Essiac Tea Health Benefits
Essiac tea health benefits may include an ability to slow the growth of prostate cancer cells, although many experts do not agree. The tea originated with the Ojibway Indians in Canada and is a mixture of burdock root, slippery elm inner bark, sheep sorrel, and rhubarb root.
A nurse named Rene Caisse learned about essiac tea health benefits and how it appeared to fight cancer. This discovery prompted her to open a lab and clinic, from which she dispensed the formula beginning in 1934. The Canadian government eventually shut her down, however, and stopped her from distributing the tea. Caisse fought back by developing an additional remedy called Flor-Essence®, which included the original essiac formula along with small amounts of kelp, red clover, blessed thistle, and watercress.
Essiac tea is reported by some researchers to possibly slow the growth of prostate cancer cells. This finding comes from a study conducted at Indiana University-Purdue University, which also suggested the tea may strengthen the immune system. (Ottenweller 2004) In another study, essiac tea health benefits included antioxidant activity and the ability to protect the DNA against some forms of damage. (Leonard 2006) Yet in a subsequent trial done at Vancouver General Hospital in 2007, essiac tea was not effective in stopping the growth or proliferation of prostate cancer cells in culture or in mice. (Eberding 2007)
Using Essiac Tea
Essiac tea and Flor-Essence are available as a liquid extract, bulk tea, and powder. Dr. Andrew Weil, a well-known alternative medicine physician, recommends not using either formula, noting there is no evidence that essiac tea health benefits include an ability to help control cancer. Side effects associated with essiac tea include nausea and vomiting, while Flor-Essence has been reported to cause swollen glands, blemishes, flu-like symptoms, frequent urination, and increased bowel movements. (Weil)
Eberding A et al. Evaluation of the antiproliferative effects of Essiac on in vitro and in vivo models of prostate cancer compared to paclitaxel. Nutr Cancer 2007; 58(2): 188-96.
Leonard SS et al. Essiac tea: scavenging of reactive oxygen species and effects on DNA damage. J Ethnopharmacol 2006; 103(2):288-96.
Ottenweller J et al. Inhibition of prostate cancer-cell proliferation by Essiac. J Altern Complement Med 2004; 10(4): 687-91.
Weil, Andrew. http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/QAA400157