Coffee Therapy for Cancer? Surprising Findings

Photo of woman in wool cap and heavy coat drinking coffee on a timbered porch and looking out at a mountain landscape.
Photo: Our grateful thanks to Nikita Kachanovsky on Unsplash!

by Connie Hernandez, ND

Foreword: A quick note about adjunctive cancer care at Pacific Naturopathic.

Years ago, a cancer patient remarked to Dr. Marcel: “Cancer is relentless!”

Neither conventional medicine or the adjunctive care we offer at Pacific Naturopathic can “cure” cancer. What we can do is try to slow cancer’s progression and hope for a stasis.

The word “remission” used in conventional cancer care does not mean that the cancer has resolved. The definition of remission is “a diminution of the seriousness or intensity of disease or pain; a temporary recovery.”

The truth is that once you have had cancer, you need to focus your life on activities and therapies that will forestall a return of active tumor growth. At Pacific Naturopathic, until a more permanent solution is discovered, that is exactly what we try to do. Now, let’s listen to Dr. Connie’s fascinating findings about cancer and coffee.

Coffee & Cancer

Coffee has a checkered history in health care, generally due to the varying effects of the caffeine content of the popular daily brew.

Coffee has been implicated in anxiety, insomnia, digestive disorders, and adrenal issues – not to mention the unpleasant effects of withdrawal.

At the same time, coffee has been linked to decreased weight gain and a reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease. And green coffee beans and extracts have been found to support the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain.

Coffee can play a valuable role in detoxification, as was shown by the Gerson cancer treatment therapies, in which daily coffee enemas played a prominent role in successful treatment.

As our understanding of coffee’s positive applications has evolved, so has our understanding of how coffee can contribute to our health.

  • As is true for any substance that we take into our bodies, coffee beans that have been subjected to pesticides will be more harmful than helpful.
  • The fermentation and drying processes used in coffee production may cause health damage from residual mold. (Bulletproof Coffee and other conscious brands go to great lengths to avoid mold and pesticides.)
  • Decaff coffee is not generally an adequate answer to reducing coffee’s harmful side effects, unless the beans have been treated by water processing. Otherwise decaffeination may involve the use of formaldehyde, a chemical not generally recognized as safe to the human body.
  • The brewing process can also play a role. For example, coffee brewed with organic paper filters is healthier than unfiltered coffee, which contains 30 times more diterpines (compounds that raise cholesterol but have anti-cancer effects).
  • Dosing is another issue, with more than four cups of coffee per day increasing the detrimental effects.

Back to the Gerson coffee enemas. An early and ongoing understanding of the Gerson method is that the enemas promote detoxification by stimulating the liver and gall bladder and increasing the production of bile.

Added to that understanding is a 1981 finding by Dr. Lee Wattenberg that coffee can reduce pain and promote the activity of glutathione-S-transferase, a phase 2 liver detoxification enzyme that helps detox xenobiotics by producing unique diterpenes with anti-cancer properties (cafestol and kahweol palmitate).

(Note that over- and under- production of this enzyme can be an issue in specific tissue ailments and cancers).

As genetic research has matured, it has become widely understood that coffee’s anti-cancer effects, specifically through cafestol and kahweol, are realized through a number of genes that are relevant to cell death, cell proliferation, inflammation, inhibition of the migration of cells, and blood vessel formation around tumors. Changes in these parameters would have direct anti-tumor effects.

Though some oncologists argue that coffee enemas may detoxify chemotherapeutic drugs before they have a chance to work, studies do not appear to support this view. Rather, cafestol may actually promote the efficacy of the chemotherapeutic drugs. A prostate cancer study indicated that 3-4 cups of boiled and unfiltered coffee may be sufficient to support the anti-cancer effects of mainstream chemotherapy. Yet the demonstrated effects of coffee enemas are far more powerful.

Whatever the mechanism, Gerson therapy (of which coffee enemas are just one part) has proved its documented efficacy in many cases of cancer. It seems that further research will elucidate further anticarcinogenic benefits of the Gerson therapy. (For those interested in the science, see The Townsend Letter, Saturday, August 5, 2023, “Coffee Enemas: Upending the Old Story.”)

Meanwhile, if you love your coffee, stick with moderate consumption of clean coffee. And for comprehensive protocols involving coffee enemas integrated with dietary management, consider consulting a Certified Gerson Therapy Practitioner.  

For information about the services we offer, we invite you to get in touch in any of these convenient ways: (1) give us a call at 650-961-1660, (2) use the Contact Form, or (3) follow the link to Consultations – Pacific Naturopathic. Thank you!