From the April 2003 Idaho Observer:

Surviving Weapons of Mass Destruction, Part 2:

Rene Caisse's remarkable four-herb formula

by Lanny Messinger

On a fateful day in 1922 Canadian nurse Rene Caisse happened to notice some scar tissue on the breast of an elderly woman. The woman said that doctors had diagnosed her with breast cancer years before. However, the woman didn't want to risk surgery nor did she have the money for it. As luck would have it, she had met an old Indian medicine man who told her that he could cure her cancer with an herbal tea. The woman took the medicine man's advice, and consequently she was still alive nearly 30 years later to pass on this herbal remedy to Nurse Caisse.

About a year later, Rene Caisse was walking beside a retired doctor who pointed to a common weed and stated: “Nurse Caisse, if people would use this weed there would be little or no cancer in the world.”

The “weed” was one of the herbs in the medicine man's formula -- sheep sorrel. The doctor had watched his horse cure itself of cancer by repeatedly grazing in a particular part of the pasture where sheep sorrel grew.

In 1924 she decided to test the tea on her aunt who had cancer of the stomach and was given about six months to live. Her aunt lived, cancer free, for another 21 years.

Rene Caisse's (pronounced “Reen Case”) 72-year-old mother had been diagnosed with inoperable cancer of the liver and only had a few days to live. She gave the tea to her mother who recovered and lived without cancer for another 18 years.

In the ensuing years Nurse Caisse refined and perfected the original Indian formula. She tested it on mice and on human cancer patients. She called the formula Essiac, which is her surname spelled backwards.

Rene Caisse devoted over 50 years of her life to treating thousands of cancer patients with Essiac. So effective were her free treatments that in 1938 her supporters gathered 55,000 signatures for a petition to present to the Ontario legislature to make essiac an official cancer treatment.

Initially, Rene was not aware of the control that the medical/pharmaceutical establishment had over governments. She was continually threatened with arrest until she finally withdrew from public view.

Unlike Nurse Caisse, the medical establishment was more interested in making money than in helping people. Essiac was cheap. It could cut into the lucrative profits from radiation, chemotherapy and surgery -- treatments that often did more harm than good. Essiac is non-toxic. Rene said, “Chemotherapy should be a criminal offense.”

The complete story of Rene Caisse's struggle to make Essiac an official cancer treatment was told by Dr. Gary Glum in his book CALLING OF AN ANGEL: ESSIAC, NATURE'S CURE FOR CANCER. Dr. Glum emphatically states that people who take Essiac on a regular, preventive basis do not get cancer. Dr. Glum interviewed JFK's personal physician, Dr. Charles Brusch, who stated: “I know Essiac has curing potential. It can lessen the condition of the individual, control it, and it can cure it.”

Dr. Ralph Moss was appointed to the Cancer Advisory Panel that evaluates alternative cancer therapies for the government. On his web site and in his book CANCER THERAPY, Dr. Moss points out that each of the herbs in Essiac has been scientifically shown to contain anticancer substances. In his “Cancer Chronicles” [], Dr. Moss notes Essiac's rising popularity by comparing Essiac's four-cent a day cost to a $150,000 bone marrow transplant.

Essiac: More than just a cancer treatment

Dr. Frederick Banting, the co-discoverer of insulin, became interested in Essiac and even offered Nurse Caisse research facilities to test it. According to Rene, he believed that Essiac must somehow stimulate the pancreatic gland into functioning properly. Even today diabetics are using essiac to improve their condition and many have gone off insulin entirely.

Essiac has become widely known for its remarkable ability to boost the immune system and detoxify the body. Many people are reporting that they no longer catch colds or flu by taking essiac regularly.


(Arctium lappa)

For centuries burdock root has been regarded as an effective blood purifier that neutralizes and eliminates poisons from the body. Burdock contains a volatile oil -- especially in the seeds -- that is eliminated through the sweat glands, taking toxins with it and alleviating skin problems. Burdock contains niacin, which is known to eliminate poisons from the body, including radiation. Burdock also supports the bladder, kidney and liver and has been said to dissolve kidney stones. It also contains an abundance of minerals, particularly iron. Studies have shown antitumor activity in burdock. Japanese scientists have isolated an antimutation property in burdock, which they call the “B factor”. The Japanese grow burdock root for food as well as medicine. A memorandum from the World Health Organization revealed that burdock was effective against HIV.


(Rumex acetosella)

Rene Caisse isolated sheep sorrel leaves as the main essiac herb that dissolves cancerous tumors. Dr. Ralph Moss points out that sheep sorrel contains aloe emodin, a natural substance that shows significant antileukemic activity. Sheep sorrel contains antioxidants, is diuretic and has been used to check hemorrhages. It has also been used for food, but it does contain oxalic acid which can interfere with calcium absorption.


(Ulmus rubra/fulva)

Slippery elm is well-known for its soothing properties. It reduces inflammations such as sore throat, diarrhea and urinary problems. It has been regarded as both a food and medicine. Dr. Moss noted that “slippery elm contains beta-sitosterol and a polysaccharide, both of which have shown [anti-cancer] activity.”


(Rheum palmatum)

Turkey Rhubarb has been shown to have antitumor activity. It is diuretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and has been used extensively to relieve constipation. It is medicinally more potent than garden rhubarb root and is more palatable.


