Mistletoe Anti-Cancer

Other names: all heal, bird lime, devil’s fuge, golden bough, and Viscum

Mistletoe can assist in a holistic cancer treatment. Mistletoe will not cure cancer alone but in combination with other herbs, juices and therapies, mistletoe will boost cancer treatment effectiveness.

Mistletoe is a semiparasitic plant that grows on several types of trees, including apple, oak, maple, elm, pine, and birch. It has been used for centuries to treat medical conditions such as epilepsy, hypertension, headaches, menopausal symptoms, infertility, arthritis, and rheumatism.

Mistletoe extract made to fight cancer, mistletoe berries, leaves and twigs are used (dried) to make the extract. Mistletoe extract can be poisonous if consumed in large doses. The berries and leaves can result in poisoning if ingested orally. Mistletoe has been used for 70-80 years though not in this country formally.

Mistletoe Health Benefits

  • Improvement in appetite: one of the worst downsides for healing in cancer patients – improving cancer cachexia.
  • Improvement in pain: they are not sure why this is showing promise but it is enabling patients to live without being obtunded by pain medicine.
  • Improved energy levels: again, with a reduction in pain, it makes it possible for the patient to be more active and thus improves overall quality of life.
  • Boost to the immune system: the evidence is not decipherable yet as to why this is working but patients using mistletoe extract seem to be improving in overall immune health thus putting them at less risk for opportunistic infections.
  • Cancer killing cells: mistletoe contains something called a cytotoxic lectin which is named viscumin. There are also proteins and other mollecules in the mistletoe that act as cancer-killing agents and also promote immune responses. These cells also cause tumor shrinkage and protect DNA in normal or healthy cells for instance during chemotherapy.
  • Mistletoe extract activates the immune system and warms the organism. It improves patients’ quality of life and can even prolong survival.

    Mistletoe extract acts at different levels of the organism. The effects described in the following were either found in laboratory experiments on cell cultures or observed in cancer patients.

    One major effect of mistletoe extract is that it stimulates the immune system (immune modulation):

    It can induce cancer cells to cause their own death (apoptosis), thus helping to stop or even reverse tumour growth. In addition, mistletoe therapy has a direct effect on patients’ quality of life.

    Cancer patients taking mistletoe therapy feel better and stronger. It has been shown in several studies that mistletoe therapy can prolong survival.

    Mistletoe extract causes a mild inflammation of the skin with fever. This is a desired effect because it warms the body and stimulates its defences.

    This is the #1 treatment being used in Europe as an alternative medicine treatment for cancer and is being used by two-thirds of all oncology patients.

    Mistletoe Protective Effect

    Mistletoe extract can protect the genes of healthy cells against the harmful effects of radiation and chemotherapy.

    Mistletoe preparations are usually injected. They are not sold in the form of tablets or capsules. They come in drop form as well, but this application is usually only administered to children.

    As a general rule, mistletoe preparations are injected underneath the skin (subcutaneously), starting with very small dosages at the beginning of the treatment. The dosage is increased very gradually until reddening appears around the injection site. This local reaction is not a negative side-effect, but rather a desired response, for it shows that the immune system is reacting to the mistletoe.

    The reddened area should usually not be larger than four to five centimetres in diameter, however. If it is larger than this, the physician should be consulted; the dosage might be too high and may need to be decreased for the next injection. If no reaction occurs at all, the physician should be consulted as well. Then it might be advisable to switch to another preparation with a different strength or to choose a different host tree.

    In some cases, the reaction to the first dosage can be very strong – even if it is a homoeopathic dosage and for this reason, the first injection should always be administered under a physician’s supervision. Later on it is also possible for the patient, his or her partner, or another care tender to administer the injection.

    Each mistletoe therapy is individualised – there is no optimal scheme which works equally well for all cancer patients. Some people even react strongly to homoeopathic dilutions while others need a high dosage or a preparation with a high lectin concentration in order to obtain the desired reaction. Another important factor which influences the selection of the preparation are the knowledge, experience and mindset of the physician. Some physicians have certain preferences because they have achieved good results with them in the past. Others put great store by the range of dosages which a preparation offers.

