Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Aug 2001

An Innovative Approach to Cancer Therapy

Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez, MD, has developed an alternative cancer treatment program that is gaining serious mainstream recognition.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, on January 2021. Written By Joan Friedrich, PhD.


In this era of fast approaching changes in cancer treatment, an alternative approach is gaining serious mainstream recognition. Developed by New York City immunologist, Nicholas Gonzalez, MD, it focuses on the use of biochemical individuality and the incorporation of pancreatic enzymes, nutrition, detoxification and autonomic nervous system balance. After years of dedicated effort Dr. Gonzalez’s work with cancer patients is now being assessed in a large National Cancer Institute/National Institutes of Health (NCI/NIH) funded clinical trial conducted through New York’s Columbia University.

A graduate of Cornell Medical College, with post-graduate training at Vanderbilt University, Gonzalez is well grounded in traditional medical training, but refreshingly open to the theories that are often apart of non-traditional healing. Much of this interest in alternative approaches began in his second year of medical school, when he was introduced to the cancer treatment approaches used by William Donald Kelley, DDS, a practitioner in the cancer underground from the 1960’s through the 1980’s. Kelley had pioneered a successful method of using an enzymes and nutrition for cancer treatment, after he had successfully treated himself for pancreatic cancer.

The importance of enzymes

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Matthew Pace

Gonzalez continues to be indebted to Kelley’s pioneering work, but the origins of much of his current work with enzyme therapy dates back to the early 1900s and the theories of Scottish biologist, John Beard. A teacher at the University of Edinburgh, Beard proposed that the digestive function and pancreatic enzymes represent the body’s main defense against cancer.

Beard’s work centered on the placenta and cell specificity—the differentiation (unique identification) of a cell. Amazingly, he found that placenta cells look and behave like cancer cells. However, the placenta stopped growing and acting like an invading tumor-like tissue, when the fetal pancreas became activated. He hypothesized that the fetus produced enzymes to control placenta growth and that without this production the placenta could ultimately kill the mother and baby itself.

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Matthew Pace

Embryological research now confirms that the fetal pancreas begins to manufacture and secrete digestive enzymes early in development. Although the embryo has no need for an activated pancreas or for pancreatic enzymes until it’s the day of birth, these secretions appear to begin for another reasons.

Beard took this work to yet another level, believing that all tumors arose from misplaced placenta cells, which had been deprived of proper control. These cells were thought to be left over from early embryonic stages and were kept under control by circulating pancreatic enzymes. However, these cells can quickly grow out of control should the pancreas fail to manufacture or release adequate amounts of proteolytic enzymes.

In 1911, Beard published a monograph of his work, entitled The Enzyme Therapy of Cancer. Although his peers met him with ridicule, his work is now ecognized as being 100 years ahead of his time. Today histologists and molecular biologists have identified Beard’s misplaced placental cells in every organ. Today, however, they are called stem cells.

After Beard’s death in 1923, enzyme therapy was largely forgotten except for its use by some alternative practitioners. Although Beard used injectable enzymes, it now appears that this form of enzyme is not necessary. Dr. Gonzalez has found that orally ingested pancreatic enzymes are acid stable. They can pass into the small intestine and be absorbed through the intestinal mucosa and enter into the blood stream. It is now clear that pancreatic proteolytic enzymes have a profound anti-neoplastic effect. For this reason Gonzalez has made them a key component to his program.

Autonomic balance and metabolic types

A second aspect of the Gonzalez’s program is autonomic balance and metabolic typing. The autonomic nervous system is a portion of the nervous system that controls unconscious or automatic body functions. This system governs all aspects of our physiology, including immune function, the cardiovascular system, the endocrine system and the digestive system.

Divided into sympathetic and parasympathetic branches, each has opposing actions. For example, the sympathetic system decreases GI motility and increases heart rate and force of contractions, while the parasympathetic system increases GI motility and decreases heart rate and force of contractions. The sympathetic nervous system stimulates the adrenals and thyroids, while the parasympathetic nervous system stimulates the liver, the pancreas and digestive tract.

There also appears to be unique personalities and temperaments that reflect autonomic balance. Sympathetic dominants are aggressive, ambitious, energetic Type A personalities. They thrive in high pressure environments. Parasympathetics are quite different. They tend to be more reflective and creative types who may prefer to work with less structure, stress and pressure.

Although we may genetically tend to be one type or another, Gonzalez is finding that chemicals in the environment, faulty diets and other factors can shift balance and disrupt the natural tendency of the individual.

As early as the 1920s and 1930s Dr. Francis Pottenger proposed that autonomic nervous system imbalance is a major reason for disease. According to Gonzalez, maintaining a balanced autonomic system is crucial to health and the success of treatment. He therefore places a major portion of his treatment on balancing his patient’s nervous system. This is done primarily through diet and supplements.

The Gonzalez program is divided in various aspects—detoxification, diet, supplements and proteolytic enzyme therapy—each having an importance to the overall success of the patient’s therapeutic program.


A key component of the Gonzalez program includes coffee enemas. Although not commonly recognized today, orthodox medical literature featured these methods in medical literature and nursing manuals for most of the twentieth century. The Merck Manual advocated it in all the additions from 1897 through 1977, but then dropped it due to lack of space. During the 1920’s and 1930’s coffee enemas were prescribed for a variety of conditions since they help to stimulate gallbladder emptying and enhance liver function.

