The mistletoe is known to play a mystical role in many customs and magical rituals as well. Although this parasitic plant (plants that obtain their nutrients through another plant), found high up in the branches of host trees, does not confer superhuman powers, it is definitely a miraculous medicinal plant used as a natural remedy in many parts of the world.
Thanks to modern science, today it is more than clear that the healing power of mistletoe is not the work of a myth and the world of fairy tales, but that it is actually a natural and healthy remedy that is even good in the treatment against Cancer. On the other hand, not only medicine, but also the cosmetic industry is making use of its versatile properties.
The belief in the magical power of mistletoe dates back to ancient times. The Druids, who were like priests, teachers, and healers in one-person, worshiped mistletoe, especially the one that grows on oaks known as “omnia sanans,” and considered it a panacea. Also, in the Middle Ages, a type of mistletoe known as a witch’s broom was used for “magical” and medical purposes. Today mistletoes are still hung over the door frame around Christmas times, as this is believed to ensure health, prosperity and fertility in the New Year.
The mistletoe: a plant with medicinal benefits
The fact that mistletoe behaves in a totally opposite way to most plants, in terms of growth and fruit ripening, has certainly contributed to its reputation as a medicinal plant.
This is because in the winter, when all other plants are in the winter, the mistletoe begins to grow suddenly. It blooms from February to March and bears ripe fruit from November.
As in humans, the fruit takes about nine months to fully ripen. This plant does not need the sun, it is independent of light and gravity. This is why the evergreen leaves of the plant grow in all directions and form the typical round mistletoe shrub. This phenomenon does not exist in any other plant.
Benefits of mistletoe as a natural remedy
Mistletoe is common throughout Europe and is considered a semi-parasite, since it does not grow in the ground but in trees, it gets a large part of the nutrients from its host, but it also performs the function of photosynthesis so it could easily survive without a host.
Of the roughly 1,400 types of plants known as mistletoes in the broadest sense, only one, the white-leaved mistletoe (Viscum alba), is used today to make medicine and cosmetic care products.
Mistletoe in the fight against cancer
White mistletoe therapy is the best researched among the unconventional procedures in cancer medicine. The unique combination of its ingredients makes mistletoe a very special medicinal plant.
In addition to containing a variety of amino acids, proteins, triglycerides (fats), flavonoids (typical plant dyes), potassium and phosphorus, it also contains highly toxic substances: viscotoxins and lectins.
These toxic substances have an important effect as adjunctive therapy in cancer patients [ cancer.gov ]. The lectins in mistletoe are sugary proteins that appear in this form only in mistletoe and inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
They are among the best-studied ingredients in mistletoe. Viscotoxins are protein compounds and are similar in structure to cobra venom. Its effect is not as well-researched as that of lectins, however, viscotoxins are known to dissolve cancer cells by destroying their cell wall.
Mistletoe supplements for cancer
Today, mistletoe supplements are mainly used as an extra component to cancer treatment in order to improve the patient’s condition and reduce its side effects. A treatment accompanied at the same time with mistletoe extract reduces the side effects of conventional cancer therapies, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
Mistletoe extracts also stimulate the replication of immune cells and activate natural killer cells. They also increase the formation of beta-endorphins, and endogenous opiates. This is good for pain relief and depression as well. In folk medicine, mistletoe is considered beneficial in menstrual disorders, epilepsy, atherosclerosis, and hypertension.
Its role in natural medicine
Mistletoe was discovered as a medicinal plant in cancer therapy by the founder of anthroposophic spiritual science, Dr. Rudolf Steiner. According to the anthroposophic view, malignant tumors are malformations that grow at the wrong time in the wrong place in the human body.
Similarly, mistletoe is a plant that grows as a parasite on other plants, that is, in the “wrong place”, which is in trees and not in the ground. Mistletoe does not feed itself, but gets most of its nutrients from the tree on which it grows.
If we look at it this way, a tumor also feeds on the body in which it has formed. Therefore, mistletoe reflects cancer in the plant kingdom. Prepared as a medicine, mistletoe provides the body with capabilities that have been lost, which is the reason why tumor growth was possible in the first place.
Dr. Ita Wegman adopted the ideas of Rudolf Steiner and developed in 1917 together with a Zurich pharmacist the first medicinal preparation made with mistletoe. Today there is a whole range of products for the treatment of cancer based on mistletoe extract.
Cosmetics – The uses of mistletoe in care products
The amino acids in this medicinal plant are especially important for the cosmetic industry. Especially arginine, which serves as a support for the skin and tissue in case of dryness, itching and eczema.
Mistletoe is also very effective in the treatment and prophylaxis of cellulite. The flavonoids contained in mistletoe are important as antioxidants. They neutralize free radicals, preventing them from attacking skin cells or causing irreversible DNA damage, strengthen the skin’s immune system and provide optimal protection against cellular aging.
Recent research has shown that mistletoe extract has a very special property: it alleviates the appearance of pigmented spots and prevents the formation of new spots.
Unlike other active ingredients, which simply whiten pigment spots or freckles, and which are also usually aggressive and, therefore, make the skin more sensitive, the substances contained in mistletoe inhibit tyrosinase, that is, , the formation of melanin, the natural colorant that allows the development of dark and undesirable spots.
Lightens the skin
The result of using mistletoe for this purpose is a gentle lightening of the skin. Mistletoe provides an additional protective function due to its antioxidant effect. Since pigment disorders are generally due to excessive sun exposure or free radical damage.
Also, the fact that it is also a purely natural remedy makes mistletoe even more convenient. Lotions or creams that contain mistletoe extract are a natural, harmless and effective alternative to bleaching through fruit acids, laser treatments and other aggressive treatments.
Mistletoe can be used to treat all of the following complaints:
- Sleep problems, restlessness, palpitations
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Vertigo caused by hypertension
- Back pain
- Weakness of the knees, weakness or atrophy of the tendons and bones
- Dry Skin
- Restless fetus and uterine bleeding during pregnancy
Parts used: twigs and leaves
- Taste: bitter.
- Thermal effect: neutral
- Organ allocation: kidneys, liver, heart.
- Dosage: 3 – 12 g
The references cited below belong to official websites of international cancer research organizations and the uses of alternative medicine, with their respective approved scientific studies.
Popular medicine and anthroposophy
Folk medicine uses various preparations with this medicinal plant, for example in infusions, drops, dragees, tablets and mistletoe tincture.
In anthroposophic medicine, fresh vegetable juices and aqueous fermented extracts of mistletoe are recommended for the treatment of cancer. This complementary healing dates back to Rudolf Steiner, the founder of the Waldorf schools.