Essiac (Ojibwa) Tea
In the mid 1920's, Rene Caisse was head nurse at the Sisters of Providence Hospital in a northern Ontario town. While on duty, she was bathing an elderly lady and noticed that one of her breasts had a lot of scar tissue on it. Upon questioning the lady, she learned that the women had advanced breast cancer 30 years earlier. The woman explained that she had met an old Indian medicine man from the Ojibway tribe who told her he could cure her cancer. She said that she had no money at that time, and didn't want to have an operation anyway, so she went to see the Indian. He showed her certain herbs growing in the area and told her to pick them and make a tea and drink it everyday. 

She had no reoccurrence of cancer to that day, 30 years later. 

Rene was very interested in what the women had told her and she wrote down the names of the herbs. A year later, her aunt had been diagnosed with stomach cancer with a liver involvement. She asked her Doctor, R.O. Fisher of Toronto, for permission to try the herbs on her under his observation. Her aunt lived 21 years after being given up on by the medical profession. Rene Caisse, never claimed that Essiac cured cancer, but her goal was to control it and alleviate the pain. From 1934 to 1942 she successfully treated thousands of terminally ill cancer patients in her clinic, many under the observation of a physician. Her own mother got cancer of the liver, and was immediately started on Essiac. She lived another 18 years. 

Many doctors, surgeons, and scientists visited her cancer clinic, read case histories, and examined the patients. Many of them said they believed the Essiac acted upon the glands. It was able to bring back a balance to all the glands, and restore normal functioning. 


Essiac is a tea made from four herbs. A Canadian nurse named Rene Caisse developed it in 1922. She said the formula originally came from an Ojibwa Indian medicine man. She named it after the backward spelling of her own last name, Caisse. The 4 main herbs in Essiac are burdock root (Arctium lappa), Indian or Chinese rhubarb (Rheum palmatum), sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella) and the inner bark of slippery elm (Ulmus fulva or Ulmus rubra).

Burdock root  is used in folk medicine to improve digestion, to clean the blood, to increase urination or as a laxative. Laboratory studies have shown some anti-tumor effects. Rhubarb can be a strong laxative. Sheep sorrel is claimed to be effective against cancer. Slippery elm has a long, safe history in alleviating sore throats. It is used in many herbal cough drops or teas for sore throat.

Caisse used the herbal tea to treat patients with cancer. Some of them claimed to be cured; others said the herbal tea eased their pain. In 1938 in Canada, a bill was introduced to authorize Caisse to treat cancer. Instead, the legislature passed a bill that required her to disclose the formula for Essiac. She refused to do so. In 1977 she sold the formula to a Canadian corporation, Resperin.

Essiac is widely available as an herbal health food, without any specific health claims. There are several different versions of the product. There are also many claims and counterclaims about authenticity. In 2000, the US Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint against a distributor of Essiac for misleading health claims on several web sites


Many providers of Essiac claim that the only correct way to use the product is to drink a freshly brewed tea, one to three times a day on an empty stomach. Essiac is available in liquid form but is also sometimes sold as a mixture of herbs to be boiled and steeped by the user, or in capsule form. Caisse reportedly had several variations of the recipe to treat different forms of cancer. Some versions of Essiac have more than the original four ingredients. The added ingredients are supposed to enhance the productís effectiveness and improve its taste. Two common additions are watercress and Pau d'arco. Yellow dock or curly dock are sometimes used instead of sheep's sorrel.

Proponents of Essiac claim that it strengthens the immune system, improves appetite, relieves pain and improves overall quality of life. They also claim that it shrinks tumors and prolongs the lives of people with cancer.

Essiac activates the body's own natural defenses without becoming habit-forming. Most patients experience less pain and overall improvement with the consistent use of Essiac and some patients continue to live for many years in good health. These four herbs, Burdock, Slippery Elm, Sheep Sorrel, and Turkish Rhubarb each have significant therapeutic effects on the body , and when they are combined, there is a synergistic effect.  The Essiac formula, when broken down, shows many of its parts to be anti-tumor, anti-mutagenic (burdock root) and immune system enhancing. The real benefits of Essiac are that it is a wonderful detoxifyer and regenerates the liver and pancreas. An interesting side effect of the tea is the reversal of type II diabetes.

Essiac - 

  • Helps to cleanse the blood 
  • Normalize the enzymes 
  • Promotes cellular repair, and aids effective assimilation and elimination
  • Regulates cholesterol levels by transforming sugar into energy
  • Makes bones and joints, ligaments, lungs strong and less vulnerable
  • Nourishes and stimulates the brain and nervous system
  • Expels mucus clearing the lungs 
  • Helps eliminate heavy metal toxins in tissues (aluminum, mercury poisoning)
  • Purifies the blood 
  • Increases red blood cell production 
  • Protects the body against radiation damage
  • Helps destroy parasites in the digestive tract
  • Prevents the buildup of fatty deposits in heart kidney and liver
  • Assists the liver in producing lecithin, which forms the myelin sheath that encapsulates the nerve fibers. 
  • Preventative Anti-viral Remedy:
    While I take Essiac regularly, I do not get sick with viral infections. No colds or flu. When I stop taking it, I am more susceptible. Therefore, my personal opinion is that Essiac prevents (or helps to prevent) viral infections. Thus, if I DO get sick, I will immediately start taking Essiac in the dose of an ounce every hour or two throughout the day with a teaspoon of Cat's claw (which you can buy cheap by the pound from herb products
    company). Also, several times during the day, I take 15 drops of Echinacea under the tongue. An ear ache or sore throat disappears in one or two days when I do this.

