Essiac tea is a Native American tonic with numerous health benefits. Is it right for you? Read on to find out. 

Indigenous people the world over have always had a much deeper and more spiritual connection with their environment. They considered themselves part of nature and drew from it meaning and fulfillment, as well as everything they needed for their daily lives. That profound connection also helped them understand the benefits of natural remedies in a way that modern societies do not. One such remedy is essiac tea. 

What’s in Essiac Tea?

The basic recipe for essiac tea combines four ingredients:

  • Burdock root stabilizes blood sugar and promotes blood circulation and detoxification
  • Sheep sorrel has strong antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Slippery elm is rich in anti-oxidants and is also anti-inflammatory 
  • Indian (Turkey) rhubarb root is also high in anti-oxidants, boosts the immune system and combats fever

To increase effectiveness, watercress, blessed thistle, red clover and kelp are sometimes added.  

Essiac Tea Benefits for Immune Health

Essiac tea appears to be effective in improving several health markers, boosting immune health and treating various diseases, especially cancer. The research so far is limited, on humans anyway - and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon, mainly due to lack of pharmaceutical incentive (unfortunately a common problem in the health industry). However, existing studies and anecdotal evidence indicate many benefits and mostly positive results. 

A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology showed that essiac tea demonstrates potent anti-oxidant properties, effectively scavenging free radicals and protecting DNA. Another study in AntiCancer Research corroborated this and also demonstrated an ability to modulate the immune system. Together, the herbal ingredients in the recipe have been shown to have more powerful anti-oxidant properties than green tea, red wine or cocoa. 

These properties alone may go some way towards explaining the reported effects of the tonic. For example, the Canadian Journal of Urology describes the case of a 64-year-old man with prostate cancer who went into remission after using essiac tea as a supplement. 

Essiac Tea is a Complementary Treatment, Not a Replacement

While the evidence so far is enough to persuade Reddit to add essiac tea to its list of alternative cancer protocols, it’s dangerous to assume that the tea alone will cure cancer or even that it will work for everyone. Sadly, there are cases where false claims like this one have had dire consequences, dramatically shortening the patient’s life. 

With this in mind, patients with severe conditions like cancer should consider alternative methods as complementary treatments, not stand-alone cure-alls. Essiac tea is just one example of a complementary method that can benefit cancer patients. Other examples include the use of turmeric, which has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties, and following a ketogenic diet, which dramatically reduces glucose in the body, effectively starving cancer cells. 

It’s also important to note that essiac tea is not suitable for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and if you’re taking any medication, have underlying health conditions or are on chemotherapy, it’s best to consult your doctor beforehand. 

How to Make Essiac Tea

The easiest way is to use a pre-blended tea, either the original recipe or the one with extra ingredients, and follow the directions on the packaging.

To brew essiac tea yourself, follow this basic recipe. 

Measure out and mix together these ingredients:

  • 1.5 pounds burdock root
  • 1 pound powdered sheep sorrel
  • 1/4 pound slippery elm
  • 1 ounce Turkish rhubarb root

Store the mixture in a sealed glass jar away from light. 

To brew a quart of tea, boil 1 quart of water with 1 ounce of herbs for 10 minutes, preferably in a stainless steel pot. Then cover and leave to steep for 12 hours. After steeping, gently reheat the tea (don’t boil it), allow the herbs to settle then strain them out. Pour the liquid into sterilized, sealed glass or ceramic containers, allow it to cool and then store the tonic in the fridge for up to 2 to 3 weeks. 

To drink, dilute ½ ounce tea in 2 ounces of warm or cool water once a day, and take it ideally on an empty stomach before bedtime to maximize the benefits.  

Given its many benefits, and used correctly and under the right circumstances, essiac tea could be just the tonic you need!