Essiac Tea

“As I reviewed the data, records, case histories, etc., I realized that skepticism had deserted me. When I arrived, I contemplated staying for 2 hours but I remained for 24 days. I examined results obtained from 400 patients and my conclusion is that Rene Caisse’s remedy for cancer was beyond any question to be effective.”  Dr Emma Carson, 1937

The history of Essiac Tea

The story of Essiac Tea begins back in 1922 when Rene Caisse was caring for an elderly patient at a hospital in Haileybury, Ontario. Her patient had a scarred breast and when Rene questioned her about it, the woman shared how she had been cured of breast cancer some 30 years earlier by an Ojibwa Medicine Man.

The woman explained that she had been traveling through the Canadian wilderness with her husband who was working as a mining prospector when she developed a growth on her breast.  Her husband had confided in the locals and was told that a medicine man might be able to help her.  The couple was skeptical at first, so they traveled to the nearest hospital where they were told that she had breast cancer and that her entire breast needed to be removed.  The woman had recently lost a friend following a mastectomy, and the couple didn’t have the money to pay for the hospital anyway so they went back to the medicine man who explained to her how to locate the proper roots, leaves, and bark to brew a healing tea.  The woman said that she drank the tea for a period of time and the cancer was cured, but that the growth had left her breast disfigured. Rene asked for the recipe and the woman gave it to her.

About a year later, Nurse Caisse was walking beside a retired doctor who pointed to a common weed and stated, “Nurse Caisse, if people would use that weed, there would be little or no cancer in the world.” That “weed” was sheep sorrel and happened to be one of the herbs that was in the medicine man’s formula. The doctor proceeded to tell Rene that he had watched his horse cure itself of cancer by repeatedly grazing in a particular part of the pasture where sheep sorrel grew plentifully.  This peeked Rene’s interest and she took note of the information.

In 1924, Rene learned that her aunt, Ms Mireza Potvin, had been diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer and was given only six months to live.  Rene thought about the recipe she had been given and asked the attending physician, Dr. R. O. Fisher for permission to try it.  Dr Fisher had worked with Rene for many years in the healthcare field and he willingly consented to her request knowing that there was nothing more that he could offer the woman. Her aunt drank the tea mixture daily over the next two months, and to everyone’s surprise she fully recovered from her illness and lived for an additional 20 years.

Following that experience, Dr Fischer and Rene worked together using the tea concoction to treat several patients that had been diagnosed as terminal.  The patients responded with reduction in pain and with a definite improvement in their health.  Dr Fischer and Rene theorized that perhaps injection of the herbs might have an even greater effect on the patients health, so Rene converted her mother’s basement into a laboratory where she and Dr Fischer began injecting mice that had been inoculated with human cancers with variations of the remedy.  Their subsequent experiments led them to the conclusion that injecting one of the herbs (sheep sorrel), followed by taking the other three orally had the desired healing effect they were hoping for.

Around this time, Rene dealt with a very dramatic case that involved J. Smith who had a hideous hemorrhaging  growth on his face.  He was given the herbs and within 24 hours the growth had stopped bleeding, and after several more treatments it began to reduce in size. Pictures were taken of the entire process and several doctors who had witnessed the man’s recovery were soon sending Rene their most hopeless cases.

Another noteworthy case occurred in 1925, when Rene treated a diabetic woman who also had cancer of the bowel.  The patient agreed to cease taking her insulin in order to receive the tea without any complications.  It was noted during treatment that the tumor initially became larger and harder, but the weekly injections continued until the tumor finally softened and reduced in size, and after 6 months it was completely gone. It was also noted that normal pancreatic function had resumed during the treatments and the patients diabetes had completely reversed.

Rene noted that patients often reported that their tumors would become enlarged and harden before the tumor would eventually soften and begin to break down.  Additionally, if the tumor was located in any body system with a route to the exterior, the patient would report discharging a large amount of pus and fleshy material following this breakdown and then the tumor would be expelled.   She also noted that if a patient did not have a complete remission from the tumors, then the Essiac appeared to allow for the complete surgical removal of the tumor without fear of metastases following surgery.

