- Budwig Protocol
- Flaxseed Oil Diet; Linseed Oil Diet; Flax oil and Cottage Cheese (FOCC) Diet; Oil-protein Diet
- Cellect-Budwig Protocol
- Bill Henderson Protocol
For Patients & Caregivers
How It Works
The Budwig Diet has not been proven to treat or prevent cancer.
The Budwig Diet is an unproven anticancer treatment developed by the German biochemist Dr. Johanna Budwig in the 1950s. The diet consists of multiple daily servings of flaxseed oil and cottage cheese, as well as vegetables, fruits and juices. Processed foods, meats, most dairy products and sugar are prohibited. Budwig believed that the combination of cottage cheese and flaxseed oil, a food high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, would improve cellular functioning. No large-scale clinical studies have been conducted using the Budwig diet.
While a diet consisting of large amounts of vegetables and fruits can be beneficial, diets restricted in meat and dairy products may reduce the intake of essential nutrients leading to nutritional deficiencies. Some variations of the diet encourage daily sunbathing to energize the fatty acids, and a coffee or oil enema. However, coffee enemas can result in electrolyte imbalance, infections, inflammation of the rectum and colon, and burns. High levels of sun exposure can result in an increased risk of sunburn and skin cancer.
Do Not Take If
Eating a well-balanced diet rich in vegetables and fruit can be beneficial for health. A restricted diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies. There is no scientific evidence that supports the Budwig Diet in disease prevention. More importantly, delaying or avoiding standard medical treatment can have serious consequences.
For Healthcare Professionals
Developed by Dr. Johanna Budwig in the 1950s, the Budwig diet is an unproven cancer treatment featuring multiple daily servings of flaxseed oil and cottage cheese. It is often combined with procedures such as coffee enemas in alternative cancer treatment regimens. Budwig believed that cancer was caused by the lack of polyunsaturated fatty acids, and that a combination of flax oil and cottage cheese would improve cellular function.
The diet consists of a mixture of flax oil and cottage cheese as well as vegetables, fruits, and juices. It prohibits consumption of sugar, animal fats, shellfish, processed foods, soy and most dairy products, and encourages daily sunbathing (1).
Although Budwig wrote books and papers to provide anecdotal evidence and biochemical mechanisms of the diet, no clinical trials have been published in any peer-reviewed medical journal. Polyunsaturated fatty acids, like omega-3 found in flaxseeds, have been shown to exert anticancer activities (2), but there is no evidence that such a diet has any benefit in preventing or treating cancer in humans. Whereas a balanced diet consisting of vegetables and fruits can be beneficial for general health, restricted diets may increase risk of nutritional deficiencies (3). High levels of sun exposure can result in increased risk of sunburn and skin cancer (4).
The Budwig diet is not recommended by most mainstream cancer treatment centers.
Mechanism of Action
Dr. Budwig developed her diet based on the hypothesis that cancer is caused by reduced uptake of oxygen by cell membranes in the absence of omega-3 fatty acids (O3FAs) such as linolenic acid (7). While metabolic changes such as increased aerobic glycolysis and fatty acid synthesis occur in cancerous cells, (8) the role of O3FAs in the pathogenesis and treatment of cancer is still under investigation (2). The polyunsaturated O3FAs in flaxseed oil have been shown to decrease levels of proinflammatory cytokines, tumor necrosis factor (TNF) alpha and Interleukin-1 beta (9). O3FAs also demonstrated antineoplastic properties by increasing intracellular reactive oxygen species and decreasing protumorigenic prostaglandins (2). Flax oil supplements increased total phospholipid fatty acid content in erythrocytes (10), but the implication of this finding in cancer treatment is unknown. Flaxseed supplements also inhibit proliferation of human prostate cancer (11) and inhibit breast cancer growth in vitro by downregulating growth factors and increasing p53 expression (12). Furthermore, whole flaxseed contains lignans, phytoestrogens which may also have antineoplastic properties and exert hormonal effects (13).
Budwig believed that combining cottage cheese and flaxseed oil allowed for better availability of essential fatty acids through the plasma membrane, allowing for improved aerobic cellular respiration (1). The effect of cottage cheese consumption on the bioavailability of O3FAs has not been studied. Processed fats, saturated fats, animal fats, processed foods, and sugar are prohibited in the Budwig diet because they are thought to interfere with oxygen uptake and cellular respiration. Epidemiological studies show that people who consume lacto-vegetarian diets have lower incidence of gastrointestinal cancer compared with non-vegetarians (14) (15), although these studies indicate association rather than causation.
An animal study showed that greater tumor regression occurred in mice treated with trastuzumab therapy plus flax oil compared with those treated with trastuzumab alone (16).
- Delaying or avoiding medical treatment can have serious consequences.
- Restricted diets may result in nutritional deficiencies.
- Flaxseed has weak estrogenic effects; therefore, patients with hormone-sensitive cancers should use with caution.
- Bleeding disorders: Animal studies indicate that flaxseed oil increases bleeding time and platelet activating inhibitor-1, and decreases platelet aggregation (19).
- Pregnancy: An animal study found that a diet high in flaxseed during pregnancy can increase the risk of breast cancer in the offspring (23).
- Lactovegetarians may be at greater risk for vitamin B12 deficiency (3).
- Excessive sun exposure and tanning beds can increase risk of melanoma and skin cancers (4).
- Adverse events associated with flaxseed consumption include gastrointestinal discomfort such as gas, bloating, constipation, stomach ache, and frequent bowel movements (18).
Drug interactions for the Budwig Diet have not been investigated.
Drug interactions for flaxseed supplementation include:
Anticoagulant/Antiplatelet drugs: Flaxseed may increase bleeding time and reduce platelet aggregation (19).
Antidiabetic drugs: Lignans in flaxseed may lower fasting glucose levels (20).
Ketoprofen: Flaxseed may decrease the absorption of ketoprofen (21).
Metoprolol: Flaxseed may decrease the effects of metoprolol (21).