he emergence in popularity of native medical herb formulas, recognized as the primary healing therapies of indigenous groups for generations, if not hundreds of years, has not been without a fight. All three of the herbal tonic formulas discussed on this page have common elements -- all are the descendants of formulas used by various tribes of North American indians, all have proven medicinal properties -- even though degree of efficacy is debatable -- all are relatively cheap to make, all are non-toxic (taken as directed), all correspond in their effects to far more expensive drug products, and all have been denounced, at one time or another and with varying levels of intensity, as absolutely worthless by the orthodox medical community.
This page introduces each product, indicating its history, the underlying formula, the proper protocol, its known properties, our own comments on effectiveness, and useful, related web links.
Essex Botanical TM
The "essiac formula" casts an enormous shadow among branded names in the North American herbal community. Behind the product is the true life legend of "Cancer nurse" Rene Caisse ("essiac" is Nurse Rene's last name spelled backwards). During the life of her clinic (1934 to 1942), Caisse is reported to have cured many hundreds of cancer -- of varying types and stages of development -- and for free. (In fact, 55,000 Canadians signed her petition to the Ontario Legislature in favor of her treatment, in addition to 387 patients and an uncounted number of medical doctors). She did it primarily on the strength of just one product, which became known as "essiac."
But Caisse did not invent the essiac formula (the lower case "e" is intentional: Essiac® is a registered trademark owned by Dr. Pierre Gaulin (U.S.) and Terry Maloney (Canada)). The basis for the formula is rooted in native Ojibway (a tribe native to Ontario) medicine.
In any event, what followed after her death in 1978 is all too characteristic of pettiness and greed we see in the orthodox community -- bickering and in-fighting over trademarks, connection to the legend, and who does and who does not have the "real" essiac formula.
With dozens of essiac 'me-too' products now on the market -- some of them true to the original formulation, most of them not, we chose to use the same Canadian source for the essiac formula that we chose for the Hoxsey formula (see below). After a careful review of the underlying documentation, we believe it to be formulated as close to the original as one will find on the market - anywhere.
Essex Botanical is only priced lower.
Our Assessment: Among phytopharmacologists, the active components within the essiac formula are quite well known, collectively fitting a category at Alpha Omega Labs that we call "mildly cancerolytic." To call it a "cancer cure" is a real stretch, though there can be no doubt that it is of real benefit as a 'nutraceutical cocktail' for most cancer patients. You should use this formula for the same reason that you should listen to nutritionists who advise you to take regular fresh helpings of chemopreventatives in your diet -- cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli; tomatoes, for their lycopenes; pau d' arco tea, for its hydroquinones, etc. (Read our Health Zone section).
As we've said countless times on this site, fighting cancer should be viewed as waging war. And you rarely win a war with only one weapon.
Far more dramatic than even the "essiac story," is the true life of Harry Hoxsey. (We discuss Hoxsey's work in several other places on this site, and even provide a free and unabridged viewing of Kenny Ausubel's movie, Hoxsey: How Healing Becomes a Crime, which you can purchase elsewhere on the web, along with the book -- same title.) Few stories in this business elicit such deep pathos, and few figures in the last century are as polarizing between the forces of orthodoxy and those of the alternative community as that of Hoxsey.
If Caisse was subdued and less given to self-promotion (perhaps reflective of the Canadian character) than Hoxsey was her anti-thesis. His "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" approach provided him with a cavalcade of court actions by medical authorities and their lapdogs at the U.S. FDA. In 1956 Harry Hoxsey published his signature work, You Don't Have To Die -- the title itself a mere prelude to a work that is largely invective of a cancer establishment which even back then was incorrigibly out of control.
No doubt, Hoxsey's personal style lent itself to those who would simply dismiss him as a quack. But the many hundreds of cured cancer patients who managed to show up at Hoxsey's trials to testify -- hundreds out of thousands of documented cases, served only to delay the inevitable: the closing of Hoxsey's 17 successful cancer clinics and the exodus of his legacy to Tijuana, Mexico, which would be run by his protege, Mildred Nelson (yes, another nurse -- and though she has passed on, the "Hoxsey Clinic" still operates today.)
Did Hoxsey discover the "Cure for Cancer"?
The answer is not a simple one. As to skin cancers, we have no doubt that Hoxsey's topical formula was a success. Unlike Rene Caisse, Hoxsey didn't hide his formulas. The ingredients in his topical can be found on page 47 of his book. Hoxsey's topical formula is in the same escharotic category of herbal remedies as our own Cansema Salve, which has its own long history of effective use. We know from his explanation of the formula, coupled with our own experience, that it works. (In fact, medical authorities were forced to admit in one of Hoxsey's court proceedings that his topical formulas work successfully -- details which Hoxsey proudly related in Chapter 15 of his book.)
Internal cancers are another matter.
We know from the many people who have been to the Hoxsey clinic in Mexico that their internal remedies fail a large percentage of users. But, like Essiac, should the "Hoxsey formula" be used as a cancer treatment system? Or as an adjunctive product, taken for its nutraceutical benefits? We would suggest the later.
One note about this formula. Hoxsaic reflects improvements since the time of Hoxsey. On pages 45 and 45, Hoxsey lists his ingredients as potassium iodide, licorice, red clover, burdock root, stillingia root, barberis root, poke root, cascara, Aromatic USP 14, prickly ash bark, and buckthorn bark. Some immunosupportive herbal concentrates (i.e. cat's claw, bladderwrack, sheep sorrel) have been added to Hoxsiac, while the obvious omission (largely for legal reasons in Canada) is the potassium iodide; buckthorn bark, cascara sagrada, poke root, and berberis root. (Those with a mind for detail will note that the both the Hoxsey and essiac formulas contained burdock root and Queen's delight (i.e. stillingia).)
