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 Herbal Medicine: Essiac 
Richard Walters ©

Glum steadfastly denies this. He points out that he put himself at great personal and legal risk to divulge what he maintains is the correct formula. He asserts that he is the only person in the alternative cancer field who has openly publicized the exact details of a purported cancer cure, unlike others who keep the details of their therapy secret, or proprietary. Thousands of copies of Glum's book were seized and held at the United States-Canada border by Canadian authorities, who say the book is advertising of an unapproved drug. The book was finally allowed into Canada through the strenuous efforts of a high-ranking Canadian politician, yet thousands of confiscated books have still never been released, according to Glum.

Glum says he paid the unidentified woman $120,000 for the Essiac formula and insists that he will never recover the money. He claims that his formula is identical to the Essiac tested by medical researchers in the Soviet Union and China when Resperin officials were attempting to interest the medical establishments there in a cancer cure.

According to Glum, the herbal potion prepared by following the instructions supplied in his book has helped many cancer and AIDS patients get well. Some AIDS patients taking the herbal tea report that drastically low T-cell counts have risen to normal.

Sheila Snow, who coauthored a pivotal 1977 article on Caisse for Canada's Homemaker's magazine, believes that Glum's version of Essiac "is the recipe Rene used in the 1930s when she prepared the remedy in her Bracebridge clinic for hundreds of patients, and quite conceivably the one passed along to the Resperin Corporation for its clinical studies." In a July 1991 article on Essiac in the Canadian Journal of Herbal Medicine, Snow gives the exact recipe and preparation instructions presented by Glum. In her opinion, "We owe a large debt of gratitude to Dr. Glum for having the courage to take on this enormous responsibility-no small task!-at great personal financial expense, time and energy."

Dr. Charles Brusch, cofounder of the Brusch Medical Center where Rene worked in 1959, reported in a letter dated August 3, 1991, "I have been taking this [Essiac] myself since 1984 when I had several cancer operations, and I have every faith in it. Of course, each person's case is different as well as each person's own individual health history.... Someone may respond in a week; someone else may take longer, and whether or not someone is cured of cancer, the Essiac has been found to at least prolong life by simply strengthening the body."

Brusch went on to note that "I was given the true original formula by Rene when she worked with me in my clinic." He added that he passed along this authentic formula to Canadian radio producer-broadcaster Elaine Alexander of Vancouver, who had been following the Essiac story for twenty years and had interviewed on her program many cancer patients who had been cured through Essiac. Documents indicate that in November 1988, Brusch transferred Caisse's herbal formula to Alexander, who then arranged to have the product manufactured and sold through a distributor. Alexander's Essiac is offered strictly as a nutritional product, under a different brand name, with the manufacturer making no claims regarding its reputed value in treating cancer.

Alexander points out that the method of preparation, the precise ratios of the ingredients, and the correct dosages are all crucial to Essiac's efficacy. She says that Caisse continually improved on Essiac over the years through experimentation and that she believes Glum's version of Essiac may be "an early, primitive version" of a formula Caisse later strengthened and perfected. Alexander further claims that the various "specious facsimiles" of Essiac on the market can be quite dangerous.

Testimonials from cancer patients who achieved complete remission or considerable improvement using Essiac are obtainable from Elaine Alexander. These remarkable letters document cases of the last fifteen years and encompass many types of cancer, including pancreatic, breast, and ovarian cancer; cancers of the esophagus, bile ducts, bladder, and bones; and lymphoma and metastatic melanoma.

Muriel Peters of Creston, British Columbia, one of the people who wrote to Elaine Alexander to describe her experience with Essiac, was diagnosed in 1981 with a malignant tumor the size of an orange on her coccyx, the triangular bone at the base of the spine. She underwent surgery a week later. The surgeons told her, "We got it all," but according to Muriel, "By the time they had found the tumor, it had begun to flare up the spine among the nerve endings, so they could not cut there." She had twenty-nine radiation treatments following the surgery. In September 1982, sensing numbness in her lower abdominal area, she went to the Cancer Clinic in Vancouver and was told by a head surgeon that the tumor had spread to her spine and was inoperable, and nothing more could be done.

When her brother-in-law mentioned a man with cancer who had been given three months to live but was cured "somewhere down South," Muriel Peters followed up the lead. One month later, she visited the Bio-Medical Center in Tijuana, Mexico, and began the Hoxsey herbal therapy. Within three months, sensation returned to her lower abdomen, but this was followed by "three months of excruciating pain which no pills could relieve." She then began taking Essiac in liquid form, which she obtained from the Resperin Corporation through her doctor. After twelve days, the pain subsided. "From then on I was on my way up."

For the next year and a half, Muriel took Essiac daily. She also remained on the Hoxsey regimen, which consisted of an herbal tonic, vitamin supplements, and a special diet stressing fresh vegetables, greens, and fruits. "I felt the two complemented each other," Muriel explains. "Without the diet and the vitamins, I really doubt if either of the tonics would have been quite enough. The body has to rebuild what the cancer has broken down, therefore healthy foods are needed by the body to reconstruct itself."

About a year after she started her dual program, Muriel returned for tests to the Vancouver Cancer Clinic. Incredulous, the attending doctor told her, "For reasons unknown there have been notable changes in your body."

"When the doctor left the room," recalls Muriel, "the attending nurse asked me what I was doing to bring about these changes, and I only said, 'I'm on a diet and vitamins.' The nurse asked, 'On your own?' I replied, 'No, by doctors directing.' She then said, 'Well, as long as you're not going to Mexican quacks, as many are doing.'"