    The course of the disease or the patient’s reaction to the mistletoe preparation can make it necessary to switch from one preparation to another during treatment; thus there is no use in committing oneself to one single preparation.

    Now the healing properties of mistletoe are being utilised in the fight against cancer with some interesting research and clinical trials showing that extracts of the plant seem to have an inhibiting effect on tumor growth, and increase the plasma B-endorphin levels which directly affect pain and mood levels in patients undergoing chemo and radiation therapy.

    It is in Europe and Asia that most of the research surrounding the effectiveness of mistletoe has taken place. The drug is given as an intramuscular or subcutaneous injection, sometimes in the vicinity of the cancer tumor itself or as an intravenous infusion.

    Although clinical trials are sparse and the results from which have proved rather inconclusive, mistletoe seems to combat cancer in two distinct ways.

    One is by directly attacking cancer cells by stimulating the immune system into releasing certain chemicals that are damaging to tumors. Trials with one of the mistletoe derived cancer drugs, IscadorM also suggests that this is achieved without causing damage to the immune system cells, a common side affect of many cancer inhibiting drugs. IscadorM was also found to improve DNA repair in breast cancer patients, which is damaged by chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Poor DNA repair in white blood cells critical to cancer survival is common in cancer patients and decreases the white blood cells ability to recognize and remove malignancy.

    In an experiment conducted on patients with advanced breast cancer, one dose of IscadorM was given intravenously, followed by daily subcutaneous injections for seven days. Blood samples were studied for DNA repair mechanisms in white blood cells. At days seven and nine, there was a 2.7%-fold average increase in DNA repair, with 12 out of 14 of these patients showing improvement.

    Encouraging results have also been obtained in trials where patients have shown marked improvement in quality of life and a more positive out look after taking a small non-toxic dose of galactose-specific lectin.

    This seemed to activate a non-specific immune defense response and increase plasma B-endorphin levels which is believed to have a moderating effect on pain and mood in cancer sufferers.

    One study undertaken on patients with advanced pancreatic cancer showed that although mistletoe did not decrease progression of the disease, it did improve life quality. Patients were given subcutaneous injections of the EurixorTM preparation twice weekly, but no other treatments. Questionnaires filled in by the patients indicated that quality of life was stable, which is surprising in patients undergoing cancer therapies, especially where pancreatic cancer is concerned as it has such a poor prognosis.

    Another trial on patients with advanced brain tumor showed that EurixorTM enhanced immune function and improved quality of life during radiation therapy. Patients were randomly split into two groups and given either subcutaneous injections of mistletoe extract twice weekly for three months plus standard cancer treatments or standard cancer treatments alone.

    The patients receiving mistletoe showed a significant increase in the number of white blood cells and overall immune function. Further trials seem to suggest that using mistletoe in conjunction with other therapies can decrease some of the side effects of radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

    Research done in laboratories indicates that mistletoe extracts may even stabilise DNA and prevent it from mutating. It this does prove to be the case, then mistletoe may not only help prevent cancer, but prove useful when used with chemotherapy in avoiding tissue damage.

    Tests under taken in Germany prove that the berries of the European mistletoe are only slightly toxic and the leaves not at all. Studies of people, including children, who had eaten the berries showed that the vast majority, although suffering symptoms as diverse as convulsions, headaches, stomach upsets and distorted vision all recovered without medical aid.

    Although not lethal, it is not recommended that the berries are eaten or that home made cancer remedies are made from mistletoe extracts.

    Mistletoe extracts are prepared as water-based solutions or solutions of water and alcohol. Mistletoe products may be named according to the type of host tree on which the plant grows. For example, IscadorM is from apple trees, IscadorP comes from pine trees, IscadorQ is from oak trees, and IscadorU comes from elm trees. Some users believe that the type of mistletoe extract chosen should depend on the type of tumor and the sex of the patient.

