Kelley-Gonzalez diet

Kelley-Gonzalez diet
Kelley-Gonzalez diet

The Kelley-Gonzalez diet consists of large amounts of raw fruits, juices, raw and steamed vegetables, cereals, and nuts. When combined with massive quantities of dietary supplements and freeze-dried pancreatic enzymes, together with a “detoxification” process involving coffee enemas, it is said to slow the growth of cancer tumors.


The Kelley-Gonzalez regimen is based on a belief that enzymes from the pancreas are capable, like chemotherapy, of killing cancer cells. The use of pancreatic enzymes to treat cancer was first proposed in 1906 by John Beard, a Scottish embryologist. This idea received some attention at the time but was largely abandoned after Beard died in 1923.

During the 1960s, the concept was resurrected by William Donald Kelley, a controversial dentist from Grapevine, Texas. Kelley wrote a book titled One Answer to Cancer that outlined his five-pronged approach:
  • Nutritional therapy: Beef pancreatic enzymes combined with numerous other dietary supplements.
  • Diet: A carefully individualized diet, ranging all the way from vegetarian to all-meat.
  • Detoxification: As few as three or as many as 52 weeks of enemas and laxative purging.
  • Neurological stimulation: Various manipulations including chiropractic, osteopathic, mandibular, and physiotherapeutic.
  • Spiritual therapy: Prayer and Bible reading.

In 1981, Nicholas Gonzalez, then a second-year medical student at Cornell University, began a five-year investigation of Kelley’s work. Reviewing 10,000 patient records and interviewing 500 cancer patients, Gonzalez became convinced that many of Kelley’s patients had survived significantly longer than would otherwise have been expected.

“Despite the careful documentation and the five-year investment of time, my attempts at publication were met with scorn and ridicule,” Gonzalez recalls. “It seemed no one in academic medicine could, at the time, accept that a nutritional therapy might produce positive results with advanced cancer patients.”

In 1987, Gonzalez started practicing medicine in New York City and developing his own cancer regimen similar to Kelley’s, except that he rejected the neurological and spiritual aspects of Kelley’s treatment.

In 1999, the journal Nutrition and Cancer published results from a pilot study of the Gonzalez regimen in 11 patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer. These results were promising, prompting the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) to sponsor a $1.4 million large-scale clinical study of the regimen.


In his New York medical practice, Gonzalez uses his enzyme-based treatment on patients with pancreatic cancer, as well as a wide variety of other cancers. In addition, he uses variations of the Gonzalez regimen to treat a range of other illnesses, including chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.


Kelley Gonzalez
Kelley Gonzalez

As currently practiced by Gonzalez, the regimen includes pancreatic enzymes taken orally every four hours and at meals for 16 days. Patients also take as many as 150 dietary supplements a day, including vitamins, minerals, magnesium citrate, papaya, trace elements, and glandular products from animals. Patients also receive frequent coffee enemas.

They are placed on a strict diet including large quantities of fresh fruits, vegetable juices, cereals, and as many as 20 almonds a day. Red meat, white sugar, chicken, refined grain products, and soy are all forbidden. Fish is allowed only in limited quantities.


The Kelley-Gonzalez diet is considered a highly experimental treatment for cancer, with only limited evidence of its effectiveness. It should therefore be undertaken only with competent medical advice and monitoring.

Prospective patients should be aware that the diet requires considerable commitment and can almost be considered a full-time job. Initially, it can involve as many as eight enemas a day, as well as preparing four servings of fresh carrot juice and taking dietary supplements 10 times a day.

Side effects

At least two deaths have been linked to coffee enemas, attributed to hyponatremia and dehydration. With unqualified practitioners, there may also be a risk of contamination from unsanitary equipment used to administer enemas.

For example, one outbreak of Campylobacter sepsis occurred among clients of a border clinic in Mexico that offered coffee enemas. In Colorado, an amebiasis outbreak was linked to fecal contamination of an enema-delivery system. Other side effects of the Kelley-Gonzalez treatment may include low-grade fever, muscle aches and pains, or rashes.

Research and general acceptance

For many years, the Kelley-Gonzalez Diet was rejected by orthodox medical practitioners. However, as described earlier, a 1999 pilot study by Gonzales has led to a clinical trial sponsored by the NIH.