ESSIAC FAQ - Frequently asked Questions


What is Essiac Tea?

Essiac is a four-herb tea which was developed from a native American remedy by Canadian nurse Rene Caisse. According to the research of Sheila Snow and Mali Klein the original, native formula consisted of eight herbs. Rene Caisse used the tea on patients in her cancer clinic in Bracebridge, Ontario. In conjunction with medical doctors and many years of clinical research, the herbal combination was modified and reduced to a decoction of the following four herbs: cut burdock root (arctium lappa), sheep sorrel powder, root included (rumex acetosella), slippery elm bark powder (ulmus rubra/fulva) and turkey rhubarb root (rheum palmatum). It is this combination that has proven reliable efficacy and clinical data to back up its claims.

Why is Essiac tea with sheep sorrel roots more expensive?

Sheep Sorrel root is a key ingredient of Essiac. The problem with harvesting sheep sorrel roots is that it kills the whole plant.  It takes at least two years to plant, grow and harvest one crop of sheep sorrel roots.  The sheep sorrel roots must be dug up and thoroughly washed.  This can be labor intensive and requires more work and more expense than just mowing the sheep sorrel leaves and stems with modern machinery. 

Is Essiac tea a Drug?

Some people have referred to Essiac tea as a drug.  However, Essiac is not a drug.  Essiac is a non-toxic tea.  Essiac does not disable or kill people like pharmaceutical drugs do.  Many people drink Essiac tea simply because it is a pleasant-tasting beverage.  Essiac is food. 
During a two-year judicial trial in Hull, Quebec, at  which Sheila Snow testified, a company manufacturing a decoction using the same herbs as those in the Essiac recipe was cited for advertising its product as a cure for cancer without applying for a Drug Identification number.  The resulting adjudication classified the product as a food, not a drug.  One of the defence attorneys presented the court with the following definitions:
Food:  A natural substance or combination of bio-organic substances containing nutrients or nutritive products to: 
  • maintain and support living tissues
  • permit the regeneration of living cells
  • supply energy for the physiological equilibrium within an organism
Drug:  A substance or combination of substances, usually made of synthetic or isolated compounds and matter (other than food) that alters or modifies:
  • the physical state
  • the psychological state
  • the emotional state
Remedy: A substance or combination of substances usually originating from a natural source that can correct the physiological equilibrium with an organism.

Conclusion:  Food can be remedial without being a drug.


How does Essiac tea work on cancer and are there any side effects?

In May of 1974 Rene Caisse wrote the following words to Dr. Chester Stock:  "It took years to find out the one herb that actually worked on the growth itself i.e. Sheep Sorrel.  The other herbs I used to purify the blood and throw off any infection thrown off by the malignant growth as it regressed." 1
"The research showed Sheep Sorrel, the most acidic ingredient at pH 4.5, to be the one herb that had a directly destructive effect on cancerous cells.  All the initial experiments were carried out on laboratory mice:  'We found that on mice inoculated with human carcinoma, the growth regressed until it was no longer invading living tissue after nine days of Essiac experiments.'"  2
Rene Caisse described this process in detail in the following three paragraphs: 

"Most importantly, and this was verified in animal tests conducted at the Brusch Medical Center and other laboratories, it was discovered that one of the most dramatic effects of taking this remedy was its affinity for drawing all the cancer cells which had spread back to the original site at which point the tumor would first harden, then later it would soften, until it vanished altogether or more realistically, the tumor would decrease in size to where it could then be surgically removed with minimal complications.

"In certain cases and at certain stages of the disease, the cancer would act as if it were 'coming to a head', similar to an abscess. It would then break down and slough away.  These people all reported that when the mass breaks, it isn't like pus but like a cottage cheese substance that comes away.  Still other types will enlarge until the mass is localized, then loosen and reduce in size until there is nothing left, having been absorbed into and carried off by the blood stream and body waste.  

"I found also that no matter where the malignancy may be in the human body, surgery would be much more successful after six to eight treatments of Essiac, followed by further treatments once a week after the operation for a period of three months; then there would be no recurrence of the tumor.  In the case of breast cancers, the primary growth will usually invade the mammary gland of the opposite breast or the auxilla (armpit), or both.  My treatment, I found, reduced the secondary growth into the primary mass, enlarging it for a time.  When it became localized, it was encapsulated and could then be removed without danger of recurrence.  In one instance, a patient with breast cancer was instructed by her doctor to have six Essiac treatments before undergoing surgery.  After the fifth treatment, however, the cancer disappeared, with no recurrence."3 

"It is very important to use the dosage as recommended, which was based on more than 54 years' experience.  Rene was very concerned about this, which is why she personally administered the dose to her patients.  The herbs are very potent, and in particular Sheep Sorrel can have the effect of enlarging the tumor too quickly, so that it may burst, or a vital organ may be blocked because of its increase in size.  Sometimes the tumors will soften, dissolve into small pieces and be eliminated through the bowel or the urinary tract.  Cancer growths in the breast have been known to become encapsulated within six weeks to three months, and can then be removed surgically with little danger of metastasizing in the future.  Cancers of the oesophagus have also become encapsulated and removed cleanly and safely by surgery."4
"Depending on special circumstances, very occasionally in her later years, she would sometimes advise an initial dose of one fluid ounce(30ml) twice daily for the first five, ten or (rarely) thirty days before reducing to one fluid ounce a day.  Rene was always very particular about this because she was aware that sometimes, when patients first began taking the Essiac formula, their tumours might enlarge suddenly as though they were gathering back the cancerous cells that had metastasized.  When that happened, she either gave lighter doses or stopped treatment altogether for a time, to prevent a vital organ from becoming blocked.  It all depended on the nature and position of the tumour.  For example, primary brain tumours rarely metastasize and we have had no reports of this type of swelling when taking Essiac in these cases.  Essiac should never be administered intravenously.4

