Essiac – The Story of Hope in Herbals
The use of herbal supplements has a rich history. The references to their past applications are well documented and, in many cases, they are used today for the same purposes. Essiac tea is an herbal combination that has been used since 1922 but attached to this supplement is a true story of hope. Essiac Tea was named after a Canadian nurse from Brockville, Ontario, Rene Caisse. (Caisse backwards is “Essiac”) Rene Caisse first learned about the tea in 1922
from one of her patients, who had been given the herbal mixture from a Canadian Ojibway medicine man for her breast cancer. Rene, skeptical of the herbal mixture’s claims, kept the information about the herbs to herself until she herself was faced with her aunt’s cancer. With nothing to lose, she convinced the doctor to give her aunt the herbal mixture. Her aunt lived cancer free for 21 years after her diagnosis. Rene Caisse was convinced of the medicinal benefits of the herbs and continued to administer the mixture to her patients. The idea of such a treatment was controversial for this time in history. She faced public scrutiny, medical investigations and was even jailed for her conviction and dedication to treating patients with the tea. She was threatened for not complying with demands to give up her formulations to medical universities for research, and instead, embarked upon her own journey to continue to treat patients that had cancer. She moved to Timmins and then to Peterborough, working with doctors that believed in her natural methods and herbal mixture but was not allowed to charge for the treatments per the Ministry of Health. Word of the fantastic results of Rene’s formula gained momentum, and soon after, the town of Bracebridge Ontario invited Rene to open a cancer clinic. From 1932 to 1941, patients from all over Canada, that had given up on modern medicine, went to this small town to seek out this natural remedy for their cancer. Over the years, Rene tried to prove the effectiveness of her treatment but was met with resistance along the way. In 1977 Rene Cassie sold the rights to her formula for $1.00 to the Resperin company. However, contractual obligations of the sale were never met, leaving Rene with nothing. During this same year, with the publishing of an article “Could Essiac Halt Cancer” by Homemakers magazine, interest in the Essiac tea exploded. Rene passed away in 1978. In 1995 the rights of the tea were transferred to Essiac Products Inc, who today still owns the rights to the original formulation for worldwide distribution. Essiac tea has been approved by the FDA as an herbal supplement with no medical claims and has been given a Natural Product Number by Health Canada, where it continues to be sold today.
Essiac & Cancer What is the Connection
The story of Essiac is symbolic of hope, but it is much more than just an anecdotal response to illness. Essiac tea is a mixture of roots, bark and leaves that is sold as a tea mixture to be brewed, as well as capsules and premade liquid for convenience. There are four main ingredients in the tea. Burdock Root, Sheep Sorrel, Slippery Elm (inner bark) and Rhubarb root. Each of them provides a unique benefit to cleansing, detoxification and immune strengthening. Burdock Root contains anthraquinone, a chemical that is known to slow tumour growth and prevent cellular mutation. In fact, anthraquinone is found in some mainstream cancer drugs due to its
powerful anti-mutagenic effects. Studies have found that burdock root extract has “apoptotic effects” on cancerous cells, meaning it stimulates cell death in those malignant cells, without harming healthy cells around it. Slippery Elm inner bark contains plant sterols, tannins and essential fatty acids that can reduce inflammation, as well as mucilage and calcium oxalate, which helps this herb detoxify the body. In combination with the other elements of Essiac tea, Slippery Elm protects the health of organs from the effects of mainstream cancer treatments, while supporting the immune system. Sheep Sorrel is traditionally used to cool the body by increasing sweating and detoxification through the skin. It also has a diuretic effect, which supports kidney and urinary functions and the body’s glandular system. Studies on Sheep Sorrel have found that it does have anti-proliferative effects on cancerous cells, meaning it can prevent the replication and metastasis of cancerous growths.

Furthermore, it is well known as a blood purifier, cleansing the areas of infection. Rene Caisse claimed that this ingredient was the most potent cancer-fighting element in Essiac Tea. Indian Rhubarb, used in small amounts, has a mild laxative effect and helps to purge the liver of toxic build up and wastes. It helps neutralize stomach acid and the malic acid content contained within this plant helps carry oxygen to the blood, aiding in healing and balancing the body. A 2018 study shows that it may reduce the progression of cancer cells in the liver.

Some of the side effects of Essiac Tea may include nausea, vomiting, skin irritation, dehydration, excessive urination, bowel movements and flu-like symptoms. These adverse side effects are primarily due to the detoxifying effects of Burdock Root and Sheep Sorrel. If you are allergic to any herbs contained within this formula, you must avoid. If you are presently ongoing cancer treatments, you must discuss using this product during procedures.
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