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Essiac/Flor Essence (PDQ®): Complementary and alternative medicine - Health Professional Information [NCI] - General Information

Essiac and Flor Essence are proprietary herbal tea mixtures produced by different manufacturers. Essiac is reported to contain four herbs: burdock root (Arctium lappa L.), Indian rhubarb root (Rheum palmatum L., sometimes known as Turkish rhubarb), sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella L.), and the inner bark of slippery elm (Ulmus fulva Michx. [synonym Ulmus rubra]).[1] Reviewed in [2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10] Flor Essence is reported to contain the same four herbs as Essiac, plus four potentiating herbs: watercress (Nasturtium officinale R.Br.), blessed thistle (Cnicus benedictus L.), red clover (Trifolium pratense L.), and kelp (Laminaria digitata [Hudson] Lamx.).[11] Reviewed in [2,3,4,7]

The manufacturers of Essiac and Flor Essence both claim they market the original herbal mixture promoted by the developer.[1,11] Although only one company manufactures Flor Essence,[11] several companies produce and market Essiac-like products. Reviewed in [2,3,10] This summary contains information about the trademarked mixtures only and differentiates between the two products wherever possible. Essiac and Flor Essence may vary in their mixture content and effects.[12]

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Essiac and Flor Essence are said to detoxify the body and strengthen the immune system.[1,11] Reviewed in [4,6,7,9] Proponents of Essiac further claim that it helps relieve pain, improves overall quality of life, may reduce tumor size, and may prolong the survival of patients with various types of cancer. Reviewed in [4,7,9] The individual herbs in the Essiac and Flor Essence formulas have been shown to contain molecules that have anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, or immunostimulatory activity (refer to the Laboratory/Animal/Preclinical Studies section of this summary for more information). Reviewed in [2,3,4,9,13,14,15,16] It is said that the benefits of Essiac and Flor Essence are dependent on the presence of the constituent herbs in the correct proportions. Reviewed in [2,3,4,9] In 2004, a mixture of the Essiac herbs showed a decreased proliferation of a prostate cancer cell line.[17] (Refer to the Laboratory/Animal/Preclinical Studies section of this summary for more information.)

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