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Mistletoe and Mistletoe Extract


Long before holiday revelers started a custom of kissing under the mistletoe, traditional folk healers used this evergreen shrub to treat various ailments. While they recognized early on that the sticky white berries of the mistletoe plant are poisonous, they brewed the leathery leaves into a therapeutic tea, a remedy that has long endured for ailments ranging from nervous tension to skin sores.

Rudolf Steiner, the founder of biodynamic agriculture in the early 1900s, played a leading role in bringing mistletoe to the attention of the general public as a medicinal plant.

Iscador, a liquid extract containing key medicinal components of the mistletoe plant, has been used for decades as an adjunctive treatment for cancer, mainly in Europe and parts of Asia. Advocates suggest that its effects are primarily on quality of life and, possibly, survival.

Survival time following treatment with Iscador for three matched pair studies nested within a long-term prospective study of cancer survival was reported in the May 2001 issue of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. This study, conducted in Germany, included 10,226 cancer patients. Of these, 1,668 patients had been treated with the mistletoe preparation, and mean survival time was about 40% longer for patients in the Iscador groups than in the control groups.

A compelling case can be made for careful investigation of mistletoe's anti-diabetic properties. African mistletoe has long been used to treat diabetes in Nigeria. In rats with diabetes, mistletoe has been shown to reduce blood glucose levels. Another study demonstrated that mistletoe extract stimulated insulin secretion from clonal pancreatic cells.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn't reviewed or approved the use of mistletoe in any form.

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