According to the authors of ESSIAC ESSENTIALS [p. 45], the following reactions may occur when treating cancer that demonstrate how Essiac works:
a)  swelling--occurs when metastasized cells gather into the primary tumour.
b) cottage cheese effect--resembling curds and clear liquid, occurs as the cancer breaks up and discharges from either the body orifices or from localized cysts or swellings.  A jelly-like substance can also be discharged or coughed up from the lungs.
c) more frequent passing of urine/defecation and other inexplicable discharges--occuring as the body detoxifies.  If the symptoms are severe, with related nausea and pain, stop taking the formula for a few days until all the symptoms have subsided.  When you start drinking it again, take half an ounce every other day, gradually resuming the original dosage.  Remember that all diseases have a life cycle and a rhythm of their own, so follow your own judgement according to what your body is telling you about the dosage it needs.
d) aching 'on site' and headaches, linked to the detoxification process, have been noted as sometimes occurring when taking Essiac after surgery.  Treat as for (c) and drink more water to flush out toxins from the body.
e) fever or chills--sometimes occurring when the Essiac starts working directly on the cancerous cells.

1.ESSIAC:  Secrets of Rene Caisse's Herbal Pharmacy p. 23
2.ESSIAC:  Secrets of Rene Caisse's Herbal Pharmacy p. 23/24

Is Essiac tea effective against cancer?

Let's answer this question from the perspective of Rene Caisse and what she stated about the effectiveness of Essiac. After all, she is the only person in the medical field who has extensively researched Essiac (for over fifty years). It is also significant to note that she was not an herbalist per se. She was the head nurse of a mainstream hospital and she followed modern scientific methods by first using Essiac on laboratory mice. She later used Essiac on terminal cancer patients in her cancer clinic with the support of medical doctors. The following excerpt is from Rene Caisse's own words in her publication "I Was Canada's Cancer Nurse":

"In the mid-twenties I was head nurse at the Sisters of Providence in a northern Ontario town. One day one of my nurses was bathing an elderly lady patient. I noticed that one breast was a mass of scar tissue, and asked about it.

"'I came out from England nearly 30 years ago.' she told me. 'I joined my husband who was prospecting in the wilds of Northern Ontario. My right breast became sore and swollen, and very painful. My husband brought me to Toronto, and the doctors told me I had advanced cancer and my breast must be removed at once. Before we left camp a very old Indian medicine man had told me I had cancer, but he could cure it. I decided I’d just as soon try his remedy as to have my breast removed. One of my friends had died from breast surgery. Besides, we had no money.'

"She and her husband returned to the mining camp, and the old Indian showed her certain herbs growing in the area, told her to make a tea from these herbs and to drink it every day. She was nearly 80 years old when I saw her and there had been no recurrence of cancer. I was much interested and wrote down the names of the herbs she had used. I knew that doctors threw up their hands when cancer was discovered in a patient; it was the same as a death sentence, just about. I decided that if I should ever develop cancer, I would use this herb tea.

"About a year later I was visiting an aged retired doctor whom I knew well. We were walking slowly about his garden when he took his cane and lifted a weed. "Nurse Caisse," he told me, "if people would use this weed there would be very little cancer in the world." He told me the name of the plant. It was one of the herbs my patient named as an ingredient of the Indian medicine man’s tea!

"A few months later I received word that my mother’s only sister had been operated on in Brockville, Ontario. The doctors had found she had cancer of the stomach with a liver involvement, and gave her at the most six months to live. I hastened to her and talked to her doctor. He was Dr. R. O. Fisher of Toronto, whom I knew well because I had nursed patients for him many times. I told him about the herb tea and asked his permission to try it under his observation, since there was apparently nothing more medical science could do for my aunt. He consented quickly. I obtained the necessary herbs, with some difficulty, and made the tea.

"My aunt lived for 21 years after being given up by the medical profession. There was no recurrence of cancer. Dr. Fisher was so impressed he asked me to use the treatment on some of his other hopeless cancer cases. Other doctors heard about me from Dr. Fisher and asked me to treat patients for them after everything medical science had to offer had failed. They too were impressed with the results. Several of these doctors asked me if I would be willing to use the treatment on an old man whose face was eaten away, and who was bleeding so badly the doctors said he could not live more than 10 days.

"We will not expect a miracle," they told me. "But if your treatment can help this man in this stage of cancer, we will know that you have discovered something the whole world needs desperately -- a successful remedy for cancer." My treatment stopped the bleeding in 24 hours. He lived for six months with very little discomfort.

"On the strength of what those doctors saw with their own eyes, eight of them signed a petition to the Department of National Health and Welfare at Ottawa, asking that I be given facilities to do independent research on my discovery. Their petition, dated at Toronto on October 27, 1926, read as follows:

'To Whom It May Concern: 'We the undersigned believe that the "Treatment for Cancer" given by Nurse R.M. Caisse can do no harm and that 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 remarkable beneficial results on those cases at that late stage.

We would be interested to see her given an opportunity to prove her work in a large way. To the best of our knowledge she has treated all cases free of any charge and has been carrying on this work over the period of the past two years.'

