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The Essiac Tea Support Forum

About The Herbs Which Are In Essiac Tea

James Percival Copyright 1993, All rights reserved


Rene Caisse was a nurse in Canada. In 1923 she learned from one of her doctor's patients, of a herbal remedy used by the Ojibway indians. Rene found that the woman had obtained this herbal tea remedy from a tribal shaman. Rene visited the medicine man, and he gladly and freely presented her with his tribe's formula. He explained that the Ojibway used their herbal remedy for both spiritual balance and body rejuvenation. The formula consisted of four common herbs. They were blended and cooked in a fashion which caused the concoction to have greater curative power than any of the four herbs themselves. The four herbs were Sheep Sorrel, Burdock Root, Slippery Elm Bark, and Rhubarb Root.

What Essiac Is

Rene Caisse's herbal formula contains four commonly occurring herbs:

Sheep Sorrel (Rumex acetosella).

The leaves of young Sheep Sorrel plants were popular as a cooking dressing and as an addition to salads in France several hundred years ago. Indians also use Sheep Sorrel leaves as a tasty seasoning for meat dishes. They also baked it into their bread. Thus it is both an herb and a food.

Sheep Sorrel belongs to the buckwheat family. Common names for Sheep Sorrel are field sorrel, red top sorrel, sour grass and dog eared sorrel. It should not be confused with Garden Sorrel. (Rumex acetosa).

Sheep Sorrel grows wild throughout most of the world. It seeks open pastures, rocky areas, and the shoulders of country roads. It is considered to be a common weed throughout the U. S. It thrives with little moisture, and is a good indicator of acidic soils.

The entire Sheep Sorrel plant may be harvested to be used in Essiac. Or just the leaves and stems may be harvested, and this allows the plants to be "reharvested" later. The plant portion of the Sheep Sorrel may be harvested throughout the spring, summer, and fall, to be taken early in the morning after the dew has evaporated, or late in the afternoon. Always harvest on a sunny day, as the plants need several days after a rain in which to dry properly. Harvest the leaves and stem before the flowers begin to form, since at this stage, all of the energy of the plant is in the leaves.

Roots may be harvested in the fall, when the energy of the plant is concentrated in the roots. Never collect more than a year's supply of Sheep Sorrel, as it loses its potency when stored longer.

Burdock Root (Arctium lappa).

The roots, young stems, and seeds of the Burdock plant are edible. Young stalks are boiled to be eaten like asparagus. Raw stems and young leaves are eaten in salads. Parts of the Burdock plant are eaten in China, Hawaii, and among the Native American cultures on this continent. It is then, both an herb and a food.

The Burdock is a member of the thistle family. Remember the last time you cleaned cockle burrs from your clothing after a sojourn in the woods or meadow? Chances are, you had run up against this very friendly and helpful plant, you just didn't know it! It is a common pasture weed throughout North America. It prefers damp soils.

The first years the Burdock plant produces only green leafy growth. It is during the second year that it produces the long sturdy stems with annoying burrs.

The root of the Burdock plant is harvested. It is harvested from only the first year plants. The roots are about an inch wide, and up to three feet long. As with the Sheep Sorrel, the roots should only be harvested in the fall when the plant energy is concentrated in the roots.

Slippery Elm (Ulcus fulva).

The inner bark of the Slippery Elm tree has a long history of use as a food supplement and herbal remedy. Pioneers knew of it as a survival food. The powdered bark has long been used, and is still being used today, as a food additive and food extender, rich in vitamin and mineral content. Thus it also is a food.

The Slippery Elm is a favorite shade and ornamental tree. It is found throughout Canada and the United States.

Only the inner bark of the Slippery Elm is used to make Essiac. Reliable supplies of Slippery Elm can be purchased in powdered form, and this is probably easier and preferable to harvesting it yourself.

Should you wish to harvest your own Slippery Elm, strip the bark from branches, rather than from the main trunk system of the tree so that you do not damage the tree.

Turkey Rhubarb (Rheum palmatum).

We have all eaten Rhubarb. Its red, bittersweet stems are to be found in supermarket produce shelves each spring. We also eat rhubarb pie, jams and pudding. The Turkey Rhubarb is a member of the rhubarb family with roots, which contain a particularly strong and desirable potency.

