Will Mistletoe Help Treat Cancer?

In Europe, mistletoe extract is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for cancer treatment. 

Mistletoe is a semi-parasitic plant that grows on trees. It has been used for centuries in traditional medicine for various conditions, such as asthma, high blood pressure, headaches, dermatitis, arthritis, and seizures.

Mistletoe For Cancer

Mistletoe contains many different compounds that are thought to work together to kill cancer cells and boost the immune system.

For example, lectins are a type of protein found in mistletoe that helps the immune system function effectively while potentially decreasing some negative side effects associated with other cancer treatments.

Viscotoxins, another compound found in mistletoe, also appear to provide anticancer effects.

And mistletoe’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may help protect healthy cells from damage and improve quality of life during cancer treatment.

Mistletoe extracts (such as Iscador) are typically injected into the area around the tumor site several times a week to complement other cancer treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy.

Clinical studies have shown that mistletoe extract can increase the number of NK cells (natural killer cells) in the body, a type of immune cell that helps fight cancer.

Is it Safe?

Mistletoe extract is generally safe, with minimal risk of side effects. However, some people may be allergic to mistletoe, which should not be used.

It’s also important to note that while mistletoe is a common complementary medicine in Europe, it is not approved by the FDA for cancer treatment in the United States. Therefore, mistletoe extracts may not be an option for everyone with cancer.

Mistletoe supplements may be available but should not be used without the supervision of a healthcare provider.

If you’re considering mistletoe extract as a complementary cancer treatment, be sure to discuss it with your doctor to see if it’s right for you.

Does it Work?

Mistletoe extract is one of the most widely studied alternative or complementary cancer treatments.

Some of this clinical research has demonstrated positive effects such as:

  • improving quality of life
  • reducing some cancer-related symptoms
  • reducing treatment-related side effects
  • extending survival time

However, not all of the studies were able to confirm these benefits and found no or minimal effects of mistletoe extract on cancer. Some research teams have also questioned the methodology used in studies that found positive effects.

Research continues in this area to try to better understand the effect of different dosages on each type of cancer, as well as the mechanisms by which mistletoe may influence cancer cells.

It’s important to remember that alternative cancer treatments are not a substitute for conventional cancer treatment.

If you’re considering using mistletoe extract (or any other alternative cancer treatment), be sure to discuss it with your doctor to make sure it is safe and appropriate for you.