Capsules: European Mistletoe

Mistletoe may ease chemotherapy pain in cancer patients.

| September/October 1997

European mistletoe (Viscum album) may improve quality of life for cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, researchers at the University of Bern, Switzerland, have found.

Mistletoe contains an active ingredient with a hefty name—beta-galactose-specific mistletoe lectin-1, also called ML-1. Previous work done on this component showed that it can enhance the immune system, decrease the spread of tumor cells, increase production of lymphokines (mediators of the immune ­response), and increase the brain chemical endorphin, which acts similarly to morphine to decrease pain.

In 1996, the Swiss researchers investigated a mistletoe extract standardized to ML-1 called Eurixor, which is made in Germany, to see whether it would help patients with pancreatic cancer, which is rapidly fatal with severe decreases in quality of life.

Sixteen patients with advanced-stage pancreatic cancer were given injections of Eurixor twice weekly until death (an average of 5.6 months) with no other chemotherapy.

None of the patients experienced a decrease in tumor size or an increase in survival time. But the study did show that, for most patients, the disease ­remained stable, and based on clinical parameters and patients’ subjective opinions, their quality of life improved or stabilized after mistletoe treatment.

The study doesn’t prove that mistletoe is a valuable cancer treatment. Rather, researchers believe that mistletoe can be used with standard chemo­therapy to lessen its uncomfortable side effects.
—Cindy L. A. Jones

12/2/2017 2:00:47 AM

What is funny about the medical discussions of natural supplements, many times it is said that there's no scientific evidence of a certain products usefulness. At the same time countless people swear by certain health products. FDA approved drugs that have been " scientifically" researched, comes with so many possible side effects that it might be better to just keep whatever you're selling from. Aren't all drugs derived from plants?

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