What is Essiac Tea?

Essiac (es-ee-ack) is an herbal tea attributed to Canadian Nurse Rene M. Caisse, pronounced “reen (not re-nay) case”. Naming it Essiac after backward spelling of her last name, Rene dedicated her life to treating patients and trying to get her formula officially recognized. Her Rene M. Caisse Cancer Clinic for terminal cancer patients operated from 1935 to 1941.

Essiac tea has become well known for it’s effectiveness in treating a wide variety of chronic illnesses as well as being an excellent natural detox method.

Unfortunately, there are no FDA-approved clinical studies showing Rene Caisse’s formula cures, alleviates or prevents any disease or condition. Talk to your health care provider before taking any kind of alternative herbal supplement.

What Herbs are used in Essiac Tea?

Essiac tea is made with these four herbs:

  • The root of the Burdock plant
  • The entire Sheep sorrel plant
  • The inner bark of the Slippery Elm tree
  • The roots of the Turkey Rhubarb plant (indian rhubarb and other varieties have also been used but are less potent)

The herbs are boiled for a short time and then left to steep for 8-12 hours. The tea is then boiled once more and then strained. Each herb in the essiac tea recipe has roots in natural folk medicine. Sheep sorrel and burdock have been used for centuries to treat cancer and other illnesses. Slippery elm bark and turkey rhubarb are known for their healing and detoxifying abilities. Each herb has it’s own benefits, but when combined, these herbs work together in a synergistic fashion to provide an amazing health effect on the body.

What are the Benefits of Essiac Tea?

The list of essiac tea benefits is long, but there are two main functions that make it very beneficial for health.


Essiac tea helps release toxins that build up in fat and tissues into the blood stream where they can be filtered and excreted by the liver and kidneys. These are the chemicals and poisons causing cells to mutate and are in our air, food, and water, and everywhere around us. Eliminating these toxins is essential to fighting cancer growth and ensuring the organs and immune system are functioning at their absolute best.

Restoration of the Immune System

Cleaning the body of toxins and impurities frees up the immune system to focus on killing cancer cells and protecting the body. With Essiac Tea, complete body purification occurs, with a significant boost in the body’s immune system to combat any pre-existing disease by producing more lymphocytes and T-cells, the body’s natural defenses. Your immune system is the #1 defense against ALL disease and it’s proper functioning is absolutely vital! Pharmaceutical drugs have been successful at masking the symptoms of disease, but not ridding the body of the root of the problem. Unlike most alternative treatments, modern medicine focuses on treating the patients’ physical symptoms, rather than the underlying causes of the disease. In many cases the underlying cause of cancer is a weak immune system. Your body is constantly fighting cancer cells but when it is compromised, the cancer can gain a foothold.

More Essiac Tea Benefits

  • Rich in antioxidants which protect the body’s cells against free radicals.
  • Increases production of antibodies which greatly improves the immune system.
  • Contains mucilage which coats the entire digestive system, soothing sore throats, ulcers, and aids digestion.
  • Helps to cleanse the colon and helps facilitate healthy waste removal.
  • Shortens healing time for wounds.
  • Increases energy levels, increases appetite, relieves pain, improves mood.
  • Counteracts some of the negative effects of chemotherapy.
  • Can help protect the body against radiation.
  • Raises oxygen levels throughout the body and increases the body’s ability to use this oxygen.
  • Purifies the blood and increases red blood cell production.
  • Increases insulin production
  • Reduces stiffness and inflammation of the joints.
  • Helps remove heavy metals from fat and tissues
  • Helps relieve stress on the liver by converting fat soluble toxins into water soluble solution that can be easily processed through the kidneys instead.
  • Absorbs and removes toxins in the bowels and neutralizes acids.
  • Helps eliminate toxic buildup in bladder, lymph nodes, bone marrow, alimentary canals, and fat stores.
  • Protects the heart, kidneys,liver, and arteries by preventing the buildup of fatty deposits.
  • Reduces stone formation in the gall bladder, kidneys and urinary tract. Helps convert certain oxalates into solvent forms that can be eliminated through the urine.
  • Helps tissues absorb more fluids.
  • Stimulates and nourishes the brain and the nervous system.
  • Makes the body less vulnerable against stress injury by making joints, ligaments and bones stronger and more flexible.
  • Strengthens organs and tightens muscles and tissue.
  • Counteracts effects of mercury and lead poisoning
  • Helps the body to better convert sugars and fats into energy
  • Helps dissolve and eliminate mucus in the respiratory system.
  • Helps the body regulate cholesterol levels

How does Essiac Tea Work?

Your immune system is constantly fighting disease. But when it becomes compromised, by unhealthy living and high toxin levels, the disease is able to gain a foothold. The tea cleanses the body of toxins, repairs the immune system and strengthens vital organs, improving nearly all aspects of health. As a result, the body is able to fight disease on it’s own. As we will discuss in more detail soon, the benefits of essiac tea are numerous! Essiac herbs are also a rich, natural source of vitamins and minerals and all of them contain antioxidants which are known to protect against cell damage caused by free radicals. Excessive amounts of these free radicals can lead to cell injury and death, which may contribute to many diseases such as cancer, stroke, heart disease, diabetes and many other major disorders. Essiac tea is also used by many people for all around health and prevention.

