Essiac tea with Sheep Sorrel roots included!


The Vision Quest, Unfolding

Its not an easy thing writing about the vision quest retreat I took part in last June, at Grandmother Isabelle's in Northern Ontario.  It marked the beginning of a new way of understanding the world....that just keeps unfolding.  Well, it wasn't really the 'beginning' and I'm pretty sure there's not going to really be an 'end' either. The sky, the sun making a trail across it, as witnessed in silent awe. The vision quest brought to me my voice in a new way and I am obliged to speak. One place for that has been our Facebook group the Essiac Growers Guild. This is the unabridged version of my most recent post.

Here is the Vision:  Locally grown whole herb sheep sorrel, for locally produced Essiac, available in dry form or made up by local Essiac caregivers for home delivery, the farmers' market, local health food stores and eateries, CSA boxes, and good research on the herbs in combination like Rene Caisse worked with them. Jobs for growers and wild-harvesters, tea-makers, care-givers, local money staying in town.  A healthy community, vibrant in its ability to make the very most of its own resources for the benefit of all. Less pollution from long-distance hauling of foods that can be grown locally.

The  Essiac Growers Guild is getting ready to 'grow 'its first chapter here in Montana's Flathead Valley. We will share our know-how and expertise and stay true to the historically accurate info about the herbs and how they were used, for a greater good.  Whether its planting a small bed or getting the truck garden tractor out, all are welcome to be a part of this.  Spring is coming, and sooner than it takes to plant a flat of sorrel we will be meeting down at Mrs. Wonderful's Marmalade Cafe for our first get together.  Join us if you can, or if you don't live in the area, contact us if you'd like to do the same thing in your area.

There is a market for whole herb sheep sorrel. The best Essiac in the world is small-scale, locally produced, including the whole sheep sorrel plant. There will always be a market for whole herb sheep sorrel because it makes a huge difference in Essiac, and the importance of it is now finally really getting out. Essiac is becoming more and more well known. It's been recommended by Hoxsey, Gerson, and Budwig practitioners as a great adjunct to their therapies. And its 100+ year long anecdotal record proves it worthy of the respect.

But you can't buy it anywhere! The problem is that whole herb sheep sorrel is not being grown commercially. Anywhere in the world.  Another 'problem' is that demand for herbs has skyrocketed in the past few years.

And it is easy to grow! Sheep sorrel is easy to grow. Although it prefers a more northern climate, it grows in all 50 states here in the US.  It's native to Europe. Sheep sorrel met up with slippery elm, an American native, after arriving in the feed on the boats from Europe some several hundred years ago.  Therefore, the people who were here already are the ones who first created this formula. Thank you Native America!  And thank you for sharing it with the English woman who gave it to Rene Caisse. The thread has not been broken and there is a treasure connected to it.

Would you like to be part of a positive vision? If you are interested in being part of our collaboration - think WikiMedia - for really getting this right and creating a knowledge base about growing these herbs, harvesting, and/or working with the Essiac formulae, please contact us.

"I have always known that at last I would take this road, but yesterday I did not know that it would be today.” —Japanese Haiku

A Canadian Adventure – Part Two – Coming Back to Bracebridge

December 3, 2015: Summer is now just a memory and winter seems to have moved in overnight. Its taken six months since we approached Bracebridge, in Part 1, to finally pull into town.... fitting metaphor for how time seems to have been flying by this year.

Thank you Rene!

Rene Caisse on the doorstep of her Essiac Cancer Clinic, c. 1930s.

The Lee Building, 2012

The Lee Building, 2012

It was wonderful to come back to Bracebridge. This was my second trip. I retraced the steps of the prior visit, going to pay my respects at Rene Caisse's grave, and visiting the site of the Rene M. Caisse Cancer Clinic, now called the Lee Building. I visited with the secretary in what is now law offices, but there was no trace of the former clinic ever having been right in that exact same spot.

For the first time I was able to visit the Rene M. Caisse Memorial Theatre Exhibit. Rene M. Caisse Memorial Theatre exhibit 2015I took over 1000 photos of what Bracebridge still has in its Essiac archives, both in the Town's vaults and the Bracebridge Public Library's Archives. Over the coming months they will begin to populate our very own 'virtual' Rene Caisse Room!

I loved going for a healthy bite to eat at the "Deli Lama" at Muskoka Natural Foods, and met many friends old and new. I learned that Rene's statue had been very purposely located right where patients seeking Nurse Caisse's "Essiac" treatments had been instructed to "cross the bridge and then turn left" - her clinic was just a block away. They called it the Bridge of Hope.