(Signed by the eight doctors)

"I was joyful beyond words at this expression of confidence by such outstanding doctors regarding the benefits derived from my treatment. My joy was short-lived. Soon after receiving this petition, the Department of Health and Welfare sent two doctors from Ottawa to have me arrested for 'practicing medicine without a license'.

"This was the beginning of nearly 50 years of persecution by those in authority, from the government to the medical profession, that I endured in trying to help those afflicted with cancer. However, when these two doctors sent from Ottawa, found that I was working with nine of the most eminent physicians in Toronto, and was giving my treatment only at their request, and under their observation, they did not arrest me.

"Dr. W.C. Arnold, one of the investigating doctors, became so interested in my treatment that he arranged to have me work on mice at the Christie Street Hospital Laboratories in Toronto, with Dr. Norich and Dr. Lockhead. I did so from 1928 through 1930. These mice were inoculated with Rous Sarcoma. I kept the mice alive 52 days, longer than anyone else had been able to do, and in later experiments with two other doctors, I kept mice alive for 72 days with ESSIAC.

"This was not my first clinical experience. I had previously converted Mother’s basement into a laboratory, where I worked with doctors who were interested in my treatment. We found that on mice inoculated with human carcinoma, the growth regressed until it was no longer invading living tissue after nine days of ESSIAC treatments.

"This was during the period when I was working on Dr. Fisher’s suggestion that the treatment could be made effective if given by injection, rather than in liquid form, as a tea. I started eliminating one substance and then another; finally when the protein content was eliminated, I found that the ingredients which stopped the malignancy growth could be given by intermuscular injection without causing the reaction that had followed my first experiments with injecting mice. However, I found that the ingredients removed from the injection formula, which reduced growth of cancer, were necessary to the treatment. These apparently carried off destroyed tissue and infections thrown off by the malignancy.

"By giving the intermuscular injection in the forearm, to destroy the mass of the malignant cells, and giving the medicine orally to purify the blood, I got quicker results than when the medicine was all given orally, which was my original treatments until Dr. Fisher suggested further experiments and developing an injection that could be given without reaction.

"I well remember the first injection of the medication in a human patient. Dr. Fisher called and said he had a patient from Lyons, New York, who had cancer of the throat and tongue. He wanted me to inject ESSIAC into the tongue. Well, I was nearly scared to death. And there was a violent reaction. The patient developed a severe chill; his tongue swelled so badly the doctor had to press it down with a spatula to let him breathe. This lasted about 20 minutes. Then the swelling went down, the chill subsided, and the patient was all right. The cancer stopped growing, the patient went home and lived quite comfortably for almost four years.

"At the time I first used my treatment on terminal cancer cases--or cancers that did not respond to approved treatment referred to me by the nine Toronto doctors--I was still nursing 12 hours a day, the customary work day for nurses then. I had only my two-hour rest period and my evenings to give to my research work and my treatments.

"I decided to give up nursing, to have more time for my research and treatment of patients. Doctors started sending patients to me at my apartment and I was treating about 30 every day.

"I now felt I had some scientific evidence to present that would convince the medical profession my treatment had real merit. I made an appointment with Dr. Frederick Banting of the Banting Institute, Department of medical Research, University of Toronto, world famous for his discovery of insulin. After reading my case notes, and examining pictures of the man with the face cancer before and after treatment, and x-rays of other cancers I had treated, he sat quietly for a few minutes staring into space.

"'Miss Caisse,' he finally said, turning to look me straight in the eyes, 'I will not say you have a cure for cancer. But you have more evidence of a beneficial treatment for cancer than anyone in the world.'"


Is Essiac compatible with chemotherapy and radiation treatments?

"Chemotherapy: This can have a devastating effect on your blood cell count. There have been reliable reports of some doctors actually telling their patients to get hold of a good supply of Essiac and take it to bring their blood count back up to an acceptable level before they undertake further chemotherapy. Essiac is generally well tolerated alongside the various chemotherapies, and seems to make a marked difference to the patient's quality of life and general well-being during treatment."1

"Radiation therapy: This is generally well tolerated when the patient is taking Essiac, and energy levels are usually very well maintained. Some patients from the Bracebridge Clinic who made a full recovery from their cancer had been treated with radium." 2

"Those taking Essiac have frequently reported well-maintained energy and immune system levels, both during and after courses of radio-therapy treatment." 3

'this (Essiac) is an excellent blood cleanser and can help tremendously if someone is toxic either from chemotherapy or radiation."
statement by Dr. Jesse Stoff 2

"The Essiac therapy is generally well tolerated when used in conjunction with other conventional and alternative therapies, including steroid drugs, but it should always be taken separately to give its particular synergy every possible chance to work for itself."


What types of cancers were successfully treated?

According to Rene Caisse, "at least eighteen different types of cancers from the Bracebridge case histories are on record as having been successfully treated with the tea. This include cancers of: the breast, cheek, kidney, pancreas, stomach, bladder, oesophagus, jaw, penis, uterus, cervix, ear, lip, prostate, bowel, chin, nose, rectum.

