Budwig Diet

Developing massive swelling & water retention upon adoption of the Budwig protocol

Its possible causes such as liver impairment, allergies, insufficient LNA conversion etc.

A case of cancer unresponsive to the classic Budwig oil-protein diet with suggested remedies

Special report by Healing Cancer Naturally © 2007 Copyright Notice

I recently received the following letter from a concerned husband in Indonesia. His wife, I will call her Jane, had chemo and radiotherapy a year ago or so for colorectal cancer with liver involvement. They subscribe to Dr. Hamer’s German New Medicine explanation of cancer causation and healing and do EFT on Jane’s “psychological reversal” and possible emotional causes of her cancer. Also they have tried a number of "alternative cancer treatments" after chemo/radiation before starting Budwig.

“Jane has already done 5 complete weeks of the Johanna Budwig diet and her health is not improving, on the contrary. Since the second week of the treatment, a swelling has been developing in her abdomen and legs. Her abdomen has swollen to the proportion of a woman 8 months pregnant.

Her legs started to swell first at the feet, then at the ankles and up to the knee and now her whole legs are swollen up to the belly. Since her upper torso, head and arms are as skinny as before, I think that the increase of 10 kg in weight, in the last 3 weeks, represents the amount of water accumulated in her abdomen and legs.

This afternoon she has started bleeding (few drops only) from her vagina. She is also coughing more than before. The positive side is that she has no pain yet, she still can cook and do some gardening, which is very important for her, but she is more and more troubled by her condition and she has started to worry more than before.

Just to make sure we are not doing any fundamental mistake I give you the exact diet she is following. [snip] Around 9 30 am she takes a sun bath for about 40 minutes, and same in the afternoon. After 10 and before 4 the sun is too hot during the tropical summer.

Although I ordered and paid them in October, the Eldi oils have not arrived yet, I made the mistake to order them by sea freight.

The reason why I do not panic is because some of her symptoms such as swelling, hot hands, feet and skin, sleepiness and tiredness are experienced during the healing phase [according to Dr. Ryke Geerd Hamer's observations regarding the various healing stages of cancer. Swelling and heat of course are also part of other types of healing, for instance with inflammation and bruises.]

If you came across something similar to Jane’s condition, please let me know and tell me what to do, thanks.”

The above reaction of massive swelling following the adoption of the Budwig diet seems to be a rare occurrence. In fact, Dr. Budwig considers water retention to be attributable to the ingestion of deleterious fats combined with a lack of beneficial fats.

She writes in her book Das Fettsyndrom [The Fats Syndrome] on page 42: “Water retention in the tissues is a fats syndrome ... due to the intake of hydrogenated fats and the lack of surface-active highly unsaturated fats." In other words, normally water retention should quickly be cured when the Budwig diet is adopted.

Possible reasons for massive swelling following the adoption of the Budwig diet in a colon cancer patient with liver involvement

I have discussed the above case with three other very Budwig-knowledgeable persons, particularly AC (the only non-German among us but an experienced cancer carer using the Budwig protocol) who confirms that “I have seen water retention happening with the Budwig protocol before.”

The four of us arrived at the following conclusions: It would seem that there are six possible major reasons (themselves likely interrelated) for Jane’s current swelling and (seeming or real) unresponsiveness to the Budwig oil-protein diet & protocol:

  • Lack of proper LNA conversion
  • Liver impairment
  • Allergies
  • Lymphatic blockage/overload caused by increased detoxification
  • Budwig diet & protocol implementation mistakes
  • Kidney problems

Budwig diet & protocol implementation

In all cases where the cancer patient seemingly doesn’t respond to the Budwig protocol, the first thing to check is whether the Budwig diet and “lifestyle” are being properly implemented.

In Jane’s case we found that there were just a few adjustments needed, such as adding fresh papaya and pineapple for their very important enzymes, also eating some sauerkraut (1 or 2 tablespoons a day for colon cancer) in addition to drinking sauerkraut juice.

Jane may also need to drink more water (not only when she is thirsty as she had done so far). She might want to add some radish as per Dr. Budwig’s frequent recommendation (with Daikon being a fairly mild and cheap type of radish).

Jane and anyone whose colon wall is or may be damaged by radiation therapy should be VERY CAREFUL with flaxseeds (grind the seeds to a very fine powder for starters). Jane might also consider adding (raw heavy-metal free) seaweed to supply trace elements that may be undersupplied or missing.

Jane has already avoided drugs, all harmful foods and food additives such as hydrogenated oils/fats, sugar, preservatives, etc. as well as toxins in her immediate environment such as sprays, make-up, creams, chemicals of any kind as well as deleterious electromagnetic fields (EMFs). For many details of what needs to be cut out, see Dr. Johanna Budwig on what to avoid when following the Budwig diet ánd protocol: items and influences observed to interfere with its healing effects.

Lymphatic blockage and/or overload caused by increased detoxification & kidney problems

Since Jane seemingly receives plenty of good fats while avoiding harmful fats, one’s first thought could be that Jane has just massive lymphatic blockage and/or overload caused by increased detoxification brought on by her new healthy diet. This of course could be considered a simple symptom of a welcome healing crisis addressable by lymphatic activation via rebounding, herbs etc. Similarly, she could have kidney problems, not urinate enough etc. Compare kidney stone bladder cleanse (incl. herbs that activate the kidneys) or do a search for further herbs that help support the kidneys.

But there may be more involved such as...

Lack of proper LNA/ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) conversion

Jane may be one of those few people who seem (for various and possibly remediable reasons) unable to properly convert the ALA (LNA) contained in flaxseed oil to the required long-chain omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). (Flaxseed oil is 58% LNA [or ALA] part of which is used by the body as a precursor for these important long-chain fatty acids.)