Due to the ever-increasing popularity of Essiac, numerous entrepreneurs have jumped on the Essiac bandwagon with their own four, six, or eight-herb products. Unfortunately, Rene never published the formula. Tempers flare and egos clash in the continuing conflict over who has the correct formula or the best product. Curiously, ESSIAC didn't become a trademark name until several years after Dr. Glum released the Essiac recipe into the public domain. Yellow dock is often substituted for sheep sorrel. Imported turkey rhubarb has either been irradiated, fumigated or both. So how do you know if you are buying the real, unaltered Essiac?

The backbiting and blatant disinformation that has obfuscated the Essiac formula has compelled me to clarify the issues. Unfortunately, Rene is not alive today to remind people that it's all about helping to relieve suffering, not money. So here are the plain, non-commercial facts:

Essiac is truly a multi-cultural phenomenon. Many Essiac marketers say it's an Ojibwe Indian formula. However, there is no evidence that the original Indian medicine man was from northern Ontario's Ojibwe tribe. He could have been Algonquin, Cree, Cherokee, Huron or Iroquois. Also, turkey rhubarb is native to China, not northern Ontario. Both burdock and sheep sorrel were brought to this continent from Europe by early settlers who then passed on their herbal knowledge to the local tribes. Slippery elm is the only Essiac herb native to North America.

The only person Rene Caisse trusted to help her make Essiac was her best friend, Mary McPherson, who knew the formula by heart. However, Mary had made a deathbed promise to Rene never to reveal the formula to anyone. Mary would have taken the Essiac formula to her grave, too, had it not been for Dr. Gary Glum. He purchased the formula from one of Rene's patients and published it in 1988. Mary was more than a little surprised when Dr. Glum told her the formula. According to Dr. Glum, Mary eventually revealed the formula because it was no longer a secret and she wanted to end the controversy over it.

One of the reasons Rene kept the Essiac formula secret was that she didn't trust people to make it properly and she thought that it would be altered. She was right. For example, in the 1980s Canadian talk show host Elaine Alexander marketed her own version of the formula containing eight herbs, which she called “FLOR ESSENCE” [trademark]. She subsequently died of cancer.

Even today a common misconception still exists that Elaine Alexander's formula is the original Essiac formula. According to Dr. Glum's sources, the original Indian formula contained only four herbs. Every herbal formula has its own synergy and therefore creates a specific effect. Essiac works -- Why change it by adding more herbs that may diminish or cancel out its proven healing powers?


Anyone can verify, with a computer, the correct Essiac formula that Mary McPherson entrusted to the town of Bracebridge, Ontario. Simply visit “The Rene M. Caisse Memorial Room” at and click on the green “Essiac” link. There you will see this formula:

* 6 1/2 cups cut up Burdock Root

* 1 pound powdered Sheep Sorrel

* 1/4 cup powdered Slippery Elm Bark

* 1 ounce powdered Turkish Rhubarb Root

[The burdock root should be cut up into pea-sized pieces -- all other ingredients are powdered. Store ingredients in a dark, cool, dry place in sealed containers.]


The preparation of Essiac is as important as the formula itself. Essiac is a decoction, not an infusion. An infusion is what people do when they put a tea bag in a cup of hot water. Generally speaking, an infusion tends to extract vitamins and volatile oils. A decoction is used to extract minerals, etc. from roots, bark or seeds by boiling for ten minutes and then allowing the herbs to steep for several hours. Entrepreneurs often sell Essiac imitations in tincture form (herbs in alcohol) or in gelatin capsules; neither form is Essiac because Essiac is a decoction.

1. Using a stainless steel pot and lid, boil 1/2 cup of herb mix in one gallon of pure, unchlorinated water for ten minutes.

2. Turn off heat and allow herbs to steep for 12 hours.

3. Heat up tea to steaming, but not boiling. Allow herbs to settle a couple minutes.

4. Strain off hot liquid into sterilized canning jars. The remaining pulp can be used for healing poultices.

5. Refrigerate tea. For long-term storage use the boiling water bath canning method and store in a cool, dark, dry place.

6. For preventive purposes, people take 1 to 2 oz. (1/8 to 1/4 cup) per day diluted with about 1/2 cup hot water. Herbalists recommend increasing daily water intake due to diuretic and detoxifying action. People who are using Essiac to treat an illness or to eliminate toxins, sometimes take Essiac two or three times a day, depending on the situation. Do not eat or drink anything (except water) one hour before to one hour after taking Essiac; bedtime is recommended.

Make sure that the sheep sorrel you use is the small, wild variety of sheep sorrel and not a substitute like yellow dock or garden sorrel. Don't use imported turkey rhubarb root. Many Essiac merchants are unaware of the quality of their herbs. The best way to insure that you're getting true Essiac is to grow the herbs yourself. This puts you in control of product quality and takes out the commercialism. Burdock root is harvested in the fall of the first year. Slippery elm bark is wildcrafted and is easy to buy, but should also be homegrown so it doesn't become endangered. Turkey Rhubarb is the only herb in Essiac that cannot be wildcrafted in the U.S. It is an attractive ornamental that can be grown in a flower bed or garden.


The following sources for Essiac herbs will ship products and will accept 100% of the purchase price in NORFED Liberty Dollars:

Brent Reed
826 10th St, Huntington, West Virginia (herbs)

Scott Brown
3531 W. Glendale Ave #226
Phoenix, Arizona (herbs)

Lanny Messinger
301 Chicken Rd
Endicott, Washington (herbs, seeds, live plants)

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