What is Essiac Tea and Can It Be Used for Cancer Patients?
Essiac tea is a specially-formulated herbal blend that may potentially be helpful in the treatment of some types of cancer and other ailments. The tea, which is based on a recipe obtained from a Native Canadian, contains a number of key ingredients that each demonstrate powerful healing properties.
History of Essiac tea
Essiac tea was created by a Canadian nurse known as Rene Caisse with its name being her surname spelt backwards.
Nurse Caisse became interested in the tea while working in a surgical ward of an Ontario hospital in 1922. One day on her rounds she encountered an elderly woman who said her breast cancer had improved after drinking a herbal brew obtained from a Ojibwa herbalist.
The nurse obtained the recipe and used it throughout the rest of her career to help cancer patients, most of whom had failed to get a good outcome from chemotherapy or surgery. The tea was reported to result in the shrinkage of tumours and better outcomes post-surgery in some cases.
According to a report in Well Being Journal, Nurse Caisse resisted lucrative offers to reveal the secret recipe as she was concerned it wouldn’t be used for cancer patients. However, she handed over the rights to a trusted Canadian company in 1978, just before her death.
Essiac’s bioactive ingredients
Essiac’s four key ingredients do show health benefits. However, while each of the tea’s primary ingredients show individual benefits, it’s the blend of the herbs that is considered important. This is due to the synergistic effect that comes from using them in combination.
The ingredients are:
- Burdock root: Burdock is a root vegetable with a history of use in holistic medicine. Research indicates it contains compounds that demonstrate strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and that it may potentially inhibit tumours by interfering with cancer cell growth. It also appears to stimulate the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria, which may help protect against certain cancers.
- Sheep’s Sorrell: This plant is a perennial herb with numerous health benefits. The plant contains significant levels of vitamin A and antioxidant vitamin C, as well as fibre which may help protect against high cholesterol and diabetes.
- Slippery elm bark: This tree bark creates a sticky substance when ground and mixed with water that offers a soothing treatment for a number of ailments. This includes inflammatory bowel, sore throats, urinary tract irritation and heartburn.
- Rhubarb root: The dried roots of the rhubarb vegetable have a long history of use in traditional medicine. Benefits include anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties.
Studies of Essiac tea
Essiac is not used an official cancer treatment, but is used as a complementary or alternative therapy.
Evidence in favour of the use of Essiac Tea in the treatment of cancer includes a 2006 lab study. This research showed powerful free-radical scavenging and DNA-protective properties of Essiac extracts. The researchers concluded these properties may explain the reported anti-cancer effects of the tea’s bioactive compounds.
Other research also indicates that Essiac demonstrates anti-tumour and immuno-stimulant properties. For example, a 2004 study showed inhibition of prostate cancer cell growth from Essiac tea extracts. The researchers consider this may have particular potential for immune-suppressed patients.
While further research may be required, Essiac is something that may be worth investigating when looking for a natural alternative to traditional cancer treatments.
Use of Essiac for animals
Essiac may also be useful to treat animals in some cases, due to its ability to build immunity, help destroy tumours and purify the blood. However, care should be taken if your animal has certain conditions. It’s important to consult with your vet regarding using Essiac for your pet.
How to take Essiac
Essiac may be taken as a powder mixed with water, a herbal extract or in capsule form. However, it’s as a herbal tea that Essiac may be particularly invigorating and pleasing.
It should be used in moderation, and people with certain conditions may need to avoid it. The key thing is to consult with your health practitioner before deciding whether to use Essiac.
For more information, and to order Essiac tea based on Nurse Caisse’s original formula, go to our tea products page.