Many of the cancers successfully treated since 1977 are included in the list of early case histories. Others reported are cancer of:
the brain, tonsils, bone, ovaries, eye, salivary gland as well as lymphatic leukaemia and lymphoma."1
"Essiac's primary function appears to boost the immune system and stimulate feelings of well-being in whoever is using the tea, as well as possibly providing some general remedial value in treating cancerous conditions. Considering this, Essiac may have some beneficial effect on any cancer, both primary and metastatic, depending on the individual person." 2
"In the past, Rene Caisse treated a variety of cancerous conditions, most of them considered beyond all medical help. Diagnoses then were usually confirmed by clinical examinations, X-rays and sometimes with a biopsy. Her case histories revealed favorable results in the treatment of all types of facial and head cancers; those of every internal organ, including the liver and pancreas, two of the most difficult to arrest; cancers of the male and female organs, lymph glands and others. Many patients treated by the nurse improved and some completely healed. Nor were these improvements limited to cancer cases exclusively. Cysts, fibroid tumors, chronic mastitis and ulcers similarly responded to her therapy. Today's cancers treated successfully with this remedy include those already mentioned, as well as tumors of the brain, bone, eye, ovaries, salivary glands, tonsils and even leukemia."3

Rene Caisse stated: "After a few treatments, patients seemed to throw off their depression, fear and distress. Their outlook became optimistic and as pain decreased, they became happy and talkative. I can truthfully say that I have in many cases been able to stay the disease and in some really bad cases, prolong life. In practically all cases, pain and suffering were alleviated so that the patient was not compelled to resort to opiates or narcotics in increasing doses, as usually is the case. My decoction is a non-toxic drink made from herbs which are of definite benefit for cancer." 4

3. [THE ESSENCE OF ESSIAC by Sheila Snow, p. 126]
4. [THE ESSENCE OF ESSIAC, p. 122-3]

Will Essiac Tea alone cure cancer?

The answer to this question is a matter of viewpoint. It is generally accepted that no herb "cures" anything. Drugs also do not cure anything. Drugs are usually just used to treat the symptoms of disease and they often have very negative side effects.

It is actually the human body that "cures". Medicinal herbs, natural foods and supplements are merely tools which the body uses to remedy situations in which the body is out of balance. The physiological functions of the human body are extremely complex and "modern science" is just beginning to understand how the body uses food to manufacture specific compounds for an incredible number of microbiological functions to maintain health and keep our bodies from succumbing to bacteria, viruses, pollution, genetic weaknesses, etc.

Therefore, anyone with cancer or other serious illness should look at how they can improve their diets overall because no vitamin, mineral, amino acid, flavonoid, enzyme, antioxidant, etc. functions alone. People should not rely on Essiac alone because we need all the nutrients that Nature has provided for human bodies for a very long time. From the testimonials over several years, the best results from Essiac tea are achieved when used in conjunction with a raw food vegan diet. The Gerson diet and the Budwig diet are good examples of a healthy diet for cancer patients.

In the words of Thomas Edison: "The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease."

What other conditions does Essiac successfully treat?

"Other conditions listed in the Bracebridge case histories that responded favourably to treatment were: Cysts, ulcers, benign tumours, chronic stomach and bowel problems, as well as goitres." Authors Sheila Snow and Mali Klein also stated: "We have had reports of people with diabetes reducing their daily insulin levels after some months of taking Essiac. Chronic candida problems have disappeared completely. Related to this, women who have been prone to candida infections as a result of taking antibiotics have reported that they have had no recurrence of the problem since taking the Essiac formula."1

"Essiac's primary function appears to boost the immune system and stimulate feelings of well-being in whoever is using the tea, as well as possibly providing some general remedial value in treating cancerous conditions. Considering this, Essiac may have some beneficial effect on any cancer, both primary and metastatic, depending on the individual person." 2

"Cysts, fibroid tumors, chronic mastitis and ulcers similarly responded to her therapy. The list of other conditions reportedly alleviated with the four herbs is quite lengthy....Most remarkably, AIDS and HIV blood counts have improved, psoriasis and shingles have cleared up, and arthritic patients have noted a reduction in pain as well as an increase in the flexibility of their bones and joints. As in the past, reports continue to praise the remedy's calming effects, an increase in energy levels and the stabilization of sleeping patterns, affording weary patients some much needed, restorative rest." 3

Rene Caisse stated: "Other observations I've made over my years of practice: My remedy allowed patients to sleep in greater comfort than they had in the past. The increase in appetite and weight, diminished pain, decrease in tumor size and longer life span were all attested to by doctors in attendance. Dr. Banting, who examined case after case, was especially impressed with the effects of Essiac on the pancreas and possibly other sluggish glands which it seemed to restore to activity. Other doctors who examined my patients discovered that my remedy had a special effect on the liver. After taking blood counts they found hemoglobin and white cell platelets had returned to normal." 4

CLICK HERE to learn what Dr. Marijah McCain has found about the many health benefits of Essiac tea.

3. [THE ESSENCE OF ESSIAC by Sheila Snow, p. 126-7]
4. [ESSENCE OF ESSIAC, p. 125]

How long does one Litre (30 Fl oz) of Essiac tea last??

"Taking 30ml (1 Fl oz) per day would last approximately 1 month, and on 60ml per day then 15 days.
If you were to make a 2 Litre batch (60Fl oz) then double the above averages.
It is not recommended to make more than 2 Litres at a time due to spoilage.

How to Store Essiac tea

Essiac tea herbs [dried mixture] should be stored in air-tight containers in a cool, dry, dark place. It is best to store Essiac in glass containers. Essiac tea herbs are light-sensitive (the liquid tea is also light-sensitive). However, it is not necessary to store the dried herbs in brown glass jars as long as it is stored in the dark. Canning jars are great for this because they have tight-fitting lids. For long-term storage it is best to avoid storing Essiac tea in plastic containers or plastic bags. Herbs from herb companies are shipped in plastic bags or plastic jars. However, if not used right away, the herbs should be transferred to air-tight glass containers to avoid storing in plastic containers for long-term storage. Some plastics can taint the herbs with toxic substances over a long period of time or if over-heated.