    Mistletoe extracts are usually given by injection under the skin (subcutaneous). Less common ways to give mistletoe include by mouth, into a vein (intravenous or IV), into the pleural cavity, or into the tumor. In most reported studies, injections under the skin were given 2 to 3 times a week for various lengths of time.

    Many laboratory and animal studies have been done with mistletoe, either alone or combined with other agents. Laboratory studies have suggested that mistletoe may support the immune system by increasing the number and activity of various types of white blood cells. One type of European mistletoe (IscadorQu) used in a 2004 laboratory study showed a strong anticancer effect on certain types of cancer cells but no anticancer effect on other types of cancer cells. While one laboratory study reported that mistletoe extract caused several types of human cancer cells to grow faster, this was not found in other recent lab studies.

    Studies testing mistletoe’s ability to stop cancer cell growth in animals have yielded mixed and inconsistent results, depending on the extract used, the dose tested, the way it was given, and the type of cancer studied. Results of a few animal studies have suggested that mistletoe may be useful in decreasing the side effects of standard anticancer therapy, such as chemotherapy andradiation therapy, and that it counteracts the effects of drugs used to suppress the immune system, such as cortisone.

    Most clinical trials using mistletoe to treat cancer have been done in Europe. Most study results have been published in German. Although many of these trials have reported mistletoe to be effective, there are major weaknesses in almost all that raise doubts about their findings. Weaknesses have included small numbers of patients, incomplete patient data, lack of information about mistletoe dose, and problems with study design.

    Many studies involve using mistletoe as adjuvant therapy in patients with cancer. One retrospective cohort study done between 1993 and 2000 looked at the use of a mistletoe extract (Iscador) as long-term adjuvant therapy in 800 patients treated with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy for colorectal cancer that had not spread. The study found that patients treated with Iscador had fewer adverse events, better symptom relief, and improved disease-free survivalcompared to patients who did not receive Iscador as adjuvant therapy.

    In 2002, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), in cooperation with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), began enrolling patients for a phase I clinical trial of a mistletoe extract (Helixor A) and gemcitabine in patients with advanced solid tumors. The trial is now closed and the data is being analyzed.

    Before researchers can conduct clinical drug research in the United States, they must file an Investigational New Drug (IND) application with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA does not make information public about IND applications or approvals; this information can be made public only by the applicants. At present, at least two U.S. investigators have IND approval to study mistletoe as a treatment for cancer.

    The National Cancer Institute’s PDQ clinical trials database contains protocol abstracts for clinical studies of mistletoe as a treatment for cancer.

    Very few bad side effects have been reported from the use of mistletoe extract products. Common side effects include soreness and inflammation at injection sites, headache, fever, and chills. A few cases of severe allergic reactions, including anaphylactic shock, have been reported.

    Although mistletoe extracts appear to be safe, mistletoe plants and berries are toxic (poisonous) to humans. Side effects caused by eating mistletoe plants and berries include seizures, slowing of the heart rate, abnormal blood pressure, vomiting, and death. These toxic effects may be more or less severe depending on the amount and the type of mistletoe plant eaten.

    The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of mistletoe as a treatment for cancer or any other medical condition. The FDA does not allow injectable mistletoe extracts to be imported or used except for clinical research.

    According to Wikipedia, Suzanne Somers, actress and New York Times best-selling author has had her fair share of experience with cancer. Now, in her new book, Knockout, she shares her story and interviews with doctors about treatment options. Surgery and radiation had not succeeded with ridding Suzanne of cancer, and her doctor’s orders were for her to undergo chemotherapy. And just like Joan of England, Suzanne of Hollywood shunned chemotherapy to have mistletoe extract cure her.

    As The Cancer Cure Website explains: “Mistletoe extracts are marketed under several trade names, most of which are available in Europe. … these extracts must be prescribed by a physician. However, most doctors in the US do not use it … [though] it is allowed by compassionate use. Physicians … can order [mistletoe extracts] directly from European manufacturers.”

