A very popular complementary and alternative cancer treatment, said to be used by 16 % of cancer patients in Canada is Essiac.
The National Cancer Institute describes Essiac as a herbal tea mixture that contains burdock root, Indian rhubarb root, sheep sorrel, and slippery elm bark.
Essiac dosage is generally one ml, taken one to three times a day on an empty stomach. Side effects are nausea, and diarrhea.
Essiac is advertised as a cellular regenerator and detoxifier. For cancer patients it is utilized to reduce tumor size, and as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever.
The secret original formula for Essiac was developed by the Canadian nurse Rene Caisse (1888-1978). in Essiac is Caisse spelled backwards. Her formulas was said to be from a traditional Ontario Ojibwa Native American remedy. Caisse administered the formula orally and by injection to cancer patients during the 1920s and 1930s at her free clinic.
In the 1970s, the formula was sold to Resperin Corporation Ltd. with an agreement to begin clinical trials on the product.
Per the American Cancer Society: “There have been no published clinical trials in conventional medical journals showing the effectiveness of Essiac in the treatment of cancer. Some of the specific herbs contained in the mixture have shown some anti-cancer effects in laboratory experiments. However, available scientific evidence does not support its use for the treatment of cancer in humans.”
No completed human clinical trials have been documented.
According to the Memorial Sloan- Kettering Cancer Center “data on Essiac is conflicting but it is known that Essiac can interfere with some chemotherapy drugs. Cancer patients should use caution.”
Today Essiac products are sold as a herbal supplement and not as a drug. Essiac is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Per NCCAM (The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine) “In the United States, herbal and other dietary supplements are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as foods. This means that they do not have to meet the same standards as drugs and over-the-counter medications for proof of safety, effectiveness, and what the FDA calls Good Manufacturing Practices.”