Interview with Barbara Kokotsis on December 18, 2012


A living witness to the Essiac story, Barbara Kokotsis, confirmed the final Essiac formula that Rene Caisse was using at the end of her life.  This was the same formula that Rene Caisse's best friend, Mary McPherson, revealed in a sworn affidavit in 1994.  Mrs. Kokotsis also confirmed in this telephone interview that sheep sorrel root was indeed part of the Essiac formula. 

Q:  When did you first meet Rene Caisse and Mary McPherson?

BK:  "I met Rene and Mary in my restaurant.  We had a restaurant in Bracebridge, just a couple of streets over from where Rene lived and it was 1977 in my restaurant.  So she came in with Mary and they were always sitting in the corner.  Mary loved her cheese omelet and Rene loved her steak in a bun so that is where I met them."

Q:  What was the name of your restaurant?

BK:  "Our name was the Apollo.  We were there until 2007.  We were there for thirty years."   

Q:  How did you find out about Essiac? 

BK:  "I became good friends with Mary.  She was living not too far away from me.  She was an elderly lady and she had a big familyóI donít know how many kids that Mary hadóeight or nine, I guess.  And so there were parties to arrange--birthday parties and the kids were coming into the restaurant.  And so one led to another and Mary told me about what Rene Caisse was doing, what her lifelong ambitions were.  That is how I got to know Essiac."

Q:  How did you first get introduced to the tea?

BK:  "Mary showed me.  She had given me the recipe.  Iíve got the original recipe from Rene, which Rene had given her and she gave it to me.  And so it didnít take me very long to gather up whatever I could gather up.  I was digging up the burdock roots in my back yard.  It was all country around where we were so it was easy access.  She taught me.  She showed me how to identify it, certain things.  She taught me how to do the tea.  So I did the tea for many, many, many people plus ourselves, our familyótwo girls, my husband and myself for preventative measures.   

"I had given the tea to a little girl.  Her father came and he heard in Toronto that I would make some tea, some Essiac.  So he came in crying into the restaurant one day and he said that his little girl was diagnosed with cancer--she was about three or four--whether I could make some tea, you know, that would be the last instance.  And I think they had given her some therapy already and the young girl, baby, was dying.  So I gave him the tea and a year later he came and he said the girl was fine.  So Iíve never heard anything from him again.  That was a success story and I know many, many in Bracebridge, of course.  Of course, you know more than I do with your research that Rene has helped more than twenty thousand in the area alone (i.e., Bracebridge).  

"Iím not too sure whether you know Sherry Bates.  She had two paintings, too.  She herself had a double mastectomy but it was going into the rest of her body.  She was a young African and she was drinking Essiac and she is cancer free, she was for years.   And she became a big advocate for Essiac and she opened up a health line in Toronto free of charge.  She was all voluntarily doing this, the husband and everything else in order to help people to get away from these poisonous chemos and radiation.   

"She was a very big advocate in Toronto and she has given everything she had including home and husband in order to promote Essiac to cancer infected people.  When she didnít have a house anymore and a husband, I let her stay with me for a couple of summers.  We had two small children and a business that was just getting off the ground, so my hands were full with gathering up herbs for Mary and I was busy."

Q:  So you were just getting burdock and sheep sorrel? 

BK:  "Yeah.  She had somebody that was doing the slippery elm bark.  She had a few people that were helping her with gathering up a few herbs.  I was, because the burdock was so plentiful in my back yard, and sheep sorrel.  So it wasnít too much of an effort.  I dried it for her and then she powdered it." 

Q:  Did you provide the sheep sorrel root as well?

BK:  "Yeah, root and the leaves.  There is more power in the roots than in the leaves.  So if I could get the root out it would be good but it would be a combination of the two."

Q:  Was there a certain percentage that was used or it was just whatever amount of root you could get?

BK:  "Well, you know the recipe, you know, how much of each to the batch."

Q:  Except no one seems to know how much root was used, of the sheep sorrel root.

BK:  "I donít know but if you wait a minute I can go upstairs and look at the recipe."

Q:  Did you say you have a written recipe for Essiac that Mary gave you?

BK:  "Yes, I do.  Iím pretty lucky."

Q:  Would it be possible that you could send me a copy of what she wrote?

BK:  "Just a second, I have it right here.  I made a photocopy here for Essiac and then the original Iíve got.  Bear with me for a second.  It says 6 Ĺ cups burdock root cut, the slippery elm bark and the Turkish rhubarb and the sheep sorrel and the burdock."   [CLICK HERE to view a copy of this document.]

Q:  Okay.  What were the ratios of the sheep sorrel and the slippery elm and the Turkish rhubarb?

BK:  "A quarter pound of slippery elm bark, an ounce of Turkish rhubarb and one pound of sheep sorrel, powdered, and 6 Ĺ cups of burdock root."

Q:  At the time that you knew Rene Caisse and Mary they were using Turkish rhubarb and not the Indian rhubarb?

BK:  "I didnít gather the Turkish rhubarb.  I think Mary had it growing in her garden." 

Q:  But they were not using the Indian rhubarb?

BK:  "I never had anything to do with the Turkish rhubarb.  I cannot tell whether it was one particular one, but she said she didnít need it because she had it in her garden." 

Q:  Also, some of the recipes--some people claim it was not Turkish rhubarb, it was Indian rhubarb. 

BK:  "You know whatóI cannot tell you.  I have no idea.  I donít know.  I was doing the sheep sorrel for her and the burdock root.  Maybe my stuff wasnít enough for the batches that she made.  Maybe she had somebody else doing some sheep sorrel, too.  I was not the sole provider....If you buy it today in a health food store, you donít know whatís in the package if youíre not an herbalist.  They can put all kinds of powder in the packages and sell it to you."

Q:  Would it be possible to get a copy of that recipe that you have?  I would like to put it up on the website if that would be okay with you.

BK:  "Yeah, sure I think it is a good idea to do that.  I made little notes on the sideóI just looked at the recipe and it says: 'behind the house', you know, where I can get the stuff from, you know, dig it out.  Different writing, thatís my writing when I say 'behind the house'."

Q:  What other success stories have you had making Essiac tea and giving it to people?

BK:  "A good friend of mine, she had arthritis and she was cured with Essiac.  I have made tea for I donít know how many people and they were all claiming success.

"So then I became friends with Mary until she died.  I visited her at the old age home in Bracebridge, you know, at the retirement home.  Many, many I brought her stuff--that I know from the restaurant--that she would like."


Essiac Circle of Friends has made a video of Barbara Kokotsis' interview:


CLICK HERE to view a copy of the Essiac formula that Mary McPherson gave to Mrs. Kokotsis in the early 1980s.


CLICK HERE to view original paintings by Rene Caisse that Barbara Kokotsis is selling.





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