Scientific Names of Mistletoe Herb: Viscum album L. [Fam. Viscaceae]

Water extract or dried and/or fermented leaves, flower, and fruit of V. album L.; Mistletoe constituents are also isolated for parenteral use, e.g. in the form of injections.

Traditional Usage:

– Anti-inflammatory

– Bone and Joint Disorders

– Bone and Joint Pain

– Cellular Regeneration

– Cleansing

– Detoxification

– Digestive Disorders

– Epilepsy

– Glandular Disorders

– Headache

– HIV Infection

– Immune System Stimulation

– Nervous Disorders

– Rheumatism

– Sedative

– Vascular Disorders


Mistletoe, Viscum album L. [Fam. Viscaceae], is a parasitic plant that originated in Europe. The active ingredient is viscin and was used by medieval French herbalists for epilepsy, nervous disorders and elsewhere for hysteria, glandular activities, digestive problems, and as a sedative. The Druids used it as a cure for abnormal growths and lab experiments have validated this claim. Studies suggest that mistletoe inhibits abnormal growths and their spread by increasing apoptosis and inhibiting angiogenesis. Viscum album has been used for more than 80 years as a medication against abnormal growths with significant immuno-modulating action. Mistletoe can be toxic, so a physician’s guidance is required for its use. A recent clinical trial found very positive results with ninety-two children 5 to 14 years of age exposed to the radioactive fallout of Chernobyl with recurrent respiratory infections (RRIs). After randomization, the children were treated with two different Viscum album preparations. Both Viscum album preparations were effective in significantly reducing clinical symptoms. One year after a single treatment course, the frequency of RRI relapses decreased by 78% and 73%, respectively. Another recent study of mistletoe use for women with advanced abnormal growths of the ovaries looked at all cases treated since November 1969 in the Gynecological Ward of a German hospital. Despite less favorable prognostic indicators for the mistletoe patients, the latter reached an average survival rate of 16.2 months as compared to 5.2 months in the group treated with Cytoval (ratio 3.1:1). Patients in stage III lived 4.2 times longer; in stage IV 1.6 times longer. Researchers concluded that mistletoe is a useful and effective treatment of abnormal growths of the ovary, particularly since it usually does not cause serious and undesired side effects. Since 1984, clinical experience with mistletoe among HIV-positive patients has suggested that it also inhibits HIV-disease progression.

Recent Positive Findings:

