This article discusses the debate between the traditional medicine practitioners who champion the efficacy of essiac tea as a potent cancer fighter, and th…
Essiac tea and its apparently potent cancer-fighting abilities have been in the spotlight for nearly 90 years as the tea’s proponents and critics continually exchange ideas and insights on its true efficacy.
Essiac tea is recommended by proponents of alternative healthcare as a treatment for various forms of cancer. It is also used to alleviate symptoms and side effects of conventional cancer therapy. The blend is currently considered to be a “Phase III cancer treatment”, meaning it is of sufficient strength to help in fighting moderately advanced cancer but not enough to be integral to the treatment of cancer in higher stages. However, this does not preclude its future addition to “Stage IV” treatment if conditions are warranted.
The medical community, on the other hand, has consistently refused to embrace the use of essiac tea as cancer treatment, even as some prominent physicians were among its strongest backers in 1938, when they pushed for the tea blend’s legalization before the Canadian parliament.
Critics argue that some cancers considered as incurable suddenly go into remission without adequate medical explanation. Others say that the placebo effect – the belief that the treatment is working makes it effective rather than the treatment itself – may help explain some of the successes encountered by essiac tea in treating cancer. Consequently, treatment of cancer via essiac tea is not approved by the American Medical Association or the American Cancer Society.
Essiac tea is a blend of 4 herbs that was used by nurse Rene Caisse in the 1920s as a treatment and possible cure for cancer. The word ‘essiac’ is her surname spelled backward. The four component herbs of the tea are burdock root (arctium lappa), turkey rhubarb root (rheum palmatum), sheep sorrel (rumex acetosella), and the inner bark of slippery elm (ulmus fulva or ulmus rubra).
The sheep sorrel and the burdock root are the herbs known to kill and destroy cancer cells while the turkey rhubarb root and the slippery elm bark help build the immune system and aid in the detoxification of the affected organs.
Caisse first heard of essiac formula from a patient who met a Native Canadian Ojibwa healer. The healer said that the blend was intended to purify the body and balance the spirit. After hearing several more first-hand accounts of its curative effects on cancer, Caisse began giving the tea to patients and found it to have remarkable healing abilities.
Caisse was totally convinced that essiac tea could cure cancer. She believed it had the ability to purify the blood, to strengthen the immune system, and to allow the healthy cells to kill the cancerous cells. She said that tumors not destroyed by the tea would be shrunk and could be surgically removed after six to eight weeks of treatment. She recommended at least three months of additional weekly essiac treatments to ensure that any malignant cells that remained after the first phase and surgery were totally destroyed.
Her own mother, Friseide Caisse, was given essiac tea treatment after she was diagnosed with liver cancer at the age of 72. After being told that she only had days to live, her mother was said to have recovered quickly and after a few months of treatment with the tea, her cancer was gone. She lived to be 90.
Caisse reported that essiac tea had been the reason that hundreds of her patients had been cured of their cancers. She sometimes administered the formula as intramuscular injections. Most of the patients came to her after conventional cancer treatments have already failed. Indeed up to this day, testimonials keep pouring in on from many patients relating how the blend have totally rid their bodies of cancer.
Still, the medical community seems very adamant in their objections to the tea as a viable cancer treatment. In 2008, the U.S. National Institute of Health’s Medline said that “there is not enough evidence to recommend for or against the use of this herbal mixture as a therapy for any type of cancer.” They said that none of the individual herbs in Essiac has been tested in rigorous human cancer trials. Even as testimonials and reports from manufacturers are available on the Internet, they said that these cannot be considered scientifically viable as evidence. They concluded by recommending that individuals with cancer should not delay treatment with “more proven therapies.”
It should be remembered that persons should consult with their physician first before treating any condition with essiac tea. It is also important to remember that essiac is often used in combination with traditional cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.
So while the general public still weighs the arguments for and against essiac tea, it is worthwhile to note that both sides have valid points, and that no side holds a monopoly on the truth regarding essiac tea’s efficacy on cancer.