For details see Dr. Johanna Budwig’s Diet & Protocol: Tips & Frequently Asked Questions: Is substituting fish oil for flax oil as good or better than using flax oil? and Flaxseed vs. fish oil: does anyone know why Dr. Budwig thought that flaxseed, rather than fish oil, was preferred?.

AC shares the following important insights: “The severe swelling and weight gain (10 kg in 3 weeks), coughing and vaginal bleeding certainly doesn't sound like a normal healing crisis. In fact this sounds to me as if she is not assimilating the flax oil/cottage cheese (quark) at all, and my first reaction would be to stop using the Budwig mix totally and completely. It could be an allergic reaction to the oil or even the cottage cheese.

If she had chemo and radiation, it means her system is severely compromised and because of her liver involvement, she will have to start VERY SLOWLY (one teaspoon per day) on the protocol. I would most certainly advise such a patient to stop for a couple of days while using herbal diuretics, and marine oils as a source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. If the swelling gets better, it is a sure sign that it should be re-introduced very slowly.”

Marine oils as a possible remedy

AC is convinced that LNA conversion is most certainly a problem in compromised immune systems. Adding an unheated and unadulterated marine oil to one’s diet to supply long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, such as Olde Icelandic Cod liver Oil, may be helpful in cases such as Jane’s which present serious water retention on the Budwig diet (although since Jane lives in a place where there is a lot of sunshine, Cod Liver Oil may have too much vitamin D for her).

Another source of marine oil is Krill Oil produced by the Neptune process which is available from many places, see for instance the description found at mercola.com/products/krill_oil.htm. There are also vegetarian sources of these omega-3 long-chain fatty acids.

Jane’s husband confirms: “Jane has never been more healthy and happy than when she was taking raw salmon every lunch. What I was doing was to cut the equivalent of the ribs for her, which is the fattest part of the fish, it is almost pure fat and melts in one’s mouth, the Japanese call it ‘o toro’.

She never had any problem digesting it and it seems to agree with her. I am wondering if she could not resume taking it once a day for lunch? and the flax oil/cottage cheese (or quark)/ground flaxseeds morning and evening. It has to be better than regular cod liver oil or fish oil since it is taken raw. I am not worried about the bacteria or other microbes, this is fresh salmon airflown from Tasmania.”

Additional suggestions for dealing with water retention

Diuretic herbs & vegetables

Diuretic herbs (plants which help the body to excrete surplus water held in bodily cavities and between the cells [interstitium]) include for instance the commonly found dandelion greens and stinging nettle[1], as well as green tea, linden, pau d'arco, yarrow (taken as teas) and the herb mixture found in Essiac tea.

Nettle can be taken as juice, salad or greens and dandelion as a salad. Dr. Johanna Budwig in her books frequently encouraged people to daily drink freshly prepared nettle juice (depending on the season, of course) and to mix it with some lemon and/or apple juice to soften the unpleasant taste.

Eating lots of dandelion leaves (tender shoots only) is easy to do since they taste good in combination with tomatoes and various salad greens. Adding celery to all juices may be a good idea because celery has excellent diuretic properties and the combination of potassium and sodium in celery is essential to regulating the balance of fluids, which affects every part of the body. Celery also contains a compound known as phthalide. Phthalide reduces stress hormones, which cause blood vessels to constrict.

Lymphatic activation

Eminent conventional and alternative cancer treatment researcher Lothar Hirneise as well as others generally recommend that cancer patients work at activating their lymphatic circulation to help their bodies detoxify. Lymphatic activation can be achieved via rebounding, body brushing, (possibly) the use of echinacea etc. (see Detoxification: Activate your lymphatic system). An additional advantage and side benefit may be enhanced excretion of surplus water. Also see On Lymphedema Therapy Options To Help Relieve or Possibly Heal Swelling Symptoms in Arm or Leg.

Detox baths

help to drain the body of ionizing radiation and pull out fluid via osmosis, see Chelating ionizing radiation.

More remedies and advice

It is very important to remove stress from one’s life and to try to resolve any unresolved spiritual issues. EFT can be enormously helpful with the former, also meditation and meditation CDs (such as Dr Mercola's Insight CD - according to AC, “really, really, really the best I've come across!”).

Compare Dr. Johanna Budwig on what to avoid when following the Budwig diet ánd protocol (items and influences observed to interfere with its healing effects), On Complementary Therapies & Treatment Modalities Compatible with Dr. Budwig’s Protocol, Health and Healing Meditations, CDs and DVDs on healing illness and dis-ease via mind power as well as Budwig protocol & life energies blockages (On the question why the cancer always/sometimes will come back when the Budwig diet is abandoned) for a discussion of holistic ways to possibly achieve a (permanent or deepest-causative-level) cure from cancer on the Budwig protocol.

Re vaginal bleeding & coughing

Vaginal bleeding “is a very sad and dangerous situation, because it could mean that the rectal wall or vaginal wall might have been damaged by radiation treatment. Not uncommon in women treated for colon cancer with radiation. This should be checked. ... The coughing, more often than not, is part of a natural healing crisis but also should be checked out by a medical professional and if it is very bothersome, I would strongly recommend going for physiotherapy, to help clear the lungs.” (AC)

Herbs for liver support

Supplementing with MILK THISTLE can be helpful with liver involvement. So can dandelion and other herbs.


1 Both dandelion and stinging nettle in addition to being free for the picking are major medicinal plants with great therapeutic potential (they have been used to hellp heal cancer), see the research into Taraxacum (dandelion) medicinal effects and Stinging nettle medicinal effects ff.


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