    Mistletoe extracts are usually injected, but they can also be taken orally if appropriate. It`s important to realize the extract is used because the leaves and berries of mistletoe are poisonous. The extract contains several cytotoxins (cell toxins) which induce tumor necrosis (tissue death) in the cancer cells while programming apoptosis (cancer cell suicide).

    Mistletoe extracts stimulate the immune system and increase natural killer cell activity. Chemotherapy dampens the immune system while killing healthy cells along with the cancer cells. Ironically, mistletoe extracts are sometimes used with chemotherapy to protect the DNA of healthy cells.

    Negative side effects are very rare, and when they do occur they are usually minor allergic reactions. However, people with heart problems or who are on MAO inhibitor antidepressants are at risk for serious reactions with mistletoe extracts.

    Mistletoe Historical Usage

    Mistletoe is a fine example of something that allows folklore and medicine to go hand-in-hand. The myths surrounding the plant were only surpassed by the many health claims folk healers attribute to the mistletoe.

    Since the ancient times, the mistletoe has been used for a variety of ailments. The leathery leaves of this evergreen shrub were brewed to make a tea known for its many therapeutic benefits. The sticky white berries of the mistletoe, they did not touch for they recognized early on that they were poisonous. But they made plenty of use of the mistletoe leaves, using it as a remedy for any ailment, ranging from nervous tension to skin sores.

    Folk healers in some parts of Europe and Asia used liquid extracts from the mistletoe plant as treatment for cancer, rapid heart rates, high blood pressure, and epilepsy.

    Mistletoe Cancer Historical Medical Usage

    Mistletoe was used by the Druids and the ancient Greeks, and appears in legend and folklore as a panacea or “cure -all”. Modern interest in mistletoe as a possible treatment for cancer began in the 1920s.

    Extracts of mistletoe have been shown to kill cancer cells in the laboratory and to boost the immune system (the complex group of organs and cells that defends the body against infection or disease). For this reason, mistletoe has been classified as a type of biological response modifier (a substance that stimulates the body’s response to infection and disease). Extracts of mistletoe have also been shown in the laboratory to prevent the growth of new blood vessels needed for tumors to grow.

    Ingredients in mistletoe that have been studied for their usefulness in treating cancer include:

    Mistletoe extract is studied as a possible anticancer agent because it has been shown to:

    • Have effects on the immune system.
    • Kill mouse, rat, and human cancer cells in the laboratory.
    • Protect the DNA in white blood cells in the laboratory, including cells that have been exposed to DNA-damaging chemotherapy drugs.

    Mistletoe and Tumours

    In the early 1900s, it was discovered that the mistletoe is actually a parasite. It grows on many large trees and draws water from the host tree’s vascular tissues. The year 1916 saw Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher relate this idea with the ability of the plant to cure cancer. According to him and as based on the system of thought called “anthroposophy,” tumors represent an error in the regulation of the physical or spiritual body.

    In his view, tumors are parasites on the human body, just as mistletoes are parasites on a host tree. Now, since “like cures like”, according to homeopathic principles, Steiner introduced the mistletoe as a cure for cancer. To prove his theory, he diluted extracts of the poisonous mistletoe plant — sticking to the belief that the more diluted the substance, the more potent it becomes – and introduced it to the body with the aim of stimulating the self-correction of the so-called “error” growths or tumors. He believed that mistletoe could encourage the body to gain back a state of equilibrium and regulate the area where tumors had been allowed to develop.

    Today, many studies have been published outlining the benefits of mistletoe as a potential cure for cancer. Every year, Germans alone spend an estimated amount of more than $30 million on mistletoe preparations to fight cancer. According to a recent survey, 80% of physicians were inclined to recommend unconventional cancer preparations to their patients and 45% prescribe mistletoe specifically.

