Flor-Essence vs. Essiac

Flor-Essence vs. Essiac

Flor-Essence® (CA/US) and Essiac®: two herbal cleanse formulas that are often referred to synonymously but in fact are made by different companies and are entirely different formulas. We often get asked about both of these formulas and find many customers are unsure of the differences. As a result, we wanted to respectfully point out some key differences and clear things up.

The History

Back in 1922, the Canadian nurse, Rene Caisse, was given the names of eight different herbs by a woman she met in a hospital who had originally been given them by an Ojibwa medicine man. Over the course of the next several decades, she worked out of her clinic and with various doctors using the eight herbs in various strengths and combinations. Eventually she came up with two formulas.

The Essiac® (her last name spelled backwards) four-herb formula was sold to the Resperin Corp. of Ontario. Resperin later dissolved in 1995 and sold the rights to Essiac® Canada International. Rene and Dr. Brusch decided to carry on using the original eight herbs in a formula that they had developed in partnership. This formula came to be known as Flor-Essence when it made its way to Flora after Rene Caisse had passed away and Dr. Brusch signed over its rights to Elaine Alexander, a radio broadcaster on health issues. Elaine brought this formula to Flora, and we’ve been making Flor-Essence since 1992 and it still bears Elaine’s signature on the bottle.

The Difference

There are also several key differences between Flor-Essence and Essiac® formulas Flor-Essence uses all eight of the original herbs Rene was given names of:

  • Burdock (Arctium lappa)
  • Sheep Sorrel (Rumex acetosella)
  • Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra)
  • Turkish rhubarb (Rheum palmatum)
  • Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)
  • Watercress (Nasturtium officinale)
  • Blessed Thistle (Cnicus benedictus)
  • Kelp (Laminaria digitata)

Essiac® contains the first four. The additional four in Flor-Essence contribute to supporting the liver and kidneys, provide important antioxidant phytonutrients, and have a soothing effect on the mucus lining of the stomach and intestines.

Essiac® comes in a 300 mL/10.5 fl. oz. plastic bottle; Flor-Essence is available in more economical 500 mL/17 fl. oz. and 941 mL/32 fl. oz. sizes and has always been bottled in glass as we feel this is a more inert material for liquids especially.

Another difference is that Flor-Essence is certified organic. At Flora we wanted to keep as close as possible to the original, traditional use of the product and so it is strictly water-based. We feel this is especially important when cleansing and detoxifying. Essiac® uses a base of water and ethyl alcohol.

We also don’t offer Flor•Essence® in capsule form because tasting the herbal tea’s bitter properties are important to the overall cleansing and digestive benefits. In addition, Flor-Essence is tested for a wide variety of quality markers including heavy metals, pesticides, and active ingredients in the herbs.


Robert’s interest in herbs, supplements and health began in university and was further influenced by several years of work and travel throughout India, Nepal, Indonesia, and Japan. He has completed a BA in Communications from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada and completed 3 years of study with Dominion Herbal College resulting in a Master Herbalist diploma. His areas of interest include research into adaptogens, probiotics and essential fatty acids. He currently works with Flora Manufacturing and Distributing as the Product Information Supervisor in the Product Information Department. He has written numerous articles for publications in the US and Canada like alive, Taste for Life, Tonic and Viva magazine.