My 2012 visit happened in the fall, the maple leaves were beautiful!  This time the scenery was late Spring at its finest, and 100% delightful.  I stayed at the Inn at the Falls, just a block away from the former Clinic, on Dominion Street. The nice woman at the front desk, Judith, put me in touch with local historian Ken Veitch, who was the most gracious, helpful host and guide to all things Rene Caisse and Essiac that I could have ever dreamed of!

And then, after just a few short days of exploring and researching, it was already my last night in town. As I sat under a full moon on a little bench outside the old clinic, I wondered how it must have felt for patients to find the door locked when the Clinic closed for the last time in 1941.  I thought, wouldn't it be great if that door could be once more unlocked...a small garden with the herbs growing by the bench...and the Rene Caisse Memorial Room restored to its former glory... in the most fitting home I could ever imagine (just turn left at the statue) 🙂

There are still many people in Bracebridge who remember Rene Caisse, love her and are very loyal to her memory. But many younger people don't remember, and one wonders, what will happen in just a few more decades when there will be no one left that lived during Rene Caisse's actual lifetime (1888-1978)? Rene and Essiac will not be forgotten in Bracebridge. But will the few boxes of papers and memorabilia (mostly out of sight) be enough to ensure her legacy goes on in a lasting or meaningful way?

Sheila Snow, Mary McPherson and Kay Beers

Sheila Snow, Mary McPherson and Kay Beers at the opening of the Rene Caisse Memorial Room

The Rene Caisse Memorial Room was opened in 1995 and from what I can tell, it remained open for a little over a decade.  I believe the Woodchester Villa, where the exhibit was housed, suffered weather-related damage a few years ago, and it was announced  that the Rene Caisse exhibits had been moved to the Rene M. Caisse Memorial Theatre. I was thrilled to see the exhibits on display this trip, but I couldn't help but note that the display was a lot smaller. Mali Klein had shot video of it in the late 1990s, and it occupied several rooms then. Now, three shelves in a display case. In a  recent local write-up on the renovations it appears that it has not yet been decided what to do next at Woodchester Villa... but Rene Caisse and Essiac do not seem to be part of their plans.Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 1.11.48 AM


Ken Veitch and Bracebridge Town Clerk, 2015

Ken Veitch was the Bracebridge Town Clerk for more than 30 years.  He knew Mary McPherson well and was there when she signed her affidavit making the Essiac formula public. mary mcpherson signing Essiac affidavitKen's Grandmother benefitted from Essiac treatments with Nurse Caisse. Ken was very generous with his time and arranged for my access to the City's Essiac Archives.  He also introduced me to several other local residents with links to the history, and made my visit to Bracebridge a learning journey extroidinaire. Ken is a first-class researcher and indexer and has written several local history books.

How does one preserve a legacy? Books, statues, museum exhibits....the best legacy is a living one I believe.  I think it would do Rene's heart good to see so many people using and benefitting from Essiac today.  It would sure be great to see something more lasting and well-curated going on with what is left of the history in Bracebridge, though.

My time in Bracebridge seemed so short..and then it was time to head for "the Bush" - Northern Ontario. Vision Quest time. Back to the source, where the original Native American formula emerged into the modern world in the late 1800s.  The adventure continues....

The Snow/Klein Essiac books – a brief history of “The Essiac Trilogy”

The 'old' Essiac Trilogy! These books are a must-read for any serious student of Essiac literature. Screen Shot 2015-11-27 at 12.29.06 AM

Back in 2010 this website was called, and we were selling the last copies of  the three books that came out of the Sheila Snow and Mali Klein collaboration:  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.); and The Essiac Book (Mali Klein, 2006, 128 p.). We dubbed it the Essiac Trilogy. The first two books were already out of print, but easy to acquire used, and there were still some new copies of The Essiac Book available...but soon to also go out of print.  Searching for a way to keep providing the Snow/Klein books to the public, I was able to contact Mali Klein...

A year later, The Complete Essiac Essentials was born out of a collaboration between myself (Debbie Jakovac) and Mali to combine the best of the earlier books all into one capstone volume.  And then in 2014, Black Root Medicine, the Original Native American Essiac Formula came out as Mali Klein's focus of research turned to the original 8-herb formula.

There is more yet to come! Stay tuned!

A Canadian Journey – Part One – Back to the Source… by train!

