Natural Healing at the Optimum Health Institute

Today would’ve been my wonderful mom’s 63rd birthday, and I’d like to take a moment to honor her by finally plunking down and writing the blog post I told a great group of people I was going to write… oh, y’know… about 15 months ago. (Prioritizing and organization never were my strong suits, were they, mama?) And though she left us all far too early, it is through these words that I keep her spirit and wisdom alive, the greatest gift I could ever ask to carry. This is not a story about dying; it is a story of healing, so that we might all truly live.

Even while my mom ultimately surrendered to her struggle with lymphoma—after both a “traditional” round of chemotherapy and an exhaustive trial with the Gerson Therapy in early 2013—a message became clear to me through all of it: when our body’s immune system is weakened, healing can only be achieved through rest and conscious support of the restoration of our own natural defense mechanisms. After she passed away, I struggled with my own health as my coping mechanism was very clearly overindulgence. I managed to pack on 30 pounds in six months, which doesn’t sound like some ridiculous number until you realize that’s one five-pound sack of flour each month that I was adding to my body’s workload. More of a burden on my feet, hips, spine, organs… you name it, it was working harder around the clock to keep—or should I say “get”—me healthy.
Optimum Health Institute alternative treatment retreat in San Diego

Optimum Health Institute natural healing retreat in San Diego (photo courtesy

I reached out to one of my closest friends for help because, after being overweight for close to two decades, there was no better time than right that very moment to acknowledge it: whatever I was or wasn’t doing this whole time… it’s NOT working. Years before, he’d been to a place called Optimum Health Institute in San Diego for similar reasons, though I was a bit fuzzy on remembering the details. Per the OHI website:

“In our holistic healing program, participants cleanse and nourish the body with diet, fasting, and exercise; quiet and focus the mind with journaling and meditation; and renew and awaken the spirit with study, prayer and celebration.” —Optimum Health Institute

I was a bit apprehensive about the prayer element as I’m not shy with my criticisms of organized religion, but I was relieved to find that their use of the word “god” in their group prayers is meant to symbolize whatever deity(-ies) or belief system each person subscribes to, and that’s something I can respect. (FWIW, being non-religious does not mean that I am without wonder/spirituality or faith.)

After mulling it over, I finally decided to push past my apprehension to the whole unknown experience, ultimately deciding that I was no longer going to give into the fear of being vulnerable (which I would later find was holding me back from this and so much more!). And I’m so glad I did; while I originally thought Optimum Health Institute was simply a retreat to aid with weight loss, I was amazed to find other guests there from all walks of life, each for our own reason. Each with our own “health opportunity”, OHI’s positive spin on the words “disease”, “illness”, etc.

I elected to stay for a full three weeks and met a number of folks who’d come to OHI years before… after a doctor had told them to go home and “get their affairs in order” (a euphemism for “sorry, there’s nothing else in our guidebooks that we’re legally allowed to encourage you to try”) only to find that this underlying method of treating your body to rest, with meditation, detoxing, and nutritive, raw, organic, vegan food as part of a holistic healing program CAN reverse the carnage that cancer and other “health opportunities” unleash within our bodies.
Organic veggie garden at the Optimum Health Institute in San Diego

Organic veggie garden at the Optimum Health Institute (photo courtesy

It was of course my hope that this would be what we would find for my mom with the Gerson Therapy, but her body, mind, and spirit were no longer up to the immense amount of work involved, both for the patient and the caregiver. I still field emails and questions about the Gerson Therapy from people, and I was surprised to find the posts about our search for a natural cancer cure are the most frequently read posts on my blog, a sign that many others out there are looking for holistic alternative treatments.

I answer honestly, offering that I certainly don’t regret our time spent at the Gerson Clinic, and there are several elements of what we learned there that I still practice regularly. Furthermore, as some of you may recall, my mom and I organized a fundraiser in the hopes of sending someone else to the Gerson Clinic that wouldn’t have otherwise been able to afford it. The young man who was the recipient of those funds is doing well, and just recently announced that his alkaline phosphatase levels have begun going down for the first time, leading his doctors to believe that his cancer’s growth may have finally stopped and I join them in their optimism that his tumor will start reducing in size and ultimately going away completely!

I do also recommend to those inquiring about Gerson Therapy and other alternative treatments to look into Optimum Health Institute to see if it’s something that feels like an option for their healing. (Several BIG differences: OHI is incredibly more affordable and is far less invasive, in my opinion, and going there doesn’t involve any international travel.) There are two OHI locations—one each in San Diego and Austin—and should you attend in San Diego as I did, and should you want to learn more about streamlining and simplifying raw food preparation and continued detox at home, allow me to humbly recommend getting in touch with Joan Jackson, a wonderful teacher who lives in a beautiful home less than a mile from the OHI facility.

Whatever the case, whether you’re faced with needing to make such a choice personally, or you’re reading for a friend, family member, or simply out of personal curiosity, I wish you all the best in your quest for strength, wisdom, and answers… and I encourage you to share them with the rest of the class when you find them so that we and future generations might not be needlessly taken before their time as my mom was. Thank you, and apologies that this took me so damn long to finally jot down. Namaste.
Wheatgrass growing for alternative treatments at Optimum Health Institute

My only “warning” about Optimum Health Institute is that there’s a LOT of wheatgrass that you drink as part of the program. Like… a LOT! But as they say at OHI: “We LOVE what it’s doing for our bodies!” Oh, and if you’ve never had a colonic, those can be an interesting experience, but I’d take that over chemo any day!

Optimum Health Institute is not a healthcare facility, and I’m no doctor. This is merely a personal narrative based on my own feelings and experiences at Optimum Health Institute and with the Gerson Therapy; it is NOT medical advice. The text and images of this post were created by, except where noted, and are released for use for non-commercial purposes with proper credit/attribution/linking under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0.