What is Essiac Tea?
Essiac tea is an herbal tea known for numerous health benefits. It is proposed that it can kill cancer cells, aid detoxification, and raise immunity. It is a Native American natural remedy and has limited evidence to back up its claims. It is a blend of different herbs including:
- Slippery Elm: It reduces coughing, bronchitis, treats diarrhea, and eases irritable bowel syndrome.
- Burdock Root: It is a large herbaceous plant of the daisy family and is purported to treat cancer, lower blood pressure, promote urination, and reduce wrinkles.
- Sheep Sorrel: It is known to treat cancer, treat diarrhea, and reduce fever and inflammation.
- Indian Rhubarb: It is known to provide relief from a variety of symptoms including constipation and fever. It is also known to treat cancer, infection, and boost the immune system.
Along with anticancer properties, it is proposed to boost immune function, reduce inflammation, and enhance detoxification.(1) It is made by combining 2 ounces of concentrated tea with heated spring water.
Mixed Evidence for Cancer-Fighting Properties
The anticancer properties of Essiac tea have mixed results.
A test-tube study showed that this tea had antioxidant properties that can prevent damage to cells and DNA. This could help in protecting against cancer.(2) An older test-tube study noted that Essiac tea blocked the growth of breast and leukemia cancer cells when administered in high concentrations.(3) Same growth blocking results were seen in another animal study.(4)
Anecdotal evidence states that certain types of cancer have responded well to Essiac tea. In fact, one man went into remission from prostate cancer and attributed it to tea.(5)
However, many studies showed very little or no evidence of Essiac tea on cancer. Studies also show that this tea may even stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells.(6)
Human studies are not available and more high-quality studies are needed to understand the impact of Essiac tea on cancer development.
Side Effects of Essiac Tea
Consumption of Essiac tea is associated with a variety of side effects. It includes nausea, vomiting, frequent urination, flu symptoms, headache, increased bowel movement, and swollen glands. Also, pregnant and breastfeeding females should also avoid it.
Essiac tea is a blend of potential herbs with many health benefits, but its effectiveness in cancer has been studied. As this tea is known to stimulate breast cancer cells and have other unpleasant side effects it is good to consult a doctor before starting it.
A doctor should also be consulted before consuming Essiac tea in case of the following:
- If taking any medication
- Pregnant or breastfeeding
- Suffering from any underlying health condition
Additionally, if any side effects or symptoms are noticed, its consumption should be stopped and a doctor should be consulted.