The fascination with mistletoe began centuries ago. From the ages of time, the Druids utilized mistletoe in many religious rituals. Rightly so, the translation of mistletoe is “all healer.” The tradition of kissing under a sprig of mistletoe at Christmas dated back to Viking mythology. The plant consequently became a symbol of love.
What is it
Mistletoe is a parasite that draws its sustenance from several tree species native to Europe and Western Asia. One tree where it thrives is the oak. But this species are different from the ones in North America. The evergreen horseshoe-shaped leaves and twigs are used in traditional herbal remedies.
Where it is legal
In Germany and elsewhere in Europe, the mistletoe is approved for palliative therapy, for treatment of symptoms and improved quality of life. The plant itself is poisonous so it isn’t drunk. When taken internally, it can cause vomiting, slowing of the heart rate, seizures and even death. It is available as an injectable prescription drug. The extract is injected under the skin near the tumor growth. This is done daily for several months. They utilize the plant as complementary to surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy which is the standard cancer regimen.
Numerous studies have been conducted on mistletoe. These studies reveal that somehow it has an effect on cancer. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, there had been reports in “improvements in survival or quality of life.” Studies of the extract revealed that it has the ability to destroy cancer cells and strengthens the immune system.
Where it is becoming tricky
One concern is how should it be prepared? This concern on its preparation is critical to its potency. Should the extraction process involve water or alcohol? Should it be prepared through fermentation? Moreover, with hundreds of species that abound, what particular species should be chosen? The season of harvest is crucial too. There are a lot of variables and so far, the important components weren’t identified.
Mistletoe isn’t approved by the FDA yet but is under clinical trial in the USA. In recommended doses and with the supervision of a health care provider, it is generally considered safe unless you take it orally. In Europe, it is a prescription drug sold under the name of Iscador or Helixor. For North America, we still need to wait…