Cancer is perhaps the most feared disease in our modern society. For many it’s a death sentence, as effective treatments are scarce. Lothar Hirneise travelled the world in search of successful methods of treatment. His discovery: anyone can find a solution to cancer. But brazen confidence is an essential precondition. A talk with an authoritative cancer specialist, who never studied medicine.
We’ve been talking for an hour when Lothar Hirneise bends over as if to tell me something in confidence. In a dead-serious tone he says: ‘A tumour is the body’s solution to a problem. A tumour forms because someone is no longer producing adrenaline, which is needed to break down sugar. An excess of sugar is dangerous, so the body produces tumours. Tumours ferment – burn – sugar. They also use a lot of energy – sugar – due to the fast division of cells. That’s why some tumours grow so fast. Cancer cells function like liver cells, only much more efficiently. So the tumour helps you to rid your body of poisons. Without the tumour you would be really ill. I always tell people: “The tumour is not your problem. A tumour is an incredibly ingenious solution on the part of the body.” When you get healthy, the tumour disappears on its own, which is why you shouldn’t immediately operate to remove it. First detoxify yourself. If the tumour continues to grow – which is almost never the case – you can always operate later.’
Cancer is not a problem. Cancer is a solution.
That is the provocative and hopeful vision of Lothar Hirneise. He suspects that in the course of our evolution our bodies created tumours in order to survive: ‘For instance, too much sugar in the cells causes blindness – as is the case with diabetics. Creating a tumour is a solution. An infection in your intestines is also a potential danger. If it gets too big, the intestines become blocked. Here too, the body’s solution is a tumour, which produces enzymes that stop the spread of infection and heal it. The actual tumour then often disappears by itself. Most cancer patients are very surprised that they have a tumour. They’ve been healthy for years, never had a fever, never needed a doctor and now suddenly they have a tumour. Where did it come from? The tumour was helping them stay healthy, until one day everything fell apart.’
Lothar Hirneise is not a doctor. But he does have a pioneering – and well-founded – vision on cancer. Aided by the gründlichkleit, meticulousness, of his native German culture, reasoning is his forte. Hirneise is a man of research and solid proof; a man who took an unusual path in becoming an influential, albeit controversial, cancer specialist in Germany.
Ten years ago Hirneise was a master in Eastern combat sports and a Kung Fu teacher. He also owned a successful sporting goods store. In 1996, he sold the shop for a tidy profit and promised his wife, Chris, and his two sons that after years of hard work and too much time on the road, he would spend more time at home with them. Then a good friend was diagnosed with cancer. Hirneise: ‘Before I had the sporting goods store I spent 10 years working in hospitals. I was educated as a therapeutic nurse and also studied psychotherapy for four years. So it was not illogical that my friend called on me for help, but I didn’t know a lot about cancer. I went in search of information and came across Lynne McTaggart, the founder of the English magazine What Doctor’s Don’t Tell You and author of the book of the same title. I attended a conference she organised in London on alternative cancer treatments. A few of the speakers told somewhat esoteric stories, but I was impressed by the research results that were presented.’
The What Doctor’s Don’t Tell You conference in London marked the start of an intensive quest by Hirneise for potential cancer therapies. He had time and money – ‘a unique combination not granted to many people’ – and read everything he could get his hands on. ‘I nearly drove Chris crazy. Every time I was onto yet another potential cure, I hopped in an airplane and went there – Mexico, India, China, the Bahamas, the United States, all over Europe… where haven’t I been?’
The quest ultimately led to the foundation of Menschen gegen Krebs in 1997, which was partly inspired by People Against Cancer, founded by Frank Weavel, who Hirneise had met at the conference in London. Menschen gegen Krebs now publishes a newsletter, organises lectures, workshops and conference and also offers assistance by telephone and advice via e-mail. You can become a member and take advantage of these services for _60 a year. Hirneise levies no additional charges for his advice. There appears to be a great need among cancer patients for independent information, which is lacking in the medical world. Hirneise: ‘Most doctors are good professionals, who truly want to help their patients. But… they’re working in a bad system. After all, from whom does the doctor get his information? Firstly, from university professors. And how do you become a professor? By working your way up in the establishment. By repeating what everyone has already said. There is no other way of becoming a professor in the scientific community. Then every doctor regularly attends conferences in his area of expertise. I haven’t been to a single conference in three years that wasn’t sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry. And then there are magazines and trade journals. They’re full of advertisements from the pharmaceutical industry. And that’s not even addressing the question of who owns these magazines. There is only one possible conclusion: within conventional medicine independence is a thing of the past.’
Hirneise is a great supporter of an integral approach to cancer treatment, which also includes non-Western methods: ‘In all the years I worked in hospitals, I never heard anyone speak of alternative ways to treat cancer. The average doctor knows nothing of cancer treatments in Russia, India, China or South America, for example. If I ask a doctor about such a treatment he says: “If it worked, I would have heard of it.” But that is just the point: nothing is published about those treatment methods in the magazines he reads. This is how the system maintains itself. Oncologists don’t know anything about it. Frankly, I think the word “oncologist” isn’t even appropriate for most doctors involved in cancer. “Chemotherapist” or “radiotherapist” would be better descriptions. That’s often all they do.’
