The Rene Caisse Essiac Recipe

The "old medicine man" recipe was 8 herbs -- the 4 essiac herbs, periwinkle, red clover and watercress. Rene Caisse left no written record of the 8th herb. According to Essiac Essentials, in the early 1920's while working with Dr. Fisher, Rene "tested decoctions of each herb individually until the eight original herbs were gradually modified down to the four herbs in the recipe as we know it today, i.e., Burdock root, Sheep Sorrel, Slippery Elm inner bark and Turkey rhubarb root."

Rene Caisse signed over her formula to Resperin Corporation in 1977 and she died the next year. In 1995 Resperin Corporation sold the formula to the current Canadian Essiac® trademark holder.

But Rene had revealed her formula to a few people, including her helper Mary McPherson, who continued making Essiac for Rene's remaining patients before and after Rene's death in 1978. Mary's sworn affidavit (made on December 23, 1994, Bracebridge, Ontario) revealed Rene's recipe and brewing instructions. In 1988, Mary was present when Gary Glum claimed he had bought the recipe from Rene's patient Pat Judson of Michigan. Mary later verified Glum's recipe as authentic.

Rene Caisse's measurements are confusing. She used volume (in cups) for Burdock and weight (in ounces) for the other three herbs. The book Essiac Essentials solves this problem by using weight units for Burdock too, specifying Buckock root chopped to size of small peas (like Rene had done). Burdock is the only "cut" herb, the Rene Caisse recipe calls for the powdered form of the other herbs. Rene Caisse's recommended doses are below as well as some possible side effects and interesting notes about who should not take essiac and who should use caution.

  Ingredients using US/Canada/Imperial/Metric measurements:

HerbVolumeWeightForm Recipe %
Burdock root 6 ½ cups24 ozs. (1.5 lb.)680gpea-size cut 53%
Sheep sorrel  16 ozs. (1 lb.)453gpowdered 36%
Slippery Elm bark  4 ozs.113gpowdered 9%
Turkey rhubarb root  1 oz.       28.35gpowdered 2%

  • Mix the herbs together very very thoroughly.
  • Use 1 cup of herb mix per 2 gallons distilled water each time you brew.
  • Your herb mix or essiac herbs should be stored properly.

"This makes a year's supply for $5.00 or £3.72" according to Essiac Essentials,
written in 1999. Cost increases and exchange rate changes updated to 2005
would be more like $7.50 or £4.00. for "a year's supply".

HerbVolumeWeightForm% of Recipe
Burdock root  4.25 ozs.120gpea-size cut53%
Sheep sorrel  2.8 ozs.80gpowdered36%
Slippery Elm bark  0.7 ozs.20gpowdered9%
Turkey rhubarb root  0.18 oz.5gpowdered2%

Scales: "The Gourmet Weigh" scale by Metrokane for $24.99 does ounce/metric weight. Metrokane also has "Scale Polder" ounce/metric for weighing up to 7 pounds, for $14.99.

Another approach is to use volume measurements, if you are allergic to metric measurements. The trouble with volume measurement is that herb volume can vary widely depending on supplier.

    To make 1 cup of mix to brew with 2 gallons of distilled water:

    Burdock root (cut) =   1/2 cup
    Sheep Sorrel (powdered) =   3/8 cup
    Slippery Elm bark (powdered) =   2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons
    Turkey rhubarb (powdered) =   1 teaspoon

Approximate number of bottles of tea made, depending on water loss

1 cup herb mix + 2 gallons of water = about 224 liquid ounces of tea
will fill fourteen 16-ounce pint bottles, or seven 32-ounce quart bottles.

1/2 cup herb mix + 1 gallon of water = about 112 liquid ounces of tea
will fill seven 16-ounce bottles, or three and a half 32-ounce quart bottles.

1/4 cup herb mix + 1/2 gallon of water = about 56 liquid ounces of tea
will fill three and a half 16-ounce bottles, or almost two 32-ounce quart bottles.

Supplies Needed  Do not use anything made of aluminum.

Stainless steel kettle with lid (or glass, UK unchipped enamel, CND granite pot)
Stainless steel sieve
Large stainless steel or wood stirring utensil
Stainless steel funnel or 2-cup glass measuring cup
Glass bottles can be amber, colored or clear glass

Sizes of kettle and how many bottles depend on amount of tea prepared.
3 gallon kettle and 14 bottles are ideal for 1 cup herb mix + 2 gallons of water.

Bottles and lids can be sterilized by one of these methods:

1)  Boil for 10 minutes with a little food grade peroxide or Clorox.
2)  Boil bottle caps, put bottles in 250 degree oven for 10 minutes.
3)  Soak for 5 minutes in 1 ounce 35% food grade hydrogen peroxide plus 11 oz. distilled water.
4)  Soak for 5 minutes in 1/2 teaspoon Clorox plus 1 gallon distilled water.
5)  16 oz. size bottles can be sterilized in a microwave oven carefully.

The water you use for making essic tea should be as pure as possible. Don't use tap water. Most people use distilled water. Nice but not vital, you can "re-energize and re-oxygenate" distilled water by shaking it well or setting it in the sun for a few hours.

