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Feeling Good and Getting Better

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So much of our society's ability to heal itself is based on communicating clearly to a waiting public about newly recognized healing methods. Conversely, when communication breaks down, patients suffer needlessly.

Feeling Good and Getting Better by Paula Bakkuis, (Parole Publishing, 208 pages).

So much of our society's ability to heal itself is based on communicating clearly to a waiting public about newly recognized healing methods. Conversely, when communication breaks down, patients suffer needlessly.

Such was the case with Essiac tea, an Ojibwa medicinal tea formula, and one Canadian nurse's battle to have the tea recognized by her medical community. From 1922, when Nurse Rene Caisse began preparing a herbal formula for cancer patients, until the 1980s, when the tea became widely available in Canada, there was a breakdown in communication. What happened?

In Feeling Good and Getting Better Dutch journalist Paula Bakkuis sets out to clear the record on the specific decoction of herbs reputed to have assisted many cancer patients. Originally brought to the medical forefront by Nurse Caisse during the 1920s, the tea is a blend of eight organic raw herbs as prescribed by the Ojibwa, including, in part, Indian rhubarb (Rheum palmatum), common sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella), slippery elm (Ulmus fulva or Ulmus rubra), and burdock (Arctium lappa). Even though independent scientific testing has since recognized some of the individual herbs, the formula as a whole remained controversial for years.

Today, the tea is carefully reproduced to exacting specifications in Canada under the trade name Flor-Essence®. The infusion is said to detoxify and support the immune system to balance the body. It may be effective in aiding additional complaints, including diabetes, arthritic afflictions, Alzheimer's disease, and multiple sclerosis. It may also powerfully stimulate the immune system, reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, improve energy levels, and diminish pain. The tea has also shown strong antioxidant properties.

Much of Bakkhuis's book is dedicated to impressive testimonial letters of recovery and symptom reduction among patients. Scientific facts are presented in careful chronological order. We learn the details of Caisse's battle to have the tea recognized and come to understand why hers was such a lengthy struggle. Readers also learn the basics of Ojibwa medicine. The formula's eight individual herbs and their specific effect are fully and clearly described.

Feeling Good and Getting Better is more than a guidebook to health by way of a tea formula. It delivers a fascinating story from Canadian medical history and one that is long overdue its readers.

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