It is early in the morning, 8:30 am, and we’re sitting having breakfast in Hirneise’s office on the top floor of his lovely home looking out on the rolling hills just outside Stuttgart. The subject has been broached: chemotherapy. Hirneise recently wrote on a book on the subject with the provocative title: ‘Chemo heilst Krebs und die Erde ist eine Scheibe’ (Sensei: Kernen, 2002), chemotherapy cures cancer and the earth is flat. Hirneise’s vision leaves little to the imagination: chemotherapy – the therapy that so many cancer patients undergo every day – doesn’t work. ‘I can imagine that in certain cases chemotherapy could provide a temporary solution, but then as part of a complete protocol which includes detoxification, nutrition and mental/spiritual support. However, I am against the way in which the poison is often used. By following the current protocol, people are being killed. Full stop. Moreover, [doctors] tell patients that once the tumour is gone, they’re healthy. That is not only untrue, it is stupid. By the way, I know a lot of doctors and I have a lot of friends who are doctors, and over a beer they confide in me that they would never use chemotherapy on themselves or their family. Doctors send patients to me because they know the conventional treatments don’t work. They tell their patients: “I have to give you this, but it won’t work. Just go see Mr. Hirneise.” And yet they continue to work within the system. That’s schizophrenic isn’t it? But a doctor has a lot to lose if he turns his back on the system: money, career, professional standing – everyone looks up to you if you’re a doctor. Moreover, if you go against the tide, you are fought tooth and nail. You have to be able to stand that.’
Hirneise is also a highly disputed figure. Doctors say he is crazy, dangerous or worse. ‘But I haven’t come across any doctor who said: “Mr. Hirneise, what you wrote on page 235 doesn’t make sense because…” There is no scientific discussion. But that’s not surprising. If I ask them for examples of patients that have been cured thanks to their treatment, they become silent. On the other hand, I can cite thousands of patients and cases that got better even though those same doctors gave up on them. I know them, I shake their hands every day.’
Hirneise has travelled a lot, has read a lot, and has spoken to doctors and patients all over the world. He has set down his experiences and research in an impressive number of statistics. And his conclusion is clear: every successful cancer treatment includes the following three ingredients: thorough detoxification, a change of diet and mental or spiritual work. ‘In every clinic I visited it was the same story, always and everywhere. It is what the people who overcame cancer did. I have seen people on their deathbeds, where the cancer had spread to their bones, brains, lungs and bone marrow… and they got better. In the final stage of cancer, there is no medicine in the world that can save you – conventional or alternative.’
If it’s so simple and unequivocal why aren’t more people getting better? ‘Because success demands discipline and effort. It demands that the patient get moving, become active, develop a constructive fighting attitude. Most people choose the easy way: chemotherapy, radiation or an operation. People say: “What do you mean the easy way? Do you know how horrible chemotherapy is?” Of course chemotherapy is no fun, but a radical change in your diet and lifestyle is more difficult. That’s why so few people survive cancer. “First detoxify, then a good diet and stay happy,” I tell people. “What?” they cry, “stay happy? Are you completely deranged Mr. Hirneise? I have tumours everywhere, I can’t even walk and you’re telling me I should have fun?” Then I tell them that one of two things are going to happen: either you’re going to die soon or you’re going to stay alive. If you’re going to die soon, you’re better off having lots of fun now, right? If you’re not going to die, you’re better off having fun now too because there’s nothing better for your immune system. It sounds crazy, but I have a lot of fun with people that come to me. I recently did a seminar with terminal cancer patients – rarely have I laughed so much. Ego satisfaction, money and sex rule the world. Cancer patients are just about the only people not interested in these things. It’s as if you were talking to the Pope or Mother Theresa. I learn a lot from them. They live one day at a time. They live so differently than the rest of humanity.’
If fun and a meaningful life make an important contribution to healing cancer, the question begs whether their absence encourages the disease. For Lothar Hirneise, cancer starts with stress: ‘Cancer cannot exist without stress. One hundred percent impossible! There are a lot of debates on types of stress – physical and psychological – but for a cell it doesn’t matter where the stress comes from. Every cancer patient has a sugar problem. Insulin transports sugar to cells. Adrenaline – and to a lesser extent cortisol and glucagon – takes it away. Everyone thinks that if you are under a lot of stress, you have an excess of adrenaline. This is true, but it’s only the beginning. Long-term stress results in adrenaline shortages. That’s what you see in cancer patients. So the cell is full of sugar that is not broken down. These cells die. Sugar is a poison; too much of it destroys your arteries, your kidneys and your bones. The body combats that danger by creating tumours – as a last resort for getting rid of the sugar surplus.’
