Essiac Tea as a Cancer Treatment
Updated: Aug 29, 2020
The world of integrative oncology is huge and there are so many different ideas and theories out there. I could stay up all night looking at all of the different proposed treatment options and the research behind them. And my friends...I know many of you are doing this. I’m here to help make it easier by combing through all the noise for you. I wanted to tackle one of my absolute most common questions about natural cures today and this is an incredibly important post. One extremely popular tea that has been used throughout history to “completely cure” breast cancer is called: Essiac tea. This tea has been commonly referred to as a miracle treatment and a complete alternative to conventional cancer therapy. Is there really anything that could completely replace modern medicine? We could debate this all day but what I’ve seen provide the best results for my clients is using BOTH. Traditional medical treatments plus integrative support can be very powerful. So….Essiac tea. I am here to dive deep into the history behind this potential treatment or adjunctive therapy, how it is thought to work, and some research behind the effectiveness on cancer treatment.
The Proposed Miracle Cure?
Essiac tea is an herbal mixture that was created by a Canadian nurse named Rene Caisse in the early 1920s. Caisse reports that the herbal blend completely cured a woman’s breast cancer as the tea “purifies the body” and “creates good spirit”. The tea consists of four main roots, including burdock root, sheep sorrel, Indian rhubarb, and slippery elm bark. Caisse popularized the use of the tea, and coined the term “Essiac Tea” which is Caisse spelled backwards.
The Essiac blend was then used as a widespread popular cancer treatment option for at least 40 years. The early usage of Essiac tea was actually injected into the patient, but progressed to oral consumption through tea blends. So, how does this blend of four herbs treat cancer? The proposed theory is that Essiac tea strengthens the immune system and also shrinks and reduces the tumor size to eventually completely eliminate it. It also is thought to help relieve side effects of cancer providing pain relief, appetite stimulation, and giving a boost of energy.
Caisse kept the formula behind her magical tea secret for years, using it as a main cancer therapy source. Thousands of people received Essiac tea as a treatment option and the herbal mixture blend was then given to hospitals and laboratories to conduct research on a few years before Caisse’s death. My clients ask about it constantly so I’m really happy to be doing a deep diver into it here today.
The Truth: Studies on the Effectiveness of Essiac Tea
Essiac tea has been researched in some laboratories to determine the overall effectiveness of the herbal blend. Research has shown that rhubarb and sheep sorrel contain a compound named anthraquinones that stimulate gastric secretions and peristalsis to help relieve stomach pain, bloating, and indigestion, which are common side effects of conventional cancer therapy. All of the herbal compounds in the tea exhibit powerful antioxidant properties, which are extremely important for overall health and wellness and helps to prevent further damage to cells.
Regarding Essiac tea being a miracle cure and reducing the size of tumor cells, there is currently no clinical evidence to support this claim. Essiac tea has been studied on both mice and humans in clinical trials. In mice, Essiac tea has shown promising tumor shrinking effects. In humans, this result is not mirrored and has not proven to be effective in curing cancer or shrinking tumors.
There is definitely not enough evidence to support using essiac tea as a cancer treatment. However, it very well could be a soothing remedy for your side effects if your medical team clears the herbals that it contains. Remember that many herbals can interact with other supplements or drugs that you’re currently on so it’s really important to disclose what you’re using. Always work with your medical team including your doctor and dietitian’s recommendations for treatment options to best support your health and wellness while keeping you safe.
What Can Tea Do For You During Treatment?
Tea is a wonderful addition to any diet. It can help increase your fluid intake, and can also help to aid some side effects that you might be experiencing due to your treatments. There are so many different teas out there, and with so many different flavor profiles. The best way to consume tea is to find one that you personally enjoy.
Tea is extremely healthy as an everyday beverage. Tea contains antioxidants to keep your cells protected, offers relief to nausea, abdominal pain, sore throats, indigestion, poor sleep, anti-inflammatory markers, and more. I could go on and on about how great it is for your body and health. I drink tea whenever I do not feel well, and it always gives me a little boost and symptom relief. Drinking tea would be a great addition into your everyday diet - even if it isn’t a “miracle cure” for cancer.
Tea consumption is as simple as brewing a cup of hot water and letting the herb blend steep for 5-10 minutes to provide amazing flavor and phytonutrients. You can purchase tea at any grocery store in regular tea bags or loose leaf blends. Some of my favorite ways to drink tea include my Turmeric Ginger Golden Milk Tea on a nice cool weekend, a Blueberry Green Tea Smoothie for an early morning energy boost, or my Pineapple Cucumber Mint Infused Water as a fun addition to any party. Drink tea whenever you feel like it, but do not forget the importance of drinking water as well.
Essiac Tea as a Cancer Treatment
Even though using Essiac tea as a cancer treatment may not be clinically effective in curing cancer, there are numerous health benefits that accompany tea. The bottom line is that there is no miracle treatment or miracle cure for cancer. The treatment regime that you are currently receiving is the best way to fight your cancer and the best way to promote your overall health. Tea is a great addition into your treatment plan to help manage your side effects and symptoms and to consume healthy, plant based nutrients. As always, feel free to contact me for any nutritional needs or questions you may have, or to get some ideas on meals and foods to eat to help you manage your treatment.