When one makes liquid Essiac tea (concentrate) from the dried herbs, it should be stored in a refrigerator unless it is properly canned using proper canning methods. Sterilizing the jars usually increases the shelf life in the refrigerator.

Can I add sweetener or other herbs to the Essiac tea?

Essiac tea should not be altered in any way before drinking except to dilute it with water. Rene Caisse researched and developed this formula over a period of 50 years with real cancer patients. She did not use a sweetener with it. She reduced the original First Nations formula to just four herbs. When anything is added to these four herbs it no longer can be called Essiac nor will it work. Also, if one puts these herbs in capsules or makes them into a tincture, it can no longer be called Essiac because Essiac is a decoction. The age old addage rings true: "If it works, don't change it."

Has Essiac Been Tested in Human Clinical Trials?

Essiac has not yet been tested in any independent, scientific clinical trials. Clinical trials are research studies with actual cancer patients, not laboratory animals. It is unlikely that any impartial clinical studies will be conducted due to the influence over governmental agencies by pharmaceutical corporations.

Who Owns Essiac?

Type “Essiac” into any search engine and you will find a great deal of controversy and confusion over who owns and sells the original Essiac formula and who owns the word “Essiac” as a trademark.  For example, two competing websites offering two different Essiac formulas both claim to have the "original" Essiac formula.  One of these companies has been aggressively challenging other websites over who owns the word "Essiac" in internet domain names and who has the trademark rights.  To answer the question “Who Owns Essiac?” we must first look at the history of Essiac.

To begin with we must understand that Rene Caisse did not use just one “Essiac” formula—there were several.  The original formula was created by an “Indian medicine man” and it consisted of eight herbs.  Rene Caisse never revealed what that entire formula was, even to her best friend Mary McPherson who made up Essiac tea for Rene Caisse’s patients.  However, Essiac researcher Mali Klein believes she knows what the original eight herbs were based upon archival evidence that she inherited from one of Rene Caisse’s friends, Sheila Snow. 

In the 1890s the "Indian medicine man" freely gave the original eight-herb formula to a woman in northern Ontario for her breast cancer.  In 1922 this woman gave the recipe to Nurse Rene Caisse free of charge.  Rene did nothing with the tea until her aunt was diagnosed with inoperable stomach cancer in 1924.1

Rene Caisse gave the tea to relatives and cancer patients and tested it on mice.  Early on in her research Rene weeded out two of the original herbs, periwinkle and red clover.2  She then continued using various combinations of sheep sorrel root & leaf, burdock root, slippery elm bark, rhubarb root, goldthread and watercress until her death in 1978.  She also used others herbs topically such as bloodroot, an herb that is used in the Hoxsey treatments.

Rene Caisse began using the word “Essiac”, her last name spelled backwards, in the 1930s or perhaps as early as the latter half of the 1920s.  She even used the word “Essiac” to describe sheep sorrel decoction.  She provided the tea free of charge15 so she never established "Essiac" even as a common law trademark.  A trademark, by definition, is a legal term associated with proprietary words used in commerce.  The word "trademark" is applicable only to vendable (marketable) commodities, a term identifying and distinguishing a business' products. A common law trademark can be established merely through the marketing of a product.  Trademarks do not have to be registered with a government to be a trademark. 

Rene Caisse did patent her kidney pills in 1942 but the patent was officially withdrawn in 1976.  However, Rene never obtained a patent or trademark for Essiac.4

"Essiac" became a household word (not a trademark name) in 1935 in Bracebridge, Ontario when Rene Caisse opened up her Cancer Clinic.  Years later in the summer of 1977 interest in Essiac exploded and Essiac became a household word in Canada and the United States with the publishing of the article "Could Essiac Halt Cancer" by Homemaker's Magazine, based upon the research of Sheila Snow.  In 1988 "Essiac" became a household word worldwide when Dr. Gary Glum published CALLING OF AN ANGEL.

"Essiac" didn't become a trademark name until the fall of 1977 when Rene Caisse sold the formula for $1.00 to David Fingard of the Resperin company on the understanding that they would conduct clinical trials on human patients to demonstrate the efficacy of Essiac tea.  However, the clinical trials never happened and Rene did not receive any of her contractual royalties.  Once Resperin got the formula they ceased all contact with Rene and never consulted or cooperated with Rene in promoting Essiac, in further breach of their contract.  Also, they never even consulted with Rene Caisse on how to prepare the tea (when Rene was alive), so Rene's best friend, Mary McPherson, had to show them how to make up the tea after Rene died.5  It therefore appears that Rene only gave Resperin the ingredients to the tea but not the recipe to make it.  Two decades later in 2000 Mary McPherson stated that the company that was allegedly continuing the Resperin corporation work was not making up the tea like Rene Caisse did.6

Dr. Gary Glum, a California chiropractor, claimed that he bought a four-herb version of the Essiac formula in 1985 from Mrs. Pat Judson of Deering, Michigan.  He made this announcement at Andre's Restaurant in Bracebridge in the fall of 1988 with several witnesses present including Mary McPherson and her husband.7  

Pat Judson first visited Rene in 1977 to obtain Essiac tea for herself and another person.7  Mrs. Judson was president of the Detroit chapter of the Foundation for Alternative Cancer Therapy, or "FACT".  She was involved in a class action suit in Detroit demanding the right to have access to Essiac in the United States.  Rene Caisse traveled to Detroit to receive an award at the FACT convention in September of 1978.8  Pat Judson and her husband traveled to Bracebridge, Ontario in August of 1978 for Rene's 90th birthday. 