‘For some people, the solution to the stress that led to the sugar problem will be to change their diet – because they ate poorly – while for others it will be in the psychological, spiritual sphere – because they had serious relationship problems, for example. That’s why a good diet doesn’t work for everyone, which leads sceptics to say that such a diet “therefore” doesn’t work. It just depends on where the stress comes from. This is why it’s so important that the whole person is taken into consideration. That is to say: to talk to the whole person. Frank Weavel of People Against Cancer says: “Give me a half-hour with a cancer patient and I’ll find the problem.” My experiences are the same. Sometimes we need to talk for hours, but we always find the problem. The problem for doctors is that they aren’t paid to talk to patients. If two different women with breast cancer go to a doctor, the problem is clear to him: breast cancer. My experience is that two cases of breast cancer can be two different diseases. If someone who has lost a son develops prostate cancer six months later, would you use chemotherapy to heal him?’
In Hirneise’s experience, if patients track down the cause of their cancer and truly want to change, even those at death’s door can heal. Paradoxically, the production of adrenaline gets back on track once people relax. ‘I have a photograph from 1994 of a woman from Karlsruhe, who at that time had cancer in nearly all her bones and in her bone marrow. She couldn’t get out of bed or her bones would break. She was on a lot of morphine and nearly died. She’s still alive. I recently visited her. She’s living a normal life. How much sicker can you be? I know another woman who died twice and was resuscitated twice. The priest was at her bedside to administer the final sacraments. She’s doing very well. She’s in her 70s, skis in Switzerland and has a lover who’s 20 years younger.’
Hirneise is all too aware that in many ways what he says not only flies in the face of the prevailing view, but moreover is not easy to understand, let alone to apply once the ‘cancer’ diagnosis has been given. ‘I had to travel around the world first and only understood it after a couple of years, so how can I expect that someone will understand it after a one-hour lecture?’ Hirneise is currently training 30 people who, like himself, can talk to patients just after they’ve been handed their ‘death sentence’. ‘You need someone objective just then who can think rationally. At that moment your friends and family members are just as emotional as you are. Most people think the doctor is that objective person. He is not. You see you’re not just a patient, but also a customer. He has something to sell, whether it’s a regular or alternative doctor. We could save a lot of lives if an objective, independent expert talked to patients right away. Which is why we set up the training course whereby each participant promises not to practice psychotherapy on his or her own.’
The second obstacle on the path to healing is the so-called aftercare. ‘After a treatment, a lot of patients are asked to come back in three months. Most people can’t sleep for two weeks just before those three months are up. Talk about stress! Then they get a blood test and have to wait a week for the results. It makes people extremely insecure. There is too much opportunity for additional damaging stress. And for misunderstandings. Most doctors use a language no one understands. I advise patients to stay away from aftercare. It is too dangerous.’
An example: ‘A while ago I gave a lecture after which a man came up, hugged me and said: “You saved my life.” A few months later his daughter called. He had died. What happened? The children had convinced their father to go to a doctor after all. He finally did. That was on a Monday. That Saturday he died. The stress, the fear and anxiety around the doctor’s vague diagnosis had driven him crazy. When people ask me which diagnostic tests they should and shouldn’t do I tell them: “Can you sleep without that diagnosis?” If so, don’t do it. If you need the diagnosis to sleep better, then go ahead. Instead of a blood test, you’re better off looking in the mirror. Look at your whole body, your skin, etc. That is a better diagnosis. Then meditate and listen to your body. Listen to what it wants to tell you. You will discover a great deal, gain a lot of insight. Afterwards you can always go to a doctor. Don’t just go to a doctor to have your blood tested or have an x-ray. I know this is a big sacrifice. We think the doctor should know best, right? Wrong. Believe me, that’s not the way it works. The tumour is not your enemy. Stress is the true source and no one can handle the stress of too many tests.’
Perhaps Lothar Hirneise’s most important message is that each person must find his or her own path to healing. A doctor can help in this process. But so can a friend. Everyone can make their own critical assessment of whether a particular treatment would truly be good for them. Individuality is Hirneise’s inspiration. A final bit of advice from the man who spoke to so many people that were capable of overcoming their illnesses: ‘Make a deal with your tumour. I’ve noticed that a lot of survivors do this. They start a dialogue with the tumour: “Dear tumour, this is a lose/lose situation. If you get bigger, I’ll have to die and so will you. Let’s turn this around into a win/win situation. You get smaller – you don’t have to die, but shrink to normal proportions – which will mean I can live. In return I’ll…”. I tell patients, you have to be very careful what you promise, because the tumour will only keep to its end of the bargain if you do too. If you can’t stick to it, make a new deal. There are some people I cannot help. There was one woman whose son had unsuccessfully attempted suicide. On his deathbed she pleaded to God to take her life instead of his. The son lived. A couple of weeks later she had cancer. I told her to make a new deal with God, to talk to him again. But she was afraid that God would then take her son’s life. She died shortly thereafter. No one can help someone like that. That is the power of a contract. Every person and every illness is unique and has the right to respect and a very personal approach.’