The Turkey Rhubarb grows in China. The roots are harvested when the plants are at least six years old. This imported product has more potency than our native rhubarb. Rene Caisse began her Essiac work using the domestic rhubarb root, later discovering that the imported variety was more potent. However, most of the Turkey Rhubarb, which is now imported into this country is irradiated, which destroys many of its curative properties. So native rhubarb is now once again the rhubarb of choice for your Essiac blend.


Should you choose to harvest your own plants, we strongly suggest that you follow the Native American practice of saying a short prayer to the plants before you harvest them. Thank them for the help they will give you. We believe that your plants, thus consecrated, will be more potent and effective. Keep your eye out for classes on herbs and herb identification. Seek out herbalists who are willing to educate you on plant identity, harvesting techniques, plant drying and processing. Do not collect herbs from areas where insecticides or herbicides have been used. You want only organic herbs! The Formula

Note: Many of you may prefer to purchase your Rene Caisse herbal drink in bottles. Others may wish to buy a package of the dried herb mixture and brew their own. We provide mail order instructions for both on page 10. The original formula, as given by Rene Caisse, is listed below. We are reprinting here her exact instructions for a two gallon batch, although you would probably not need such a large amount at one time. A smaller amount is offered in the mail order dried herbal package (see pg. 10) which makes 1/2 gallon of Essiac (which is a two week or four week supply, depending upon whether you take it once or twice daily).


52 parts: Burdock Root (cut or dried) (parts by weight)

16 parts: Sheep Sorrel (powdered)

1 part: Turkey Rhubarb (powdered) or 2 parts domestic Rhubarb

4 parts: Slippery Elm (powdered)

This is the basic four herb formula which was presented to the Royal Cancer Commission in 1937 and was found by them to be "a cure for cancer". Later in her life, while working with Dr. Charles Brusch in Massachusetts, Rene added small potentizing amounts of four other herbs to her basic four herb formula. As provided to us by a woman who worked with Rene, and was given the formula by Rene, these extra four herbs were added as follows: Kelp (2 parts), Red Clover (1 part), Blessed Thistle (1 part), Watercress (0.4 parts). We consider the addition of these four extra herbs optional.

Supplies Needed:

4 gallon stainless steel pot with lid 3 gallon stainless steel pot with lid Stainless steel fine mesh double strainer, funnel & spatula 12 or more 16 oz. sterilized amber glass bottles with airtight caps, or suitable substitutes.


l. Mix dry ingredients thoroughly. Place herbs in a plastic bag and shake vigorously. Herbs are light sensitive; keep stored in a cool dark place.

2. Bring 2 gallons of sodium free distilled water to a rolling boil in the 4 gallon pot (with lid on). Should take approximately 30 minutes at sea level.

3. Stir in 1 cup of dry ingredients. Replace lid and continue to boil for 10 minutes.

4. Turn off stove. Scrape down the sides of the pot with the spatula and stir mixture thoroughly. Replace the lid.

5. Allow the pot to remain closed for 12 hours. Then turn the stove to the highest setting and heat to almost a boil (approximately 20 minutes). Do not let boil.

6. Turn off the stove. Strain the liquid into the 3 gallon pot. Clean the 4 gallon pot and strainer. Then strain the filtered liquid back into the 4 gallon pot.

7. Use the funnel to pour the hot liquid into sterilized bottles immediately, and tighten the caps. After the bottles have cooled, retighten the caps.

8. Refrigerate. Rene's herbal drink contains no preservative agents. If mold should develop, discard the bottle immediately.

Caution: All bottles and caps must be sterilized after use if you plan to reuse them for Essiac. Bottle caps must be washed and rinsed thoroughly, and may be cleaned with a 3% solution of food grade hydrogen peroxide (may be purchased in health food stores). To make a 3% solution, mix 1 ounce of 35% food grade hydrogen peroxide with 11 ounces of sodium free distilled water. Let soak for 5 minutes, rinse and dry. If food grade hydrogen peroxide is not available, use one half teaspoon of Clorox to one gallon of distilled water.

Instructions for Use

1. Keep refrigerated.

2. Shake bottle well before using.

3. May be taken either cold from the bottle, or warmed (never microwave).

4. As a Preventative, daily take 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) at bedtime or on an empty stomach at least 2 hours after eating.


a. Some people may prefer to dilute the herbal drink with an equal amount of sodium free distilled water. b. Many people have reported that Rene's drink works well to detoxify the body, and have taken it as a detoxification program.

