Essiac Herbs Ingredients
Functions and Benefits

What Essiac herbs does the commercial formula contain? What functions do the individual ingredient perform?

From the 1950s through 1970s, thousands with terminal cancer fled to Canada to find Rene Caisse, the nurse who treated them for free with an Indian remedy called the Tea of Life. She later renamed it Essiac Tea, as Essiac is her surname Caisse spelled backwards.

Over the years, Rene made slight changes to the original Indian remedy. Although she still used the same four Essiac herbs she was given, when treating terminally ill cancer patients, she injected Sheep sorrel, and administered the other 3 herbs orally.

These are the four herbs in her Original Essiac recipe (later entrusted to Resperin Corporate, now known as Essiac Canadian International).

  • Sheep sorrel

  • Burdock root

  • Slippery elm bark

  • Rhubarb root

The latter Flor-Essence blend was taken from Rene Caisse's long term partner Dr. Charles Brusch and later sold to the Flora Health company. Four additional herbs were added to improve synergy and increase recovery:

  • Kelp

  • Blessed thistle

  • Red clover

  • Watercress

There are debates over whether either the original 4-herb or the later 8-herb combinations were the one that Rene Caisse used. Personally I favour the Original Essiac recipe. Further information can be found at

Flor-Essence Herbal Tea Review - Who Has the Formula?

Essiac Herbs Ingredients

According to Flor-Essence, here are the functions performed by each herb:

Sheep sorrel

Oxygenates tissues and support immunity.  Contains antioxidants, including flavonoids and trace elements. Stimulates bile with phytoestrogenic qualities.

Burdock root

A cleansing antioxidant that supports immunity. Contains inulin, flavonoids (including quercetin), and tannins. Its bitter taste stimulates digestion.

Slippery elm bark

Soothes the digestive tract due to mucilage content. Alkalizes by balancing pH in the GI tract.

Rhubarb root

Helps to normalize bowel movements, cleanses the liver, and detoxifies the colon. Increases the flow of saliva and gastric juices for improved digestion.


Contains alginates, which soothe and cleanse the intestines. Supplies minerals, including iodine for healthy thyroid function and metabolism.

Blessed thistle

Contains “cnicin”, which increases the flow of gastric juices, relieving indigestion and headaches associated with liver congestion.

Red clover

Antioxidant and blood purifier, facilitates elimination of toxins. Contains isoflavones that help balance hormones.


A heavy metal detoxifier and rich source of chlorophyll. Used traditionally as a restorative. Contains indoles (also in cruciferous vegetables), which deactivate and eliminate excess estrogen from the body.

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