Eight-herb essiac formula

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What is Essiac?

Essiac is made from eight powdered herbs - Wild Turkey Rhubarb Root, Sheep Sorrel, Slippery Elm Bark, Burdock Root, Watercress, Kelp, Red Clover, and Blessed Thistle. The herbs are harvested, powdered, and mixed per the Rene Caisse formula. The powdered mix is then brewed into a tea and consumed (usually cold). Click here to read a brief history of Rene Caisse, Dr. Charles Brusch, and how the eight-herb formula was tested in Dr. Brusch's Boston clinic.


Essiac was an Ojibwa (also known as Chippewa) Indian herbal treatment.  Rene Caisse, a Canadian nurse, was made aware of the formula while treating an old English woman in the early 1920's.  The woman had been treated with essiac for her breast cancer by an Ojibwa medicine man thirty years earlier.  When the woman told Caisse about how her tumor had been eliminated by the formula, she asked the woman for the formula.  She called it "essiac" which is Caisse's last name spelled backwards.

She began to treat terminally ill cancer patients with the formula in the mid-1920's, beginning with her aunt, who had been diagnosed with stomach and liver cancer and was given six months to live.  Her aunt lived twenty-one more years, with no recurrence of cancer.  Caisse and Dr. R.O. Fisher began experimenting with essiac in a makeshift lab in her mother's basement.  After a group of eight doctors witnessed the miraculous recovery of a man under her care (at the doctors' request), the doctors sent a petition to Ottawa, asking the government to provide Caisse with treatment facilities.  Not only was the petition denied, but Caisse was nearly arrested for practicing medicine without a license!  Only because she provided free treatment did she escape arrest.

In the late 1920's. Dr. W.C. Arnold and Caisse performed experiments on mice.  The mice were injected with Rous Sarcoma, then treated with essiac.  They lived fifty-two days, longer than with any other treatment in the experiment.

Caisse quit nursing in 1929, and devoted all her time to essiac research in her Bracebridge, Ontario apartment.  She met with remarkable success treating terminally ill cancer patients, people who had been given up for dead by the medical establishment.  She was in and out of the public spotlight over the next several decades, performing her work with cancer patients and trying to avoid public persecution.  More than once, the authorities sought to have her arrested, but each time their efforts were thwarted. The best information on the early use of essiac can be found in, "I Was Canada's Cancer Nurse", by Rene Caisse.  A link to her autobiography is at the bottom of this page.

Rene was very protective of the formula, fearing it would be exploited by unscrupulous marketers, or buried by the medical establishment.  Several times, she refused to divulge the formula because she doubted the sincerity of the other parties' motives.  In 1977, Caisse signed over a four-herb formula to Resperin Corp of Canada, with the stipulation that Resperin complete clinical tests on the formula.  If they did not, the formula was to revert to Dr. Charles Brusch, with whom Caisse had performed clinical testing of essiac in the 1960's.  Resperin never completed the tests, but for some unknown reason, the formula remained with them.

Rene Caisse and Dr. Brusch

Dr. Charles Brusch, once a personal physician to John F. Kennedy, invited Rene Caisse to his research facility in 1959.  He asserts that Rene Caisse gave him the "true original" formula, which contained four additional herbs (Blessed Thistle, Red Clover, Watercress, and Kelp).  Brusch performed eight years of clinical research on essiac, and took it himself when he became ill with cancer.  He made the claim that it alone cured his cancer.

Clinical Tests

Brusch and Caisse performed tests on mice, and treated terminally ill cancer patients under the supervision of eighteen doctors.  After three months, Brusch and his research director, Dr. Charles McClure, concluded that Essiac "has been shown to cause a decided recession of the (cancer) mass, and a definite change in cell formation" in mice.

Furthermore,  Brusch stated, "Clinically, on patients suffering from pathologically proven cancer, it reduces pain and causes a recession in the growth; patients have gained weight and shown an improvement in their general health.... Remarkably beneficial results were obtained even on those cases at the 'end of the road' where it proved to prolong life and the quality of that life.... The doctors do not say that Essiac is a cure, but they do say it is of benefit."

How Does Essiac Work?

Each of the herbs in essiac have certain properties that help the body in different ways. A brief description of each is shown below:

Blessed Thistle: Blessed Thistle is reported to have an antibiotic effect that stimulates and cleanses the digestive system. It may also help the body reduce the side-effects of chemotherapy, without interfering with the chemo drugs.

Burdock Root: Used by itself, burdock is frequently used as a digestive and appetite aid, due to its bitter stimulation of the digestive juices and bile secretion. Among the conditions it has been used to treat are anorexia nervosa, kidney ailments, cystitis, boils, styes, sores, rheumatism, gout, sciatica, and a variety of skin conditions. It removes excess fluid from the body. It is also a source of chromium, magnesium, silicon, and thiamine.

