A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE
The blend known as "essiac" is comprised of plants that are indigenous to both Eastern and Western hemispheres. Out of the book “Healing With Whole Foods: Oriental Traditions and Modern Nutrition,” we find another way to look at this blend!
Many Eastern cultures look at the body differently than Westerners. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ayurvedic Medicine (East India), and some Turtle Island Tribes, the body is viewed from the point of subtle energy fields, how each food has a different element to it related to the elements of Nature, and how energy channels are used to diagnose and treat imbalances. TCM allows the properly trained practitioner to get a very good overall picture of someone’s health by observation of indicators of balance—or imbalance—in their patient—pulses, tongue color and condition, the way a person is breathing, the smell of their body, the way they posture or walk, and others. He uses the knowledge he gains from this to decide which treatment will most benefit his patient.
Many times it is a combination of treatments which could comprise (but are not limited to) moxybustion, acupuncture, herbal teas, breathing exercises, and diet. Western culture usually has a difficult time understanding the whole concept of meridians, energy channels, blockages, and the ways of describing imbalance: yin, yang, heat, cold, damp, dry, deficiency, excess&ldots;.and combinations of these. There are some very good books available today to help you understand these concepts and how to utilize them in your life. You don’t even have to understand it to benefit from it’s positive attributes. To my knowledge, in present time healthcare, it is the Chinese who have the longest recorded historical evidence of successful treatment of a variety of dis-eases. That continues today.
TCM also views the body differently than in Western thinking. An organ mentioned in texts will usually pertain to areas other than the actual organs themselves. This is what confuses those schooled in Western medicine or anatomy.
What does this all have to do with the essiac blend and a tea formulated in Canada? People all over the world take this blend. Out of all the other cultures residing in the U.S., the Asian population here is very strong. More people in America are turning to TCM for help with debilitating and chronic disease. Rene Caisse probably didn’t even know about the five elements, the meridians, or anything of that nature. That doesn’t matter. This blend crosses all cultural lines.
Although the text below is only representative of the information obtained from one book, it will hopefully give the reader some other aspects to consider regarding the blend we call “essiac”. An important note: TCM views the whole person and the patterns that are seen throughout. There can be—and often is—more than one combination of imbalances occurring at once. This is where TCM excels. It takes those combinations seen in that individual person and tailors the treatments specifically to them. You may have what us Westerners call a “cold or flu”. TCM will treat each person differently. I remember the first time I asked my acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist for something “for menstrual cramps”. He just looked at me. He would not offer any suggestions until he had done an assessment on me. Then he told me, “TCM is nothing like Western medicine. It’s not about treating the symptoms, but the imbalances in the entire body.” Lesson learned!
BURDOCK ROOT — Arctium lappa — Bitter herbs such as Burdock can be helpful in controlling candidiasis. Bitter food and herbs help with damp-associated conditions, such as parasites, mucus, growths, tumors, cysts, obesity, edema. Persons who are deficient, cold, weak, thin, nervous and dry should limit bitter intake. Also those with diseases of the bone. Too much bitter flavor in the diet of those with deficient yin of the lungs should limit bitter intake, as it may be too drying. Bitters should be taken gradually in the colder months, building up the amount slowly. The root is beneficial in purging excesses from the body. (Excesses can be from illness, infection—can be excess heat, dampness, coldness and/or wind). Dry dampness in arthritis sufferers responds well to an appropriate diet and burdock. It is one of the herbs suggested for heart and artery renewal.
SORREL: — No Latin name given — Anti-parasitic vegetables are beet, cabbage, carrot, garlic, leek, onion, radish, and sorrel. They have a stronger action when eaten raw.
SLIPPERY ELM: — Ulmus fulva — When a deficiency in the lungs occur, there is chronic lack of yin to cool and nourish the lungs. This is a result of chronic lung infections, inflammation, or long term lung disease. This food/herb also helps with deficient kidney yin (the root of yin in the body). Good for stomach fire, or excess stomach heat, and ulcers. Indicated for mucus-type asthma, which is the most common type in the West. (Asthma indicates disharmony in one or more organ systems: digestive center of spleen-pancreas-stomach-intestines, kidney-adrenals and liver-gallbladder, the heart-lungs.) [In Western herbalism, asthma is considered to be a disease of excess mucous—hence the historical use of lobelia and vomiting to clear the respiratory passages.] Slippery Elm is astringent, which would help to dry up the mucous. Also many persons who suffer from chronic skin conditions have a depletion in the fluids and blood, in which Slippery Elm is indicated.
TURKEY RHUBARB — Rheum palmatum — Reduces excess, constipation, heart and artery renewal, strongest remedy for detoxifying and cooling the liver especially in reducing toxicity from too much meat in the diet, cools heat and increases peristalsis, excess-induced amenorrhea (will promote menses), chronic digestive disturbances related to parasites (Rheum is considered a parasiticide), and helps expel them.
This barely scratches the surface of the wealth of knowledge contained in this book. It also has a section devoted to treatment of cancer.
My area of interest lies more in Native plants, but I also have a little bit of study in Chinese herbs. What struck me is the similar uses and indications for the essiac herbs between East and West. More food for thought.
This information is provided for educational purposes and to promote discussion only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat or claim cure for any disease or imbalance in the body.