THIS is part one of the story of a journey. The underlying theme is Essiac but it is about the journey, too. Hope you enjoy it. Part one involves hot springs, Jasper National Park, and a cross-country tour by rail through the middle of Canada. The journey begins with Polson Montana in the rearview mirror, heads north through British Columbia and Alberta, then east through Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and finally into the giant province of Ontario. The journey continues by car from Sudbury to Bracebridge, Rene Caisse's home town, where Canadian Journey Part two -  Coming Back to Bracebridge - will share some brand new insights and perspective, along with the first of 1000+ photos of what Bracebridge collectively still has of the history of their very own citizen, Rene Caisse,  who gave us Essiac, and whose legacy continues on. Canadian Journey Part Three will be about the Vision Quest and fast held at Grandma Isabelle's, up in the north, land of the Black Fly and the Mosquito, the Bear, the Sandhill Crane, the Loon, and Many Many Others. Canadian Journey Part Four has a hard act to follow! My life has changed profoundly. Part four will be about the future.

The intention of this trip was taking journey back to the source.  Again and again history came alive for me... when going through the old newspaper clippings, photos, documents and other history, it almost felt like those times were now…I sat on the bench outside Rene's Clinic door and imagined how many people had come through that door ("Cross the bridge and turn left.."). Now the treatment rooms are apartments. The Inn I stayed at in Bracebridge is famous for being full of ghosts…although I did not see any.  And then there was the long wait at the deserted train station/museum in Staples, MN, echoing with the traces of the many travelers who had passed through there in the heyday of passenger train travel in the US. Let's bring it back! Tell Congress to fund Amtrak!

'Back to the source' in the case of the Essiac herbs in its deepest sense means Northern Ontario, and the people who used these herbs since way before Rene Caisse came along. I was very honored to take part in a Vision Quest and Fast retreat right there where it all began.

There I was - 'All Aboard!'...My journey began with a drive up to Jasper, Alberta from Montana, to hop the train east!

Fairmont Hot Springs in BC was halfway from Polson to the train station in Jasper, and it was really great to soak and let it sink in..the adventure is begun! Kimberly Erickson, Blue Moon Herbs/ Order Fulfillment Expert and Rental Car Returner, was also very happy to be 'along for the ride' 🙂 The following day, Jasper National Park and the Icefield highway made for an amazing drive. The roads were bare and the place was deserted! Jasper Nat'l Park


The train arrived on time at Jasper, just when we pulled up! (70 hrs. later my train would finally roll into Sudbury Jct...) Whew, made it! We had gotten a late start due to trying to figure out airplane mode and international texting and as we gazed into the little cell phone screens, time marched right on...and then we needed divine intervention to get the car to start! (It worked!) All in all it was an extremely scenic and enjoyable, albeit fast-paced get-me-to-the-station-on-time kind of drive to the train stop. 🙂

And then, in fairly short order, I was headed eastward, back on a train for the first time in 22 years. I was very surprised to see no mountains after just a few hours, and although I didn't realize it at the time, it would be the last mountains I'd see until I was home again..I guess Montana people think everyone has mountains.. well, if you are from western Montana...:)  Although the landscapes I saw were very beautiful, it is good to be home again to my landscape.

The Canadian train is called ViaRail. Their cars are one-story, except for the observation car. The food is good and not too expensive either and the fare is very reasonable especially converting from US dollars. It was really fun making friends with some of the passengers.  When you are going by rail, its best to not be fixated on arriving on time! We were 15 hours behind by the time we got to Sudbury Jct.

It was great seeing the country in the spring  - Manitoba must grow enough grain to feed a big chunk of the world! Canadian Prairie - ManitobaBut it was a little unsettling for ye olde Western Montanan to gaze into the distance and see a mirage of mountains that upon closer scrutiny were just my brain not computing properly~!

There must still be a lot of uncharted territory in Canada. The allure of Canadian rail travel began when I discovered that there actually is a train called the Polar Express!  It goes up to Moosonee, at the bottom of James Bay, 100 miles past where any roads go!  Other than Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg and then at long last Sudbury Junction, there really aren't too many population centers…and north of the country we passed through -  the Northwest Territories and the Yukon.."the Bush" - what would it be like to live there? I think about how I love to climb all the way to the tops of mountains and wonder how that would translate to a land like this.  Would trying to reach the edge of the horizon in a sweeping place like this..cause one to lose their mind? See, you can daydream about this kind of stuff when on a train.DSCN5843Once into Ontario, things really got minimal - many stretches of no cell phone service, no stops with real stations.. at long last I was off the Hotel California Train.  And my luggage, too 🙂 Got my rental car the next morning and set out for Bracebridge by way of North Bay, where Rene lived with her husband Charles McGaughey, in the 1940s. I did get a glimpse of the water--lots of water out here! And the Canadian Shield really starts showing through along the roads. DSCN5868

Before I knew it ---- next stop Bracebridge!! DSCN5874Stay tuned for Canadian Adventure - Part Two - Coming Back to Bracebridge!

