The Story That Refuses to Die
The History of (Essiac) Ojibwa Tea and Extract
By Sandy McKelvey



The Rene Caisse Story
I find the story of Canadian Nurse, Rene M. Caisse, and her quest to help those in need of treatment for cancer to be one of the most fascinating ever. Along with many others challenged with cancer, I feel I owe my life to this remarkable woman.
Sandy McKelvey
 2X Breast Cancer Survivor
Owner of Herbs for Life, Sarasota, FL

Caisse’s Quest
Rene Caisse was born August 11, 1888, in Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada, devoting nearly all of her professional life, over 50 years, to the alleviation of the suffering of cancer patients. She fervently believed in the healing properties of the herbal preparation she named ESSIAC (her name spelled backwards). Without charging her patients, Caisse administered the healing effects of her herbal formula and her intense sense of hope to thousands of people from all over North America.

The Legend of the famous Ojibwa Herbal Tea
In 1922, while nursing in Haileybury, Ontario, Caisse met a woman who claimed she had been cured of advanced breast cancer. This woman credited her cure to an ancient Native Ojibwa Indian recipe of herbs and roots given to her 30 years previously by a medicine man. Caisse asked the elderly lady to reveal which herbs were used, and how and when to take them. The information was filed away to be used another day.

Two years later when Caisse’s aunt was diagnosed with cancer of the stomach and liver and considered terminal, her doctor, Dr. R.O. Fisher, agreed to allow her to try the brew. With some difficulty, Caisse located the herbs, brewed the tea and treated her aunt successfully. She lived another 21 years with no recurrence.

Convinced of its value as a cure for cancer, she refined and tested it, and began what was to be a life-long quest for its acceptance in the medical world for the treatment of Cancer.

In a Cancer Clinic held in the former British Lion Hotel in Bracebridge, Caisse provided hundreds of terminally-ill people with Essiac and hope from 1935-1942. During that time, controversy surrounded her good work and the medical fraternity took sides. Ontario’s Premier and various levels of government enforced the Commission for the Investigation of Remedies for Cancer by provincial legislation and in 1942, under threat of arrest, Caisse closed the clinic’s doors. A petition of 55,000 signatories, doctors and patients, did not help.

To varying degrees, medical scientists such as Dr. Frederick Banting, physicians and important institutions including the Mayo Clinic, University of Toronto, Toronto hospitals, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York, and the (U.S.) National Cancer Institute were involved in assessing Essiac and  Rene Caisse’s quest for credibility.

The conflict continued over the next thirty years. Rene Caisse lived in North Bay until her husband’s premature death in 1948 when she returned to Bracebridge to live. The herbal tea quietly continued to help desperate cancer patients and alleviate their pain and suffering. Other ailments also enjoying the healing effects of Essiac include: ulcers, thyroid problems, fibroids, prostate, urinary problems, diabetes, arthritis, and Parkinson’s.

In 1959, the Brusch Medical Centre in Cambridge, MA, along with Nurse Caisse, treated cancer patients with gratifying results, however  she was disturbed about the future exploitation of Essiac and refused to release the formula.

Caisse’s concern was that the formula in the wrong hands would earn money as a commercial venture, or worse, that the formula would be dispensed inaccurately, hence declaring the remedy ineffective. Some felt that the remedy was nature’s own and should have been available to everyone.

Finally, in her 90th year, Caisse entrusted the formula (in a sealed envelope) to Lt. Gov. Pauline McGibon, until it was finally disclosed to the Toronto-based Resperin Corporation.

Today, the world rights of Essiac are held in the U.S.A. and designated a food supplement. Essiac is sold in heathfood stores and pharmacies across Canada. Now that the formula is in public hands, a private army of volunteers in Bracebridge and elsewhere carefully prepare and share the healing herbal tea.

Her Victory
Caisse’s formula as a potential cancer cure has finally found its place in the sun. We salute Rene Caisse of Bracebridge! She won her fight! She believed in her formula and wanted desperately to help those sick with cancer. Her contribution to society is immeasurable! Rene Caisse died at the age of 90.

Many years later
My Story
I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of Caisse’s friends, Mary McPherson and Sheila Snow (author of “The Essence of Essaic”, while visiting Bracebridge one summer. I wanted to know more about her and Essaic; and I also wanted to prepare the tea for my Grandmother who was suffering from cancer at the time. They were more than happy to share the formula with me. The Essiac Ojibwa Formula consists of: Burdock Root (cut), Sheep Sorrel herb (cut), Turkey Rubarb Root (powder), and Slippery Elm Bark (powder).

I was so grateful and immediately headed to the local health-food store in search of these four herbs. Once I found them, I began preparing the tea and administering it to my Grandmother twice a day.

Two and a half months later, a visit to Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto confirmed the treatment had worked — there was no sign of cancer which doctors had quite clearly indicated was unstoppable. Of course this was nothing short of a miracle, and my Grandmother lived another seven years.

It would be years later that I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 36 and would need to use Ojibwa Tea to treat my cancer. I have fought breast cancer twice and continue to come out swinging. I feel I owe much of my good health and healing to the herbal remedy known as Essiac (Ojibwa Tea and Extract).

After realizing how the Tea had helped me, I decided to make the Herbs and the Extract for Caisse’s formula available to everyone. I started a small company, Herbs for Life, based in Sarasota, Florida. All of our herbs for the tea and extract are imported from my home in Ontario, Canada.

Visit  and read more about Rene Caisse and the amazing tea and extract I call Ojibwa. You can also reach us at our toll-free number 1 (866) 223-9980.

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