soda. Adding in the power of magnesium, iodine and selenium and even some cannabinoid medicine is not a central part of the Gerson protocol but it is with Natural Allopathic Medicine. I imagine poor Charlotte would get stroke if someone suggested drinking pure seawater as a medicine.

There are more than several options in this area of restrictive diet and I have written extensively about it in my book Winning the War on Cancer. Fruit and even water fasting is appropriate, even if it’s for one day! Fasting is an important subject as is the full hydration that one needs to quickly get to by either flooding oneself with water or certain juices starting from day one.

In reality each person needs to choose their own dietary path but it is important to know and understand what we are entering into when we take a person’s body onto the ropes of detoxification—healing crisis—and serious reformation of the body through radical but necessary dietary change.

Gerson Therapy also holds tightly to the axiom that excess protein in the diet is carcinogenic but this proved to be wrong. Many naturopaths and medical researchers found out with spirulina, one of the world’s highest protein foods that it is not just the protein but the type of protein or quality of protein that makes all the difference. In the case of spirulina, its 71% protein concentration consisting of simple amino acids that do not have to be broken down like beef and dairy protein does. Spirulina aids in reducing cachexia of cancer, is plant protein thus not in conflict with Gerson style practice but not principle.

Dear Dr. Sircus,

In the case of salt, in my studies on cancer I had interviewed Gerson patients that had experienced very good results on their therapy, and also read Max’s book, etc.  However, I noted that Charlotte only claims about 35% cure rates (recently) and I felt even though the cases were mostly extreme, the results could be a lot better.  So I personally eliminated all salt from my already very clean, raw diet, and watched carefully.  After a number of weeks my conclusion was that it caused a loss of energy and a possible loss of optimum water weight in the body, which I think could lead to other detrimental effects, as the right amount of water is needed for just about all functions.  As soon as I added back the salt (Himalayan) the energy immediately returned, along with the water weight up to what seemed optimum.  Endurance also improved back to normal.

– Richard Sacks

According to Dr. Rudolf Breuss, solid foods are what nourish cancer cells. He concluded that if a person with cancer lives on juice and tea for a period of time, the cancer growth will die, but the person will be able to live. Dr. Servan-Schreiber tells us that in rodents, severe caloric restriction has been shown to slow the progression of some cancers.

The dangers of restrictive diets should be managed with great care.– Dr. Servan-Schreiber

One can go with lemon juice and spirulina and imitate much of the Gerson dynamic and of course at super low cost with almost no effort though even that kind of approach can seem like a suggestion to go to mars for a meat and potato man.  Vegetables, legumes and fruits are good sources of protein. Generally, legumes have higher content of protein than vegetables and fruits. The advantage of plant protein sources over animal protein is that plant protein sources are lower in fat content and high in dietary fiber. Gerson of course was very strict about these things. Forbidden Gerson diet foods: no fats, no seeds, no nuts, no spirulina chlorella, no butter, only oil is flax seed oil, no coffee drinking!

With what we know now about selenium (and nuts high in selenium that can be used as medicine) no naturalist would want to deny a patient the selenium they need for any reason especially if they have cancer. The two best forms of selenium for oral consumption might violate someone’s fixed ideas because one is in yeast form the other in the form of a Brasil nut that contains almost 100 micrograms of this most valuable mineral for cancer treatment.

What the Gerson Institute recommends is not practical for the vast majority of people and certain illnesses. It does not work for good doctors who want to deliver results in a shorter time span than the two years the Gerson people insist on to totally heal on their protocol.

Thanks for your article Baking Soda Cancer and the Last Laugh, I work as a healer in Montreal, I have had great success using sodium bicarbonate in people diagnosed with cancer and many other ailments. I use raw garlic, pollen, unprocessed sea salt and of course baking soda and I see people’s conditions turn around right away (although the ones that have been poisoned by chemo and radiation are much more difficult). For diet I usually stick with fruits, berries and leafy greens, fasting, usually the patients decide what they want to eat depending on what their heart tells them.

The Bottom Line

The point is in helping people’s conditions turn around rapidly and completely, and that is what most people are looking for in cancer or in any kind of treatment. No one approach works perfectly for everybody. Even with the Gerson Therapy we see in their videos a woman cured one cancer, then cured another cancer, and then cured a third cancer. Sometimes not even the purest approach covers all the bases because sometimes the problem is not the poisons in our body but the poisons (conflicts) in our minds and hearts.

No matter what exact approach in terms of diet and nutrition one takes, the Gerson, Budwig or some other low-sugar anti-cancer diet, the fundamentals are essentially the same. The Gerson Institute has some good videos to key you into the importance of sticking to the program and what it means over the long haul to continue to restrict one’s diet to what is really healthy and life-serving.

What is missing from the Gerson approach is flexibility and the use of highly concentrated nutritional substances like magnesium chloride, iodine, selenium and sodium bicarbonate in high dosages that might yield more rapid results for late stage cancer patients. It is true that low sodium intake is desired but sodium levels are not raised significantly by the short-term use of sodium bicarbonate nebulized into the lungs, taken orally, intravenously and in baths full of baking soda and magnesium salts. Sodium bicarbonate can be problematic in some sodium sensitive people however and blood pressure and possibly sodium blood levels should be monitored during treatment and elevations reported to your health care provider.

All I have to say here Dr. is that baking soda saved my life! Anyone who doubts me should see me now! I had pancreatic cancer and was given 6-8 months to live with no hope… today I am pain free, and living a healthy lifestyle to keep it that way. Mrs. Gerson is wrong… dead wrong!!!! Plus, before I went on the protocol, my BP was 246/116. Today it was 114/68, and I haven’t taken any BP medication for 5 months! All I did was follow Vern Johnston’s protocol to a T, along with the alkaline diet and breathing.

– Kathie Walker

Hi, I'm Dr. Mark Sircus, AC., OMD, DM (P), a doctor and writer of more than 23 books that have sold over 80,000 copies all over the world. My best-selling book is "Sodium Bicarbonate: Rich Man's Poor Man's Cancer Treatment" which has been translated into Chinese, Russian and Spanish.

On my website there are hundreds of free articles, but if you need some personalized help, you can make a consultation.

Oncology Banner

Never miss Dr. Sircus updates. Join 90,000 others in my newsletter and get a free ebook!

Get Updates

Join 90,000 others
in my newsletter and
get 5 chapters for free!

Hydrogen Medicine eBook Cover


For questions pertaining to your own personal health issues or for specific dosing of Dr. Sircus's protocol items please seek a consultation or visit our knowledge base to see if your question may have been answered previously.