Does Essiac Really Cure Cancer?

Essiac tea is not a miracle cure. Although it has many anti-cancer properties and immune benefits, every situation is different. There are so many personal factors that can affect the outcome. It should not be used as a primary treatment for advanced cancers but should be used in combination with other natural and conventional treatments and makes and excellent addition to any cancer diet. This remedy is best used against early diagnosed cancers that do not have rapid growth and are not spreading aggressively. Although this tea has been used to treat advanced cancers, it is not commonly administered like it was in Rene’s clinic. Rene Caisse used locally grown herbs to prepare her formula and administered it to her patients within 48 hours of preparation. Most commercially prepared mixes just cannot offer that same level of freshness and potency.

Is it OK to use Essiac During Chemo/Radiation?

Many people have reported success using essiac in conjunction with traditional cancer treatments. Despite its long anecdotal history of being used with chemo/radiation, you should consult with your doctor or naturopath before using essiac tea. They may have a good reason why you shouldn’t. As always, start slow and pay attention to your body. Also be aware that some side effects are caused by the detoxifying effect of essiac and are actually a good thing. Always consult with your physician first.

How do I Prepare Essiac Tea?

Here is the true essiac tea recipe that was published in 1988 by Dr. Gary Glum and later publicly confirmed under oath by Mary McPherson, Rene’s friend and assistant at her Bracebridge clinic for cancer patients. At that time, Mary was the only one besides Rene who knew the essiac recipe and had actually prepared it. You can find the word for word transcription of her affidavit here along with more information on the essiac tea recipe. I find its easier and more accurate to measure the ingredients by weight so I’ve also included a recipe measured in grams.

How to Make Essiac Tea

  • 6 ½ cups (1½ lbs.)of burdock root cut
  • 1 pound of sheep sorrel herb powdered
  • 1/4 pound of slippery elm bark powdered
  • 1 ounce of Turkish rhubarb root powdered

Mix these ingredients thoroughly and store in glass jar in dark dry cupboard.

Take a measuring cup, use 1 ounce of herb mixture to 32 ounces of water depending on the amount you want to make.

I use 1 cup of mixture to 8 x 32 = 256 ounces of water. Boil hard for 10 minutes (covered) then turn off heat but leave sitting on warm plate over night (covered).

In the morning heat steaming hot and let settle a few minutes, then strain through fine strainer into hot sterilized bottles and sit to cool. Store in dark cool cupboard. Must be refrigerated when opened. When near the last when its thick pour in a large jar and sit in frig overnight then pour off all you [can] without sediment.

This recipe must be followed exactly as written.

I use a granite preserving kettle (10 – 12 qts), 8 ounce measuring cup, small funnel and fine strainer to fill bottles.

Essiac Formula Measured by Weight

  • 120 grams chopped Burdock Root
  • 80 grams powdered Sheep Sorrel
  • 20 grams powdered Slippery Elm Bark
  • 5 grams powdered Turkey Rhubarb

Use 15 grams of herb mixture to 1.5 liters of pure spring water

Where Can I Buy Essiac Tea?

There are many sources online to buy from but you should use caution. There are products that are outrageously priced, have poor quality herbs, wrong herb ratios, some don’t even use the correct herbs! There are some good suppliers of reasonably priced, organic essiac tea though. I recommend you pick a supplier that uses the 4 herb essiac tea recipe found here that was publicly confirmed in 1994 by Rene Caisse’s close friend and assistant, Mary Mcphearson. It is also recommended that you purchase essiac tea in bulk. The price difference in buying essiac by the pound instead of by the ounce is huge. Although we do not sell essiac tea, you can visit this page for recommended products.

How Can I Judge the Quality of an Essiac Product?

There are two things that go into that judgement. One is whether the recipe is the traditional recipe, if it claims to be. The other is whether the herbs are of good quality and fresh.

The only way to tell if the recipe is the traditional recipe is if you know what that is supposed to taste and smell like. I know this from many years of brewing it, using the recipe and the best herbs I could get. Essiac tea should not taste acidic, if it does it has too much sorrel in it. If it is bitter it is likely the 8 herb recipe, because blessed thistle, one of the herbs in that recipe, is bitter. The traditional recipe tastes earthy, is not sour at all, and is not bitter. It should not taste bad.

One can judge the quality of the herbs entirely by smell. This is not perfect but they should smell good and they should smell a lot. If they don’t smell much they are probably old. Old herbs are not going to be as effective as fresh ones. Herbs that have been exposed to a lot of light and air spoil faster. This is a good reason not to buy herbs from less than air tight or clear containers in stores. The light is just as bad as the air, so most of the time herb store products that are sold loose by the ounce are not very fresh. As far as I know there is no way short of expensive chemical analysis, to tell if claims about purity are true. You have to decide who you are going to trust. If something is certified organic, that is a good start. But it can still be stale. I think it would be very difficult to judge the freshness of prepared tea, you can only tell if the recipe is the original one or not. But if the herbs are old it would not taste as strong as if they are fresh.

