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

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Essiac and Flor Essence are administered orally in the form of herbal teas.[1,11] Reviewed in [4,6,8,9,18] Originally, an extract of one of the herbs (not specified) was administered to cancer patients by intramuscular injection at or near tumor sites, and the other herbs were administered orally as a tea. Reviewed in [4,8,9,18]

Only minimal information about dose and schedule of administration is freely available from the manufacturer of Essiac.[1] According to the manufacturer, the dose will vary, depending on the reason for ingestion; the manufacturer's recommended schedules of administration assume a 12-week program of uninterrupted use.[1] Although Essiac is said to be safe for pets, no information is given about its safety in children.[1]

The manufacturer of Flor Essence states that adults may consume from 30 to 360 mL (i.e., 1–12 fl oz) of Flor Essence tea a day, depending on individual requirements, and that it may be used on an ongoing basis.[11] The manufacturer also suggests that Flor Essence may be safely consumed by infants and children, but its use by pregnant women and nursing mothers is not recommended.[11] The promotion of mammary tumors observed in a rat model of breast cancer raises the theoretical concern that Flor Essence may impact normal mammary ductal development during childhood, thereby raising concern about its use at this time.[19]

The manufacturers of Essiac and Flor Essence both state these products can be used in conjunction with other cancer treatments.[1,11] Nonetheless, some proponents of Essiac have recommended that no additional anticancer therapy (such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy) be undertaken while patients are being treated with the mixture. Reviewed in [8] The purported rationale for this statement is that conventional anticancer treatments may alter immune system function and prevent Essiac from working effectively. Reviewed in [8] As indicated previously, no evidence has been reported in the peer-reviewed scientific literature to show that Essiac is an effective treatment for patients with cancer.

References:

  1. Essiac. Kirkland, Canada: Altramed Health Products, 2002. Available online. Last accessed August 10, 2012.
  2. 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.
  3. Tamayo C: Essiac for cancer. Alternative Therapies in Women's Health 2 (3): 19-23, 2000.
  4. 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.
  5. Ernst E, Cassileth BR: How useful are unconventional cancer treatments? Eur J Cancer 35 (11): 1608-13, 1999.
  6. Locock RA: Essiac. Can Pharm J 130: 18-9, 1997.
  7. Reviews of Therapies: Herbal/plant therapies: Essiac. Houston, Tex: M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, 2002. Available online. Last accessed August 10, 2012.
  8. 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.
  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.
  11. Flora Flor•Essence®. Burnaby, Canada: Flora Manufacturing & Distributing Ltd. Available online. Last accessed August 10, 2012.
  12. Cheung S, Lim KT, Tai J: Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of ESSIAC and Flor-Essence. Oncol Rep 14 (5): 1345-50, 2005.
  13. Franke AA, Cooney RV, Custer LJ, et al.: Inhibition of neoplastic transformation and bioavailability of dietary flavonoid agents. In: Manthey JA, Buslig BS, eds.: Flavonoids in the Living System. New York, NY: Plenum Press, 1998. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 439, pp 237-48.
  14. Waladkhani AR, Clemens MR: Effect of dietary phytochemicals on cancer development (review) Int J Mol Med 1 (4): 747-53, 1998.
  15. de Witte P: Metabolism and pharmacokinetics of anthranoids. Pharmacology 47 (Suppl 1): 86-97, 1993.
  16. Campbell MJ, Hamilton B, Shoemaker M, et al.: Antiproliferative activity of Chinese medicinal herbs on breast cancer cells in vitro. Anticancer Res 22 (6C): 3843-52, 2002 Nov-Dec.
  17. Ottenweller J, Putt K, Blumenthal EJ, et al.: Inhibition of prostate cancer-cell proliferation by Essiac. J Altern Complement Med 10 (4): 687-91, 2004.
  18. LeMoine L: Essiac: an historical perspective. Can Oncol Nurs J 7 (4): 216-21, 1997.
  19. Bennett LM, Montgomery JL, Steinberg SM, et al.: Flor-Essence herbal tonic does not inhibit mammary tumor development in Sprague Dawley rats. Breast Cancer Res Treat 88 (1): 87-93, 2004.

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: September 04, 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.
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