Dr. Glum did not keep the Essiac formula secret as others have done.  He freely gave the formula and recipe to anyone who requested it, thereby releasing the Essiac formula into the public domain.  In 1988 Dr. Glum released CALLING OF AN ANGEL and promoted the sale of his video tape showing people how to make Essiac tea in their own homes.  The video also exposed the pharmaceutical cartels and their control over the politics of modern medicine.

Rene Caisse gave a 7-herb version of the Essiac formula to her best friend, Mary McPherson.9  Mary knew the 4-herb version because she was the only person that Rene allowed to brew Essiac tea for her cancer patients.  In 1994 Mary McPherson recorded and filed a sworn affidavit in the Town of Bracebridge, Ontario which confirmed that Dr. Glum's version of the Essiac formula was correct.  This officially placed this version of Essiac formula and recipe in the public domain.  Researcher Mali Klein refers to this formula as the "classic" Essiac formula.10

Rene Caisse briefly joined forces with Dr. Charles Brusch to research Essiac at the Brusch Medical Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1959-1960.  However, Rene Caisse did not give Dr. Brusch the Essiac formula.11  Dr. Brusch's formula, which was eventually called Flor•Essence®, was technically not Essiac tea because he used two herbs in the tea that Rene Caisse never used, blessed thistle and kelp.  The book ESSIAC, The Secrets of Rene Caisse's Herbal Pharmacy reveals all the herbs that Rene used.

It also appears that Rene Caisse gave a version of the Essiac formula to Gilbert Blondin of Hull, Quebec.  However, this may have been a different Essiac formula.4  Mr. Blondin later took on a partner, Pierre Gaulin, in 1985.12  Mr. Gaulin obtained a trademark, "ESSIAC®" (all capital letters), on Dec. 4, 1990 for "ESSIAC International" and "ESSIAC Products Services", a Florida corporation.  Dr. Gary Glum had already released his version of the Essiac formula and recipe into the public domain for anyone to use two years before Pierre Gaulin registered a trademark.  Mr. Gaulin's trademark states that the word Essiac was first used in commerce in 1922.  According to the research of Sheila Snow and Mali Klein, this could not be a true statement because Rene Caisse didn't even try to use the "Indian medicine man's" eight-herb formula until 1924.  Apparently, Rene Caisse did not begin using the word "Essiac" until the latter half of the 1920s at the earliest.  More importantly, Rene Caisse never used the word Essiac in commerce (unless one counts the time that she sold one version of the formula to David Fingard of the now defunct Resperin corporation for one dollar in 1977.) 

Pierre Gaulin attempted to obtain Essiac domain names such as, and from a Canadian company in a 2009 National Arbitration Forum under UDRP, which stands for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy.  UDRP is the procedure for resolving disputes concerning the registration of internet domain names.  People contractually agree to this arbitration procedure when purchasing a domain name.  Under UDRP the complainant must prove each of the following three elements to obtain an order that a domain name should be cancelled or transferred:

(1)  the domain name registered by the Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;

(2)  the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and

(3)  the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

Under this UDRP decision the arbitration panel found that Pierre Gaulin failed to prove that the Respondent had no rights or legitimate interests in the Essiac domain names.  Gaulin's complaint was therefore dismissed.  This decision is interesting because the Respondents, Altramed, Canadian Health Products, Living Proof Health Products and Faith Jennings, claimed that they had rights to use Essiac as a domain name because "Resperin assigned to Essiac Products, Inc. all rights and interest in the Essiac business" in 1995.  "In 2002, Essiac Canada International Inc., a Canadian corporation, acquired all rights from Essiac Products, Inc."  They further claimed that "Essiac" was registered by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office in 1980.  In other words, both the Claimant and Respondent had registered Essiac as a trademark in typed capital letters, "ESSIAC®", and both companies use identical artistic logos on their products (except one is green and the other is red). 

Anyone can visit the United States Trademark and Patent Office website,, and type in "essiac" and see that the US recognizes multiple users of the word "ESSIAC" (all capital letters) including both the Canadian corporation and the Florida corporation.  Also, numerous books have been copyrighted in the US, UK and Canadian governments using the word "Essiac" in their titles and text.

It is important to note that the dueling trademarks case mentioned above did not cover copyrights, which would apply to UDRP element.12  People who have written books about Essiac also have the right to use the word "essiac" in their domain names as well as the websites that sell these books.  "Essiac" was a word used under copyright before it became a trademark.  Sheila Snow researched and co-wrote the the Homemaker's Magazine article, which was published by Comac Communications in June 1977.  (I have an original copy of this issue of Homemaker's Magazine on my desk as I write this.)  Rene did not sell one of her Essiac formulas to the Resperin corporation until several months later.

Of course, the word "Essiac" was a household word (common law, not a trademark) and was used in a variety of publications (under copyright) for over fifty years before it was ever registered as a trademark (in all capital letters). Words used in everyday parlance can be registered as a trademark if the words used are used in a unique manner.  For example, a well-known computer company used the word "Apple" as a registered trademark because the combination of the common word "apple" and selling computers was a unique combination.   This does not mean, of course, that no one can use the word "Apple" to describe their products or services.  In like manner many people sell many different products using the word "Essiac" on the labels of their products and in their website domain names.  If you type in "Essiac" on any search engine you will get hundreds of thousands of results.  The Yahoo search engine recently showed over a million results for "Essiac"! 