Kelp: Kelp is high in iodine and trace minerals, and supports proper thyroid gland function and metabolism.

Red Clover: Red Clover is used to purify the blood. It is also used as an expectorant and as an anti-spasmodic, and provides relief from coughs and bronchitis. It is frequently combined with both yellow dock and burdock to treat skin eruptions and other skin conditions.

Red clover is a source of many valuable nutrients including calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C. Red clover is also considered to be one of the richest sources of isoflavones (water-soluble chemicals that act like estrogens and are found in many plants).

The isoflavones isolated from red clover have been studied for their effectiveness in treating some forms of cancer. It is thought that the isoflavones prevent the proliferation of cancer cells and that they may even destroy cancer cells. Laboratory and animal studies have found that red clover isoflavones may protect against the growth of breast cancer cells.

Sheep Sorrel: Sheep Sorrel breaks down foreign tissue masses (such as tumors) and toxic deposits in the body, and stimulates the body's immune system. It is extremely high in vitamin and mineral content. It also relieves inflammation.

Slippery Elm Bark: Slippery Elm Bark strengthens and soothes mucous membranes, and dissolves excess mucous in organs, tissue, lymph glands, and nerve channels. It also aids in waste elimination, and lubricates bones and joints. It has been used to treat digestive system conditions such as gastritis, diarrhea, ulcers, and colitis, and other conditions such as hemorrhoids, vaginitis and various skin conditions.

Turkey Rhubarb Root: Rhubarb Root has a purgative action that is excellent in treating constipation, and an astringent effect that enables intestinal cleansing. It has the ability to remove intestinal debris, and has antiseptic properties.

Watercress: Watercress is a rich natural source of phenylethylisothiocyanate (PEITC), which gives the plant its unique peppery flavor.

Scientific studies have shown that PEITC has the ability to kill cancer cells and prevent cancer-causing agents from being metabolized into carcinogens and to stimulate enzymatic activity involved in detoxification of carcinogens.

In the 1990s, a human dietary trial involving watercress and smokers demonstrated that smokers eating 2 oz of watercress with each meal were protected from a key carcinogen (NKK) associated with tobacco and implicated in lung cancer.

Watercress also contains methylsulphinylalkyl glucosinolate, a precursor of a range of methylsulphinylalkyl isothiocyanates (MEITC) – more usually found in broccoli and Brussel sprouts, and that together these compounds formed a more potent anti cancer weapon.

In addition to each herb's properties, the combined herbs seem to have a synergistic effect that may help the body reduce or eliminate cancerous tumors and may provide relief from a variety of conditions, including arthritis, fibromyalgia and diabetes.

Does essiac have any side effects?

Unlike traditional cancer treatments, essiac has no known side-effects. Occasionally, when people first take it they experience mild nausea. This is mostly due to toxins being purged from the body upon initial use. Normally, the nausea can be relieved by simply reducing the dosage until it subsides. The dosage may then be gradually increased.

Of course, if you are allergic to any of the essiac ingredients, you should not take essiac. Pregnant women and children under 12 should not take the tea, either.

Our Essiac is made exclusively from fresh, pesticide-free herbs, and are mixed just before they are shipped, to maintain high potency and freshness. The formula contains no chemicals or additional "fillers". The herbs are carefully measured and mixed, to ensure each batch is of consistent potency and quality.

Should I combine essiac with traditional treatments?

The decision on whether to combine essiac use with traditional treatments is up to each individual. However, there is no evidence that essiac will interfere with other pharmaceutical or natural treatments. In many cases, essiac has reduced the side-effects of chemotherapy and radiation, and can complement other natural remedies.

Is all essiac the same?

Although many of the formulas that claim to be "essiac" are similar, all are NOT the same. Unethical marketers, predatory pricing, and false claims about which is the "true/original" essiac, have made it difficult for people to know what they are buying.

Capsules and Tea Bags - anyone who markets any supplement under the name "essiac" (or one of the several variations of the name), in capsule or tea bag forms is NOT selling you a product that is effective enough to help fight cancer.

Liquid Essiac - You can buy essiac liquid from some suppliers. Although the tea may be beneficial, keep in mind it is likely to be manufactured using alcohol, and may contain additives and preservatives that may reduce its effectiveness.

"Original" Essiac Tea - There are companies that sell the "original" four-herb formula. We do not dispute that this formula may also be beneficial. However, we also believe the eight-herb formula has enhanced properties that make it more potent and effective than the four-herb formula. Generally, the "original" formula is an inferior product and is extremely overpriced.

