Be Wary of Nieper Therapy

Stephen Barrett, M.D.
June 25, 2006

Hans A. Nieper, MD (1928-1998), a West German physician, specialized in treating cancer, heart disease, and multiple sclerosis. For cancer, he prescribed a combination of standard and unconventional agents, including pharmaceutical drugs, vitamins, minerals, and animal and plant extracts. He also recommended that patients follow a dietaty program that excluded dairy products and distilled water and avoid certain physical agents, foods, and physical locations (“geopathogenic zones”) that he considered damaging. There is no scientific evidence that his regimens were effective against any disease. Former National Council Against Health Fraud Pesident William T. Jarvis, Ph.D., characterized Nieper as a “proponent of crank theories.” Neither Nieper nor anyone else has published any appropriately designed studies that back his claims.

Nieper received his medical degree from the University of Hamburg in 1953 and in 1964 affiliated with the Paracelsus Silbersee Hospital in Hannover, West Germany. In addition to his medical activities, he speculated about some aspects of theoretical physics. His writings cover subjects such as the “shielding theory of gravity” and the potential for harnessing useful energy from space, which he referred to as the “tachyon field.” Some of his ideas about problems in medicine are based on his theories about energy fields. He founded the German Society for Medical Tumor Therapy and was president of the German Society of oncology from 1982 to 1985 [1].

Nieper published many papers and a few books on medical subjects. A MEDLINE search for “Nieper HA” yields 34 articles, most of which were published in German journals between 1954 and 1970. During the 1990s, a directory of “alternative therapy centers” reported that treatment generally took 8 to 14 days and cost about $1,500 for outpatient treatment and 450-550 deutsche marks per day for inpatient treatment [1].

Despite his many publications, a review by the U.S. Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) noted “lack of straightforward descriptions of his treatment approaches and of citations to existing medical literature make it difficult, at best, to determine the components of his treatment regimens and the specific information (including his data and others’) on which they are based.” [2] In 1990, the OTA published the following description:

Nieper described his approach to treatment as “eumetabolic,” a term he coined to refer to the use of substances derived from plants or animals that he considered not to be “foreign” in the human body. The regimen for cancer included “subtoxic doses of chemotherapy,” “hormone therapy,” and “gene-repair therapy;” the components and rationale for them are only indirectly and partially described. The overall aim of the cancer treatment regimen is to activate the “internal defense system,” which Nieper said was the body’s own mechanism for fighting cancer. He advocated low-dose chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery to kill or remove tumor cells directly, but said that chemotherapy “must never be so extensive that valuable mechanisms of the body’s own defenses are thoughtlessly damaged.” Nieper said that internal mechanisms control the healing process in cancer; “exogenous factors and procedures have, therefore, little effect on . . . the incidence . . and the curing rate.” He also said that cancer is caused by suppression of natural host defenses, by overeating the wrong types of foods, and by exposure to certain types of environmental factors. He refered to particular environmental factors that he believes lead to “gene instabilities” and to the activation of oncogenes: X- rays, ultraviolet radiation, alternating current electrical fields, and the “tachyon field turbulence of the geopathic zone.”

In Nieper’s view, geopathic zones “play a decisive role in the development of cancer cells and cancerous tumors,” in that he believes there is a higher incidence of cancer in areas of high levels of earth radiation and in areas situated over subterranean water veins. He believes that geopathic zones cause disturbances in the magnetic or electrostatic properties of tissues in the body, which disrupt the genetic material. Nieper claims that 92% of cancer cases he has examined were associated with long-term occupancy (particularly where the individuals sleep) of geopathic zones. He said that “removal of cancer- stricken patients from geopathic zones absolutely belongs to the conscientious duties of an oncologist.”

Nieper states that his treatment regimen is “more or less the same in all conditions of malignancy whatever the finding.” His recommended substances included dehydroepiandrosterone, magnesium, selenium, beta carotene, bromelaine (papain), cod liver oil capsules, vitamin C, photons, BCG, gamma globulin, magnesium orotate, tumosterone, mistletoe, amygdalin and mandelonitriles (laetrile), benzaldehyde, urea, glutathione, Didrouvaltrate, carnivora (an extract of the Dioneaea muscipula plant), pau d’arco, “adrenal whole extract,” and squalene (derived from shark’s liver oil).

In addition to prescribing some or all of these agents, Nieper cautions patients to avoid alternating current fields, such as electric blankets and heating pads, and to avoid all cigarette smoke. He recommends that they follow a special diet—a low-salt, low-carbohydrate, “Kirlian-positive vegetarian diet,” including whole grain cereals and breads, carrot juice with heavy cream, vegetable and fruit juices, low-fat milk, all types of vegetables and fruits, moderate amounts of coffee, tea, eggs, and butter, and limited amounts of fish. Patients are cautioned to avoid most types of meat, sausage, chicken, veal, shellfish, sugar, alcohol (except “sour” wine), white bread, cheese, vitamin B12, and iron.

The information available about Nieper’s treatment regimen contains very little clinical data on outcomes in cancer patients following treatment. A mimeographed paper dated 1977 and a 1980 paper with the same information show a table listing 23 general tumor types found in 214 patients, along with the number of patients with each tumor type and the number of “positive responses” to his treatment. A “positive response” was defined as “18-month survival with considerably improved health.” Nieper claims that “the percentage of patients whose disease gets under control within an 18-month period of observation is close to 40%” but he restricted this to “mobile, so-called incurable patients,” because “the results with hospitalized patients are less than half as good since hospitalization indicates that the disease has progressed too far.” Since he provided no data, on tumor stage, previous treatment, specific treatments given to patients under his regimen, or how these particular patients were chosen for inclusion in the analysis, the information provided is insufficient to draw any conclusions about efficacy [2].

Nieper’s treatment of multiple sclerosis was centered around the use of Calcium EAP. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society warns: “There is no objective evidence that calcium EAP is an effective treatment for MS. Because the treatment protocol includes many different agents and may include a powerful drug that suppresses the immune system, the proposed therapy is not without serious risk.” [3]

Nieper attracted patients by using promotional materials distributed by the Cancer Control Society in Los Angeles and the A. Keith Brewer Science Library in Richland Center, Wisconsin, and by periodically making speaking visits to the United States. He was also promoted by the Hans Nieper Foundation in San Juan Capistrano, which was founded in 1985 but became inactive a few years later.

In 1986, after Nieper made a promotional tour, the FDA notified him that the products could not be legally imported into the United States [4]. A few months later, the FDA issued an import ban [5] and a Talk Paper stating that the products had not been proven safe or effective [6]. In 1993, the FDA learned that a company based in the United States was illegally manufacturing orotates and other Nieper products. The company’s president was prosecuted and the products were seized and destroyed [7].

  1. Fink JM. Third Opinion. Garden City Park, NY: Avery Publishing Group, 1992, 1997.
  2. Hans Nieper. In U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment. Unconventional Cancer Treatments, OTA-H-405. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, Sept 1990.
  3. Calcium EAP. In Multiple Sclerosis Information Sourcebook. New York: National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 2003.
  4. Hile JA. Letter to Hans Nieper, April 21, 1986.
  5. FDA Import Alert #66-28: Automatic detention of unapproved new drugs promoted By Dr. Hans Nieper of West Germany. Revised April 19, 1994.
  6. Alert Issued on Nieper ‘therapies.’ FDA talk paper T86-64, Aug 15, 1986.
  7. Seizers keepers, criminals weepers. FDA Consumer 31(6):32-33, 1997.

This article was posted on June 25, 2006.