It is now well known that Rene Caisse gave different versions of her Essiac formula to multiple recipients.  According to Mali Klein, the custodian of the Sheila Snow Essiac Archives, there were at least four individuals (other than Mary McPherson) and two commercial companies who may also been given various Essiac formulas in the last two years of Rene Caisse's life.13  Dr. Gary Glum and Mary McPherson were the primary people who placed the "classic" Essiac formula and recipe in the public domain:  a decoction of 1 part Turkey Rhubarb root, 4 parts Slippery Elm bark, 16 parts Sheep Sorrel tops & root, 24 parts Burdock root. 

It is very likely that Rene Caisse decided to give various Essiac formulas to other people after David Fingard failed to fulfill the Resperin contract.  It would seem that this would have been within her rights and she may have justified it, given the breach of contract by Resperin and her dislike for David Fingard.  Rene thought he was arrogant and rudely dismissive of the doctors who were working with him.6  "She called him 'Old Satchel-ass', and she was frightened by how he 'really hammered at her until she was exhausted.'"17  Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that she did not have any allegiance to him or the original Resperin corporation.

SUMMARY:  There is no evidence available that proves Rene Caisse gave to any individual or company the exclusive, sole rights to the use of the word "Essiac" and to all the Essiac formulas, recipes and treatments.  On the contrary, the evidence does indicate that Rene Caisse gave various Essiac formulas and recipes to at least four people.  This action alone indicates that Rene Caisse never intended to give anyone the sole rights to Essiac.  Her primary purpose was to "help suffering humanity". 

Nevertheless, the fighting, disinformation and outlandish claims continue even today over who owns Essiac.  The prophetic Homemaker's article in 1977 summed it up several month's before Essiac became a trademark: 

"There's a tragic and shameful irony in the Essiac tale.  In the beginning, a simple herbal recipe was freely shared by an Indian who understood that the blessings of the Creator belong to all.  In the hands of more sophisticated (and allegedly more "civilized") healers, it was made the focus of an ugly struggle for ownership and power."14

"Respect and love of our fellow man [is] more important than riches." -- Rene Caisse15

In the final analysis, what is "Essiac" and who owns it?  According to Mali Klein, "Essiac is a folk remedy, something 'for the people by the people' that can be made at home in your own kitchen using your own utensils."16


Early 1890s -- An "Indian medicine man" gave an eight-herb formula to Mrs. Johnson (or Johnston) for her breast cancer.

1922 --  Mrs. Johnson gave the eight-herb tea recipe to registered nurse Rene Caisse.

1924 -- Rene Caisse uses the "Indian medicine man's" tea to treat her first patient (her aunt) for inoperable cancer under supervision of Dr. R. O. Fisher.  Her aunt lives for 21 more years free of cancer.  Under doctor supervision, Rene begins private testing of mice with human carcinoma.  The research shows promising results.

1926 -- Eight doctors petitioned the Department of National Health & Welfare to request that Rene Caisse be given facilities to do independent research of her discovery.   The Department responded by threatening to arrest Rene Caisse for "practicing medicine without a license".   The eight doctors do not use the word Essiac in their petition and only refer to it as "treatment for cancer given by R. M. Caisse".

1927 -- Rene quits her general nursing work in favor of independent research and treatment of terminal patients.  The Ontario Minister of Health grants Rene permission to carry on treating patients as long as she charges no fee and patients have written diagnoses/referrals from their doctors. 

1928-1930 -- Rene is provided research facilities at the Christie Street Hospital Laboratories in Toronto to test Essiac on mice with Rous Sarcoma.  Essiac keeps them alive longer than any treatment had previously.  Dr. Frederick Banting offers to work with Rene in his facilities at Univ. of Toronto.  Dr. Banting was a co-discoverer of insulin.  However, Rene turns down Dr. Banting's offer. 

1934 -- Dr. Albert Bastedo leads a successful drive to get the Bracebridge town council to provide facilities for a cancer clinic for Rene in her home town of Bracebridge, Ontario. 

1935 --  Rene Caisse opened up the Bracebridge Cancer Clinic in August.

1936 (summer) --  The Canadian Medical Association offers Rene the opportunity to do formal animal testing, but she declines, feeling she’s done enough testing on animals.

1936-7 (winter) -- In addition to clinic patients, Rene travels regularly to Toronto to treat patients, and also to Chicago to treat 12 patients in a clinical trial at Northwestern University Tumor Clinic.  Chicago doctors offer to open a clinic in the Passervant Hospital if Rene will move to the United States.

1937 (summer) -- Dr. Richard Leonardo offers to set up a clinic and work with Rene in Rochester, New York if she will move to the United States.  Rene refuses the US offers in favor of proving Essiac in Canada.

1938 (March 24) -- A bill is presented to the Ontario Legislature to formally authorize Rene to treat cancer patients.  The bill fails by three votes.  Another bill did pass (the Kirby Bill) and it set up a commission to investigate cancer remedies.

1939 (July 4) --  The Canadian Cancer Commission hearings begin but mainstream medicine would not recognize Rene Caisse's achievements.

1941 -- Disillusioned and exhausted Rene closes the Cancer Clinic for the last time.

1959-1960 -- Rene Caisse briefly joined forces with Dr. Charles Brusch to research Essiac at the Brusch Medical Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  However, Rene Caisse did not give Dr. Brusch the Essiac formula.  After Rene's death he may have gotten the formula from Dr. Gary Glum and/or Mary McPherson.

