One of the most promising early alternative cancer remedies gets little lip service these days, so I’ve decided to give it some attention here. It began as an ancient recipe made by the Ojibwa tribes of Canada, and by chance fell into the hands of a compassionate Canadian nurse who saw its potential.
Like so many promising natural cancer treatments, research on this one fell by the wayside because of lack of interest by mainstream medicine. Yet it’s still worth knowing about, and perhaps adding to your own cancer treatment or prevention regimen. It’s called Essiac…
Continued below. . .
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The 100-year history of Essiac
Essiac, sometimes called Flor Essence, is an herbal tea mixture. These days, you can find it worldwide, typically marketed as a health tonic or an herbal dietary supplement. Essiac consists of four different herbs: burdock root, Indian rhubarb root, sheep sorrel, and slippery elm.
Though Essiac and Flor Essence are believed by some to be interchangeable, Flor Essence has a few more ingredients. Along with the four herbs that make up the Essiac blend, Flor Essence also contains watercress, blessed thistle, red clover, and kelp.
As far as the ingredients in the two blends go, both sheep sorrel and burdock root have been known to kill cancer cells. Slippery elm and Indian rhubarb root are believed to help build the immune system, detox the body, and protect the organs from toxins. The additional herbs in Flor Essence provide antioxidants, immune support, and bacterial protection.
Essiac first became widely known as a cancer treatment back in the 1920s. It began when a breast cancer patient shared the formula for the herbal blend with a nurse in Canada named René Caisse. The patient said it had cured her breast cancer, and that the blend had been given to her by an Ontario Ojibwa Native American medicine man.
Ms. Caisse then used the formula to cure her own aunt, whose terminal cancer had been declared hopeless. This inspired the nurse to open a cancer clinic in Ontario, sharing Essiac with her patients at no charge. She brewed the tea herself, in her own kitchen. (In fact, Essiac is Caisse spelled backwards.)
Ms. Caisse made it her personal mission to cure cancer patients who had been given up by doctors. She accepted only voluntary contributions in her clinic, such as vegetables or eggs, and then only from people who could afford them. It’s said she wasn’t interested in money or attention, only in helping those who needed it most.
Her funeral in 1978 in Bracebridge, Canada, just north of Toronto, was attended by hundreds of former patients and their loved ones – people who said they were still around thanks to the good grace of Ms. Caisse’s compassionate care.
Efforts to go mainstream with Essiac
The Royal Cancer Commission of Canada visited the Caisse clinic in 1938, but was not wholly convinced that Essiac was effective. Ms. Caisse kept the clinic open till 1942. Even after closing down, she continued to share Essiac with her cancer patients throughout the 1970s.
Ms. Caisse also went on to partner with an American M.D., Charles A. Brusch, during the 1960s and into the 1970s, studying Essiac in a laboratory setting as well as in patients. As a result of their studies, the pair created the Flor Essence formula. Unfortunately, they didn’t go on to report their research findings in any peer-reviewed scientific journals, so their studies got little attention.
All the same, Dr. Brusch very strongly asserted, “Essiac is a cure for cancer, period. All the studies done at laboratories in the United States and Canada support this conclusion.” Dr. Brusch reportedly used Essiac to cure himself when he developed cancer.
In 1977, Ms. Caisse shared the formula for Essiac with a Canadian company which went on to conduct clinical studies on the safety and effectiveness of the blend. The company attempted to get Essiac approved as a drug, but was not successful.
Fast-forward to the 1980s, when the recipe for Essiac got out and companies all over the place began to make products similar to the original blend, often selling the mixtures as health tonics. They were able to do so legally as long as they did not made claims that Essiac treats or cures diseases like cancer. In fact, even today the Essiac you can buy online and in stores is marketed as “immune system support” or “mental refreshment.”
The seesaw of scientific proof
The effectiveness of Essiac and Flor Essence is attributed to the way the blends stimulate the immune system. They’re also believed to have anti-inflammatory effects and various other levels of anticancer activity.
While the individual herbs in Essiac and Flor Essence have been shown to have such effects, the blends have never been studied at a level where results were accepted by the scientific community.
Some Essiac supporters caution cancer patients against using Essiac while also receiving chemotherapy and radiation therapy, but again, there’s no proof that interference would occur.
The most recently reported study of Essiac, conducted in a laboratory study at Purdue University in 2004, shows that Essiac slowed the growth of prostate cancer cells.
Alternative therapy advocates report that Essiac tea for cancer treatment is most effective for those recently diagnosed with cancer, provided the cancer is not fast-growing and has not spread significantly. If a patient has advanced cancer, it’s recommended they take Essiac tea as a supplement to another alternative cancer protocol.
Easy to add to a daily tea-drinking regimen
So on one hand, the scientific community maintains there’s no clear evidence Essiac helps treat or prevent cancer. On the other hand, there are thousands of testimonials from René Caisse’s patients and others who swear that it helps.
Given that we know the key ingredients are helpful to the body, it’s unlikely it would hurt you, and it makes sense that it could bring about positive change. As for side effects of Essiac, the only ones reported are nausea and vomiting.
At any rate, one of the things to note when using either Essiac or Flor Essence is that, like most herbal blends, the mixtures will vary among manufacturers. Essiac Canada International claims to use the original formula developed by René.
The appropriate dose depends on the reason you’re taking it, meaning it’s largely up to you as to how much you take. But just as a reference, Ms. Caisse’s formula reportedly called for one ounce (30 mL) diluted in two ounces of hot water per day, sipped at bedtime on an empty stomach.