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Re: Treating Lymphoma with Essiac tea

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  • VBradova
    Hi, Rita, glad you joined us. I have been working on a project describing and rating the various alternative treatments. Here is the piece on Essiac. By the
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 1, 1998
      Hi, Rita, glad you joined us. I have been working on a project describing and
      rating the various alternative treatments. Here is the piece on Essiac. By the
      way, the way the rating system works is this:


      A for promising treatment that shows evidence that it can be useful for
      lymphoma (or in case of complemenary treatments, evidence for the particular

      B interesting, can even be promising, and some indirect research is available,
      but there is as yet no convincing evidence that this will work for lymphoma
      (or the condition in question)

      C maybe; some persuasive anecdotal reports exist, but no research or trials

      D I don�t think so; no persuasive evidence

      Essiac is a herbal treatment used by a Canadian nurse, Rene Caisse. She ran a
      clinic in Ontario between the wars, where people with cancer and other
      diseases came to be treated (by injection). The remedy is said to have come
      from an Ojibwa healer.

      Caisse never made the recipe public, but it is widely assumed to consist of
      burdock root, indian (or turkish) rhubarb root, sheep sorrel, and slippery
      elm. (Some current preparations add other herbs as well.) Essiac is sold by 2
      Canadian companies (one product is called Flor-Essence), each claiming to be
      Caisse�s true heir. Both are rather expensive. These preparations are
      available in health food stores. It is also available as a mixture from many
      herbalists and herbal catalogs, and also as a tincture (sometimes called
      Ojibwa drops). The user can make their own tea which is then taken once or
      twice a day. Flor-Essence is also available as a liquid, ready to use.

      Research evidence: Burdock has shown anti-tumor activity in some studies, and
      none in others. (It is also part of the Hoxsey formula.) Rhubarb has some
      chemicals in it that have shown some anticancer activity, and so does sorrel
      (eg, aloe emodin). In addition, rhubarb showed anti-tumor activity at NCI
      against a sarcoma cell line. Essiac was tested by the NCI in the 70s and
      showed no activity.

      It is said that the mixture is a powerful liver protector, a blood purifier,
      and detoxifier. Does experimental evidence bear the lesser claims out? Burdock
      has been found in Germany to contain chemicals that are anti-bacterial and
      anti-fungal. A published study indicated that burdock decreases mutations in
      cells exposed to mutagenic chemicals. And it seems to have an anti-poisoning
      effect in animals. (A couple of cases of burdock poisoning have been reported;
      one was the result of adulteration of burdock with belladonna; I am not sure
      what the details are on the other.) Some sources say it has been shown to be
      diuretic and hypoglycemic, and a smooth muscle relaxant.
      Sorrel has a diuretic and mildly laxative effect. It contains oxalates, and
      should be avoided by people prone to kidney stones.
      Rhubarb is a powerful laxative in larger amounts(also used in small amounts
      against diarrhea). Has been used successfully against dysentery and other
      bacterial infections. Some animal studies suggest that it stimulates uterine
      contractions. Possibly an appetite stimulant. (Never use rhubarb leaves --
      quite poisonous.)
      Slippery elm is very non-toxic. Still listed in the National Formulary, it
      soothes the throat and digestive tract, and it is thought that it stimulates
      nerve endings in the stomach and intestinal tract. Very little research has
      been done on it.

      Patient experience: I used Essiac, mostly as Flor-Essence liquid, for 3 months
      during the first year after my diagnosis. At first, I brewed my own, but was
      unable to keep it all sufficicently sterile, and it started to spoil. So I
      switched to the bottled product (at about $19 a bottle at my co-op). The taste
      is not great, but not terrible either. I took 2 ozs twice daily.

      There was no effect on my tumors, which were stable when I started, and
      continued stable after I quit. I did note a gradual increase in energy and
      well-being (I had been very weak and unwell.) I was also trying other things,
      and so do not have a clear sense whether it could have been the Essiac. I have
      come across no evidence that Essiac has minimized anyone�s lymphoma. I spoke
      with one NHL person who felt that Essiac was beneficial during chemo -- helped
      her stay well. (Another similar case badly reported, as well as other articles
      on Essiac, can be found at http://www.wbj.com Look for Well Being Journal
      Jan-Feb 96.) If the time comes for me to undergo chemo or radiation, I may
      consider the use of Essiac as adjuvant therapy.

      If I were to do it again, I would buy fresh (and cheap) herbal mixture from a
      reputable local herbal farm, or use an alcohol-based tincture (tinctures stay
      potent much longer than bulk herbs which tend to go stale rather quickly).

      Suggested research: Does Essiac help people undergo standard chemotherapy in
      better shape? Do people who take it suffer from milder side effects, and fewer
      long term effects? Do they recover faster afterwards? What is the optimal
      dose? Will it protect from the development of chemo-caused secondary cancers?

      Rating: A as an adjuvant d
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