Canine Cancer Supplements: Essiac

Essiac or Essiac Tea is an herbal supplement often promoted as a natural way to treat cancer.  Although the formula is based on a traditional Ojibway Indian herbal formula, in the 1920’s, a Canadian nursed named Rene Caisse (‘Essiac’ is her name spelled backwards) refined the formula and brought this remarkable herbal blend into the world of Western medicine.  Throughout her medical career, Ms. Caisse used Essiac to treat cancer patients, especially in those cases when conventional treatments were no longer effective.  She saw Essiac not as a cancer cure, but as a natural way to improve quality of life and alleviate pain while fighting cancer.

The original Essiac formula includes four key components:  Indian Rhubarb Root, Slippery Elm Bark, Burdock Root and Sheep Sorrel.  Combined, these herbs are nutritive and also support the liver and kidneys, which are crucial for detoxification of the body, and also support the intestinal tract and improved digestion. Other herbs may also be included in small amounts, including kelp, red clover, blessed thistle and watercress, although the exact formula has never been divulged to the public, and different manufacturers may have variations in their formulas.  The four key herbs should remain the same, however, for best results. 

In addition to its reported anti-cancer properties, Essiac also strengthens the immune system and works as an anti-inflammatory.  According to the website, a study reported in Anticancer Research says, “In vitro analysis of Essiac indicates significant antioxidant and immunomodulatory properties, as well as neoplastic cell specific cytotoxicity consistent with the historical properties ascribed to this compound.” Read more: 

As with most herbal supplements, the anti-cancer benefits of Essiac have not been fully verified through clinical studies, and it is not approved by the FDA.  However, it has been used consistently among cancer patients since being developed by Ms. Caisse, and there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence that it can help improve quality of life, and may help slow or eliminate the spread of cancer in the body.  While you should always consult your veterinarian before starting your pet on any supplements, the primary ingredients in Essiac are widely considered to be safe for most people and animals.  Most vets and doctors seem to view Essiac as a relatively harmless ‘home’ remedy. 

Essiac formulas come in powder form, in capsules and as a liquid extract.  Any of these can be used with dogs who have cancer, although the capsules are probably the easiest form to give.   For best results, Essiac should not be given within one hour of eating.  The powder can be brewed into a tea and given to your pet twice daily.  The capsules can simply be added to water or a small amount of juice or broth, and given to your dog.

For recommended dosage instructions for pets as well as detailed instructions for preparing Essiac tea, please visit:

For more information about Essiac and the history behind this natural cancer supplement, visit:

About Kerry Malak

I am a Bulldog mom, Reiki Master/Teacher, pet loss counselor and canine cancer advocate who loves working with people and animals to help them live longer, happier and healthier lives.
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