Within the Gonzalez cancer program coffee enemas are used to help the body process the enormous amounts of toxic debris that can be produced as tumors break down. Whatever the individual’s underlying problem, people who employ the coffee enemas into their detoxification program will most commonly experience “flu-like” symptoms such as low grade fevers, muscle aches, pains and rashes, as a response to waste material being released from body tissues.

According to Gonzalez, unless the body is properly detoxified it cannot work at optimal levels or efficiently process the various therapies being used.

Sample Detoxification Methods

Salt and soda bathshelps vegetarian and balanced type patients mobilize toxins out of the skins during times of intense toxicity. In warm bath, add one cup of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and one cup of regular table (or sea) salt. Lie in bath 20 to 30 minutes. Rinse with plain water when finished soaking to prevent the salt from drying your skin. The bath should be repeated until symptoms diminish.

Vinegar bathsfor moderate carnivore (meat eating) individuals a vinegar bath at least twice each week. In a warm bath, add one cup of organic apple cider. Lie in the bath 20 to 30 minutes. The vinegar will help to pull out toxins from the skin. During times of intense toxicity, the vinegar bath can be done daily.

Skin brushingstimulates and cleanses the lymphatic system and detoxifies the skin. Use a long-handled natural vegetable bristle brush or loofah sponge available in the health food store. Keep the brush or sponge dry. The body should be dry, and the brush should be passed over the skin in a clean sweeping motion—not back and forth. Brush in the direction of the abdomen—up the legs, up the arms and down the neck and trunk. Do not brush the face. Skin brush once or twice daily and up to four times daily in times of intense toxicity.

Mustard foot soak helpful for toxic headaches and “goopy” toxic symptoms, muscle aches and pains, and water retention in ankles and other parts of the body. In a basin of warm water, add one tablespoon of dry mustard and one tablespoon of cayenne pepper. Sit in a comfortable chair and soak you feet in the basin for 20 to 30 minutes. The mustard soak can be repeated two to three times each day, and during periods of intense toxicity.

Diet selection


Gonzalez firmly believes in biochemical individuality—what is the best diet and treatment program for one individual may be totally wrong for another. This must include looking at an individual’s entire health and hereditary profile, and often includes diverting from typical status quo standards on defining the ideal healthy diet.

As he points out, the mainstay diet of one of the healthiest groups of people—the Eskimo—is one of the highest in saturated fat. Certainly not an eating program advocated by major health agencies. Eskimos eat a high protein diet consisting of close to 80% saturated fat and generally eat no fruits or vegetables. Yet, when they reduce their diet to 40% fat they begin to develop degenerative diseases. The reason goes back to biochemical individuality. Eskimos lack enzymes needed to digest complex carbohydrates—an aspect of their unique make-up. In the same way each of us has unique biochemical needs based on heritage and biochemistry.

Gonzalez also considers individual’s sympathetic or parasympathetic autonomic nervous system dominance in determining the type of nutritional program the individual needs to follow. Diets are variable, ranging from nearly all vegetarian, to diets requiring red meat one to two times a day. There are three subtypes of vegetarian-sympathetic diets, four levels of the balanced metabolizes diet and three subtypes of meat-sympathetic diets.

Generally, sympathetic dominants tend to be more acid; parasympathetic dominants tend to be too alkaline, while balanced people are somewhere in the middle. Therefore, sympathetic dominants do well on alkalizing foods like fruit and vegetables, while parasympathetic need acid forming foods such as red meat.

Each patient receives individualized diet recommendations from Dr. Gonzalez, and all are required to eat organic foods and to avoid all synthetic and refined foods including white flour products and sugar.

Nutritional supplements and proteolytic enzyme therapy

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Matthew Pace

Just as diets are individualized, so too are the supplement programs. Cancer patients commonly are prescribed 130 to 160 capsules daily of a combination of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, anti-oxidants) and pancreatic enzymes.

For cancer patients the main anti-cancer supplements are pancreatic enzymes. Each patient takes up to 45 grams of freeze-dried pancreatic porcine enzymes every day. All doses are taken in capsule form, away from meals and evenly distributed throughout the day. The formulation is specially prepared under strict organic conditions and made at enhanced potency. Each is tested for freedom of contamination and for potency tests of 30 to 80 USP units or proteolytic activity per milligram with 15 to 40 units of lipolytic activity per milligram.

Clinical research: NCI and NIH funding

Gonzalez’s work has gained him growing recognition during the last ten years. This comes not only from the alternative community, but from mainstream medicine as well.

As a result of successful findings in a 1993 National Cancer Institute pilot program of his work, Gonzalez gained approval of a major $1.4 million dollar grant from the National Institutes of Health.

This large-scale five year National Cancer Institute/National Institutes of Health program is being conducted under the Department of Oncology and the Department of Surgical Oncology at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. It chief investigator is John Cabot, M.D., Chief of Surgical Oncology at Columbia. This study will compare the effectiveness of the Gonzalez nutritional approach in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer (adenocarcinoma).

Currently they are enrolling 72 to 90 patients, half of who will receive chemotherapy with the drug gemcitabine, and half of whom will be treated with the nutritional treatment program.

Readers who are interested in obtaining further information regarding this study should contact Dr. John Chabot or Michele Gabay, RN at (212) 305-9467 or go to to learn more about Dr. Gonzalez and his practice.