What was the original "medicine man's" formula?
The original tea was not called Essiac. Mali Klein stated in THE ESSIAC BOOK: "Essiac began in the early 1890s as a nameless eight-herb decoction, prepared by a Native American medicine man for an Englishwoman with breast cancer who had recently emigrated to northern Ontario in Canada."
Sheila Snow and Mali Klein stated in their book ESSIAC--The Secrets of Rene Caisse's Herbal Pharmacy: "We have Rene's oral and written evidence that the original recipe contained eight herbs, with Periwinkle, Red Clover and Watercress in addition to the four Essiac herbs. As far as we know, she left no written evidence as to the identity of the eighth herb." Sheila Snow spent twenty-seven years of her life gathering information and assembling an important archive collection. Sheila knew both Rene Caisse and Mary McPherson. It appears that Rene Caisse did not even tell her trusted friend, Mary McPherson, what the eighth herb was. Mali Klein suggests that the eighth herb may have been Goldthread. [See THE ESSIAC BOOK by Mali Klein, Chapter Five & THE SECRETS OF RENE CAISSE'S HERBAL PHARMACY, pp. 58 -- 60]
However, Rene Caisse also used the following five indigenous herbs: Bloodroot, Cleavers, Juniper, Prickly Ash, Bearberry (Knickknick). Of these five herbs Bloodroot and Cleavers are also likely candidates for the eight herb of the original "medicine man's" formula due to their traditional use with cancer.
"Bloodroot was traditionally used as part of a paste to treat forms of skin cancer. Eli Jones believed bloodroot to be most useful in cancer of the rectum." [HERBAL MEDICINE, HEALING & CANCER by Donald R. Yance, Jr., p. 129] WARNING: Bloodroot is a very powerful herb with undesirable side effects when taken internally and should not be used internally by anyone who is not very familiar with it. An internal overdose can be lethal! However, native Americans used bloodroot for facial paint so it is not a problem when applied in small amounts to the skin. Bloodroot was used topically in Hoxsey cancer clinics but was used by experienced health care practitioners trained in its use. Rene Caisse used "Sheep sorrel whole herb and Bloodroot in a combination decoction, as a topical remedy to treat hemorrhage." [THE ESSIAC BOOK, p. 47]
Cleavers has also been used by native peoples. "ANTITUMOR: Since Cleavers aid the lymphatic system, the fresh juice is used internally for treating various cancers, including breast and ovarian. This may have its basis in lymphatic drainage, which helps detoxify tissue. One quarter cup of the fresh juice should be taken three times daily. If the fresh plant is not available or abundant, use two teaspoons of tincture three times daily. A poultice of the fresh plant is also useful when applied to tumors and open ulcers." [HEALING PLANTS OF THE ROCK MOUNTAINS by Darcy Williamson]
Regardless of what the original native formula was, Rene Caisse reduced the formula to just four herbs after five decades of working with the formula.
Was Turkey rhubarb part of the original 8-herb native formula? CLICK HERE for some very interesting information about "Indian rhubarb" and "Turkey rhubarb" in the original native formula.
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