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Budwig Diet: Is It Effective Against Cancer?

When a person is diagnosed with cancer, he or she would want to do anything possible that could help them with the extra power to fight the disease. With hope of improvement in the symptoms, many people look into alternative and complementary therapies [1] , in addition to conventional treatments such as chemotherapy.

One such complementary therapy is the Budwig diet. Also known as the Budwig protocol, the Budwig diet is an eating plan that has been developed to treat cancer [2] . The diet primarily focuses on flaxseed oil, cottage cheese and fruit juice. The creator of this diet, Dr Johanna Budwig believed that a diet high in polyunsaturated fatty acids holds the capability of energizing healthy cells, which in turn prevents cancer from spreading. However, there is no research-based proof that the Budwig diet as a whole is effective against cancer [3] .

Budwig Diet

Read on to get a detailed overview of the use and effectiveness of the Budwig diet.

What Is The Budwig Diet?

People who follow the Budwig diet need to eat multiple servings of flaxseed oil after forming a mixture with cottage cheese (or milk/yoghurt) [4] . People following this diet, also need to eat the following foods:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Foods that are rich in fibre

People following this diet are encouraged to spend a lot of time exposing their skin to the sun. This is to increase the amount of vitamin D that their bodies produce [5] .

Some specific components of the Budwig diet show some promise in the field of cancer treatment. There's still some research underway about the effectiveness of flaxseed as an anticancer ingredient [6] .

Foods To Avoid On The Budwig Diet

The Budwig diet believes that the following foods can prevent your body from functioning at its optimum level and hence these should be eliminated [7] :

  • Shellfish
  • Processed meats
  • Meats that contain artificial hormones
  • Processed cheeses
  • Animal fats
  • Soy products
  • Hydrogenated oils and trans fat
  • White sugar
  • Refined grains
  • Foods containing artificial preservatives

Foods To Eat On The Budwig Diet

The focus when one is on this diet should be the intake of the "Budwig mixture". This mixture is created using flaxseed oil and cottage cheese. A person following the Budwig diet needs to take this mixture several times a day. The flaxseed oil content is essential in the mixture, whereas the cottage cheese part can be altered with yoghurt.

Budwig Diet

The following foods are also recommended under the Budwig diet [8] :

  • Uncooked vegetables
  • Fresh fruits and fresh fruit juice
  • Olive oil
  • Goat's milk
  • Raw cow's milk
  • Almonds and walnuts

How to make the Budwig mixture: Mix one tablespoon of flaxseed oil for every 2 tablespoons of cottage cheese. Mix until the oil is no longer visible.

Existing Evidence On Using Budwig Diet For Treating Cancer

Although there is evidence that flaxseed might fight cancer in animals, there is not much research information available about the effect of flaxseed in humans with cancer. A case study was done on a person with breast cancer who used the Budwig diet in addition to chemotherapy and radiation. The subject's cancer went into remission It remained unknown as to whether this happened due to the Budwig diet or the conventional therapies.

Another study conducted on 25 men with prostate cancer revealed that the use of flaxseed could reduce the levels of the male hormone testosterone. Reduction in this hormone helped in reducing the size of the tumours [9] .

Budwig Diet

However, still enough data does not exist to validate the results of the Budwig diet. More randomized studies are required on humans with cancer to reach a conclusion about the effectiveness of flaxseeds.

Uses Of The Budwig Diet

Although this diet was developed as a means of treating cancer, it has also been used as an alternative treatment for the following [10] :

  • Arthritis
  • Immune deficiencies
  • Strokes
  • Heart attack
  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Prostrate problems
  • Eczema

Side Effects And Risk Factors Of The Budwig Diet

For a person who strictly follows the Budwig diet, there can be a severe vitamin B nutritional deficiencies [11] . This is because the diet is restrictive in meats. Vitamin B is essential for hormone regulation, brain health and energy. Quite a few nutrients are lost with extremely restrictive eating plans. In such cases, one might consider taking a vitamin B supplement.