Precaution: Some doctors advise against taking the herbal formula while pregnant.

Recommendation: Rene reported that the twelve hour brewing process is essential for Essiac to have its special powers. Essiac is being offered to the public in pills, teabags, and homeopathic drops. We do not recommend them. They may work, but they are not what Rene Caisse used, nor have we seen evidence that they work.

What It Does

The components of Rene's herbal drink interact to have an amazing effect on the human body. The chemicals, minerals, and vitamins all act synergistically together to produce a variety of healing agents.

Sheep Sorrel:

Sorrel plants have been a folk remedy for cancer for centuries both in Europe and America. Sheep Sorrel has been observed by researchers to break down tumors, and to alleviate some chronic conditions and degenerative diseases.

It contains high amounts of vitamins A and B complex, C, D, E, K, P and vitamin U. It is also rich in minerals, including calcium, chlorine, iron, magnesium, silicon, sodium, sulfur, and has trace amounts of copper, iodine, manganese and zinc. The combination of these vitamins and minerals nourishes all of the glands of the body. Sheep Sorrel also contains carotenoids and chlorophyll, citric, malic, oxalic, tannic and tartaric acids.

The chlorophyll carries oxygen throughout the bloodstream. Diseased cells do not live in the presence of oxygen. It also:

reduces the damage of radiation burns increases resistance to X-rays improves the vascular system, heart function intestines, and lungs aids in the removal of foreign deposits from the walls of the blood vessels purifies the liver, stimulates the growth of new tissue reduces inflammation of the pancreas, stimulates the growth of new tissue raises the oxygen level of the tissue cells Sheep Sorrel is the primary healing herb in Essiac.

Burdock Root

For centuries Burdock has been used throughout the world to defend against illness and disease. The root of the Burdock is a powerful blood purifier. It clears congestion in respiratory, lymphatic, urinary and circulatory systems. It promotes the flow of bile, and eliminates excess fluid in the body. It stimulates the elimination of toxic wastes, relieves liver malfunctions, and improves digestion. The Chinese use Burdock Root as an aphrodisiac, tonic, and rejuvenator. It assists in removing infection from the urinary tract, the liver, and the gall bladder. It expels toxins through the skin and urine. It is good against arthritis, rheumatism, and sciatica.

Burdock Root contains vitamins A, B complex, C, E, and P. It contains high amounts of chromium, cobalt, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, silicon, and zinc, and lesser amounts of calcium, copper, manganese, and selenium.

Much of the Burdock Roots curative power is attributed to its principal ingredient of Unulin, which helps to strengthen vital organs, especially the liver, pancreas, and spleen.

Slippery Elm Inner Bark

Slippery Elm Bark is widely known throughout the world as a herbal remedy. As a tonic it is known for its ability to sooth and strengthen the organs, tissues, and mucous membranes, especially the lungs and stomach. It promotes fast healing of cuts, burns, ulcers and wounds. It revitalizes the entire body.

It contains, as its primary ingredient, a mucilage, as well as quantities of garlic acid, phenols, starches, sugars, the vitamins A, B complex, C, K, and P. It contains large amounts of calcium, magnesium, and sodium, as well as lesser amounts of chromium and selenium, and trace amounts of iron, phosphorous, silicon and zinc.

Slippery Elm Bark is known among herbalists for its ability to cleanse, and strengthen the body.


Rhubarb, also a well known herb, as been used worldwide since 220 BC as a medicine.

The Rhubarb root exerts a gentle laxative action by stimulating the secretion of bile into the intestines. It also stimulates the gall duct to expel toxic waste matter, thus purging the body of waste bile and food. As a result, the liver is cleansed, and chronic liver problems are relieved.

Rhubarb root contains vitamin A, many of the B complex, C, and P. Its high mineral content includes calcium, chlorine, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, silicon, sodium, sulfur, and zinc.

Rene Caisse's Herbal Drink Has The Following Therapeutic Activity:

1. Prevents the buildup of excess fatty deposits in artery walls, heart, kidney and liver.

2. Regulates cholesterol levels by transforming sugar and fat into energy.

3. Destroys parasites in the digestive system and throughout the body.

4. Counteracts the effects of aluminum, lead and mercury poisoning.

5. Strengthens and tightens muscles, organs and tissues.

6. Makes bones, joints, ligaments, lungs, and membranes strong and flexible, less vulnerable to stress or stress injuries.