What are the Side Effects of Essiac Tea?

Most people do no have any unwanted side effects when taking essiac tea. However a few people are sensitive to the tea and may experience stomach discomfort. This can be avoided by taking a lower dose and gradually increasing the dose until the body becomes accustomed to it. There are some functions of essiac that some people would consider side effects, but these are actually beneficial processes that aid the detoxification process. For example, essiac causes an increase in sweating which allows toxins to be eliminated through the pores in the skin. It also causes frequent urination which allows toxins to be removed continually and more efficiently

The essiac decoction stimulates the release of toxins throughout the body and it is important that these are eliminated quickly and efficiently. It is a good idea to drink plenty of water to dilute these toxins and prevent high concentrations from stressing the liver and kidneys.

Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use essiac.

Visit this page for more information on essiac tea side effects.

What’s the story behind Essiac Tea?

Essiac tea, or Ojibwa tea, is rooted in Native American medicine, specifically, from the Ojibwe tribe in Canada. The reason we know about it today is because of a Canadian nurse named Rene Caisse. In the mid 1920’s Rene was working as head nurse at a hospital in Ontario. The story goes that one day she noticed scar tissue on an elderly patient and when she inquired about it, the woman told her it was from breast cancer, but it had been healed by a recipe given to her by an ojibwe medicine man. This was amazing to Rene because back then cancer was a virtual death sentence. The woman was almost 80 years old and the cancer never came back. She told Rene the names of the herbs she used. Over a year later, Rene learned that her aunt had cancer in her liver and stomach and had only a few months to live. Rene talked to Dr. R.O. Fisher, her aunt’s doctor, about the herbal tea and he agreed to try it since there was nothing else he could do for her. Rene’s aunt went on to live another 21 years after being deemed untreatable by the medical community. Word spread about her aunts miraculous recovery and soon, doctors were asking to try her tea on other hopeless patients. Many recovered and even among the worst cases, the tea improved their conditions enough to ease their pain and allow them to live several months longer than doctors expected. Rene went on to open a clinic where she treated people for whatever they could afford to pay.

On October 27th, 1926, 8 doctors signed a petition to the Department of Health asking that Rene be given opportunity to officially research and prove the effectiveness of this tea.

“We the undersigned believe that the ‘Treatment for Cancer’ given by Nurse R.M. Caisse can do no harm and that it relieves pain, will reduce the enlargement and will prolong life in hopeless cases. To the best of our knowledge, she has not been given a case to treat until everything in medical and surgical science has been tried without effect and even then she was able to show remarkable beneficial results on those cases at that late stage. “We would be interested to see her given an opportunity to prove her work in a large way. To the best of our knowledge she has treated all cases free of any charge and has been carrying on this work over the period of the past two years.”

This brought the attention of the Canadian government and started a long drawn out battle over the fate of Rene’s tea. In 1938, a bill was introduced to the Ontario congress that would allow Rene Caisse to officially practice medicine and treat patients with essiac. Along with this bill was presented a petition with over 55,000 signatures. The 59 members of parliament voted and the bill was just 3 votes shy of passing!

Where Can I Read Essiac Tea Testimonials?

”I know Essiac has curing potential. It can lessen the condition of the individual, control it, and it can cure it.”


There are thousands of testimonials praising the benefits of essiac tea. There are also many cases that have been documented that prove its benefits. You can find more essiac tea testimonials here. However, testimonials should not be considered as medical evidence, as there are an infinite number of variables that may have contributed to the person’s success such as previous conventional treatments or other natural treatments they may have used.

Does Essiac Tonic Work as Well as the Tea?

Essiac tonic is a concentrated extraction of the herbs used to make essiac tea. Some people prefer the tonic over the tea because of certain advantages it has. Because the herbs are highly concentrated, a much lower dose is needed. You only need a few drops of tonic compared to an ounce or more of tea. This also makes it more portable and easier to use while traveling. Essiac tonic also has a much longer shelf life than the tea. The tea lasts about 2 weeks in the refrigerator before it spoils. Tonics and extracts can last for over a year without refrigeration and with little potency loss.

There are however, some major disadvantages to using essiac tonic. Extracts are used a lot less commonly compared to the more popular tea form. There are some positive reviews and testimonials but there just isn’t a lot of information or history like there is with essiac tea. The formula used by Rene Caisse to treat thousands was a decoction not an alcohol extraction, so it’s hard to tell how it compares in effectiveness with the tea form. For this reason we don’t recommend using essiac tonic unless you are traveling or just can’t make the tea for whatever reason. Another major disadvantage of essiac tonic is that it mostly absorbs in the mouth and doesn’t travel through the digestive tract in the same way the tea does. This is where the slippery elm bark really works it’s magic for ulcers and digestion problems. Another common complaint is about the taste of essiac. If you have tried the tea and found it less than tasty, imagine that concentrated 10x!

Pros and Cons of Essiac Tonic


  • Lower dosage needed
  • Portable
  • Does not need refrigeration
  • Long shelf life


  • May not be as effective as tea
  • Many digestive benefits of essiac are not gained with tonic
  • Bitter unpleasant taste

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