Essiac tea is generally regarded as being benign concerning side effects, except for standard caution that anyone pregnant or nursing should not use it (which applies to any dietary herbal supplement). People react differently to pharmaceuticals and dietary supplements, while some users experience adverse side effects, others have no problems or side effects at all. Possible side effects of taking the tea are possible, but not probable. As with any herbal supplement, you should consult with your physician before using essiac tea. They may have a good reason why you shouldn’t.
Anyone starting this tea should begin with very small doses, regardless of product directions.
Cynthia Olsen wrote in her book Essiac: A Native Herbal Cancer Remedy, 2nd Edition page 61, Though side effects are rare when taking Essiac, there are three general ones:
Sheila Snow wrote in her book Essence of Essiac on page 48, Here are three possible causes of adverse reactions:
“When any discomfort occurred, Rene always cautioned her patients to stop taking the decoction for several days until they felt better. Then they were told to begin again with just half an ounce every other day and gradually to increase the dose to one ounce each day. This usually corrected the problem.”
Other side effects, such as diarrhea, a mysterious lower-back kidney ache, flu-like symptoms or upset stomach may be caused by using too high of a dose and not drinking enough water. Anyone taking essiac tea should increase their water intake, due to its detoxification properties, which cause the release of toxins from tissues and blood, excreting them via the intestinal and urinary tracts. The toxins must be diluted as they are released from the body tissues or they become concentrated, causing stress on the liver and kidneys and leading to you not feeling well.
Hence, our advice to drink three of four quarts of plain water daily if you are taking any version of essiac tea. Unfortunately, please note that soda pop, juice, tea, coffee (which is diuretic) and other beverages do not count in that amount.
You may be allergic to one (or more) of the essiac tea herbs if you become itchy, developing some itchy rash areas on your body, even itchy runny eyes, and / or you come down with an unaccountable case of hay-fever symptoms with sneezing, runny nose and eyes. Sheep sorrel is thought to be the allergen, according to noted researcher and author Mali Klein (who happens to be slightly allergic to it). Try cutting dosage way down or stop taking it for a while or stop altogether. Some people who take too much essiac tea for too long possibly could become finally very allergic to it.
If you have NO allergy symptoms from taking the tea, in our opinion you should stick to a reasonable dosage ranging from minimum of one ounce per day as a “tonic” to maximum of no more than six ounces tea per day for “illness”.
According to Chris Corpening R.N. (A Nurse’s Herbal Tea),
“Diarrhea has been the main side effect I have seen, although it is not a common side effect. Gastrointestinal discomfort has also been reported to me on various occasions. According to herbal literature, turkey rhubarb is a laxative and if the body can not handle it, diarrhea will result. My advice to those experiencing diarrhea or discomfort is to cut the dosage down to 1oz a day (or stop entirely) until the problems resolve, then gradually get yourself back to taking original amount.”
Kidney Disease, Kidney Stones
If you have kidney disease or are prone to kidney stones, some sources advise not taking essiac tea because of the oxalic acid in sheep sorrel. Although using a small dosage amount shouldn’t cause problems, people with kidney problems should consult their doctor before using essiac tea.
Diabetics who are insulin dependant may need to adjust their dosage, also those on anti-diabetes medications. All diabetics should monitor their blood sugar closely while on this tea. Some of the constituents in this tea can affect the way glucose and insulin are taken up in the cells and utilized. Many people find they need less medication while taking this tea. This is not always the case, but is worthy of mention.
Monitoring is critical because blood sugar might drop too low, or your blood sugar might shoot up too high, according to this email comment:
“You need a stronger warning for diabetics. I have been a well regulated insulin dependent diabetic for over fifty years. I followed all directions for making and drinking at proper time. I got very nauseated and my blood sugar shot up to 284 four hours later.”
The comment-sender replied that the dosage direction of the dry herb blend he bought was 2 ounces twice a day (4 ounces total per day). Apparently his blood sugar shot up after the first 2 ounce dose.
This is worth repeating…. “When any discomfort occurred, Rene always cautioned her patients to stop taking the decoction for several days until they felt better. Then they were told to begin again with just half an ounce every other day and gradually to increase the dose to one ounce each day. This usually corrected the problem.”
So diabetics are advised to start with a tiny dose of 1/2 ounce tea (1 Tablespoon) every other day before gradually increasing dose to 1/2 ounce tea per day (1/2 Tablespoon twice a day) to 1 ounce tea per day (1 Tablespoon twice a day). Monitoring should reveal whether blood sugar level goes up or down.
Tips to Avoid Essiac Tea Side Effects
- Start with a small dose at first to see how your body reacts.
- Take the tea on an empty stomach. In the morning and before bed are good times.
- Drink plenty of water to dilute toxins and help with removal.
- Stick to a reasonable dose. Most essiac tea side effects are caused by taking too much. With the many variables in products, herbs and preparation, it’s ultimately up to you to decide whats best for your body.