Renee Caisse was a Registered Nurse in Canada when she developed the recipe for Essiac, an herbal tea that has been used as an alternative cancer treatment for more than 80 years. But Nurse Caisse did not claim to have invented the recipe for Essiac.
In 1922, Renee Caisse met an elderly woman who told her an amazing story. The woman said she once had breast cancer, but it was cured by drinking tea made from certain herbs that grew in northern Ontario. Furthermore, she said the formula had been given to her by an old Native Indian healer -- a traditional medicine man.
Years later, when Ms. Caisse's aunt was diagnosed with cancer, Renee remembered the formula she had written down. With the permission of her aunt's doctor, Ms. Caisse brewed a batch of the herbal tea and gave it to her aunt. In her book, "I was Canada's Cancer Nurse," Caisse wrote that, after having been given up by the medical profession as hopeless, her aunt lived for 21 more years after being treated with her herbal tea. She said that her aunt's doctor was so impressed, he asked Caisse to use her formula on some of his other cancer patients.
Caisse went on to set up a clinic in Bracebridge, Ontario, where she used Essiac to tread thousands of cancer patients. One doctor who was particularly impressed by Caisse's work was Frederic J. Banting, who won a Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1923 for the discovery of insulin. In her book, Caisse quotes Dr. Banting as saying "Essiac must actuate the pancreatic gland into normal functioning."
Nevertheless, the medical establishment continues to be skeptical about the efficacy of Essiac. It is against the law to claim that Essiac is a cure for any medical ailment, so the herbal tea is currently being marketed as a dietary supplement.
The esteemed cancer researcher, Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D. reported that Essiac was tested in the 1970s at two well-respected cancer research institutes, both of which concluded that Essiac was not proven to cause any anti-cancer activity in animals. Nevertheless, Dr. Moss said, Essiac "remains worth investigating" for two reasons: on-going anecdotal reports of its usefulness and because the individual ingredients used in the Essiac formula have been proven to possess anti-cancer properties. The four herbs in the original Essiac formula are Slippery Elm inner bark, Burdock root, Sheep Sorrel and Indian Rhubarb Root.
In conclusion, it should be noted that the name Essiac comes from the backward spelling of Renee Caisse's last name.