Essiac Tea: A Healing Herbal Tea
Essiac Herbal Tea is a Healing Medicinal Tea
Essiac tea is a mild-tasting medicinal herbal tea that supports the immune system and nourishes the body.
I drink Essiac herbal tea for 2 - 3 weeks a couple times a year to detox my body -- I feel "internally cleansed" and more energetic from drinking the tea!
But Essiac tea is probably best known for its cancer fighting properties, and for its uses for other serious diseases. There are thousands of testimonials from people who believe Essiac has helped them recover from serious illnesses.
The original Essiac tea formula was adopted from an Ojibwe recipe by a Canadian nurse, Rene Caisse (pronounced "reen case"), who named the tea by spelling her last name backward. The four herbs making up this original formula are all native to northern Ontario and have been used by Native Americans for their medicinal properties.
What herbs are in the original Essiac tea formula?
The original formula for Essiac tea is made up of four herbs:
1. Burdock root
2. Sheep sorrel
3. Slippery elm
4. Turkey rhubarb root
Burdock root and sheep sorrel that are thought to destroy cancer cells, while the slippery elm and turkey rhubarb root help build up the immune system, and aid in detoxing the affected organ.
Burdock root has traditionally been used as a blood purifier, removing toxic material from the blood. It promotes sweating (toxins sweated out), and is also a diuretic. It supports the liver, bladder, and kidneys. For more about burdock read Burdock Benefits Your Body.
Sheep sorrel also supports the liver, bladder, and kidneys. Rene Caisse thought that sheep sorrel was the main Essiac herb that fought against metastasized cancer and reduced tumor size. One of the compounds of sheep sorrel, aloe emodin, was shown to be effective in laboratory studies against leukemia cells. For more about sheep sorrel read Sheep Sorrel Benefits.
Slippery elm is used as a soothing, healing remedy for sore throats, indigestion, and irritated skin.
Turkey rhubarb is often used as a purgative -- it helps, with the addition of other herbs, to alleviate constipation.
Have you tried Essiac tea, or do you know someone who has?
What are the benefits of drinking Essiac tea?
Essiac tea helps to remove heavy metals and detoxify the body, boost energy levels and bolsters the immune system so that the body can more easily fight off disease and return to a more healthy state.
We all come in contact with potential disease-producing bacteria and viruses, and we're all susceptible to developing health problems. But if our immune system is strong, we can avoid many of these health challenges or recover more quickly when we do become ill. Drinking Essiac tea is one method that can help us maintain a strong immune system.
Those who use the tea range from people like me who drink it as a tonic to promote general good health and well-being, to people with serious illnesses like cancer or diabetes, in conjunction with whatever other treatments they and their health care providers decide upon.
There are many sites online that give long lists of ailments that have been cured or alleviated by the use of Essiac tea. The long list of benefits may make it sound like one of those old-fashioned quack "miracle cures", but if you think about the underlying effects of Essiac tea -- of detoxifying the body and boosting the immune system, then it makes sense that the body can start to heal itself, no matter what the disease.
Even when the body can't cure itself, people taking the tea do seem to have a better quality of life during the time remaining for them.
Eight-herb version of Essiac tea
Four additional herbs are sometimes added to the tea to make the tea more effective, according to some:
1. Red clover
3. Blessed thistle
4. Water cress
Red clover is a source of valuable nutrients, and is rich in isoflavones (water-soluble chemicals that act like estrogens and are found in many plants). These isoflavones are thought to prevent the growth of cancer cells.
Kelp is also a source of many nutrients and minerals. It's a source of iodine, which is necessary for the healthy functioning of the thyroid gland. Low thyroid function decreases our energy.
Blessed thistle is used for digestive problems.
Water cress is high in Vitamin C. It's used as a general tonic, and perhaps inhibits the growth of certain harmful bacteria in the intestines.
Brew your own tea
Or buy it pre-brewed, or take tinctures or tablet supplements
The most effective and cheapest way to use Essiac tea is to brew your own as a "decoction", which means you boil the herbs for a few minutes then steep them for a number of hours to extract the medicinal ingredients from the leaves. If you don't have the patience for this, then find a friend to help you out.