A recent study was done to determine whether a fermented mistletoe juice treatment prolongs survival time of patients with abnormal growths of the colon, rectum, stomach or breast (with or without axillary or remote spread; or small cell or non-small-cell bronchogenic abnormal growths; and to explore synergies between the treatment and psychosomatic self-regulation. The review involved prospective nonrandomized and randomized matched-pair studies nested within a cohort study. The setting was a general community in Germany. There were 10,226 patients with confirmed abnormal growths involved in a prospective long-term epidemiological cohort study, including 1668 patients treated with a fermented mistletoe juice product and 8475 who had taken neither this or any other mistletoe product (control patients). In the nonrandomized matched-pair study, survival time of patients treated with the fermented mistletoe product was longer for all types of abnormal growths studied. In the pool of 396 matched pairs, mean survival time in the fermented mistletoe juice treatment groups (4.23 years) was roughly 40% longer than in the control groups (3.05 years; P < .001). Synergies between fermented mistletoe juice treatment and self-regulation manifested in a longer survival advantage for fermented mistletoe juice treatment patients with good self-regulation (56% relative to control group; P = .03) than for patients with poor self-regulation. Results of the 2 randomized matched-pair studies largely confirmed the results of the non-randomized studies. The researchers concluded that fermented mistletoe juice treatment can achieve a clinically relevant prolongation of survival time of patients with abnormal growths and appears to stimulate self-regulation. [Grossarth-Maticek R, Kiene H, Baumgartner SM, Ziegler R. 2001. Use of Iscador, an extract of European mistletoe (Viscum album), in cancer treatment: prospective nonrandomized and randomized matched-pair studies nested within a cohort study. Altern Ther Health Med. 2001 May-Jun; 7(3): 57-66, 68-72, 74-6 passim]. Active Ingredients: Mistletoe herb contains: Lectins (glycoproteins with the ability to bind specifically to certain sugars and cell surfaces; isolectin chains; all parts of the plant contain viscin, which is also called bird-glue or birdlime. Mistletoe also contains proteins and polypeptides, especially the viscotoxins which are composed of 46 amino acids; phenyl propanes and lignans including syringenin 4′-diglucoside and syringaresinol 4′,4″-diglucoside; caffeic acid derivatives; flavonoids; and other compounds. The berries also contain viscin, green wax, gum, bassorin, brown extractive, salts, etc. The bark as well contains viscin, gum, albumen, sugar, chlorophyll, tannin, and salts. Suggested Amount: Mistletoe can be highly toxic if taken above recommended dosages, so guidance by a qualified healthcare practitioner is recommended for its safe use. Dose: Do not use more than 10 grams (2 teaspoons) per day. Tea: Steep 2.5 grams (1/2 teaspoon) of finely cut Mistletoe in 1 cup of water for 12 hours at room temperature then strain. Drink 1 to 2 cups daily. Wine: Mix 40 grams (8 teaspoons) of Mistletoe with 1 litre of wine. Let sit three days. Drink 3 to 4 glasses per day. Powder: 2 to 6 grams (one-half to 1 teaspoonful) of Mistletoe powder per day. The treatment of children to prevent recurrent respiratory infections was as follows: The dosage was two subcutaneous injections a week for 5 weeks with individual doses of 0.001 mg to 1.0 mg using Viscum album praeparatum mali or pini (Iscador M or P); these are products made from fermented mistletoe plant juice which renders the extract less toxic. Lectins are major active components in the extract of European mistletoes and have been widely used in adjuvant chemotherapy of abnormal growths (via parenteral use, e.g. in the form of injections). Drug Interactions: None known. Contraindications: Do not take if you have a chronic infection such as tuberculosis, a tendency to allergies, or a high fever. Side Effects: Properly prepared products are safe, when used under the supervision of a qualified healthcare practitioner. One product used extensively against abnormal growths is a fermentation product of the plant juice of Viscum album and when used accordingly it usually does not cause serious and undesired side effects. Mistletoe used without proper instruction can have toxic effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, contraction of the pupils, muscle spasm, exhaustion, coma, convulsions and death, particularly when leaves and berries are ingested. Fatalities have been reported following ingestion of the fresh berries. Children frequently suffer epileptiform convulsions following ingestion of the berries. “Contains viscotoxin, a mixture of toxic proteins that apparently affect RNA and DNA synthesis”. Mistletoe injections are not recommended as they can cause skin reactions such as swelling and dead skin. Other side effects include chills, fever, headache, chest pain (angina), low blood pressure, and allergic reactions including anaphylactic reactions after therapeutic injection of mistletoe (Viscum album L.). References: Chernyshov VP, Heusser P, Omelchenko LI, Chernyshova LI, Vodyanik MA, Vykhovanets EV, Galazyuk LV, Pochinok TV, Gaiday NV, Gumenyuk ME, Zelinsky GM, Schaefermeyer H, Schaefermeyer G. 2001. Immunomodulatory and clinical effects of Viscum album (Iscador M and Iscador P) in children with recurrent respiratory infections as a result of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Am J Ther. 2000 May; 7(3): 195-203. Gorter RW, van Wely M, Reif M, Stoss M. 1999. Tolerability of an extract of European mistletoe among immunocompromised and healthy individuals. Altern Ther Health Med. 1999 Nov; 5(6): 37-44, 47-8. Review. Hassauer W, Gutsch J, Burkhardt R. 1979. [What prospects of success does Iscador therapy offer in advanced ovarian cancer?] Onkologie. 1979 Feb; 2(1):28-36. German. Park WB, Lyu SY, Kim JH, Choi SH, Chung HK, Ahn SH, Hong SY, Yoon TJ, Choi MJ. 2001. Inhibition of tumor growth and metastasis by Korean mistletoe lectin is associated with apoptosis and antiangiogenesis. Cancer Biother Radiopharm. 2001 Oct; 16(5): 439-47. Wichtl M and NG Bisset (Eds). 1994. Visci herba – Mistletoe herb. In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). CRC Press, Stuttgart, pp. 534-536.