Open Source Essiac Information
The term 'open source' is based upon "sharing information from publicly available sources (as opposed to covert or clandestine sources)."
I have been following a Facebook group called the Rene Caisse Essiac Tea Users Group. It has been quite a journey and has really brought home a few realizations. Facebook is like a slice of the greater world and … although free speech is a precious thing, things can sometimes get lost in the translation….or buried in the posts! A lot of the group members are trying hard to get trustworthy information on the Essiac herbs. But sometimes it just gets more confusing instead of less because there are a lot of different perspectives. Ultimately the question of 'right' or 'wrong' is an unresolvable argument because …just what does that mean? One is black, one white, yet the world is gray! And, "A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." - Mark Twain
The reports from the members of this group about how Essiac is working for them is the true gold, and the caring and support the members provide each other on their journeys is awesome!
Here are my recommendations for those searching for well-documented source information and quality Essiac herbs:
1. Find reliable information on Essiac - preferably in book form!
Much of what is on the internet is inaccurate and undocumented and has led to the propagation of information that has no traceable source. Many Essiac or Essiac-like products have 'improved' - or un-publicized - formulas, call for a more concentrated brew than the public domain instructions specify, and/or they recommend dosages that far exceed the 1/2 - 2 oz. per day that Rene Caisse recommended.
Check out what Rene Caisse herself had to say, in I Was Canada's Cancer Nurse (Rene Caisse, 1963, 35 p.) Also consider the Sheila Snow/Mali Klein books on Essiac. There are seven: The Essence of Essiac (Sheila Snow, 1993, 136 p.); A Future Beyond the Sun (Mali Klein, 1997, 216 p.); Essiac Essentials (Sheila Snow/Mali Klein, 1999, 135 p.); Essiac the Secrets of Rene Caisse's Herbal Pharmacy (Sheila Snow/Mali Klein, 2001, 180 p.); The Essiac Book (Mali Klein, 2006, 128 p.); The Complete Essiac Essentials (Sheila Snow/Mali Klein, 2010, 181 p.); and Black Root Medicine, the Original Native American Essiac Formula (Mali Klein, 2014, 54 p.). All but the two most recent books are now out of print but for serious Essiac scholars, they can be found on sites like Amazon or Alibris, and limited copies are also available through this website - phone or email for more info.
Essiac is not Brusch spelled backwards. Mali Klein has her final say in Black Root Medicine, the Original Native American Essiac Formula.
2. Wherever you get your Essiac from, every supplier of four-herb Essiac should be willing to provide the following information about their herbs:
There is one public source for Rene Caisse's Essiac formula - Mary McPherson's affidavit. If a company is selling four-herb Essiac, it is important to know whether the supplier is using the same percentage of each herb as presented in Mary's affidavit, and it is also reasonable to know what the Sheep sorrel root content is compared to the arial parts. Mary's affidavit made this formula part of the public domain, and if a supplier is reticent about sharing this information, it is an indicator that they may not be following Mary's affidavit.
Mary McPherson knew Rene Caisse for over 50 years, assisted Rene in the last decade of her life, and went on to supply the herbs to Rene's patients for 20 years following Rene's death in 1978. This formula was the four-herb Essiac oral decoction. (The original formula was 8 herbs, but Rene narrowed it down to the four most active ingredients in the 1920s). It contains Burdock root, Slippery elm inner bark, Turkey rhubarb root, and Sheep sorrel. It is the only Essiac formula in the public domain.
Does the Sheep sorrel content include roots?
Rene Caisse was adamant about the importance of using the whole Sheep sorrel herb including the roots, as evidenced by her hand-written letter to Dr. Chester Stock of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Research Center in 1976.
We specify what proportion of the Sheep sorrel in our formula is the root portion - no 'trade secrets' here. Mali Klein suggests that the more root compared to arial parts the better, and it is important that the Sheep sorrel root be at least 10% of the total Sheep sorrel content. Our Blue Moon Herbs line is 50% and the ReneCaisseTea.com line is 65%. We could have come out with a 20% ratio and made three times as much money$$$ but believe it is more important to stay as true as possible to the highest ratio possible. "Include as much Sheep sorrel root as you can get in the mix." - Mali Klein Update as of November 2015: We are now back to one blend. Our root content is now 40-45%, because our one commercial source is no longer available...the good news is that our own beds are beginning to produce!! Click here for the 'rest of the story.'
8-herb Essiac. There is no 8-herb Essiac presently on the market that uses the herbs listed by Rene Caisse on a paper drawn up in 1977 naming seven of the original eight herbs. See The Complete Essiac Essentials book and Black Root Medicine the Original Native American Essiac formula for a reproduction of this private paper, which is part of the Essiac Archive collection. Two of these herbs are not commercially available - Goldthread, and Periwinkle (Vinca major) - but we will be growing them here in the Montana's Flathead Valley and hope to be able to offer the original 8-herb formula in the future.
The source of the herbs - are they from overseas?
US-grown is a good rule of thumb for those living in North America. Herbs coming in on cargo ships from overseas may be irradiated. Obtaining your herbs locally or regionally is ideal. It provides a market for US growers, and avoids the unnecessary consumption of gas and other resources that comes with long-distance shipping. Know your local producers, support them - ask them to grow whole herb Sheep sorrel! Or get the seeds and grow it in your own garden - that makes for the best Essiac and it is hands-down the easiest way to get Sheep sorrel root in the formula!
Settle for nothing less than certified organic or responsibly wildcrafted herbs from unpolluted sources. You have a right to know where your herbs are from. Ask for Certificates of Analysis for the herbs in your Essiac. Here is our verification that we do indeed use whole herb Sheep sorrel (documentation for the rest of our herbs is available upon request.):
Is the company licensed?
Preparation instructions, recommended dosages.
Rene Caisse recommended only 1/2 - 2 oz. of Essiac decoction per day. She used only two oz. of herbs to make one gallon of decoction. Many suppliers use a more concentrated herbs:water ratio, and suggest dosages much higher. However, there is no documented information on why they have altered Rene Caisse's recommendations. Often, because of these two factors, even though the Essiac you buy may be less expensive, you go through it twice as fast - or more.
- Whatever you decide, whatever kind of Essiac you choose - make sure it is good quality. The most important factor is whether or not there is Sheep sorrel root in it. Rene Caisse herself varied the formula depending on availability and the needs of her patients. So additional herbs, although we would no longer call it historically accurate Essiac, are one way of occasionally varying the formula - just make sure it still contains Sheep sorrel roots, for best results. There are many many success stories from people who have used Essiac without Sheep sorrel roots in it - but we can't stress enough that it is even better, and more closely duplicates what Rene Caisse was doing, with those roots in there. Enjoy your Essiac! And may we all be well!
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