Our Essiac Tea - We sell the eight-herb formula Rene Caisse originally received and refined over the years she administered it to cancer patients. It is the formula she gave to Dr. Charles Brusch in the early 1960's, which he tested in his Boston, MA clinic and even took himself for intestinal cancer. It is made from fresh, organically-grown herbs. The brewing process ensures the strongest, most effective formula available.

How should I prepare essiac tea?

Essiac should be used only as directed.  Essiac can be taken in dosages greater or less than those recommended in the instructions, as long as the dosages are within reasonable limits.  Refer to the instructions below, or print a copy.  For best print results, be sure to change your printer orientation to "Landscape" in your printer properties.


Brewing Instructions

  1. Boil the appropriate amount of spring water in large pot.  The amounts for each size brew are:

    4oz Packets: use 132oz of water (one gallon plus one cup)

    1.3oz Packets: use 46oz of water

    1oz Packets: use 36oz of water

    1/2oz Packets: use 20oz of water

  2. Add contents of one (1) unit of essiac herbs.  Turn down heat to medium.

  3. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently.

  4. Leave tea in pot, turn off heat, and let mixture sit covered at room temperature for a minimum of twelve hours.

  5. Pour tea into container(s) and refrigerate (glass containers are preferred, but plastic is acceptable - be sure container is cleaned with HOT water prior to use).  Tea will stay fresh in the refrigerator for two weeks.


  Dosages depend on the reason for taking essiac.  You can adjust the dosage according to your individual needs and tolerances.  We have provided a recommended range for each dosage.  IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT ALL DOSES BE TAKEN ON AN EMPTY STOMACH, AN HOUR BEFORE OR TWO HOURS AFTER A MEAL.

High Dosage

  Recommended dosage is 9oz per day, taken in (3)-3oz doses.  An acceptable range of dosages is 6oz to 12oz per day.  Factors that will affect dosage are:

Seriousness of condition

Individual tolerance for tea (it is somewhat bitter)

Body weight (Lower weights may require less, higher weights more tea to be effective - this can be adjusted to suit individual needs.  Try to stay within the 6-12oz range.)

  Recommended duration for high dosage programs is a minimum of five months.  After five months, a maintenance dosage of 3oz per day can be taken.  If the original condition persists, continue on the high dosage until it improves or is eliminated.

  Essiac can be taken during traditional cancer treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy, without it interfering with the treatment.


Low Dosage

    Recommended dosage is 3oz per day.  This can be taken in 1 dose, or can be broken down into 2-3 smaller doses.  An acceptable range of dosages is 2oz to 6oz per day.  Factors that will affect dosage are:

Reason for taking low dosage (use as a daily supplement may require a lower dosage, while a higher dose may be desired if one has a mild medical condition).

Individual tolerance for tea (it is somewhat bitter)

Body weight (Lower weights may require less, higher weights more tea to be effective - this can be adjusted to suit individual needs.  Try to stay within the 2-6oz range.)

  Recommended duration for low dosage programs varies greatly.  Essiac can be taken indefinitely, so one can decide whether to continue to supplement daily, or to stop use once the condition is under control or eliminated.


Detox Dosage (also see Detox Program page)

    Detoxification is intended to be for a fixed period of time, at 3-6 month intervals.  The dosage for a two- or four-week detoxification is 9oz per day.  The interval between detoxifying depends on:

Individual exposure to toxins, chemicals, pollution, etc

Ability of individual to purge toxins without detoxification agents

Personal preference


  Store packets of essiac in a dark, cool place.  Unopened packets of herbs will stay fresh for up to one year.  DO NOT REFRIGERATE POWDERED HERBS.

  Tea must be refrigerated, since there are no additives or preservatives.  DO NOT STORE BREWED TEA FOR MORE THAN TWO WEEKS OR SPOILAGE MAY RESULT. 

  It is recommended that tea be stored in glass bottles, although plastic is acceptable.  All containers MUST be thoroughly cleaned with HOT water prior to use.


Why do you use powdered herbs?

Powdered herbs work better than using the whole plant or root. This is because the powder granules have more surface area and release more of the herbs' properties into the liquid, resulting in a stronger, more potent tea

Do you use organic herbs?

YES. We use non-irradiated, certified organic herbs, grown in the US.

Are your herbs fresh?

YES. We move our inventory quickly, ensuring your essiac formula is the freshest it can be.

Why do you use eight herbs instead of four?

There has been much debate and conflicting information about which essiac formula is more effective. Most of the confusion has been intentionally created by the owners of the four-herb version, to attempt to raise doubts about the eight-herb formula's effectiveness. The real historical account is below:

Rene Caisse was a Canadian nurse in the 1920's when she learned of an herbal health formula used by the local Indians. The original formula contained eight herbs - Burdock Root, Sheep Sorrel, Rhubarb Root, and Slippery Elm Bark, Red Clover, Kelp, Watercress, and Blessed Thistle. Through the decades in which she administered it, Caisse experimented with the formula, making minor changes until she found the most effective mix of the eight herbs.

