Mistletoe (Viscum album) may be useful for more than just snagging kisses. According to a recent study by the German Institute of Immunology and Experimental Oncology, this herb may help the battle against bowel cancer, which affects 37,500 a year in the United Kingdom, and reduce the side effects of toxic chemotherapy (Daily Mail).
The study treated 429 cancer patients with mistletoe extract and compared the results with 375 cancer patients receiving conventional care. Those treated with the plant extract experienced fewer side-effects from toxic chemotherapy and radiotherapy—19 percent suffered side effects versus 48 percent. These patients also survived longer.
Researchers believe mistletoe extract helps the body’s immune system fight tumors and speed up the disposal of toxic ‘debris’ left by chemotherapy. They concluded that there is a significant benefit from being treated with mistletoe extract. Results were published in the journal of The Society for Integrative Oncology.
Currently, modern herbalists prescribe mistletoe as a regulatory herb. It is used to regulate erratic blood pressure, prevent heart and circulator troubles, and is usually administered with herbs such as valerian, garlic and hawthorn (Essential Herbal Wisdom).
Photo by Martin LaBar (going on hiatus)/Courtesy Flickr