Skip to content

Breast Cancer Health Center

Font Size



    In the early 1980s, the Canadian Department of National Health and Welfare (Bureau of Human Prescription Drugs) conducted a retrospective review of case summaries submitted by physicians whose patients had obtained Essiac under the Emergency Drug Release Program. Reviewed in [2,5,8] The Department found little evidence to suggest that Essiac was effective as a cancer treatment. (Refer to the Human/Clinical Studies section of this summary for more information.)

    Also in the 1980s, the manufacturers of Essiac-like products began to market their formulations as health tonics and to avoid making claims of effectiveness in treating disease. Consequently, the mixtures were no longer subject to regulation as drugs. Reviewed in [4] Essiac is not currently available under Canada's Emergency Drug Release Program.

    In 1995, the corporation that acquired the four-herb recipe for Essiac from the developer dissolved voluntarily.[1] Later that year, a new company was formed to manufacture and distribute this proprietary herbal mixture.[1] Reviewed in [6]


    1. Essiac. Kirkland, Canada: Altramed Health Products, 2002. Available online. Last accessed August 10, 2012.
    2. Tamayo C: Essiac for cancer. Alternative Therapies in Women's Health 2 (3): 19-23, 2000.
    3. Locock RA: Essiac. Can Pharm J 130: 18-9, 1997.
    4. Reviews of Therapies: Herbal/plant therapies: Essiac. Houston, Tex: M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, 2002. Available online. Last accessed August 10, 2012.
    5. Herbal treatments. In: US Congress, Office of Technology Assessment.: Unconventional Cancer Treatments. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1990. OTA-H-405, pp 71-5. Also available online. Last accessed August 10, 2012.
    6. LeMoine L: Essiac: an historical perspective. Can Oncol Nurs J 7 (4): 216-21, 1997.
    7. Tamayo C, Richardson MA, Diamond S, et al.: The chemistry and biological activity of herbs used in Flor-Essence herbal tonic and Essiac. Phytother Res 14 (1): 1-14, 2000.
    8. Kaegi E: Unconventional therapies for cancer: 1. Essiac. The Task Force on Alternative Therapies of the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Initiative. CMAJ 158 (7): 897-902, 1998.
    9. Essiac. Toronto, Canada: Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance, 1996.
    10. The History of Essiac & Rene Caisse, Canada's Cancer Nurse. Kirkland, Canada: Altramed Health Products, 2001. Available online. Last accessed August 10, 2012.

    WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

    Last Updated: February 25, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

    Today on WebMD

    Breast Cancer Overview
    From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
    Dealing with breast cancer
    Get answers to your questions.
    woman having mammogram
    Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
    woman undergoing breast cancer test
    Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
    Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
    Resolved To Quit Smoking
    Woman getting mammogram
    Screening Tests for Women
    ovarian cancer overview slideshow
    serious woman
    what is your cancer risk
    10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow