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Essiac/Flor Essence

Essiac and Flor Essence are herbal tea mixtures sold worldwide as health tonics or herbal dietary supplements. They have been used to treat cancer and other health conditions, such as diabetes, AIDS and gastrointestinal diseases.

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Essiac contains burdock root, Indian rhubarb root, sheep sorrel and slippery elm. Flor Essence is reported to contain the same four herbs as Essiac, plus watercress, blessed thistle, red clover and kelp. Different batches of Essiac and Flor Essence may contain different ingredients in different amounts, which may cause different effects.

›  Health benefits

Supporters of Essiac and Flor Essence say that when the herbs are mixed in exact amounts, the mixtures make the immune system stronger, have anti-inflammatory effects and show anticancer activity. Individual herbs in the Essiac and Flor Essence formulas have been shown to have these effects, but some of these herbs also have been shown to help cancer grow. Some supporters of Essiac recommend that conventional therapy (such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy) not be used at the same time as Essiac because that may prevent Essiac from being effective.

There is no evidence reported in peer-reviewed scientific journals to show that the exact formulas of Essiac and Flor Essence are effective in patients with cancer or other health conditions, or that conventional therapies interfere with the effects of Essiac.

In 2004, a laboratory study at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis reported that Essiac slowed the growth of prostate cancer cells.

Studies of Flor Essence have shown differing results:

  • Two laboratory studies reported that Flor Essence made tumor cells grow.
  • Another laboratory study reported that high doses of both Flor Essence and Essiac herbal teas reduced the growth of cancer cells.
  • A 2004 animal study of Flor Essence found that it increased breast tumor growth in rats.

›  How much do I need?

The dosage varies depending on age and what it is being used for. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels, and consult your pharmacist, physician or other healthcare professional before using.

The only reported side effects caused by Essiac are nausea and vomiting. According to the company making Flor Essence, side effects may include increased bowel movements, frequent urination, swollen glands, skin blemishes, flu-like symptoms and slight headaches.

›  Dietary supplements

Both Essiac and Flor Essence are available as capsules, an herbal extract or as an herbal tea.

Source: National Cancer Institute

Please consult your health care provider before making changes to your vitamin/supplement regimen.

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