Essiac also known as Essiac tea is a blend or mixture of herbs which is used in alternative medicine for the treatment of cancer and other illnesses. In ancient times it was in use by the Native Americans for treating various illnesses. A Canadian nurse Rene Caisse rediscovered the recipe in 1922. She had observed a case of breast cancer been treated by this remedy. The nurse named the tea thus, as was her last name spelt backwards. She used it to treat many people suffering from cancer. She died in the year 1978. She had also conducted many researches to prove the effectiveness of this remedy. For this she worked at a renowned hospital in Boston. The basic ingredients in this herbal preparation were greater burdock root (Articum lappa), slippery elms inner bark (Ulmus rubra) also known as Ulmus flava, Indian or Turkish Rhubarb (Rheum Officinale) and sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella). Many of the brands available nowadays contain 4 or 6 or 8 ingredients. Caisse also set up a free cancer clinic in Ontario in order to cure patients suffering from cancer using Essiac. This clinic was in operation from 1934 to around 1942. For more than 50 years until her death in 1978 when she turned 90, she had treated thousands of cancer patients. She treated patients who were written off as terminally ill by famous doctors of those times. She gave the formula for the manufacture of the preparation to Resperin Corporation Ltd. Sometime in the 1970’s in order that the trails may be done on humans and that the drug be officially certified for doing benefit in treatment of terminally ill cancer patients. The company however shut down much before they started the trial of the drug on humans. Later on the formula was sold to Essiac Products Ltd, which currently markets the medicine.
There are reports claiming the use of Essiac tea for general health benefits. Infact it seems to be a panacea for a variety of illnesses, not only cancer. It is used for general wellbeing and detoxification of the body. Some other ailments which can be treated with this tea are depression, mental disorders, stress, jaundice, burns, cough of a long duration, hepatitis, diabetes mellitus, stomach disorders, problems in digestion, acid peptic disease, dyspepsia, skin problems like acne, urticaria, eczema, dermatitis, sores, rashes, bronchial asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, AIDS, liver disorders, kidney problems, immune system disorders.
Efficiency: As far as the question of is concerned, there is currently not enough evidence to prove or disprove the efficacy of this herbal preparation. Human cancer trials have not been carried out so far to prove its efficacy. The various ingredients used for the preparation of this formula have been individually used since ancient times for the treatment of various illnesses. Rhubarb has shown to contain some antitumour properties; slippery elm inner bark has so far no recorded anti tumour efficacy. Sheep sorrel and burdock have been used since ancient times in the treatment of cancer. But there is not enough evidence to guarantee the treatment of cancer by Essiac.
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