No, mistletoe therapy has nothing to do with Christmas decor or kissing under a hanging plant.

As strange as it may sound to some, mistletoe therapy for cancer is a legitimate alternative treatment. Through many trials and studies, mistletoe extract has been shown to help kill cancer cells.

In the world of alternative and complementary medicinal therapies for cancer studied around the world, mistletoe therapy is near the top of the list. Extracts from European mistletoe plans used for mistletoe therapy is one of the most prescribed treatments for cancer patients in many European countries.

Used by both the Ancient Greeks and Druids, mistletoe’s medicinal properties have a long historic tradition and were used as a “cure-all” in many accounts and legends. It wasn’t until the 1920s that modern science started to study and explore the properties of mistletoe as a potential treatment for cancer.

What is Mistletoe?

Mistletoe is a semi-parasitic plant that grows on several types of trees, including apple, oak, maple, elm, pine, and birch.

Viscum album L., the European white-berried mistletoe, is the most common type of mistletoe used in alternative treatments and is packaged as an extract under the name “Iscador.”  Some extracts are taken from the whole plant, like with Iscador and Helixor, while other extracts only use part of the plant and contain mistletoe Lectin I, which is a chemical from the mistletoe plant (this is the case with the Eurixor extract).

The Iscador mistletoe extract as well as others, such as Helixor, Eurixor, and Isorel, are available in many parts of Europe. In the United States, the FDA prohibits the importation of injectable mistletoe extract, except in the case of clinical research and approved uses.

Does it Really Cure Cancer?

The results of laboratory testing as well as several clinical trails have evidence that suggests that mistletoe therapy can kill cancer cells, improve the patient’s quality of life, and potentially treat other cancer-related symptoms.

Mistletoe therapy for cancer has yet to make its way into mainstream cancer treatments in the United States and be approved by regulatory organizations like the FDA. However, it is often used as an alternative treatment method in Europe and is the focus of a large number of studies and laboratory tests which have shown success in killing cancer cells.

When mistletoe therapy for cancer is administered, the extract is usually given by an injection under the skin with a syringe, but it can also be given in a vein (either directly or with an IV), in the pleural cavity, or directly into the tumor in some cases.

There have been dozens of trials using mistletoe extracts as treatment for cancer over the past seventy years and more research and testing continues to be done. In recent years, reviews of some of these studies have also examined the effectiveness of the mistletoe therapy on quality of life and symptom relief for different kinds of cancer.

How Do I Learn More About Mistletoe Therapy?

When looking at treatment methods, always, ALWAYS, talk to your doctor first. Read up on mistletoe therapy for cancer  and the results of previous studies and testing., a non-profit organization funding a mistletoe therapy trial at Johns Hopkins, offers a lot of great resources on ways mistletoe can change your fight against cancer. The National Cancer Institute also provides great information on mistletoe extracts and their medicinal properties. And since early 2016, Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center has been conducting clinical trials on mistletoe therapy which is still accepting eligible applicants.



Are you interested in learning more about mistletoe therapy and cancer treatments

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This web site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for the diagnosis, treatment and advice of a qualified licensed professional. This site offers people medical information and tells them their alternative medical options, but in no way should anyone consider that this site represents the “practice of medicine.” This site assumes no responsibility for how this material is used. Also note that this website frequently updates its contents, due to a variety of reasons, therefore, some information may be out of date. The statements regarding alternative treatments for cancer have not been evaluated by the FDA.