A survey conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) in December 2008 shows approximately 38% of American adults use alternative medicines. With the use and availability of alternative medicines on the rise, how do you weed out the placebos? One herbal remedy up for debate is Essiac, allegedly a Native American tea, used for the treatment of cancer. The herbal mixture has been extensively researched since its discovery and the following are the findings.


In 1922, a nurse, Rene Caisse, from Ontario, Canada heard of a Native American tea that one of her patients acquired from a Ojibwa medicine man that she claimed cured her breast cancer. Caisse allegedly obtained the recipe and opened her own clinic offering the mixture, which she called Essiac--her last name spelled backwards, as an alternative treatment for cancer.


The original formula made by the Ojibwa medicine man included burdock root, slippery elm inner bark, sheep sorrel, Indian rhubarb root, watercress, blessed thistle, red clover and kelp.


According to the American Cancer Society’s website, cancer.org, there have been no published clinical trials in conventional medical journals showing the effectiveness of Essiac in the treatment of cancer. They go on to say, some of the specific herbs contained in the mixture have shown some anti-cancer effects in lab experiments, however, did not treat the cancer itself.


Other claimed benefits of Essiac include, strengthens immune function, relieves pain, cleanses the blood, promotes cell repair, restores energy level and detoxifies the body.


According to thedietchannel.com, those drinking Essiac could experience headache, nausea, diarrhea, constipation and vomiting. Essiac has been known to cause death if injected into the blood stream.