    Suggested Dosage:
    For preventative use, 0.5 - 2 ounces a day. If you have cancer then you would take from 2- 4 ounces per day. Before ingesting the Essiac, shake the bottle vigorously. There will be some sediment in it. It is suggested that you mix 2 ounces of Essiac tea liquid with 2 ounces of pure distilled water, heat it, and sip it at least 1/2 hour before eating and 2 hours after eating ("between meals").

    Recipe #1
    Herb Volume Weight Form Recipe %
    Burdock root 6 ½ cups 24 ozs. (1.5 lb.) 680g pea-size cut 53%
    Sheep sorrel   16 ozs. (1 lb.) 453g powdered 36%
    Slippery Elm bark   4 ozs. 113g powdered 9%
    Turkey rhubarb root   1 oz.        28.35g powdered 2%

    • Mix the herbs together very very thoroughly. 
    • Use 1 cup of herb mix per 2 gallons distilled water each time you brew. 
    • Your herb mix or essiac herbs should be stored properly
    1. Mix dry ingredients thoroughly. 
    2. Measure out desired amount of dry ingredients. 
    3. Pour proportionate amount of water into pot. 
    4. Bring water to a rolling boil with the lid on. 
    5. Stir dry ingredients into boiling water. 
    6. Replace lid and continue boiling at reduced heat for 10 minutes. 
    7. Turn off stove. Scrape down sides of pot and stir mixture thoroughly. 
    8. Replace lid, let pot sit and cool undisturbed for 10-12 hours (overnight). 
    9. Reheat to steaming hot, but do not let it boil. 
    10. Turn off heat and allow herbs to settle for a few minutes. 
    11. Pour hot liquid through sieve to catch sediment. 
    12. Use funnel to fill sterilized bottles, put lids on. 
    13. Allow bottles to cool, then tighten lids. 
    14. Store in dark cool place, always refrigerate an opened bottle. 
    Essiac contains no preservatives, discard if mold develops. Unopened bottles can be stored in a cool, dark place, or keep all the bottles in the refrigerater. Don't freeze essiac or warm it up in a microwave (use hot water to dilute and warm it). 

    Recipe #2

    20 parts burdock root (Arcitum Lappa)
    4 parts slippery elm bark (Ulmus Fulva)
    1 part turkish rhubarb root (Rheum Officinale)
    16 parts sheep sorrell (Rumex Acetosella)

    1 part Blessed Thistle,
    1 part Kelp,
    1 part Red Clover,
    1 part Watercress.

    Mix all the herbs together, store unused herb in a ziplock or airtight container

    in the freezer. Mix one cup of herbs to 2 gallons of pure water. You do this by putting the water in a stainless steel or enamel pot, adding the cup of mix, bringing to a boil. Let sit 6 hours, then stir vigorously. Let sit another 6 hours, bring to a boil, strain the goop(*), and save it in

    sterile dark colored bottles in a cool dark area. If the caps on the bottle have poly inserts so they make an airtight seal, then you do not have to refrigerate until you open a bottle. You can tell if you did the sterilization and sealing right because if you did not, a bottle will go bad and taste rancid after a while in storage.

    *Regarding the issue of straining the goop

    Things get kind of sloppy when trying to strain out the goop. All the ingredients are powdered or ground except the burdock root which is in small chunks like a diced onion. So, after soaking and boiling, it becomes a sloppy goop. One could argue that the goop is good for you, but I do not find it very palatable, even though it does not really taste bad. Some formulas encourage you not to throw it out, but to bottle it too, even if you have to use a blender or food processor to remove the small chunks. I have not done this. But if you do leave the goop in the liquid, I do not imagine it will hurt you at all. That means you will be taking an elixir that is very thick after you shake the bottle. It also means you will need
    16 to 20 bottles when you make a batch.

    I have found the easiest way to strain the goop out is to get a second pot, pour the first into it through a moderately fine strainer, and toss out the chunky goop. There will still be a massive amount of sediment because most of the ingredients are powdered. Then, I let the pot sit for about ten minutes. I use a big ladle to dip gently into the pot, and I pour it
    through a funnel into the bottles. When I am way down at the end of the fluid, I skim as much as I can and do not worry if I get some sludge in the ladle. That is usually my 13th bottle, the one that goes in the refrigerator. Then I pour the rest of the goop out.

    I have tried straining through cheesecloth, but it is a nasty mess and takes a long time. I have not tried no straining at all, just letting it sit till it all settles. The reason is that the boiled mix has a sludgey looking slag on top and it just doesn't look right to me.

    Alternative Cancer Treatments

    FalconBlanco home  |  health main index  |  supplement index