Eating a lot of flaxseed or flaxseed oil can lead to the following [12] :

  • Constipation
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhoea
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

Restrictive nature of the Budwig diet can lead to severe weight loss (due to the calorie restriction). Weight loss can be very dangerous for a person with cancer [13] .

Budwig Diet

A person consuming plenty of flaxseed should also consider drinking a lot of water. One needs to be careful as too much of flaxseed might interfere with the functioning of certain medicines.

The high level of sun exposure recommended for people on the Budwig diet can also be harmful, especially as it can increase the risk of developing sunburn and skin cancer.

Few therapists suggest coffee enemas as a part of the Budwig diet. This can result in electrolyte imbalance in the body causing infections, inflammation to the lower digestive tract and changes in the normal bowel functions [14] .

Although safe for most people, in general, the following groups of people should not follow this diet:

  • Pregnant/nursing women
  • Anyone with diabetes
  • Women with specific hormonal conditions
  • People with hyperglycemia
  • Anyone with inflammatory bowel disease
View Article References
  1. [1] Cassileth, B. R., & Deng, G. (2004). Complementary and alternative therapies for cancer.The oncologist,9(1), 80-89.
  2. [2] Eilati, E., Bahr, J. M., & Hales, D. B. (2013). Long term consumption of flaxseed enriched diet decreased ovarian cancer incidence and prostaglandin E₂in hens.Gynecologic oncology,130(3), 620–628.
  3. [3] Mannion, C., Page, S., Bell, L. H., & Verhoef, M. (2010). Components of an anticancer diet: dietary recommendations, restrictions and supplements of the Bill Henderson Protocol.Nutrients,3(1), 1–26.
  4. [4] Meiners C. (2011). Clinical Response of Metastatic Breast Cancer to Multi-targeted Therapeutic Approach: A Single Case Report.Cancers,3(1), 1454–1466.
  5. [5] Hübner, J., & Hanf, V. (2013). Commonly used methods of complementary medicine in the treatment of breast cancer.Breast care (Basel, Switzerland),8(5), 341–347.
  6. [6] Calado, A., Neves, P. M., Santos, T., & Ravasco, P. (2018). The Effect of Flaxseed in Breast Cancer: A Literature Review.Frontiers in nutrition,5, 4.
  7. [7] Mannion, C., Page, S., Bell, L. H., & Verhoef, M. (2011). Components of an anticancer diet: dietary recommendations, restrictions and supplements of the Bill Henderson Protocol.Nutrients,3(1), 1-26.
  8. [8] Eilati, E., Bahr, J. M., & Hales, D. B. (2013). Long term consumption of flaxseed enriched diet decreased ovarian cancer incidence and prostaglandin E₂in hens.Gynecologic oncology,130(3), 620–628.
  9. [9] Hübner, J., Marienfeld, S., Abbenhardt, C., Ulrich, C. M., & Löser, C. (2012). How useful are diets against cancer?.
  10. [10] Ansenberger, K., Richards, C., Zhuge, Y., Barua, A., Bahr, J. M., Luborsky, J. L., & Hales, D. B. (2010). Decreased severity of ovarian cancer and increased survival in hens fed a flaxseed-enriched diet for 1 year.Gynecologic oncology,117(2), 341–347.
  11. [11] Mayengbam, S., Raposo, S., Aliani, M., & House, J. D. (2015). A Vitamin B-6 Antagonist from Flaxseed Perturbs Amino Acid Metabolism in Moderately Vitamin B-6–Deficient Male Rats.The Journal of nutrition,146(1), 14-20.
  12. [12] Goyal, A., Sharma, V., Upadhyay, N., Gill, S., & Sihag, M. (2014). Flax and flaxseed oil: an ancient medicine & modern functional food.Journal of food science and technology,51(9), 1633–1653. d
  13. [13] Eilati, E., Bahr, J. M., & Hales, D. B. (2013). Long term consumption of flaxseed enriched diet decreased ovarian cancer incidence and prostaglandin E₂in hens.Gynecologic oncology,130(3), 620–628.
  14. [14] Green, S. (1992). A critique of the rationale for cancer treatment with coffee enemas and diet.Jama,268(22), 3224-3227.

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