Unveiling the Healing Properties of Mistletoe Extract

Mistletoe (Viscum album) extracts are used in Europe to support cancer therapy by stimulating the immune system and reducing chemotherapy- and radiotherapy-related fatigue. However, there is limited evidence that they boost survival or quality of life, and there are safety concerns.

Boosts Immune System

Mistletoe extracts can influence the function of immune cells. They stimulate the proliferation of white blood cells and increase their ability to attack foreign cells, including cancer cells. They also can enhance immune cells’ cytotoxic activity, killing cancer cells without harming healthy cells.

Laboratory and animal studies show that Mistletoe may kill cancer cells, reduce the growth of tumors, and cause a reduction in side effects from chemotherapy and radiation therapy. However, these results have not been confirmed in clinical trials in people. This PDQ cancer information summary is based on a review of the available scientific literature. It is not a substitute for talking with your healthcare provider.

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Inhibits Cancer Cells

Mistletoe extracts contain lipophilic compounds (triterpenes and mistletoe lectins) that have been shown to inhibit cancer cell proliferation in vitro. This effect is mediated through mistletoe lectins binding to cancer cells and activating apoptosis. Preclinical studies have also found that mistletoe extracts can decrease the expression of anti-apoptotic proteins, c-Myc protein, and growth factor b genes while simultaneously increasing the expression of DNA repair proteins, such as RAD51 and survivin.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center recently completed what is believed to be the first phase I study of the mistletoe-based immunotherapy Helixor M in the United States. The small study was designed to evaluate safety and to determine the optimal dosing for future clinical trials.

The results of the Helixor M trial showed that patients treated with this therapy significantly improved their quality of life, but they did not see improvements in tumor size or spread. This is likely due to the low number of patients in the study. In addition, survival data were based on mean rather than median survival, which can be highly exaggerated if a single patient has unusually long survival.

Stimulates Blood Cells

One of mistletoe extract benefits has been shown to stimulate blood cells, mainly white blood cells. This is known as immunomodulation. It has also been found to augment the cytotoxic activity of certain types of white blood cells. These effects were observed in laboratory experiments.

Several studies have demonstrated the ability of Mistletoe to boost immune system function in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Mistletoe extracts have also been shown to have anti-angiogenic properties. ML-1 is an important compound responsible for many of these biological activities.

In addition to their immunostimulatory and cytotoxic effects, mistletoe extracts have been shown to increase the quality of life in cancer patients and improve tolerance to chemotherapy and radiation therapy. However, Mistletoe cannot be recommended as a substitute for conventional cancer treatment.

Mistletoe is a semi-parasitic plant with several chemical compounds that have been shown to kill cancer cells in preclinical trials. It has been used in Europe for decades as a complementary cancer treatment and is listed in the homeopathic Pharmacopoeia. It is unavailable in the United States as it has yet to be studied in well-designed clinical trials.

Reduces Blood Pressure

Since ancient times, Mistletoe has been used in Europe to remedy epilepsy, convulsions, delirium, hysteria, nervous debility, urinary problems, and heart diseases. This herbal remedy is believed to work by stimulating the production of enzymes, which regulate blood pressure and blood circulation. It also normalizes the flow of fluids in the body and counteracts inflammatory conditions. It is beneficial for women during menopause, as it helps reduce hot flashes, feelings of anxiety, and heart palpitations.

Studies have shown that ethanolic extracts of Viscum album L. steam reduce ischemic myocardial infarction and improve hematological parameters in rats. This effect might be linked with the muscarine cholinergic receptors (Cytisin). Additionally, it has been shown that flavonoids from Viscum album L. steam reduce ischemia-reperfusion injury by blocking the signaling pathway of platelet-activating factor (PAF) and improving hemodynamics in rats.

However, it is not recommended to use European Mistletoe if you suffer from auto-immune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE), rheumatoid arthritis, or leukemia. This is because European Mistletoe could make these conditions worse. It is also not recommended to take this herb if you have a heart problem, are pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

Helps in Weight Loss

Mistletoe extract has been shown to have antidiabetic, antidepressant, and anti-inflammatory effects. It also helps in weight loss by increasing metabolism and decreasing lipid absorption. It is also believed to improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It is important to note that research in this area has been done in labs and on animals, so more human trials are needed to confirm these benefits.

Some European studies suggest that mistletoe injections can help to reduce cancer-related side effects such as vomiting, fatigue, and loss of appetite. They can also increase the quality of life in people with advanced pancreatic and breast cancer.

The FDA does not approve mistletoe extract as a cancer treatment in the United States. However, some clinical trials investigate its use in treating cancer. You can use our clinical trial search to find NCI-supported cancer clinical trials currently accepting patients. You can narrow your search by location, type of trial, and other criteria.

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