A complete medical checkup in September 1989 found Muriel Peters cancer-free and in excellent health. At sixty-eight, she reported, "I'm the healthiest person in British Columbia. I love life and living.... I have learned what life is all about." X-rays and blood tests in January 1991 confirmed her to be in complete remission, nine years after she was diagnosed with inoperable, "hopeless" cancer.

Elaine Alexander says she met a Vancouver physician who, in 1990, had spoken with an oncologist at Canada's Health Protection Branch in Ottawa. This physician, according to Alexander, was told by the government oncologist, "It is known, at this office, that Essiac is effective against brain tumors, especially brain stem tumors." Critics of Essiac will no doubt dismiss this story as a self-serving fabrication. Yet Gary Glum has a remarkably similar story. He recalls a man who telephoned him to say that his two-year-old daughter had been diagnosed with an inoperable, advanced brain tumor and was given just weeks to live. The man, according to Glum, was calling to thank him for writing Caisse's biography, through which he had learned about Essiac. His daughter had been saved by the herbal remedy and, at age five, was in perfect health.

Are these stories just a singular coincidence? Glum and Alexander do not speak to each other. Their relationship, if anything, is one of rivalry, each party feeling that he or she possesses the "correct" Essiac formula. So it is ridiculous to suggest that they "compared notes" in order to concoct similar accounts of Essiac's reported efficacy in treating cancer.

It is more likely that Caisse experimented with her basic recipe over the years and that some of the contemporary products purporting to be Essiac reproduce major variants of her formula. Confirming this theory would require exhaustive detective work beyond the scope of this book. Readers are urged to thoughtfully evaluate any and all claims. Caution is advised since a number of the purported versions of Essiac on the market today do not even contain the principal herbs, instead substituting one or more incorrect ingredients.

The Canadian herbal remedy developed by Rene Caisse is not being recommended in this chapter as a "magic bullet" for all cancers. There is no hard evidence on what percentage of Caisse's patients survived five years or more. Nor is there any reliable statistical evidence on the efficacy of contemporary Essiac or Essiac-like herbal formulas. Despite the dramatic, near-miraculous cures Caisse undoubtedly achieved, an unknown percentage of patients under her care succumbed to their disease, perhaps too severely ill to be treated.

The world has become an infinitely more polluted place since the 1920s and '30s, when Caisse did her pioneering work. Carcinogenic, toxic chemicals and radioactive isotopes that pollute our water, air, and food also reside permanently in the cells of our bodies, weakening our natural immunity and possibly making the remission of cancer more difficult. For these reasons, combining Essiac with nutritional and other approaches may make the most sense.


1. C.A. Dombradi and S. Foldeak, "Screening Report on the Antitumor Activity of Purified Arctium Lappa Extracts," Tumori, vol. 52, 1966, p. 173, cited in Patricia Spain Ward, "History of Hoxsey Treatment," contract report for the U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, May 1988.
2. Kazuyoshi Morita, Tsuneo Kada, and Mitsuo Namiki, "A Desmutagenic Factor Isolated From Burdock (Arctium Lappa Linne)," Mutation Research, vol. 129, 1984, pp. 25-31, cited in Patricia Spain Ward, "History of Hoxsey Treatment," contract report for the U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, May 1988.
3. Sheila Snow Fraser and Carroll Allen, "Could Essiac Halt Cancer?" Homemaker's, June-JulyAugust 1977, p. 19.
4. "Essiac as an Aid in Surgery," Bracebridge Examiner, 13 March 1991.
5. Gary L. Glum, Calling of an Angel (Los Angeles: Silent Walker Publishing, 1988), p. i.
"Essiac Added 18 Years to Her Mother's Life," Bracebridge Examiner, 6 February 1991.
7. "Cancer Commission Was Nothing But a Farce," Bracebridge Examiner, 9 January 1991.
8. Glum, op. cit., p. 136.
9. Ibid.


Elaine Alexander
6690 Oak Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
V6P 3Z2
Phone: 604-261-1270

ESSIAC International
Mr. T.P. Maloney
Suite 2211
1081 Ambleside Drive
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada K2B 8C8
Phone: 613-820-9311

Reading Material

Calling of an Angel, by Gary L. Glum, Silent Walker Publishing (P.O. Box 92856, Los Angeles, CA 90009; no phone number), 1988. Can also be ordered directly from the author at P.O. Box 80098, Los Angeles, CA 90080; 213-271-9931 Includes an instruction sheet for a purported recipe for Essiac.

The Treatment of Cancer With Herbs, by John Heinerman, BiWorld Publishers (Orem, Utah), 1984. Out of print; order photocopies directly from the author at P.O. Box 11471, Salt Lake City, UT 84147; 801-521-8824.

"Could Essiac Halt Cancer?" by Sheila Snow Fraser and Carroll Allen, Homemaker's, June-July-August 1977.

"Old Ontario Remedies-1922: Rene Caisse ESSIAC," Sheila Snow, Canadian Journal of Herbalism, July 1991.

From Options: The Alternative Cancer Therapy Book by Richard Walters, © 1992. Published by Avery Publishing, New York. For personal use only; neither the digital nor printed copy may be copied or sold. Reproduced by permission.

(Excerpted from Options: The Alternative Cancer Therapy Book ISBN: 0895295105)
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