1963 -- Rene Caisse wrote and made available for limited distribution "I Was Canada's Cancer Nurse". 

1973 -- Dr. Chester Stock of Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute contacted Rene Caisse expressing his interest in conducting animal research with Essiac.  The letters between Dr. Chester Stock and Rene Caisse are the only documented evidence of the importance of sheep sorrel root in Essiac.  Dr. Stock ended this research in 1976.

1977 (June-August) -- Homemakers Magazine of Toronto publishes an article “Could Essiac Halt Cancer?” based on the research and writings of Sheila Snow.  The article triggers a national resurgence of interest in Essiac.  Rene has to have an extra phone line added to cope with all the calls.  She gets the attention of the Canadian Cancer Research Foundation and the Cancer Institute in Toronto, who caution Rene not to treat any more people and authorizes a human study to be done by a St. Marie, Ontario oncologist.  Testing conducted by Drs. David Walde and John Barker – due to poor quality materials, Essiac still not clinically proven effective.  Resperin Corporation, a small, nearly defunct pharmaceutical company based in Toronto, promises it will set up clinical studies on human patients all across Canada in return for marketing rights.

1977-1978 -- The evidence indicates that Rene Caisse gave Essiac tea and the Essiac formula and recipe to Mrs. Pat Judson of Deering, Michigan.

1977-1978 -- The evidence indicates that Rene Caisse gave Essiac tea and the Essiac formula and recipe to Gilbert Blondin of Hull, Quebec.

1977 (October) -- Rene gives Resperin Corp. a formula for the token sum of $1.  The promised clinical studies never materialize and Rene Caisse never receives any promised royalties.  Apparently, Rene only sold the formula to Resperin, but not the recipe.  Resperin finds that it doesn't even know how to make Essiac tea so Rene's best friend, Mary McPherson, showed them how to make it.

1978 (spring) -- A public forum in Toronto failed to get the formula for the tea publicly recognized.  

1978 (June) -- A class-action lawsuit in Detroit in which Pat Judson was involved failed to make Essiac available in the US.

1978 (August 11) -- Rene’s 90th birthday party, organized by Mary McPherson and attended by over 600, including Pat Judson, honors her life and work.

1978 (September) -- Rene was honored and recognized for her work at an alternative therapies convention in Detroit.

1978 (December 26) -- Rene’s life ends after being hospitalized after a fall that breaks her hip.

1985 --  The evidence indicates Pat Judson sold the Essiac formula to Dr. Gary Glum for $120,000.

1985 -- Gilbert Blondin goes into partnership with Pierre Gaulin.

1988 -- Dr. Gary Glum publishes CALLING OF AN ANGEL which promotes his video tape revealing both the Essiac formula and recipe, thereby placing Essiac in the public domain.

1993 -- Sheila Snow publishes her first book, THE ESSENCE OF ESSIAC.  (now out of print)

1994 (December 23) -- Mary McPherson confirms Dr. Glum's formula as being correct by recording a sworn affidavit in the Town of Bracebridge revealing the Essiac formula and recipe.

1999 -- Sheila Snow and Mali Klein publish ESSIAC ESSENTIALS, The Remarkable Herbal Cancer Fighter.  (now out of print)

2000 (July 5) -- Mary McPherson states that the company that was allegedly continuing the Resperin corporation work was not making up the tea like Rene Caisse did.

2001 -- Sheila Snow and Mali Klein publish ESSIAC, The Secrets of Rene Caisse's Herbal Pharmacy.  (now out of print)

2003 (September) -- The webmaster of interviews Dr. Gary Glum and obtains a certified true copy of Mary McPherson's affidavit of Rene Caisse's formula and recipe from the Commissioner for Affidavits of the Town of Bracebridge, Ontario.  The affidavit is then posted on this website.  This was the first time that Mary McPherson's affidavit appeared on the internet for all the world to view. 

2006 -- Mali Klein publishes THE ESSIAC BOOK, the first handbook on using Essiac with various formulas.  This book was the first book to show letters between Rene Caisse and Dr. Stock that reveal that sheep sorrel roots are an essential part of the Essiac formulas.  (now out of print)

2011 -- THE COMPLETE ESSIAC ESSENTIALS becomes available in print and Mali Klein also produces a companion video Essiac, A Modern Folk Remedy.

*This timeline is based on the information from Rene Caisse, Dr. Gary Glum, Mary McPherson, Sheila Snow and Mali Klein.





3.  BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY, 6th ed., p. 1494


5.  Ibid, p. 45

6.  Ibid, p. 107

7.  Ibid, p. 108

8.  Ibid, p. 109

9.  Ibid, p. 44

10.  Ibid, p. 43 - 49

11.  Ibid, p. 109-111



14.  "Could Essiac Halt Cancer?" June 1977, Homemaker's Magazine

15.  "I WAS CANADA'S CANCER NURSE" by Rene Caisse


17.  THE ESSIAC BOOK, p. 84

ESSIAC QUESTIONS?  For answers to your Essiac questions we recommend THE ESSIAC BOOK by Mali Klein.  Please do not ask the webmaster to diagnose or treat any ailment as this should be done by a competent, experienced naturopath or nutrition-oriented medical doctor who has personally examined you.  It is important to remember that each individual's body has specific requirements for nutrition.  Therefore, the information offered on this web site is for general information only and not to be construed as medical advice or treatment for anyone.