A Canadian adventure is about to begin.

I am leaving tomorrow for what promises to be a very special journey... and I still need to pack. I'll be driving due north to Jasper, Alberta where I will get on a train that will let me off in Sudbury Ontario two days later, cedar boughs and all… 😉 From there I will be traveling down to Bracebridge, Rene Caisse's home town.  I will be re-visiting the sights and hopefully will be able to see what remains of the display that used to reside at the Rene M. Caisse Memorial Room, in the Octagon House. It was moved to the Rene Caisse Memorial Theater...

…And then the real adventure begins, up north. It is a Vision quest and fast with Grandmother Isabelle and Grandmother Margaret and I feel the earth moving me east like a little leaf in a big river.

Stay tuned for part 2 - Halfway to the train station - Fairmont BC and hot springs!

The online orders will continue to be processed while I am away by an amazing team that has come together in the most uncanny way over lunch today (well, there was about a ton of preparation for this meeting :D) - Anais, Kristin and Kimberly.  There will be only a brief delay in shipping orders received after 8:00 a.m. Tuesday, May 26.  The next shipping date will be  Monday, June 1.  The best way to contact us between May 26 and June 10, 2015 will be via the contact form on our website. Our apologies for any inconvenience this may cause!

And now it is 10 pm and I had better pack...

The Pilgrim

Debbie Jakovac

Thank you, customers! Enjoy your Essiac. 🙂

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! Read More →

Blue Moon Herbs – A Growing Idea

Greetings all!  It doesn't seem like three whole months have passed since Mali Klein's 2014 visit. It is good to have the relative quiet of winter to absorb it all and start making plans for the coming growing season.  February is like a lingering chance to do that before the sun is flooding in again and it is time to get back in the field! One of my winter projects was putting together this little recap of 2014 in a video format.  So come along for a trip out to our Essiac growing sites in Montana's Flathead Valley to see what we have done in Phase 1 of growing the Essiac herbs.  There is also a section with a few harvesting tips and some footage of Watercress and Goldthread in the wild.  We hope you enjoy it!

It's also on Vimeo, at the Essiac Cafe! Blue Moon Herbs A Growing Idea from Debbie Jakovac on Vimeo.

Essiac Master Class 2014 – food for thought

Funny how one day things appear in a certain light, and then the next day everything changes in such a fundamental way that its like when a whole flock of birds simultaneously moves as one, in a new direction altogether.  Suddenly the picture has transformed and it's a brand new beginning!

"A new idea is like a plant. It takes time to establish a good root system before it begins to bear fruit." - Mali Klein, Essiac Master Class 2014

Food for thought:  Mali posits a plateful of it in the following synopsis:  Read More →

Preserving Communities – Goldthread and Friends

I have been researching the meaning of 'wild simulated'.  My idea of what that means was based on the permaculture principle that there are plant communities, or guilds, made up of plants that like to grow together, and they have complimentary properties that all fit together to make a well-rounded healthy ecosystem. I surmised that wild simulating would mean growing them in a setting as close to a natural one as possible. Like below! This is a picture of a Goldthread guild!

Earlier this summer I was in Goldthread country and decided to try an experiment. Instead of digging up individual plants, I decided to dig up everything growing in the whole circle of foliage surrounding a few Goldthread (Coptis trifolia) plants. Three months later and both the little tree and the Goldthread are doing quite well, better than earlier transplants that arrived alone without their neighbors. 🙂


Goldthread guild

So what does wild simulated mean? Does wild mean the seed or the location? Can you till the soil? Can you weed? Or fertilize? What I learned is that the term appears to be mostly in reference to Ginseng production..although the concept should apply to any crop that varies when planted in tilled soil as opposed to a la natural. Here's what a Virginia Tech article said:

"Since there is no tillage of the soil with wild simulated ginseng crops, all fertilizers are applied on the soil surface. Applications of gypsum and/or rock phosphate may have to be made every two or three years. Soil testing should be done every year to monitor available soil nutrients."  For the weed question, they simply recommend avoiding planting near any large stands of obnoxious weeds.

From what I have gathered, wild simulation is mainly about replicating what is happening in the wild by not intervening beyond planting the seeds - and only using shovels and hoes to do it, either in the wild or somewhere with similar soil pH and shade, moisture, etc., and commonly associated plant species growing there.

Tilling seems to be the defining no-no with wild simulation.  In the case of Ginseng, the root is different and less sought after when it is grown in tilled soil. I don't think this would apply with Goldthread, since it is just little runner roots going everywhere.

