Relief from Migraine: Our Family’s Transformation with the Gerson Therapy

The Herdell Family (from L to R: Richard, Josette, Patti, Jake and a family friend)


According to the Migraine Research Foundation, more than 38 million Americans suffer from migraine, including my entire immediate family. Fortunately, our family has experienced tremendous healing of chronic migraines thanks to the Gerson Therapy and the wonderful team of doctors and advocates within the Gerson Institute. My brother, father and myself each developed migraines at various ages – my father experienced migraines for decades and it was through his desperate attempt to resolve his own degrading health that we all found the Gerson Therapy.


Worst-case Scenario

Much like Dr. Max Gerson, my brother’s migraines began at a young age – the age of four – and disabled him for nearly 30 years as he struggled to stay alive amidst the dizzying list of pharmaceuticals, injections, emergency room visits, and doctor appointments. I developed migraine at the age of 18 and during the decades of subsequent disability and suffering, attempted to take my own life after doctors told me there was no hope to heal, that this sickness would always consume me. It should be noted that migraines have run in our family on both the paternal and maternal sides for four generations – this genetic predisposition to migraines and ill health devastated our family.

My brother, Jake, represented the quintessential “worst-case” scenario – a person who has suffered since childhood, a young man whom top migraine specialists across the country had given up on. After more than 20 years of chronic illness, he had become very disillusioned with the idea of continuing to try new treatments. His latest doctor, who has migraines as well, only offered him never-ending prescriptions of acute and preventative medications. After visiting with Jake’s doctor myself, I soon found myself in a similar scenario of juggling medications that did nothing but mask symptoms and create new health complications. I started at 25 migraine days per month and was surviving at around 7-12 migraine days per month after working with a variety of traditional migraine specialists. Our family was desperate to understand why we were having migraines and unable to settle for the life-sentence of being sick forever.


Relief with the Gerson Therapy

Richard and Patti Herdell

At this point, my father had been on the Gerson Therapy for three months and he decided it was time to introduce me to the therapy. Under supervision of a Certified Gerson Practitioner, I started on a modified non-malignant protocol which included six juices and two coffee enemas daily, along with the ever nutritious salt-free vegetarian diet.

Within weeks, not only were my migraines resolved, but my blood sugar stabilized, my emotional imbalances related to liver toxicity normalized, and my hormonal fluctuations started to become more balanced. Health complications that have haunted me since my teenage days have finally resolved thanks to the Gerson Therapy’s organic, salt-free vegetarian diet and detoxification with coffee enemas. I spent a total of 11 months on the Gerson Therapy before moving to maintenance and have remained migraine-free while maintaining on 3-4 juices and 1 coffee enema per day. The healing process may seem slow when compared to our pharmaceutical quick-fix mind-set, however it is a powerful long-term solution to a dis-ease that many healthcare practitioners and the public continue to believe as incurable. I reminded myself during the commitment of this therapy, it took me over 30 years to get sick – it is truly miraculous to restore my health within a year!



My father has been on non-malignant Gerson Therapy protocol for 18 months and he has experienced exactly what Charlotte Gerson spoke about in the film, Food Matters, “You can’t keep one disease and heal two others – when the body heals, it heals everything.” He came to the Gerson Therapy with Crohn’s disease, chronic inflammatory arthritis, prostate cancer in remission, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. All of which he made tremendous progress in managing as a result of the Gerson Therapy. He experienced many breakthrough moments, however some of the most profound have been right before he was moved to a maintenance protocol a few months ago. There has been a shift not only in his health – a renewal from believing that death was around the corner for him – to now having life, vitality, energy and joy. He’s looking forward to the future and new memories to be made. Both my father and I have experienced an added depth to our personality – no longer living in a sympathetic dominant state (“fight or flight”) driven by control, fear, anxiety, and stress. This therapy is truly one that encompasses not only healing the body, but also the mind – addressing emotions, trauma, psychological patterns and much more. Uncovering the layers of illness within the body gives one room to explore other factors within the mind and psyche that also contribute to the development of disease.


Josette and Jake during their stay

Jake had been on a modified non-malignant Gerson Therapy since April 2016 when my mother and I accompanied him to Health Institute de Tijuana, the only licensed Gerson clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, for two weeks. It was a wonderful and challenging time to see Jake explore what we considered our final option to save him. I documented the entire two weeks on my blog for anyone that would like to read about our time at the clinic. Jake had a breakthrough on day seven while at the clinic – his daily migraines went away… after 26 years of trying every known pharmaceutical intervention, his headaches went away in a few days! His constant head pain went down and he found he no longer needed daily medication.


Jake Herdell with his dogs


Jake’s healing journey has been extraordinary after starting the Gerson Therapy – it’s as if we have been given back the gift of my brother – a person that was stolen from us as a young child – whom we watched suffer in agonizing pain and despair – and all of a sudden he came back to us and we got to watch him blossom into a wonderfully caring, compassionate, and talented young man. He is passionate about motorcycle racing, creating art and teaching fellow artists, surfing, and paying with his dog. It’s as if he has a new beginning to his life, at the age of 31.

Update: Jake Herdell was married in 2018

The Herdell Migraine Institute

We are so thankful to the Gerson Institute and Dr. Max Gerson for their contribution to our healing, our family, and now to our endeavor with the Herdell Migraine Institute. Like the Gerson family, our family has founded this non-profit organization dedicated to providing education in the nutritional approach to long-term prevention, management and healing of migraine, in addition to conducting scientific research to validate a functional medicine and nutritional approach.

Our family believed there was no effective solution for this disease and as a result, found ourselves in the haze of pharmaceuticals and with little hope. We want to use this experience as an opportunity to help migraine sufferers regain their health and their life, like we did.

 About the Author:

Josette Herdell is a Licensed Dietetic Nutritionist, Board Certified Nutrition Specialist, and Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach. She has a Master of Science in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine from the University of Western States. Josette is the director of the Herdell Migraine Institute LLC and Functional Wellness for Migraines. She is dedicated to working with children, families, and individuals in the prevention of chronic diseases and optimization of wellness, as well as sharing her family’s story of healing three decades of chronic migraines.

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This article was originally published June 7, 2018. It’s contents have been updated. 


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