What is Mistletoe Therapy?

Mistletoe Therapy

Mistletoe Therapy has been proven to increase survival time and reduce risk of recurrence in cancer patients. There are three different subgroups (fir, apple-tree, pine) of mistletoe that are used depending on the type of cancer you are treating. Studies have determined that the presumed anti-cancer component in mistletoe extracts (Viscum Album) may be a class of proteins in the plant known as lectins.

Lectins initiate the mechanism of programmed cell death (apoptosis) inside Cancer cells. This is a natural response that healthy human cells have but cancer cells manage to override this program in order to survive. Mistletoe also contains hundreds of other different constituents that have tumor inhibiting, immuno-stimulating and immuno-modulating properties that assist in creating a fever inside the human body. A fever stimulates your immune system into producing more white blood cells, antibodies, and cytokines to protect and strengthen your body. Here are some other beneficial outcomes from Mistletoe therapy.

  • It mitigates the side effects of chemotherapy without reducing its efficacy.
  • As a result of immune stimulation and body temperature elevation, infections are prevented.
  • Nausea and Fatigue is reduced during and after chemotherapy.
  • It improves sleep, appetite, energy, pain tolerance and overall quality of life.
  • It increases core body temperature which strengthens the bodies immune response.

Mistletoe was used in ancient times by Hippocrates and Arabic Physicians for a range of other health conditions including epilepsy, infertility as well as liver and splenic conditions. Mistletoe injections have been used in complementary cancer care since 1917 and the therapeutic efficacy has progressively increase. Conventional studies have shown thatIt is widely used in integrative cancer care clinics throughout Europe, and is appraised by German physicians as a beneficial oncological treatment.

Studies on Treating Cancer with Mistletoe therapY

  1. Piao et al. (2004) studied 224 patients with breast, ovarian, and non-small cell lung cancer. This is one of the most important studies on the use of mistletoe therapy, because it meets the criteria of modern clinical trial and the standards of evidence-based medicine. It demonstrated that mistletoe cancer treatment can significantly improve quality of life and reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.
  2. Auerbach et al. (2005) studied 20 patients with breast cancer. This relatively small study clearly showed that mistletoe therapy can reduce side effects of chemotherapy, particularly unfavorable effects on key immune cells. The need for other drugs decreased. 
  3. Tröger et al. (2014) studied 65 patients with breast cancer in stages I - III. Using high-quality methodology, this clinical trial proved that mistletoe therapy can significantly improve quality of life during chemotherapy, and possibly reduce chemotherapy’s adverse effects on the white blood cell count. 
  4. Mansky et al. (2013) studied patients with advanced solid tumors of the breast, colon, pancreas, and lung. This study demonstrated that mistletoe does not inhibit the effect of chemotherapy and can even boost its efficacy – because the cytotoxic drug (in this study: gemcitabine) can be given in higher dosages due to a better tolerability.

Therapeutic Application

Mistletoe cancer therapy is appropriate for almost all tumor diseases. Mistletoe therapy may be applied before or after surgery, before, during or after radiation, chemotherapy or hormone therapy.

Mistletoe is injected subcutaneously (under the skin) and administered several times during the week. Commonly patients start with a low dosage and progressively increase their dose until the desirable effects of mistletoe therapy are achieved, which includes a visible local reaction to the site and an accompanying subtle fever reaction. Allergies to mistletoe therapy are rare but cannot be ruled out.