    Mistletoe Products

    Mistletoe is one of the most widely studied complementary and alternative medicine therapies for cancer. In certain European countries, products made from European mistletoe are among the most prescribed therapies for cancer patients. These products are made and sold under brand names including:

    Common Doses of Mistletoe

    Mistletoe comes as dried leaves, capsules, an infusion, liquid extract, tablets, and tincture. Some experts recommend the following doses:

    • As dried leaves, 2 to 6 grams orally three times daily.
    • As liquid extract (1: 1 solution in 25% alcohol), 1 to 3 milliliters orally three times daily.
    • As tincture (1:5 solution in 45% alcohol), 0.5 milliliter orally three times daily.

    Mistletoe Products Side Effects

    Iscador Side Effects

    Iscador, also known as mistletoe or Viscum album, is a European parasitic, berry-producing plant that grows on host trees. In 1920, Rudolf Steiner, PhD., of Switzerland, started promoting Iscador as a cancer treatment. Iscador currently is used in several countries as an anti-cancer drug, and is normally given by subcutaneous injection. It is not approved as a medicine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

    Iscador causes some side effects and should not be taken by patients with heart or blood pressure problems, or by patients taking blood thinners or MAO inhibitors for depression.


    The most common side effect of Iscador injections, mostly low-grade (between 98.6 degrees F and 100.4 degrees F). The fever may be temporary or may last for the duration of treatment with Iscador. The fever also may be accompanied by chills and headaches.

    Gastrointestinal Symptoms:

    Gastrointestinal symptoms are common with Iscador treatment, including nausea, vomiting, indigestion, abdominal pain and diarrhea. These symptoms may be alleviated with anti-nausea and other gastrointestinal medications.

    Cardiac Symptoms:

    Some patients suffer from chest pains or a slow heartbeat (bradycardia) during Iscador treatment. Patients who experience cardiac symptoms usually notice them within the first few days of Iscador treatment.

    Blood Pressure Symptoms:

    Iscador can cause either high or low blood pressure (hypertension or hypotension). These symptoms usually cease when Iscador treatment ends.

    Injection Site Irritation:

    Some patients may suffer from inflammation of the skin around the Iscador injection site. This symptom is temporary and resolves itself shortly after completion of the injections.

    Iscador Serious Side Effects

    At excessive doses, Iscador is known to cause seizures, coma and death. Therefore, Iscador injections should be prescribed and administered only by a licensed physician. Iscador in liquid or supplement form should never be taken unsupervised as a home remedy.

    Isorel Side Effects

    • Localised reddness at the puncture site can appear.
    • Small increase in temperature of 1 to 1.5 degree Centigrade can be observed which disappear after 1 to 2 days. It is recommended to wait for the normalisation of the temperature before a new injection is administered.
    • In the case of hyperthyroidism , start with low doses and increase gradually. In the case of phlebitis , do not inject in the inflammed areas.

    Isorel Duration of Use

    As long as medical is required. There are no known harmful effects , by long term treatment.

    Directions for Nutrition

    • All types of vegetables , above all lactic vegetables (sauerkraut) and lactic vegetable juice (sauerkraut juice). Sour milk, butter milk, cottage cheese , yoghurt , whole meal bread.
    • Avoid white flour.
    • No sugar (perhaps 1 teaspoon of honey per day) , reduce meat consumption.
    • No tinned meat.

    The manufacturers of phytotherapeutic mistletoe preparations (Cefalektin, Eurixor, Lektinol) cite the following side-effects: shivering, high fever, heart problems, which usually indicate that the mistletoe dosage was too high. However, this does not necessarily mean that mistletoe therapy should be discontinued.

    All forms of mistletoe are best left to professional practitioners, and are not recommended for the home herbalist. Mistletoe should be used only under professional supervision as part of an overall treatment plan. At least three standardized injectable extracts have been studied in Europe: Iscador, Helixor, and Eurixor. These products are not designed for self-treatment and are not commercially available in the United States. Mistletoe should be avoided during pregnancy, since it can stimulate uterine contractions.

