Mistletoe

Viscum album

Description

Mistletoe was regarded as a sacred plant with magical powers. The Druids and the ancient Greeks considered it to bring good fortune, protect against witchcraft, heal diseases and enhance fertility. They also used it to treat conditions from coughs and headaches to hypertension, menopausal symptoms, arthritis, rheumatism and epileptic seizures. Today, mistletoe is used (mainly in Europe) as a treatment for cancer.

Parts used

The leaves, twigs and berries of mistletoe are used to make extracts that can be taken by mouth. In Europe, mistletoe extracts to treat cancer are prescription drugs that are given by injection.

Constituents

Mistletoe’s main active ingredients are compounds called lectins and viscotoxins.

Medicinal uses

Mistletoe

Mistletoe is used to:

  • Stimulate the immune system.
  • Support the heart.
  • Support the blood vessels and protect the body against age-related changes.
  • Help all forms of circulatory conditions, from varicose veins and arteriosclerosis to ischaemia (coronary heart disease) and related disorders.
  • Decrease platelet aggregation and inhibit the formation of thrombosis.
  • Help management of blood pressure.
  • Treat coughs, especially convulsive coughs, as well as asthma and asthmatic attacks.
  • Relieve symptoms associated with headaches and migraine by improving cerebral circulation and oxygen supply to the brain and the nervous system.
  • Laboratory studies have found that mistletoe kills cancer cells and stimulates the immune system.

CAUTION

Talk to your medical practitioner before taking any herbal supplements.
Raw, unprocessed mistletoe is toxic. Side-effects of extracts include digestive upsets, headaches and low blood pressure. Overdose can cause seizures. Do not give to children or breast-feeding women. In countries where commercial mistletoe is available by injection, such as Germany, those extracts are considered to be generally safe when used under the supervision of a healthcare provider.

Flora Force Products containing Mistletoe

Domestic & culinary uses

Mistletoe is not used in cooking.

Cultivation

The mistletoe species used in health treatments is European mistletoe, a semi-parasitic plant that grows on trees in temperate regions worldwide. No records were found of it being grown in South Africa.

Photo credits

  1. By H. Zell (Own work)
[GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
  • By Chilepine (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
  • Information in our herb library is intended only as a general reference for further exploration. It is not a replacement for professional health advice and does not provide complete dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription medicines. Accordingly, this information should only be used under the direct supervision of a suitably qualified health practitioner such as a registered homeopath, naturopath or phytotherapist.