How does Essiac tea work on cancer

and are there any side effects?

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In May of 1974 Rene Caisse wrote the following words to Dr. Chester Stock:  "It took years to find out the one herb that actually worked on the growth itself [i.e., Sheep Sorrel].  The other herbs I used to purify the blood and throw off any infection thrown off by the malignant growth as it regressed."  [ESSIAC:  Secrets of Rene Caisse's Herbal Pharmacy, p. 23]

"The research showed Sheep Sorrel, the most acidic ingredient at pH 4.5, to be the one herb that had a directly destructive effect on cancerous cells.  All the initial experiments were carried out on laboratory mice:  'We found that on mice inoculated with human carcinoma, the growth regressed until it was no longer invading living tissue after nine days of Essiac experiments.'"  [ESSIAC:  Secrets of Rene Caisse's Herbal Pharmacy, p. 23, 24]

Rene Caisse described this process in detail in the following three paragraphs: 

"Most importantly, and this was verified in animal tests conducted at the Brusch Medical Center and other laboratories, it was discovered that one of the most dramatic effects of taking this remedy was its affinity for drawing all the cancer cells which had spread back to the original site at which point the tumor would first harden, then later it would soften, until it vanished altogether or more realistically, the tumor would decrease in size to where it could then be surgically removed with minimal complications.

"In certain cases and at certain stages of the disease, the cancer would act as if it were 'coming to a head', similar to an abscess. It would then break down and slough away.  These people all reported that when the mass breaks, it isn't like pus but like a cottage cheese substance that comes away.  Still other types will enlarge until the mass is localized, then loosen and reduce in size until there is nothing left, having been absorbed into and carried off by the blood stream and body waste.  

"I found also that no matter where the malignancy may be in the human body, surgery would be much more successful after six to eight treatments of Essiac, followed by further treatments once a week after the operation for a period of three months; then there would be no recurrence of the tumor.  In the case of breast cancers, the primary growth will usually invade the mammary gland of the opposite breast or the auxilla (armpit), or both.  My treatment, I found, reduced the secondary growth into the primary mass, enlarging it for a time.  When it became localized, it was encapsulated and could then be removed without danger of recurrence.  In one instance, a patient with breast cancer was instructed by her doctor to have six Essiac treatments before undergoing surgery.  After the fifth treatment, however, the cancer disappeared, with no recurrence."  [THE ESSENCE OF ESSIAC, p. 124-5]

"It is very important to use the dosage as recommended, which was based on more than 54 years' experience.  Rene was very concerned about this, which is why she personally administered the dose to her patients.  The herbs are very potent, and in particular Sheep Sorrel can have the effect of enlarging the tumor too quickly, so that it may burst, or a vital organ may be blocked because of its increase in size.  Sometimes the tumors will soften, dissolve into small pieces and be eliminated through the bowel or the urinary tract.  Cancer growths in the breast have been known to become encapsulated within six weeks to three months, and can then be removed surgically with little danger of metastasising in the future.  Cancers of the oesophagus have also become encapsulated and removed cleanly and safely by surgery."  [ESSIAC ESSENTIALS, p. 38]

"Depending on special circumstances, very occasionally in her later years, she would sometimes advise an initial dose of one fluid ounce twice daily for the first five, ten or (rarely) thirty days before reducing to one fluid ounce a day.  Rene was always very particular about this because she was aware that sometimes, when patients first began taking the Essiac formula, their tumours might enlarge suddenly as though they were gathering back the cancerous cells that had metastasised.  When that happened, she either gave lighter doses or stopped treatment altogether for a time, to prevent a vital organ from becoming blocked.  It all depended on the nature and position of the tumour.  For example, primary brain tumours rarely metastasise and we have had no reports of this type of swelling when taking Essiac in these cases.  Essiac should never be administered intravenously.  During the early days of Rene's pioneering research, she found that only Sheep Sorrel could be injected intramuscularly as an individual herb."  [ESSIAC ESSENTIALS, p. 38]

*It should be noted that Nurse Caisse often treated cancer patients with sheep sorrel solution injections in conjunction with the tea, which would produce more dramatic and quicker results than the tea alone.  The injections could understandably create a situation in some cases where a vital organ might be blocked if the tumor rapidly increased in size.  However, sheep sorrel injections are no longer used.  She also used other herbs, too, and sheep sorrel root was a necessary part of the Essiac formula to achieve the results she achieved at the Rene M. Caisse Cancer Clinic.

According to the authors of ESSIAC ESSENTIALS [p. 45], the following reactions may occur when treating cancer that demonstrate how Essiac works:

a)  swelling--occurs when metastasised cells gather into the primary tumour.

b) cottage cheese effect--resembling curds and clear liquid, occurs as the cancer breaks up and discharges from either the body orifices or from localised cysts or swellings.  A jelly-like substance can also be discharged or coughed up from the lungs.

c) more frequent passing of urine/defecation and other inexplicable discharges--occuring as the body detoxifies.  If the symptoms are severe, with related nausea and pain, stop taking the formula for a few days until all the symptoms have subsided.  When you start drinking it again, take half an ounce every other day, gradually resuming the original dosage.  Remember that all diseases have a life cycle and a rhythm of their own, so follow your own judgement according to what your body is telling you about the dosage it needs.

d) aching 'on site' and headaches, linked to the detoxification process, have been noted as sometimes occurring when taking Essiac after surgery.  Treat as for (c) and drink more water to flush out toxins from the body.

e) fever or chills--sometimes occurring when the Essiac starts working directly on the cancerous cells.

*[CAVEAT:  This web page is for historical and documentary purposes only and not for medical advice or treatment.  It can be dangerous (not to mention illegal) to inject Essiac tea or sheep sorrel solution into another person and is no longer done.  See I Was Canada's Cancer Nurse for more info.  Drinking the tea, poultices and sublingual methods are safer and are discussed in THE ESSIAC BOOK and THE COMPLETE ESSIAC ESSENTIALS by author Mali Klein, who is the only Essiac researcher in print who has had direct experience of the immediate effects of the sheep sorrel injection.  She suggests alternative and less traumatic ways of administering the Sheep sorrel decoction that have been demonstrated as being effective.  See a competent naturopathic doctor for dietary recommendations in cases of serious illness.]

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