    Combining herbs with certain drugs may alter their action or produce unwanted side effects. Don’t use mistletoe while taking:

    • alcohol and other drugs that slow the nervous system, such as cold and allergy drugs, sedatives, tranquilizers, narcotic pain relievers, barbiturates, seizure drugs, and muscle relaxants
      drugs that lower blood pressure
    • drugs to relieve depression called MAO inhibitors (such as Marplan and Nardil)
    • Mistletoe should not be used along with heart medicines; the combination creates an increased risk of cardiac slow-down.
    • Important Points to Remember

      • Don’t use mistletoe if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding. The herb may stimulate the uterus.
      • Be aware that all plant parts are toxic.
      • If you’re considering taking mistletoe for cancer, know that medical experts recommend trying conventional treatments first.
      • Keep the mistletoe plant and all extracts and formulations made with it out of reach of children.

      Mistletoe Adverse Effects

      The most common side-effect which occurs in connection with the application of mistletoe preparations is a reddening of the skin around the injection site. This is not an undesirable side-effect, however. On the contrary, it shows that the body is reacting to the mistletoe extract by developing a slight inflammation. And this in turn means that the immune system is responding. This is exactly what should be achieved.

      This reddening is no cause for worry as long as the diameter of the affected area of skin does not exceed 5 centimetres and the reddening subsides without treatment. In anthroposophical mistletoe therapy such reactions serve as orientation for the physician, helping him or her to find the right dosage of the medicament.

      A slight fever is not an undesirable side effect either. On the contrary, it helps the body to warm up and regain its capacity to regulate its temperature.

      If the reddening is extremely pronounced, rough patches develop or a strong itching sensation occurs, the dosage of the mistletoe extract must be adjusted as well. And if a high fever (over 39.5 °C) or a rash develops or the patient becomes extremely fatigued and lethargic or suffers from headaches and short-term dizzy spells, these are indications that the dosage of the mistletoe extract is too high. If the concentration is reduced, all of these complaints will quickly subside.

      The lymph nodes in the vicinity of the injection site can become slightly swollen. This is no undesirable reaction either, for it shows that the immune system has been activated. The lymph nodes serve as a storehouse for numerous antibodies – thus it is no surprise that they become slightly swollen.

      If a patient reacts very sensitively to mistletoe extracts, it is advisable to begin with a preparation using a homeopathic dilution and to increase the dosage very gradually until the desired reaction has been elicited.

      In anthroposophical mistletoe therapy, all these reactions help the physician find the optimal preparation in the optimal dosage for each individual patient. It might be that the physician tries out several preparations until the right one for the individual in question has been found.

      Allergic reactions to mistletoe extracts rarely occur. Nevertheless they cannot be ruled out. For this reason it is imperative that the first mistletoe injections be given under a physician’s supervision. Intravenous mistletoe infusions must always be administered under a physician’s supervision.

      Sometimes small lumps or bumps form in the vicinity of the injection site because the injected fluid has not dispersed into the surrounding tissue quickly enough. This can be avoided by massaging the injection site with a gauze pad in circular motions after removing the needle.

      During mistletoe therapy, phlebitis and thromboses sometimes worsen. In this case the treatment should be interrupted until the inflammation has subsided or the thrombosis has healed.

      Pregnant women and nursing mothers should only undergo mistletoe therapy under a physician’s supervision. There are no indications that the therapy has any damaging effect on unborn children or infants.

      Buy Mistletoe Products Online

      Mistletoe Herbs:

      Viscum album is the technical name for mistletoe otherwise know as the herb that fights cancer. There are many different varieties grown around the world, but the prevailing type of mistletoe being used in the fight against cancer is the European variety.

      Purchase Iscador:

      Search Google.com for the Mistletoe products.

      Mistletoe Research Links

      Mistletoe results of a national survey conducted in Germany in l995 by the Society for Biologic Cancer Defense found that mistletoe preparations were the most frequently prescribed biologic drug (80%) followed by trace elements, vitamins, enzymes, and xenogenic (tissues from other species) peptides like thymus preparations.

      Iscucin® Study:


      Lektinol showed a distinct effect on survival ratio, growth of primary bladder tumors and the formation of multiple metastases.

      Survival of cancer patients treated with mistletoe extract (Iscador): a systematic literature review

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