7. Nourishes and stimulates the brain and nervous system.

8. Promotes the absorption of fluids in the tissues.

9. Removes toxic accumulations in the fat, lymph, bone marrow, bladder, and alimentary canals.

10. Neutralizes acids, absorbs toxins in the bowel, and eliminates both.

11. Clears the respiratory channels by dissolving and expelling mucus.

12. Relieves the liver of its burden of detoxification by converting fatty toxins into water-soluble substances that can then be easily eliminated through the kidneys.

13. Assists the liver to produce lecithin, which forms part of the myelin sheath, a white fatty material that encloses nerve fibers.

14. Reduces, perhaps eliminates, heavy metal deposits in tissues (especially those surrounding the joints) to reduce inflammation and stiffness.

15. Improves the functions of the pancreas and spleen by increasing the effectiveness of insulin.

16. Purifies the blood.

17. Increases red cell production, and keeps them from rupturing.

18. Increases the body's ability to utilize oxygen by raising the oxygen level in the tissue cells.

19. Maintains the balance between potassium and sodium within the body so that the fluid inside and outside each cell is regulated: in this way, cells are nourished with nutrients and are also cleansed.

20. Converts calcium and potassium oxalates into a harmless form by making them solvent in the urine. Regulates the amount of oxalic acid delivered to the kidneys, thus reducing the risk of stone formation in the gall bladder, kidneys, or urinary tract.

21. Protects against toxins entering the brain.

22. Protects the body against radiation and X-rays.

23. Relieves pain, increases the appetite, and provides more energy along with a sense of well being.

24. Speeds up wound healing by regenerating the damaged area.

25. Increases the production of antibodies like lymphocytes and T-cells in the thymus gland, which is the defender of our immune system.

26. Inhibits benign growths and tumors.

27. Protects the cells against free radicals.

It appears that Essiac's actions to remove heavy metals, detoxify the body, restore energy levels, and rebuild the immune system, all act to restore the body to a level to where it is able to better defeat the illness. In other words, Essiac rebuilds the immune system and improves the illness defeating ability of the body so that it can then rid itself of the illness.

An Endorsement by Dr. Julian Whitaker, M.D.

Dr. Julian Whitaker publishes a very informative and enlightening monthly newsletter named Health & Healing. It has 43O,OOO subscribers. In his November, 1995 issue he stated that to strengthen his body and defend against illness, he personally would follow a regimen which included changing his diet, taking the nutritional supplements Vitamin C, Coenzyme Q1O, and he would take Essiac tea.

Dr. Whitaker has over twenty years of experience. He has written five major health books: Reversing Heart Disease, Reversing Diabetes, Reversing Health Risks, A Guide to Natural Healing, and Is Heart Surgery Necessary? Dr. Whitaker directs the Whitaker Wellness Institute in Newport Beach, California, which has treated thousands of patients. Should you desire information about subscribing to his newsletter, call (800)705-5559.

I highly recommend this newsletter to anyone who wishes to become more knowledgeable about the complete range of healing modalities which are available. He also proscribes a 7 step 30 day wellness program "that will turn your life around".


We are not permitted, nor do we, in this handbook make any claims that Rene Caisse's herbal formula will cure any disease. We have only gathered together in this easy-to-read handbook all of the already published information that is available to the general public about Rene's herbal remedy so that you may better make informed decisions. The documents which were used to compile this handbook are listed in the bibliography. Consult your physician before using Rene Caisse's herbal remedy. Copyright 1993 by James Percival.

Bibliography & Reading List

The Calling of an Angel by Dr. Gary Glum, 1988, Silent Walker Publishing, PO Box 80098, Los Angeles CA, 90080 Tel: (310) 271 9931

The Essence of Essiac by Sheila Snow, 1993

Essiac: Nature's Cure For Cancer: An Interview with Dr. Gary Glum by Elisabeth Robinson, "Wildfire Magazine", Vol. 6, No. 1

Cancer Therapy by Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D., Equinox Press, 331 W. 57th St., Suite 268, New York, NY 10019, 1992

Health & Healing newsletter by Dr. Julian Whitaker, Phillips Publishing, 7811 Montrose Rd., Potomac MD 20854

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