The use of Lugol's iodine, as directed and running concurrently with Hoxsiac, would help the potassium iodide exclusion. (Lugol's is 2:1 potassium iodine to iodine crystal.) But a better choice would be a special product more specifically designed for this purpose Potassium Iodide Hoxsey Solution (see below).
On the issue of the Hoxsey formulae origin, we also take up issue (though it may be of small importance). Harry Hoxsey attributed their origin to his great grandfather, John Hoxsey, and an incident involving a sick horse that took place in the Fall of 1840. (Details are provided in Chapter 5 of his book, but not before getting a short lesson on the Hoxsey family tree.) The "Hoxsey" discovery of 1840 may or may not have happened, but one thing is clear: the botanical ingredients used by Hoxsey were clearly in use by native American medicine men at that time. So well documented is this indigenous use that we find it doubtful that Harry Hoxsey's great grandfather would not have been exposed to a good deal of this knowledge prior to having his herbal epiphany.
Our Assessment: The internal Hoxsey formula has, in our opinion, a true value as a nutraceutical aid, just as the essiac formula does. We find no issue with the thousands of people who claim that either the essiac or Hoxsey formula provided a real cancer cure. As we noted in our article on apricot seeds, you will find a number of natural botanical sources that various individuals will point to as the source of their cure. However, in our mind, to be a true "cure," a given product must prove effectiveness in a preponderance of cases. Critics have been quick to point out, post mordem, that Hoxsey himself had cancer at the end of his life -- though, as Ausubel's movie on Hoxsey notes, supporters are quick to counter that this was not his true cause of death.
The third in our current series of natural North American herbal medicinal tonics centers on the yucca -- a prized botanical used extensively by native tribes of the Southwestern U.S. and Northern Baja California (Mexico). A common practice among indigenous desert tribes was to dry the fleshy fruits and eat them during the winter; a fermented drink was also prepared from the yucca fruit.
Yucca is a member of the lily family, and one species in particular, Yucca Schidegera, is known to have a higher content of its primary medicinal component, saponin, than any other yucca variation. Saponins are not exclusive to yucca, (in fact, soy protein products tend to be relatively high in saponins), but yucca is a more abundant source.
Saponins serve important nutraceutical roles as antioxidants, antimutagens, and even antiretrovirals in vitro HIV studies and anti-DNA virals in Epstein-Barr virus inhibition studies. (See Dr. Suzanne Paxton's summary on the medicinal effects of saponins).
However, one quarter where yucca schidegera has probably received the attention is in the arthritic community, where some refer to this species as "Nature's own cortisone." One noted arthritic specialist, Dr. Bernard A. Bellows, M.D., has noted, "It isn't clear how the yucca extract benefits the arthritis sufferer. Some patients reported they noticed diminution of swelling and stiffness in the joints and those patients suffering from gastrointestinal disturbances associated with arthritis stated yucca was beneficial".
Our Assessment: Saponins appear to be an important class of nutraceuticals with yucca being a high potency source. The Mojave Nectar product contains over 25% yucca concentrate, in a water/honey base, with the balance filled with adjunctive herbal support extracts. Once again, we do not promote Mojave Nectar as a curative or therapeutic product, but as a valuable nutruceutical adjunct.
Product InfoThe four primary "essiac" herbal extracts are:
Slippery Elm (Ulmus Rubra)
'Essex Botanical' Ingredients: Purified water (by reverse osmosis), burdock root (arctium lappa), sheep sorrel (rumex acetosella), slippery elm bark (ulmus rubra), and turkey rhubarb root (rheum officinale).
Directions for Use: Take 30 ml or 60 ml (one or two ounces) one to two times daily, cold from the bottle or mixed with warm distilled water. Take at least 15 minutes before eating in the morning and at least 2 hours after eating in the evening.
HoxsaicAmong the most essential botanicals in the Hoxsey formula are:
Red Clover Blossoms
Ingredients: Purified water (by reverse osmosis), licorice root (glycyrrhiza glabra), red clover blossom (trifolium pratense), burdock root (arctium lappa), queen's delight root (stillingia sylvatica), cat's claw bark (uncaria tomentosa), prickly ash bark (zanthoxylum americanum), sheep sorrel herb (rumex acetosella), turkey rhubarb root (rheum officinale), slippery elm bark (ulmus rubra), bladderwrack herb (fucus vesiculosus).
Directions for Use: Take 30 ml or 60 ml (one or two ounces) one to two times daily, cold from the bottle or mixed with warm distilled water.
Primary Ingredients: Purified water (by reverse osmosis), honey, yucca schidegera. Secondary Ingredients: Cinnamon bark (cinnamomum zeylanicum), clove buds (syzygium aromaticum), rose hips (rosa canina), peppermint leaves (mentha piperita), myrrh gum (commiphora molmol), licorice roots (glycyrrhiza glabra), fennel seeds (foeniculum vulgare), burdock roots (arctium lappa), tumeric (curcuma longa), wild cherry bark (prunus serotina), elderberry (sambucus nigra), caraway seeds (carum carvi), Spanish saffron (crocus sativus), carline thistle roots (carlina acaulis), zedvoary roots (zedoaria roscoe), manna (fraxinus ornus), and less than eight hundredth of 1% sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate as preservatives.