While it might only be gaining recent popularity in Canada, European mistletoe is the most widely studied and used complimentary therapy for cancer in Europe.
European Mistletoe or Viscum Album has been used as a medicine since the time of Hippocrates for disorders of the heart and circulatory disorders, arthritis and even neurological disorders like epilepsy. At the turn of the 20th century Mistletoe was postulated to have anticancer effects by anthroposophy creator Rudolf Steiner. In 1916 a preparation made from mistletoe was tested in cancer patients successfully and since then tens of millions of doses have been administered to patients across Europe.

Recently mistletoe lectins have been found to be one the bioactive derivatives of the European mistletoe extract, also known as VAE, and have been extensively studied for their potent anti-cancer activities.

European mistletoe is a safe non-toxic therapy with a long history of use in various cancers.

Other benefits of European mistletoe:

  • reduces side effects in conventional treatments like chemotherapy
  • improves quality of life of cancer patients
  • activates (boosting) the immune system’s NK (natural killer) cells
  • causes cancer cell death (apoptosis)
  • inhibits cancer cell growth
  • increases resistance to infections
  • increases tolerance to chemotherapy and radiation.
  • increases prevention of relapse after successful cancer treatment.

It has become the most commonly used natural cancer therapy in Europe and has been validated by hundreds of clinical trials. Please be aware that individual responses to treatments may vary and results are not guaranteed. Speak with your naturopathic doctor about the appropriate treatment plan for your case.

European Mistletoe has been widely studied both for its mechanism of action and its clinical effects on cancer patients. Current research has shown the following therapeutic mechanisms of action for mistletoe:

  • Direct cytotoxic (cancer cell killing) effect – several components (most notably mistletoe lectins) have strong effect on cancer cells. These components have been shown to cause apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells.
  • Inhibition of tumour growth and metastasis – several animal and human studies have shown an improvement in overall survival and reduced disease progression in individuals receiving mistletoe treatment.
  • Strong Immunostimulant – almost all studied components of mistletoe have strong immune stimulating effects well beyond that of other botanicals.
  • Selective Cytoprotection – components of mistletoe have been shown to protect the DNA of healthy immune cells. It is believed that this is why patients taking mistletoe alongside standard chemotherapy have fewer side effects and a generally better quality of life.
  • Strong Neuro-Endocrine Support – patients receiving treatment with European mistletoe were shown to have improved quality of life in several studies. This translated to improved energy, sleep, appetite and reduced pain.
  1. Kienle, G. S., & Kiene, H. (2010). Review article: Influence of Viscum album L (European mistletoe) extracts on quality of life in cancer patients: a systematic review of controlled clinical studies. Integrative Cancer Therapies, 9(2), 142–57. doi:10.1177/1534735410369673
  2. Friedel, W. E., Matthes, H., Bock, P. R., & Zänker, K. S. (2009). Systematic Evaluation of the Clinical Effects of Supportive Mistletoe Treatment within Chemo- and / or Radiotherapy Protocols and Long-Term Mistletoe Application in Nonmetastatic Colorectal Carcinoma: Multicenter , Controlled , Observational Cohort Study, 7(4), 137–145. doi:10.2310/7200.2009.0014
  3. Ostermann, T., Raak, C., & Büssing, A. (2009). Survival of cancer patients treated with mistletoe extract (Iscador): a systematic literature review. BMC Cancer, 9, 451. doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-451
  4. Kienle, G. S., Glockmann, A., Schink, M., & Kiene, H. (2009). Viscum album L. extracts in breast and gynaecological cancers: a systematic review of clinical and preclinical research. Journal of experimental & clinical cancer research: CR (Vol. 28). doi:10.1186/1756-9966-28-79
  1. Steele, M. L., Axtner, J., Happe, A., Kröz, M., Matthes, H., & Schad, F. (2014). Safety of Intravenous Application of Mistletoe (Viscum album L.) Preparations in Oncology: An Observational Study. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: eCAM, 2014, 236310. doi:10.1155/2014/236310
  2. Kienle, G. S., Grugel, R., & Kiene, H. (2011). Safety of higher dosages of Viscum album L . in animals and humans – systematic review of immune changes and safety parameters. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 11(1), 72. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-72
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  1. Piao, B. K., Wang, Y. X., Xie, G. R., Mansmann, U., Matthes, H., Beuth, J., & Lin, H. S. (2004). Impact of complementary mistletoe extract treatment on quality of life in breast, ovarian and non-small cell lung cancer patients. A prospective randomized controlled clinical trial. Anticancer Research, 24(1), 303–9. Retrieved from