What is Mistletoe?
White-berried European Mistletoe extracts (Viscum album) is a medicinal plant that has been used since ancient times. Mistletoe extracts are the most frequently prescribed adjunctive cancer treatment in Central Europe. Mistletoe therapy and its use in cancer treatment began in the early 1900s. There are over 150 scientific publications examining the efficacy of mistletoe therapy as either a monotherapy or an adjunct therapy for patients with cancer. The mistletoe contains over 1,000 different constituents. The effects of its proteins – lectins (glycoproteins) and viscotoxins (polypeptides) – and complex carbohydrates (polysaccharides) have been researched most extensively.
Although there are several different ways to administer mistletoe, the most common is regular subcutaneous injections. This involves the use of small insulin needles and injecting the mistletoe just under the skin. After injecting the mistletoe lectins the immune system immediately begins to attack the injected fluid resulting in a small red rash around the injection site. This immune activation is an excellent outcome in the context of cancer. By activating the immune system at the site of injection it consequently activates the immune system within the entire body.
In select cases, it can also be added into the patient’s intravenous Vitamin C solution, and this combination has been showing great promise with certain cancer types and may have even additional anti-cancer benefits than the subcutaneous injections. Regardless of the injection form (subcutaneous or IV), mistletoe has been shown to stimulate increases in the number and the activity of several types of white blood cells. Immune-system-enhancing cytokines, such as interleukin-1, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor -alpha, are released by white blood cells after exposure to mistletoe extracts. Other evidence suggests that mistletoe exerts its cytotoxic effects by interfering with protein synthesis in target cells and by inducing apoptosis (cell death). Healthy tissue is not adversely affected by this. On the contrary; immune cells and other healthy cells are protected against further injury, e.g. damage caused by chemotherapeutics. It is of importance to note that the overwhelming consensus within the scientific research literature is that mistletoe therapy is extremely safe, synergistic, and beneficial with the majority of cancers, as well as most conventional cancer care treatments and drugs.
Clinically and scientifically, it is reported that mistletoe therapy significantly improves:
- Quality of life
- General well-being
- Fatigue, especially during and after chemotherapy
- Pain, so fewer painkillers and sedatives are required
- Overall cancer status
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