In 1959, Caisse met Dr. Charles Brusch, a well-known physician and researcher, and the two developed a mutual trust. This trust encouraged Caisse to share her formula with Brusch, who tested it in his Boston clinic for several years. He even took essiac for his intestinal cancer, claiming that it cured his cancer. Brusch died in the 1990's of natural causes at the age of 91. He was the only person who Caisse had ever shared the true formula, because she felt it would be exploited by unscrupulous businesspeople. In fact, she turned down a number of offers from people who wanted the formula.

When Caisse neared the end of her life, she was getting pressure from a Canadian company, Resperin Corporation, to share the essiac formula. The company promised to run clinical trials and report its findings. Caisse remained suspicious, and when she finally turned over the "formula", it was a weaker, less effective four-herb version. Her suspicions were confirmed when Resperin failed to complete the clinical tests, instead marketing the four-herb formula as the "original" essiac.

In short, the eight-herb formula we sell is actually an improved version of the formula Caisse originally received. The four-herb version is a less potent version of essiac Caisse used to ward off greedy businessmen, in spite of the claims that it is superior.

We advise you to shop for essiac with a degree of skepticism about any unrealistic or misleading claims. Also, watch for signs that it might be stored for long periods of time in a warehouse, or that the herbs are stored or mixed long before they ship (we don't do either). Essiac is an herbal supplement that can help the body fight or prevent cancer. It is not a cure or a treatment for cancer, although there is sufficient evidence over the years that one's cancer can be reduced, abated, or eliminated during essiac use, and we think this is reason enough to make it available at reasonable prices.

Please read the information on our website carefully, so you can make an informed decision about whether essiac is right for you. Good luck and may God Bless!

Brian Day

Can I give essiac to my pet?

Essiac can be given to pets of all kinds, including dogs, cats, ferrets, and more. The formula is the same - the dosage is usually lower to accommodate the smaller size of the pet. Essiac is used primarily as a cancer supplement, just as it is with people, but it can also be used as a preventative supplement. More information about essiac and pets can be found on our pet page.

What is the right dosage for my pet?

Dosages vary with the size of your pet, and range from 1/2oz to 2oz of tea per day.  Some very large dogs can take 3oz or more.  We recommend the following dosages and products, according to your pet's weight:

Weight Dosage
Up to 15lbs 1/2oz of tea per day
15 to 40lbs 1/2oz of tea, twice per day
40 - 80lbs 1-2oz of tea, twice per day
Over 80lbs 2-3oz of tea, twice per day

My pet won't take essiac.

There are a couple of ways to administer essiac to your pet. One way is to mix the tea with your pets favorite broth - chicken, fish, etc. Use just enough broth to disguise the taste so that they will take the dose. Feed them using an eye dropper (cats and small dogs) or a turkey baster (larger dogs). This is the preferred method, because the tea is not diluted in any way, and is administered directly. Although it is recommended to give your pet essiac one hour before or two hours after a meal, many people have had success mixing it right in the pet's food. Another way is to simply mix the tea in the pet's water. You will probably have to experiment to see which way works best for you.

Why do you sell different size packages of essiac?

Essiac can be taken as a supplement for a number of health needs, and the dosage must be adjusted to meet these needs. Since our herbs have no preservatives, we adjust the batch size so it does not exceed a two-week supply for each dosage, to ensure the tea remains fresh. We have packaged essiac in four sizes, by weight, to address the following health needs:

4oz Packet (113g) - Daily supplement for cancer and other serious diseases (diabetes, fibromyalgia, arthritis) that require a high dosage. Typical dosage is 9oz of tea per day. The 4oz packet is also for periodic body detoxification. Each 4oz packet makes a gallon (3.8l) of tea. We also sell cost-saving 1lb packets that can be divided into four equal 4oz batches.

1.3oz Packet (36g) - Daily preventative supplement. This is for those who wish to take a daily supplement to prevent the occurrence of serious illness, and to maintain a steady level of intestinal detoxification. This size packet can also be used when brewing tea for dogs over 80lbs. Each packet makes 42oz (1.24l) of tea.

1oz Packet (28g) - This size is used to brew 32oz (950ml) of tea for medium to large pet-size dosages. Dosage recommendations for pets can be found in our pet questions.

1/2oz Packet (14g) - This size is used to brew 16oz (470ml) of tea for smaller pets.

Is there a list of all products I can view?

Visit our Products page.