In general, if you brew your own, you'd mix the correct mixture of herbs (usually bought together in a packet) in a gallon of water, boil for 10 minutes, let steep for 10 - 12 hours, re-heat almost to a boil, then bottle it. Some people strain the mixture before bottling, and some people keep the particulate residue with the liquid. The tea should be bottled in sterilized glass bottles, and not stored longer than two weeks.
If you buy your own tea to brew, instructions will come with the packet.
Here's a good link that tells how to brew your own.
For occasional use, especially if you're using Essiac as a tonic and not for a serious illness, you may prefer to buy it pre-bottled (usually with a preservative added), or use tinctures or tablets. It's less effective than freshly brewed tea, but still gives benefits.
I've brewed my own tea most of the time, but have also used the pre-brewed, concentrated tea.
(The photo is of one of my own bottles of Essiac tea. Some people recommend that the tea be stored in amber bottles, to protect the tea from light, but I figure the bottles are in the refrigerator, and protected that way.)
Brew your own tea. This is recommended for the best effects.
Convenient way to take the supplement.
Side effects of Essiac tea
In general, Essiac tea, either brewed or as a tincture or tablet, is safe if you follow the dosage recommendations.
However some side effects can include nausea and vomiting, constipation or diarrhea (depends on how much you've taken), headaches, and low blood sugar. Some of the individual herbs in the tea have been shown to cause liver or kidney damage if too much is used for too long.
Some people may be allergic to some of the herbs in the mixture.
Use your common sense when using!
As with any supplement, follow the directions and stop taking if you feel any adverse effects. Some people may initially suffer from nausea or headaches as the body starts to detoxify. If this happens, reduce your intake for awhile.
If you are seriously ill, please do get help and support from qualified health care professionals! More and more physicians are realizing that alternative or complementary methods can help support regular medical treatment in serious illnesses.
Rene Caisse - "Canada's Cancer Nurse"
In the 1920s, Caisse was the head nurse at a hospital in northern Ontario. She met an elderly woman in the hospital, who said she had been cured of breast cancer 30 years earlier by following the recommendation of a Northern Ontario Ojibwe medicine man. He had shown her certain herbs and told her to make a tea of these herbs and drink it every day. Caisse wrote down the names of the herbs for future study.
About a year later, Caisse was visiting a retired doctor, and he pointed to a weed in his garden, saying that if people would use that weed, there would be little or no cancer in the world. This weed was one of the herbs that the woman in the hospital had mentioned.
Shortly after, Caisse's aunt was diagnosed with cancer of the stomach and liver, and was given a short time to live. Caisse got permission to give the herbs, as a tea, to her aunt. Her aunt lived for 21 years afterwards.
Doctors began referring "hopeless" cancer patients to her, and she successfully treated patients for 25 years. She wouldn't give them the tea until she had a written diagnosis of cancer from the doctor.
One of these patients included her mother, who was diagnosed with liver cancer and given a few days to live. Caisse administered the tea, and her mother lived for another 18 years.
During these years, Caisse and the referring doctors began to notice that other ailments were also cured or improved while patients were drinking the tea, including diabetes.
Portrait from Canadian Health Products and other Essiac sites
"I Was Canada's Cancer Nurse"
Read I was Canada's Cancer Nurse for a long but fascinating compilation of accounts of Rene Caisse's experiences of using this tea with patients.
Rene Caisse -- Essiac Tea: Cancer Cure?
This was filmed in the 1970s, and includes an interview with Rene Caisse when she was in her 80's, talking about her experience treating people with cancer.
Four parts, less than 1/2 hour total
Essiac product recommendations
Buy packets to brew your own tea, or buy pre-brewed tea, or tinctures or tablets.
Want to read more about Essiac? - Books on Amazon.com about Essiac
Here are a couple of good books written about Essiac tea that include information about Rene Caisse's discovery of the mixture of herbs, the battles she had with the medical establishment about the legalities of using the tea to treat patients, as well as the number of uses the tea has been used for.
Resources Used on This Page
There are many books and online resources that give the history of Essiac tea, and list its properties and uses. Many of the sites have very similar info, and many are sales sites. But there are also a few good even-handed sites that just give the information. The following are the sources that I used most for this page.