Mistletoe for Cancer Treatment

As our understanding of cancer progresses, we’ve also become more progressive in our thinking. While many areas of medicine are embracing alternative medicine, cancer treatment has, in some cases, been slow to research and validate effective alternative therapies. Mistletoe is among the natural remedies being used for cancer treatment. While it may come as a surprise to some, there’s actually a large contingent of physicians (the bulk of whom practice in Europe) who believe that mistletoe is a helpful adjunct therapy.

Mistletoe is a semi-parasitic plant grown in several countries, primarily in Germany. Host trees include apple, oak, maple, elm, pine, and birch. The plants are comprised of oval leaves and white berries. It is the extract of these berries which is generally used for medicinal purposes.

Medicinal Applications
Aside from mistletoe’s centuries-old presence in culture and folklore, it also has a long history of medicinal use. In Europe, mistletoe has been used for over 90 years as a cancer treatment. Today, a high percentage of European cancer patients receive the extract. Mistletoe has also been used and investigated in America; however, the American medical community is more skeptical about its use. The theory is that mistletoe (administered through an injection, intravenously, orally, or directly into a tumor) boosts the immune system, kills cancer cells, and prevents the growth of new blood vessels that “feed” the tumor. Some support for this theory has been demonstrated in the laboratory setting, as well as in animal studies.

Recent Studies
One of the more recent laboratory studies, conducted in Switzerland, investigated the use of mistletoe to combat the adverse effects of cyclophosphamide, a drug used to slow or stop cell growth in cancer patients. The researchers pre-incubated normal white blood cells as well as a T-cell leukemia cell line with mistletoe extract. Then, they added the cyclophosphamide. Monitoring the cells, they discovered that the mistletoe stimulated the healthy cells, but not the malignant cells. The mistletoe also partially protected healthy cells from the damage of cyclophosphamide, without preventing the cyclophosphamidefrom treating the malignant cells.

The Future of Mistletoe
It’s difficult to predict what effect, if any, these studies will have within the American and European medical communities. However, they do seem to indicate that further research into medicinal uses for mistletoe is warranted. The general consensus is that mistletoe alone is not a cure for cancer, but more evidence may establish it as a helpful adjunct therapy.

A Homeopath’s Perspective
Personally, I’m very interested to see the results of ongoing research. At the Arizona cancer center where I practice, our emphasis is on cancer treatment alternatives. We’ve seen the harsh effects of traditional options. Although they can be effective, these traditional treatments (such as chemotherapy) ravage the body, leaving patients depleted and riddled with side effects. In Medicine, the treatment should never be worse than the disease. We believe there is a better way. We constantly seek homeopathic and holistic approaches to improve the experience of men and women with cancer, in addition to curing the underlying disease. At EuroMed Foundation, we have found mistletoe to be effective when used in conjunction with our protocols.

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