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Essiac Tea Side Effects

Essiac is a herbal tea formed by the combination of four herbs. This tea is popularly touted as a cancer-curing tea, although there is no scientific evidence to back the same.
HolisticZine Staff
Essiac, the touted cure for cancer is a herbal tea comprising a mixture of roots of herbs such as burdock, slippery elm, sheep's sorrel, and Indian rhubarb. Today, essiac tea may also contain watercress red clover, blessed thistle, etc.

Originally produced by a Canadian nurse, Rene Caisse, this tea is believed to strengthen the immune system, reduce tumor size, purify the blood, detoxify the body, stimulate cell repair, restore energy levels, etc.

The herb mixture is boiled to prepare a brown, tea-like beverage and is taken on an empty stomach, an hour and a half before every meal and before hitting the sack at night. However, how safe is it to drink essiac tea and what about its side effects?

Essiac Tea for Cancer

Although there is no scientific evidence to prove that essiac tea can cure cancer, several cancer patients who have consumed this herbal tea have shown considerable improvement in their condition. Since this tea can be safely taken during chemotherapy or radiation treatment, several cancer patients are willing to try it. However, since there is no scientific evidence to prove its benefits, it cannot be titled as the 'cancer-curing tea'.

Side Effects of Essiac

Side effects to this tea is not a common phenomenon, and is only observed in the case of chronic consumption of large amounts of it. Some of the rare side effects are:
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased blood sugar levels
  • Frequent urination
  • Skin blemishes
  • Skin inflammation
  • Cough and cold
  • Swollen glands
  • Decreased potassium levels in the blood
Some of the other side effects are as follows:

Allergies
Like any other herbal tea, essiac tea also has some side effects. This tea is a blend of four different herbs and a person can tend to be allergic to any one of them. Thus, it is important to refrain from essiac tea, if you are allergic to any of the herbs used in it.

Not for Renal Failure Patients
The herbs present in essiac tea contain chemicals called oxalates, which are deleterious to the kidneys and liver. Thus, people with kidney problems and liver conditions should refrain from consuming it.

Not for Pregnant Women
While there isn't specific evidence to state that essiac tea is detrimental to carrying and breastfeeding women, the lack of evidence with regards to its safety makes it best to avoid it. The herbs rhubarb and burdock are believed to stimulate uterine contractions, while slippery elm bark may result in a miscarriage. Even though we do not know how true these points are, to be on the safer side avoid it.

In case you happen to observe any side effects, stop drinking this tea immediately. To be on the safer side, make sure you consult your health care provider before resorting to any herbal remedies.

Disclaimer: This HolisticZine article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert advice.