In October of 1926, nine physicians wrote a letter to petition the Canadian Health and Welfare Department asking that Rene be allowed to test Essiac in some sort of trial.  The petition read:  We, the undersigned, believe the Treatment for Cancer given by Nurse R. M. Caisse can do no harm.  It relieves pain, will reduce the enlargement and will prolong life in hopeless cases.  To the best of our knowledge she has not been given a case to treat until everything in Medical and Surgical Science has been tried without effect, and even then, she was able to show remarkably beneficial results, on these cases, at that late stage.  We would be interested in seeing her given the opportunity to prove her work in a large way. To the best of our knowledge she has treated patients free of any charge, and has been carrying on this work for the past two years.
Signed,  Dr. R. O. Fisher, Dr.J.X. Robert,  Dr. R.A. Blye, Dr. C. E. Becker, Dr. E.F. Hoidge, Dr. J.A. McInnis, Dr. Chas H. Hair, Dr. A. Moore, and Dr. W.F. Williams

Upon receiving this letter, the Canadian Department of Health immediately dispatched two of its doctors to investigate Rene under the charge of practicing medicine without a license. They carried with them a warrant to have her arrested or restrained from continuing to work with cancer patients.  When they learned that she was treating only terminal cases, and that she was doing so under the supervision of doctors they retreated, but this confrontation left Rene badly shaken.  One of these men, Dr W.C. Arnold, was so impressed with her results that he offered to allow her to perform experiments by injecting the formula into mice at the Christie Street Hospital in Toronto, working under the supervision of two physicians there.  Dr Arnold also continued to correspond with Rene for the next 15 years to offer her support and advice as she maneuvered her way through the legal battles that lay ahead.

Rene had been working from a makeshift clinic in her mother’s home, but she soon rented an apartment in Toronto where she treated about 30 patients per week.  She also quit her nursing job and lived off of whatever donations people gave her for the treatments they received.  Neighbors soon complained about the cars and the lines of people that led out her door, so she decided to move to Peterborough, Ontario, where the rent was cheaper and she had more room to operate.

monument to Nurse Caisse

A monument honors Nurse Caisse

By 1935, Rene had found support within the Bracebridge township which provided her with a foreclosed hotel to to use as a cancer clinic, as well as doctors who could supervise the work that took place there.   The only criteria required by her municipality was that each patient had to have an official diagnosis prior to receiving treatment and that all of the treatments were to be done free of charge.  The building supported an office, dispensary, reception room and 5 treatment rooms which were furnished and maintained by the townspeople.  Rene treated patients at this clinic for over 8 years, many of them so ill they had to be brought in by wheel chair or by ambulance.  Shortly after the clinic opened it was discovered that Rene’s own mother had inoperable liver cancer, so Rene gave her daily doses of Essiac for several months and her mother lived for another 18 years.

Word of Rene’s discovery soon reached the United States, and Dr John Wolfer, head of the medical division of Northwestern University, arranged for Rene to treat 30 volunteer patients who were in various stages of terminal cancer.  In order to do this, Rene would treat her patients in Bracebridge on the weekends and then travel to Toronto every Wednesday to treat more patients, and then drive 9 hours to treat the Chicago patients. This commute went on for a year and a half.  Subsequently, the Chicago doctors noted that Essiac prolonged the patient’s life, broke down nodular masses and relieved the suffering of the those in the study. Rene was offered offices in the Passavant Hospital in Chicago if she moved there permanently but Rene didn’t want to leave her patients in Bracebridge, and she also wanted to have her work recognized in Canada.

Rene had at least 8 offers to help her achieve recognition and distribution of Essiac. Some were from doctors, scientific groups, or from businessmen who offered her very large sums of money, but Rene rejected them all. Sometimes this was due to fear that the plans were merely ploys to keep Essiac from those who desperately needed it, or that Essiac  would only be exploited for unseemly profits.

In 1937, then Premier Mitchell Hepburn met with Rene and promised that if he were re-elected that he would pass a bill that would give her license to treat patients freely.  He said to the press, “the onus is now on the medical profession to either prove or disprove Miss Caisse’s claims, and I do not feel they can disprove them.”  The liberal party won re-election, and in March of 1938, a private bill to authorize Rene to practice medicine in Ontario was introduced into the legislature, but the debate that followed was very fierce.

Rene Caisse

Rene Caisse was featured in this magazine article in 1977 about the herbal remedy that healed so many from cancer. You can find a link to the article at the bottom of the post.

Over 55,000 people signed the petition in support of this, and many of her former patients showed up for the hearing, but only 50 of them were allowed to testify on her behalf.  The ultimate decision was against Rene. She was just 3 votes short.  The legislators involved felt that allowing Essiac to be exempt from current medical laws would mean that the government was officially endorsing a treatment as being effective without having been tested. They were also angry because Rene refused to allow this testing to occur and she also refused to disclose the ingredients or the amounts that she was giving to people.

