Mistletoe: A Little-Known Cancer Healer

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Blog | Dec, 19 2016

Mistletoe: A Little-Known Cancer Healer


This time of year is perhaps the only time that most people give any attention to mistletoe, that evergreen plant that hangs on the low-lying branches of certain trees. While not many Americans are aware of its healing qualities, in many parts of the world, especially in Europe, it has been a part of cancer healing protocols for years.

Mistletoe Has Been a Healing Herb in Europe Since Antiquity

European oncologists have used extracts of mistletoe for the past 90 years, and such usage is no longer controversial there. By

Mistletoe grows on some trees common to Europe and North America. The most common form of mistletoe extract is called Iscador

some estimates, 40 percent of French and up to 60 percent of German cancer patients receive this botanical extract,” states Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D., former science writer for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and author of the Moss Reports.

Mistletoe appears as a parasitic growth on a small number of host-trees, including apple, pine, fir, oak, hawthorn, ash, elm, and poplar. It was used for healing by Celtic priests for hundreds of years. In the 19th and 20th centuries. The Austrian philosopher and founder of anthroposophical medicine Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) introduced it to the world as a powerful healing tool against cancer. It is still a core healing herb for many integrative doctors today.

Just recently, actress Susan Somers  brought mistletoe back into the forefront by speaking publicly about her use of Iscador, a commercial form of mistletoe extract, as her main healing modality for healing breast cancer after undergoing lumpectomy and radiation in 2001.

Mistletoe’s Effect on Cancer is Backed by Science

But proof of mistletoe’s anti-cancer effects is not just anecdotal. A ground-breaking study published in the peer-reviewed journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine focused on the 35,000 residents of Heidelberg, Germany over 30 years. Five thousand residents were diagnosed with cancer during the time of the study.  

The researchers found that those who took mistletoe extract in addition to conventional medical treatment lived an average of 40% longer than those who used conventional treatments alone.

In fact, there has been ample scientific evidence that mistletoe can help counter the harmful effects of many chemotherapy drugs for those who decide to go that route. Researchers at the University of Bern in Switzerland in 2010 investigated mistletoe’s effect on the chemotherapy drug cyclophosphamide, (Cytoxan) on healthy and malignant cells. They found that mistletoe extract doubled the activity of healthy immune system cells and that mistletoe also increased the levels of anti-cancer cytokines as well.

The majority of studies that focus on mistletoe and breast cancer, such as a comprehensive 2014 study published in the journal BioMed Research International, relate to how mistletoe improves quality of life as well as life expectancy for those who also use conventional cancer treatments as well. Evidence clearly exists that proves that mistletoe itself displays direct anti-cancer effects on its own. The aim of an August 2016 study conducted by the Institute of Integrative Medicine at Witten/Herdecke University in Germany was to find out how Viscum album (VAE or European mistletoe) ) interacted with the common breast cancer drug Trastuzumab. Basically, mistletoe extract by itself also displayed significant anti-cancer effects, including cancer cell apoptosis (cancer cell death)– and without the harmful side effects that come with traditional chemotherapy.

 A simple blood test through the RGCC lab can help determine if mistletoe actually has a positive effect on your health.  Most patients using mistletoe use Iscador but some forward-thinking doctors are beginning to offer mistletoe extract injections with positive results. Always consult with your natural healing professional before utilizing mistletoe in any form. If administered improperly, mistletoe can become poisonous. With knowledge and the support of a caring, qualified integrative doctor, mistletoe may just be a major healing modality for your own healthy breast journey.


  • Hi, I have been recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and I am soon to have surgery to remove the lump. Do you recommend mistletoe before surgery to increase the immune system and if so, how much?

    • Hi Lorene! We would suggest reviewing the use of mistletoe with your trusted healthcare provider who has experience with mistletoe and discuss whether this is a helpful intervention for you to start before surgery.