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


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.

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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