For her part, Rene says that she refused to divulge this information until the treatments were acknowledged as effective by the medical establishment and that it would be made available to all who needed it.  It was decided at the hearing that Rene could carry on her work as before, but it was also noted that many doctors were refusing to give their patients an official diagnosis of cancer so they could not go to Rene’s clinic for treatment.

Later, a new law was written stating that anyone treating cancer would be required to submit samples of their materials along with a written formula and all information relating to the method of treatment.  It also provided fines up to $2500 and 6 months jail time for those who were caught doing so. Feeling the pressure, Rene notified her patients that she would be closing her clinic that May unless Premier Hepburn intervened.

Under public pressure, Premier Hepburn and his Health Minister asked Rene to reopen the clinic and said that she would not be charged under the new law.  By the end of 1938, a new cancer commission was formed of 6 doctors who were to investigate the prior proceedings, but once again the decision was against Rene’s work with Essiac, with most of the patients testimonials and the evidence in support of Essiac being thrown out of the hearing.  The medical officials claimed that the original doctors must have made a misdiagnosis, stating that “these people couldn’t really have had cancer in the first place,” or that the healings were just a delayed reaction of the conventional treatments.

Following this legal decision, doctors were no longer allowed to send patients to her, and without an official diagnosis she could not treat the patients who did come to the clinic.  Rene officially closed the clinic doors in 1942.  She later  suffered a nervous breakdown when she realized that she would no longer be able to help the people who were so desperately depending on her.  In her later years, Rene resorted to healing people from the basement of her home where she continued to treat them privately up until her death in 1978.

One year before her death, Rene signed over all rights to the original Essiac formula to the Resperin Corporation Ltd for $1.00 after the company gave her assurances that they would continue to manufacture and distribute Essiac to those who needed it. But as soon as they got the formula, they told Rene they no longer had a use for her, even though she had been under the distinct impression that she was to lead their research activities.

She thought the Resperin Corporation was politically powerful and had the money to get Essiac into the public sector without compromising her values, but then she found out the Corporation was really working closely with the government and the Ministry of Health & Welfare, and their plan left people who were terminally ill to have to go through a federal bureaucratic maze in order to get the remedy.  Then, on May 29, 1995, Resperin transferred the rights to the original formula to a company by the name of  Essiac Canada International who has successfully managed to distribute the formula worldwide.  It should be noted that their version does not contain the roots of the sheep sorrel plant as Rene’s original formula did, and their product is not organic.  I have added a link to a quality product below that meets both of these criteria.

Cancer; The Forbidden Cures– This amazing film includes interviews with Ms Caisse and historical footage in which she tells her story of healing so many people of cancer.  Jump to 22:38 for the portion which features Ms Caisse.  There is also a demonstration on how to brew the tea.

The ingredients in Essiac Tea

Rene named the tea “Essiac” (which is Caisse spelled backwards) is often referred to as a tea, but it is actually a decoction because the herbs are boiled and then steeped for 12 hours.

In order to be considered a true Essiac it must always contain the four essential elements: burdock root, roots and leaves from the sheep sorrel, bark from the slippery elm, and Turkish rhubarb root. Many recipes that are sold today do not include the roots of the sheep sorrel plant so always check before purchasing an inferior product.

The tea is rich in both vitamins and minerals and works to detoxify the body as well as rebuild the immune system, this allows the body to defeat an illness or a diseased state by using its own resources.

Recipe to brew your own essiac tea

You can find an Essiac Tea Organic Blend that contains all of the herbs (including sheep sorrel roots) that Rene Caisse used in the correct ratio or you can obtain the individual herbs that are listed below to mix together yourself.

1  1/2 pounds of burdock root (finely chopped)

1 pound of sheep sorrel (powdered) (to be a true essiac this must contain the roots and the leaves of the plant, most on the market today to not include the roots)

1/4 pound of slippery elm bark (powdered)

1 ounce of Turkish rhubarb root (powdered)

Mix your herbs together in a food processor and then store it in airtight glass jars in a dry, dark cupboard until they are needed to make the tea. One half cup of the herb mixture will make 1 gallon of Essiac Tea, so this mixture will last you for quite awhile.