Both Ginseng and Goldthread like deep shade and plentiful moisture. The climate in Montana is a lot more arid than Northcentral Idaho, where the nearest Goldthread is.  I have learned that even a little too much direct sun will burn Goldthread and cause it to just stall out in failure to thrive mode.  If shaded under a Rhubarb leaf, for example, it will be green and  happy with only the sun that shines through the sheltering leaf. The problem with Rhubarb, however, is that it dies back and leaves the Goldthread exposed and the gardener has to get inventive. Last year it was an umbrella, lol.

So, for this year's experiment, I surrounded the little guild with other plants so that it would get a lot of shade, and I kept it well watered.  To my delight, all of the plants in all of the containers loved their circle! And - the true test - no sunburned Goldthread!


Goldthread is a very slow growing plant, however.  It is a worthy herb to propagate though, and is full of berberine, as evidenced by its bright yellow roots! The new little guild that came over the hill with me is clearly thriving although we are only starting to learn about growing it in a habitat that may fall far short of commercial quantities.  Again, it is a case of everyone growing a small amount, for the best Essiac around, using herbs that are easy enough to grow enough of for a family or a group. I do have more respect than ever for those that do get us herbs on a larger scale so we don't have to grow them all.  Make that something short of Big Ag though!

Well, there is more than one variety of Goldthread, and some of it grows faster, and is just as full of Berberine.  I did get a Coptis chinensis seedling from Horizon Herbs and it has already made new leaves in the few months since it arrived. Coptis chinensis is most likely the mystery herb Rene Caisse was trying to order from India during the summer of 1977 when they were testing Essiac and she was short on herbs.


Wishing you all a great harvest season and may you enjoy these beautiful September days!


~~ Like Essiac herb growing info and sharing? Join the Essiac Growers Guild group on Facebook!


The Beatles! My story.

48 years ago today - August 25, 1966, Seattle Colisseum - the Beatles in concert!….  there I was, just 50 feet from the stage, at what was to be the third to last concert the Beatles ever performed. I was just a Montana teeny-bopper, following the Beatles in the teeny-bopper magazines  - Tiger Beat, Datebook..I discovered that they were coming to Seattle! A mere 588 miles from Helena Montana and I didn't even have a learner's permit.  But I was a huge fan, and that would not stop me.  So, I wrote a note.  To: the City of Seattle, Seattle, Wash.  I asked them how to go about getting tickets to the Beatles concert?

They wrote back!  City Commissioner Ted Best notified me that I had two complimentary tickets awaiting me in the City Council offices!!!!  After some really fervent begging and bribing, I convinced my parents to take a vacation to Seattle, and my Mom agreed to go with me to the concert, even though she did not really like the Beatles. 🙂

Turns out, the seats were alongside the stage, in the first section, 'totally close'!  In fact…Paul did see me, I just know he did.  I still can't believe we had such good seats.  I tried to sneak off 'to go to the bathroom' - but Mom saw right through that, and would not let me out of her sight.  Ok, I confess - I was on a mission: backstage or bust! Seeing the Beatles was one of those pivotal events in my life and the memories really came back for me this Aug. 5….because

…on this magic day just three under weeks ago -  Paul McCartney actually came to Missoula Montana and gave a concert!!  Haha, Mali Klein and her Essiac master classes have started a trend, perhaps?  Meeting in Missoula, always a wonderful adventure!  Of course I went to the concert, but this time, Paul did not see me.  I was about 200 feet back this time.

But what a show.  He really has still got it.  In 1966 everyone was screaming during the songs - in 2014 we were all singing along! It was a good day. And the fans sure did come out!  Missoula has 68,000 population, and there were over 25,000 concert-goers.  They had to flag folks off the interstate so many were coming in to town!  The pre-party at Caras Park totally sold out of food, but true to western protocol, I hear there was plenty of beer. It was the largest gathering in the history of the state of Montana!

The following week Sir Paul played Candlestick Park in San Francisco. It was where the Beatles played their last concert, on August 29, 1966. Paul's August 14 concert was the last one before they demolish the stadium.

Labor day weekend is coming and the office will be closed from Tuesday August 26 - Tuesday September 2.  All orders placed during that time will ship on Tuesday Sept. 2. May you enjoy the last of August!

We're hitting the road at ReneCaisseTea - heading for Idaho to pick up the new book!  Black Root Medicine the Original Native American Essiac Formula, softcover, 54 p., 2014 Mali Klein - the last installment.  Order here, and… meet us in Missoula!  October 11Essiac Master Class 3 - Healing Cancer Can it be Done?   Prior attendance not required. Or, meet us in  Seattle on November 1 for An Afternoon Seminar on Herbs and Cancer.


"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."~  Helen Keller