Essiac Tea: A Cancer Treatment for Pets
By Jeanette Driscoll
Domestic pets are becoming increasingly likely to suffer from some form of cancer in their lifetime. Almost half of all pets in North America over the age of 10 will develop cancer.
Although the cause is not known, it’s most likely from the environment: pesticides, pet food preservatives, second-hand smoke, improper diet, and lack of exercise all contribute to poor pet health and may be responsible for the increase in diseases like cancer.
One supplement used for the treatment of cancer in pets is Essiac. In humans, it’s most commonly used as an adjunct to conventional cancer therapy. Essiac for pets is not dangerous and is just as safe for dogs, cats, and other animals is it is for humans.
Essiac is a blend of herbs used to make a tea believed to have cancer-treating properties. The formula was discovered by a nurse in Canada, Renée Caisse, who ran a free clinic in Bacebridge, Ontario from 1934 to 1942. She called the treatment “Essiac”, which is her last name spelled backwards. The formula is believed to have originated from native Canadian Ojibwa Indian medicine. The four main herbs that make up Essiac are burdock root, slippery elm inner bark, sheep sorrel, and rhubarb root.
There are more than 40 different Essiac-like products now being sold in North America, Europe, and Australia. Its use is more common in Canada than in the US. Some of these preparations mix in other herbs, adding red clover, watercress, blessed thistle, and kelp. Others add echinacea and black walnut, or supplementary ingredients, such as cat’s claw. Some of the specific herbs contained in the mixture have shown some anti-cancer effects in studies of laboratory animals. There has been no study that absolutely proves it works in either pets or humans, but anecdotal evidence suggests otherwise.
Essiac may help your pet’s health by:
The Essiac dosage for pets varies with the size of your pet, and ranges from one-half ounce to two ounces of tea per day. A cat weighing eleven pounds might require a one-half ounce daily, while a large and heavy dog of 120 pounds would need a dose of three ounces daily.
One issue in treating pets with Essiac is the amount of rhubarb they end up ingesting since rhubarb is a laxative.
Dogs have shorter digestive systems than humans, and they are much more vulnerable to diarrhea. A larger dose of Essiac for pets must be balanced against the amount that can be taken without causing your pet to have diarrhea. One way to decide the correct dose is to increase the amount very gradually. If the diarrhea does not subside with smaller and smaller doses, discontinue use of Essiac.
Giving your pet Essiac will make them more thirsty, so make sure they have plenty of water available. This will have an additional beneficial effect on their health, by keeping them more hydrated .
Shake the tea container well before serving because the herb particles must be dispersed throughout the tea mixture. Essiac tea may be mixed other foods or liquids to disguise the bitter taste. .
There are several ways to give Essiac to your pet. You’ll probably have to experiment to see which way works best for you. One method is to mix the tea with your pet’s favorite broth – chicken, tuna, beef, etc. Use just enough broth to disguise the taste so that it will take the dose. Or feed your pet using an eye dropper (cats and small dogs) or a turkey baster (larger dogs). This is the preferred method, because the tea is not diluted in any way, and is administered directly. Although the recommended treatment is to give your pet Essiac one hour before, or two hours after a meal, many people have also had success mixing it right in the pet’s food. Another way is to simply mix the brewed tea into your pet’s water.
Essiac is safe for pets, but as with any supplement, it must be used thoughtfully and in moderation .
By: Jeanette Driscoll
NAPPS Fall ’08