  • Have your utensils, bottles and pans sterilized (and still hot) by boiling or by running though your dishwasher.
  • Avoid using plastic and aluminum while preparing or storing the formula.
  • Measure out 1/2 cup of the mixed herbs which will make one gallon of finished tea.
  • You should use 1 gallon of spring,  reverse osmosis, or distilled water only– never chlorinated or fluoridated water, and then add 2 extra cups of water to account for the loss that will occur during the cooking process.
  • Use a stainless steel pot with a lid.
  • Bring to a rolling boil for 10 minutes with the lid on, while being careful not to let the water boil over.
  • Turn off the heat and scrape down to pot to get all of the herbs below the water line.
  • Then cover with a lid and let the mixture steep overnight (about 12 hours).
  • In the morning, you will heat it up to steaming hot (but the tea should not boil), and then let the tea settle to the bottom of the pan for about 10 minutes.
  • Remove the tea from the pan with a ladle or a measuring cup, that way you wont disturb the sediment that has accumulated at the bottom of the pan.
  • Fill a liquid measuring cup that has a spout or use a funnel to pour the mixture into your still hot sterilized mason jars.
  • Never put the tea through a filter as you want some to have some of the sediment in the bottles.  The rest of the sediment can be left in the pan.
  • Cap the bottles while they are hot.
  • Allow to cool and then store in the refrigerator.
  • The tea should last for several weeks in the refrigerator.
  • Discard the tea if it develops a sour taste or if mold develops.
  • Do not freeze or microwave your tea.


The dosage that Rene would give her patients was 1 ounce, taken once or twice per day. The serving is made by mixing one ounce of the finished tea with 2 ounces of hot water. The tea is to be sipped slowly, and each sip should be held in the mouth for 15-30 seconds.  Essiac should be taken on an empty stomach. Do not consume any food for 1 hour before or after taking Essiac Tea.   The tea is detoxifying, so it is important to drink lots of water when taking Essiac to help to flush out the toxins. It is recommended that one take regular breaks from essiac tea to allow the body to detox properly.  This can be done by taking a weekend off every 5 days, and taking a week off once a month.

How to make the tea


  • Do not take If you are pregnant, nursing or trying to conceive, or if you are breast feeding as properties of this tea may pass through the mother’s milk to the infant.
  • Do not take If you have kidney disease, or are prone to kidney stones, or kidney infections-the tea contains oxalic acids which can be irritating to the kidneys.
  • Do not take if you have a bowel obstruction. The Turkey Rhubarb may promote peristalsis (the action by which the bowel moves it’s contents through quickly). In the case of bowel obstruction, this is considered a medical emergency.
  • Do not take if you have ulcers or colitis. Some ingredients in this tea can be highly irritating to ulcers and colitis, exacerbating (or worsening) these conditions.
  • Do not take if you have a history of increased levels of iron in your blood.
  • Children under the age of 12 should not take this tea
  • Do not take if you have tumors that are encroaching on a major blood supply, or an area of an organ that expansion of the tumor could have dire consequences, such as in a brain tumor, etc. Consult with your doctor to find out if this applies to you. Rene reported that some tumors enlarge and harden before they begin to break down. If this is the case, it can cause a life threatening emergency in some situations.

Essiac as a cancer therapy

Currently, Essiac Tea is considered to be a “Phase III cancer treatment,” meaning it is not considered strong enough to be the core element of a “Stage IV” treatment.  The reason for this downgrade is because when Rene treated her patients she would brew the tea herself and gave it to her patients within 48 hours of preparation. When you buy ready-made Essiac Tea products online or by mail, the products may be several months old, or have been dehydrated, processed and then stored for long periods of time.  According to Cancer Tutor, this treatment would be rated higher if people could grow their own herbs or had access to fresh organically grown herbs and then brewed the tea themselves as is being described in this post.

Additional Resources

Read the original 1977 article written in Homemaker’s magazine which details Essiac’s history and in-depth stories of those who were healed from its use.

Read more at 

Visit Essiac Facts for additional information on the use of Essiac

Testimonials of healing cancer with essiac tea

John Tanzi heals stage 4 colon cancer with diet, essiac tea and beta glucans

Di Georgiou heals breast cancer with black salve and essiac tea

Sue Ledbetter used essiac as well as many other therapies for inflammatory breast cancer

  Essiac Tea Herbs organic with sheep sorrel roots included

Related Articles
Cancer is a wake up call which needs to be addressed on multiple fronts.  It is the result of an overly toxic body with an overwhelmed and collapsed immune system due to eating nutritionally depleted diets, exposure to toxins, and having poor lifestyle habits. Research an anticancer diet, adding supplements, detoxing the body, and making lifestyle changes so you can address a cancerous situation with a multifaceted approach.


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