Ask the Doctor: Food Allergies, Probiotics and Doing the Therapy Without a Gallbladder
Ask the Doctor is a regular column in the Gerson Institute’s bimonthly newsletter, the Healing News. Our staff collects questions that we receive about the Gerson Therapy, and pose them to the Gerson Institute’s medical director, Dr. Kayla Smith, ND.
Q: What do I do if I am allergic to foods on the Gerson diet?
A: It does occasionally happen that some people have allergies or sensitivities to some of the staple foods on the Gerson diet, such as potatoes, apples, tomatoes or carrots, though it is quite rare as these are not common allergens. We have found that once people have been on the Therapy for a short time and have become more nourished and detoxified, these foods will cease to cause a reaction. The specific food may need to be avoided for a short while at the beginning, but usually it can be re-introduced slowly without a problem. If there is an allergy to more than one food, then re-introduce only one food at a time.
There are also some good techniques for desensitizing one to an allergen. These include the NAET (Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique) and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique).
Q: Can I do the Gerson Therapy if I’ve had my gallbladder removed?
A: Yes, the lack of a gallbladder does not affect the ability to do the Gerson Therapy.
The main function of the gallbladder is to store and concentrate the bile that comes from the liver. Bile is a substance that helps in digesting fat. The liver produces the bile, then stores it in the gallbladder until the body needs to digest fat. When this happens, the gallbladder starts to let the bile flow down into the duodenum, the section of the small intestine where the fat is digested. Without the gallbladder, the bile will not be so concentrated and will flow from the liver from the bile duct directly into the duodenum. Bile also neutralizes some of the acids that are found in certain foods.
Without a gallbladder, one must be careful about the quantity of fat that is eaten because without the gallbladder, the body can’t handle the fat substance as well. On the Gerson Therapy, fats are strictly limited and only flax oil is allowed.
If one is not on the Gerson Therapy, it would still be recommended to minimize the consumption of fats (even healthy ones) and take a good digestive enzyme. Adding ox bile as a digestive aid can also be helpful.
Q: Can I take probiotics on the Gerson Therapy?
A: Probiotics are not part of the Gerson Therapy, but they are not contraindicated and will not interfere. Ultimately, once the body, including the intestinal tract is cleansed and nourished properly, healthy gut flora will be restored. However, there are many conditions that can contribute to dysbiosis (unhealthy balance of gut flora) such as severe Candida albicans, parasites, heavy metal toxicity and use of chemotherapy, antibiotics and other drugs. Supplementing with probiotics can assist in restoring a normal balance more quickly while the Therapy will eventually create the ideal conditions for sustaining a healthy gut. In choosing a probiotic supplement, a multi-strain product is recommended. Although Lactobacillus and Bifidus are the main players, many other strains inhabit the GI tract and provide synergistic activity.
Yogurt is introduced to many Gerson patients after the first 6-8 weeks on the Therapy. Yogurt does contain healthy cultures of bacteria to support the gastrointestinal tract, but the number of friendly organisms is in the millions, whereas a good probiotic supplement should contain 20 to 40 billion organisms. The yogurt should not be ultra-pasteurized and should say “contains live active cultures” on the label–and of course, should be organic and fat-free.
Since there are at least 100 trillion microorganisms weighing about 1.5 kilograms inhabiting the human gut, we need to keep them friendly!
Dr. Kayla Smith is a licensed naturopathic physician who has been affiliated with the Gerson Institute since 1997. She was the former director of the Gerson Wellness Center in Sedona, Arizona and continued to provide consulting services to clients doing the home program for many years. She is currently the Director of Medical Services at the Gerson Institute, where she provides medical consulting support for the Gerson Institute staff. She also oversees the clients at the Charlotte Gerson Health Restoration Center and is an instructor for the Gerson Practitioner Training and Gerson Basics Workshop classes.
Her outside interests include spending time in nature, gardening and practicing and teaching Qi gong.