Essiac Tea is a blend of herbs used to make a tea that is believed by some to have cancer-treating properties. Originally used by Native American tribal medicine men, the recipe was rediscovered by a Canadian nurse, Rene Caisse, R.N. in 1922, as she was attending to a woman who had previously cured her breast cancer with an herbal remedy given to her by a North American Indian shaman in the 1890s.
Known as "Nurse Caisse" or "Miss Caisse", Rene named her version of the recipe—her last name spelled backwards. She continued to help people suffering with cancer up until she died in 1978. In 1959, Caisse was working with Fawcett Publishing editor, Ralph Daigh and a major Boston hospital to conduct major testing on Essiac's effectiveness. These efforts led to her involvement with John F. Kennedy's personal physician, Dr. Charles A. Brusch, MD, of Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1989, Dr. Brusch revealed that he had cured his own cancer using Essiac daily since his own cancer was discovered in 1984. Dr. Brusch continued Caisse's Essiac work after her death.
The origin of the Essiac formula is believed to have its roots in native Canadian Ojibwa (Midewiwin) medicine. The basic Essiac formula contains greater burdock root (Arctium lappa), slippery elm inner bark (Ulmus rubra, formerly known as Ulmus fulva), sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella), and Indian or Turkish rhubarb root (Rheum officinale).