The multiple effects of mistletoe on cancer

Mistletoe is a fascinating plant. It thrives without roots, absorbing nutrients from its host tree. Mistletoe preparations have been shown to have a beneficial effect in cancer therapy. They significantly improve survival and quality of life and reignite the patient’s will to live.

Medicinal plants such as camomile, sage and valerian are known for their beneficial effects. They are valuable for minor complaints and help restore wellbeing. The healing power of mistletoe has also been known for thousands of years. What is less well known is the significant contribution it can make to the treatment of cancer. Mistletoe is a truly special plant: it grows high up in the crowns of trees, between heaven and earth, deriving nutrients and forces from these trees for its own sustenance. Mistletoe has no roots; it grows very slowly and blossoms in winter. With its evergreen foliage it bids defiance to the cold and dark season. 

Phenomenon and healing plant. The remarkable form language of mistletoe. © Jürg Buess

Gentle but effective

Extracts from mistletoes grown in a variety of host trees have been used in the treatment of cancer ever since the physician Dr Ita Wegman first experimented with mistletoe preparations in 1917 in her Zurich practice. During these trials she observed impressive therapeutic processes. In the last hundred years mistletoe and the use of its active substances in cancer therapy have been extensively researched and the manufacture of mistletoe preparations continuously developed. These preparations have been used successfully with many patients worldwide. 

The secret is in the extract

Mistletoe preparations can support cancer patients in various ways. The plant contains a number of active substances that can inhibit tumour growth. Interestingly, only whole-plant extracts have proven to be successful in practice, while any attempts at introducing individual constituent components of mistletoe into cancer therapy have failed.

Stronger together

Many clinical trials have shown that mistletoe therapy given in addition to conventional treatment clearly contributed to prolong overall survival. 

Adjunct therapies enhance the effect of mistletoe therapy and awaken positive new forces. © Jürg Buess

Mistletoe gives new courage

Mistletoe therapy not only improves the patients’ physical condition, it also has a positive effect on their emotional and mental wellbeing. It even significantly improves the quality of life in patients for whom the conventional cancer treatment no longer promises success. Being diagnosed with cancer can be a traumatic experience. Patients are suddenly confronted with the finiteness of life and often feel lost. They stop thinking about the future and feel depressed and defeated.

A new approach to life

Because cancer treatment with mistletoe preparations improves the quality of life, many patients feel able to approach life in a new way. This can be further enhanced by introducing art therapies or biography work which can stimulate activity and creativity and help patients to find meaning in life again. 

This journal provides information on the medicinal properties of mistletoe, the development of mistletoe preparations and their use in cancer care. It also includes a physician’s account of his experiences with mistletoe therapy and, last but not least, ideas of how the research into natural medicines can be made even more effective.

PD Dr. sc. nat. Stephan Baumgartner

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