Preparation is pretty much the same in essiac books by Snow/Klein and Cynthia Olsen:

  1. Mix dry ingredients thoroughly.
  2. Measure out desired amount of dry ingredients.
  3. Pour proportionate amount of water into pot.
  4. Bring water to a rolling boil with the lid on.
  5. Stir dry ingredients into boiling water.
  6. Replace lid and continue boiling at reduced heat for 10 minutes.
  7. Turn off stove. Scrape down sides of pot and stir mixture thoroughly.
  8. Replace lid, let pot sit and cool undisturbed for 10-12 hours (overnight).

  9. Reheat to steaming hot, but do not let it boil.
  10. Turn off heat and allow herbs to settle for a few minutes.
  11. Pour hot liquid through sieve to catch sediment.
  12. Use funnel to fill sterilized bottles, put lids on.
  13. Allow bottles to cool, then tighten lids.
  14. Store in dark cool place, always refrigerate an opened bottle.

Essiac contains no preservatives, discard if mold develops. "When in doubt, throw it out".

Unopened bottles can be stored in a cool, dark place, or keep all the bottles in the refrigerater. Don't freeze essiac or warm it up in a microwave (use hot water to dilute and warm it).

Directions for Use according to the book Essiac Essentials:

1 fluid ounce (30 ml) essiac tea per day, diluted in 2 fluid ounces (60 ml) hot water.
This should be sipped, preferably at bedtime on an empty stomach.
Food should not be eaten within one hour before/after drinking the tea.

As a daily tonic or to enhance the immune system:

Take half a fluid ounce (15 ml) per day, diluted in one ounce hot water.

According to Sheila Snow and Mali Klein on page 41 of their book Essiac Essentials,
"It is very important to use the dosage as Rene recommended, which was based on more than 54 years' experience. Rene was very concerned about this, which is why she personally administered the dose to her patients." Depending on special circumstances, very occasionally in her later years, Rene would sometimes advise an initial dose of one fluid ounce twice daily for the first five, ten or (rarely) thirty days before reducing to one fluid ounce once a day. In the same book Rene Caisse is quoted as saying,

    "There is no need to to exceed this dose."

    "People will not stick to the dose I give. They'll decide on their own
    -- if a little's good, a lot's better. That's the way they think.
    "

Notes about side effects, although side affects are rare when taking essiac:

Diarrhea, headache, lower-back kidney ache, flu-like symptoms or upset stomach are usually caused by too high of a dose and not drinking enough water. Cut dose back to half the amount of essiac or stop for a few days, drinking a gallon of water every day to flush out your system (not juice, tea or other beverages). Anyone taking essiac should increase their water intake.

If you become itchy or develop some rashes when you take essiac tea, that is an allergy to the sheep sorrel. People who take too much essiac tea for too long can also develop this allergy. Many herbalists recommend using a "5 days on, 2 days off" rule with any herbal decoction.

Cynthia Olsen Notes (from Essiac, A Native Herbal Cancer Remedy, 2nd Edition page 61)

Though side effects are rare when taking Essiac, there are three general ones:

  1. nausea and/or indigestion, generally caused by eating or drinking too soon before or after drinking the tea,
  2. severe intestinal or digestive discomfort, caused principally because as toxins dissolve, the body tries to eliminate them quickly,
  3. an increase in the size of an existing tumor, caused by the metastasized cells gathering at the original site, before the tumor softens and reduces in size.

Sheila Snow Notes (from Essence of Essiac, page 48)

Here are three possible causes of adverse reactions:

  1. A full stomach of undgested food or consuming beverage just before taking the remedy, especially tea or coffee.
  2. Waste materials build up in the body, it attempts to eliminate them all at once. This could create extreme discomfot in the digestive tract, occasionally to the point of vomiting.
  3. A tumor may increase in size (as metastisized cells are gathered to the original site) and could cause a blockage in some vulnerable area of the body, before it softens and reduces in size.
"When any discomfort occured, Rene always cautioned her patients to stop taking the decoction for several days until they felt better. Then they were told to begin again with just half an ounce every other day and gradually to increase the dose to one ounce each day. This usually corrected the problem."

Kathy Sedler advice about who should not use essiac and who should use caution:

Editor note:  Most of the cautions below are not found elsewhere or in conventional essiac books. Start taking essiac in minimal doses or ask your doctor about taking essiac if you're concerned.

A California nurse named Kathy Sedler used to sell essiac herbs online. According to Kathy's research (no longer online), she advised not taking essiac if you are pregnant, nursing or trying to conceive, if you have kidney disease, are prone to kidney stones or kidney infections (due to oxalic acid in essiac), have ulcers or colitis or have increased levels of iron in your blood.

Kathy Sedler's "When To Use Caution In Taking Essiac" was for those taking anticoagulant prescriptions, cardiac glycosides (like Digoxin), those with a cholecystectomy (removal of the gallbladder) and osteoporosis. Kathy had this caution for people with diabetes,

    "Diabetics who are insulin dependant may need to adjust their dosage, also those on anti-diabetes medications. All diabetics should monitor their blood sugar closely while on this tea. Some of the constituents in this tea can affect the way glucose and insulin are taken up in the cells and utilized. Many people find they need less medication while taking this tea. This is not always the case, but is worthy of mention."

Rene Caisse discussed diabetes here and also here in her "I Was Canada's Cancer Nurse".


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Changes last made on: February 1, 2005

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