For most people, consuming Essiac Tea is considered safe with minimal side effects, except for those who are taking pharmaceutical medications. Although some would caution pregnant and nursing mothers from drinking Essiac Tea, we have found that none of the ingredients are specifically harmful if taken during pregnancy or while nursing. People react differently to pharmaceuticals and dietary supplements. While some people experience adverse side effects, others experience no problems or side effects at all. Negative side effects of taking the tea are possible, but not probable. As with any herbal supplement, you may want to consult with your naturopath before using Essiac Tea. Based upon your health history, your naturopath may have a good reason why you should not drink Essiac Tea at this time.

We highly recommend that anyone drinking Essiac Tea for the first time start out with very small doses and work up to the recommended amount of 2 oz. of the concentrated tea, with 8 oz. of boiling water added to each dose, twice a day on an empty stomach.

Sheila Snow wrote in her book Essence of Essiac, page 48:

Here are three possible causes of adverse reactions:

  • A full stomach of undigested food or consuming beverage just before taking the remedy, especially tea or coffee.
  • As waste materials build up in the body, it attempts to eliminate them all at once. This could create extreme discomfort in the digestive tract, occasionally to the point of vomiting.
  • A tumor may increase in size (as metastasized cells are gathered to original site) and could cause a blockage in some vulnerable area of the body before it softens and reduces in size.

“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.”

How To Avoid Side Effects From Drinking Essiac Tea

  1. Start with a small dose (½ an ounce once a day) to see how your body reacts.
  2. Take the tea on an empty stomach. First thing in the morning and an hour before bed are good times.
  3. Drink plenty of water to aid in the removal of toxins.
  4. Stick to a reasonable dose, paying attention to how your body responds to each increase in the amount Essiac Tea consumed. Most Essiac Tea side effects are caused by taking too much. It is ultimately up to you to decide what is best for your body to heal.

Water Intake

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 which can lead to headaches, nausea and a general feeling of ill health.

We recommend that you drink a minimum of half your body weight in ounces of purified water daily in addition to the Essiac Tea. Dehydrating drinks such as soda pop, black tea, coffee, and juice do not count in that amount. In fact, you should completely avoid drinking soda pop, coffee and alcohol while drinking Essiac Tea. See Why to Drink More Water


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 1 oz a day until the problems resolve, then gradually get yourself back to taking original amount.”

Another reason to consider taking Perfect 7 – See The Importance of Colon Cleansing


Diabetics who are insulin dependent may need to adjust their dosage, as well as those on anti-diabetes medications. We recommend that diabetics monitor their blood sugar closely while on this tea. Some of the constituents in this tea are known to affect the way glucose and insulin are taken up by the cells and utilized. Most people find they need less medication while taking this tea. While this is not always the case, it would be wise to monitor your blood pressure and blood sugar while taking Essiac consistently.

Monitoring is critical because blood sugar may 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.”

This person had decided to take our recommended dosage of 2 oz. twice a day (4 oz. of the decoction twice a day). Apparently his blood sugar shot up after the first 2 oz. 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.”

We advise diabetics to start with a tiny dose of ½ oz. tea (1 Tablespoon) every other day before gradually increasing the dose to ½ oz. tea per day ( ½ Tablespoon twice a day) to 1 oz. tea per day (1 Tablespoon twice a day). Monitoring should reveal whether blood sugar levels go up or down.

Kidney Disease, Kidney Stones

Some sources advise not taking Essiac Tea if you have kidney disease or are prone to kidney stones because of the oxalic acid in sheep sorrel. Although using a small dosage amount shouldn’t cause problems, people with kidney disease should consult with their naturopath before using Essiac Tea.

Allergic Reactions

With the increase in allergies today, it has been suggested that you may be allergic to one (or more) of the Essiac Tea herbs if you develop an itchy rash anywhere on your body, or you come down with a sudden case of hay-fever symptoms with sneezing, runny nose and eyes. According to noted researcher and author Mali Klein, who happens to be slightly allergic to sheep sorrel, she has warned others that they, too, may be allergic to sheep sorrel. We strongly suggest that you do a series of liver cleanses until you are able to reduce your allergic reactions before attempting to retry consuming Essiac Tea.

If you have NO allergic reactions from taking the tea, we recommend that you stick to a reasonable dosage ranging from a minimum of 1 oz. per day as a “tonic” to a maximum of no more than 2 oz. of the decoction twice a day for “illness”.