Message Number: YG4070 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Claire Curtis
Date: 2001-05-28 11:17:00 UTC
Subject: re: Essiac

Sukie Crandall wrote:

> I was privately asked to look up Essiac ...
> If there are other ingredients that I should look up, please, let me know.

> Sheep Sorrel (Rumex acetosa)
> Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra)
> Turkish Rhubarb Root
> Burdock Root (Arctium lappa)

Hi Sukie -- I have a little bit of experience with preparing and using
essiac. A friend of mine with breast cancer used it; her doctor said it
couldn't hurt. Her tumor did shrink, but she was also using chemo, so
who can say what helped. It was not a controlled experiment. My mother
also used it. It didn't help her but she used it as a last resort; her
cancer had already metathesized. I think she gained some comfort from
being able to try to do something, though. In any case, her doctor also
found the ingredients innocuous, in the low doses recommended.

Essiac is an old Ojibway medicine that was first documented by
missionary nurse Rene Caisse in the 1920s; all the plants should be
native to Ontario. The ingredients should be:
Burdock Root (Arctium lappa)
Slippery Elm Inner Bark (Ulmus fulva) (this is another name for Ulmus rubra)
Sheep Sorrel (Rumex acetosella)
Indian Rhubarb Root. (Rheum officinale)

Rumex acetosa is 'common sorrel', grown for use in salads; acetosella is
a different species (and grows all over my backyard). Turkish rhubarb is
Rheum palmatum; different species from Rheum officinale, but apparently
this is a substitution that Rene Caisse made. So I don't know how much
difference all this makes.

My local herbalist makes an essiac tea that you brew up; not the most
pleasant stuff (taste is not so bad, but the slippery elm gives the tea
the consistency of mucilage). Caisse (70 years ago!) recommended using
the tea for some weeks prior to surgery; her experience was that the
tumor would shrink; sometimes enough to make surgery unnessary.

Dose is important. This is a medicine, even if you just brew it up as a tea.
(Actually, you boil it down in to a thin syrup) The dose for a human is
two 2-oz doses (mixed with hot water to make an acceptable tea) a day.
Apparently Rene Caisse's recipe was only one ounce every two days. I
wouldn't give a ferret more than a finger-lick.

Two good sites are (historical slant) and (consumer resource guide, including critical and
skeptical links).
Another good site is
; this has very specific directions.

Hope this helps.