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Mistletoe Therapy in Cancer

One of the common treatments that we suggest for many patients with a cancer diagnosis are mistletoe injections, using specifically the white-berried European Mistletoe which is called viscum album. This treatment has been used successfully with cancer patients since 1917, though it can be traced back to the time of Hippocrates, when it was used to treat diseases of the spleen.

It was re-introduced in modern times by Dr. Ita Wegman, M.D., in Switzerland, who was inspired by the anthroposophical medicine teachings of Dr. Rudolf Steiner (of Waldorf and Bio-Dynamic agriculture fame). You can read more at: www.paam.wildapricot.org

Mistletoe injection therapy is the most studied integrative cancer therapy in the world with over 7000 studies, and is the most utilized. About 80-85% of German and Swiss doctors and 60-70% of the rest of European medical doctors implement mistletoe treatment during chemo and radiation, because it has been found to reduce adverse side effects such as anemia, neutropenia (low WBC), thrombocytopenia (low platelets), hepatic or liver toxicity, and nausea and vomiting. It also offers palliative support which improves quality of life, treats pain, reduces ascites and increases survival.

Why Mistletoe?

In the early part of the 20th century, a scientist named Rudolf Steiner noticed the parasitic plant mistletoe blooming in winter, which was out of rhythm with its host tree that bloomed and grew in spring and summer. He, and other physicians since, have observed that mistletoe looks like a tumor growing on its different host trees: M (apple), A (Fir), P (Pine), Q (Oak), and Fraxinii (Ash).

PIICT uses mistletoe preparations from a company called Helixor. Helixor mistletoe is imported from Germany to a Canadian distributor. The patient orders the mistletoe from the When you order the Helixor mistletoe and bring it to our clinic, and give us permission to administer it to you, we are able to do this for you, as part of your therapeutic program.

What are the Primary Therapeutic Effects of Mistletoe Preparations?

Helixor mistletoe preparations contain two types of mistletoe: viscotoxin and lectins. Viscotoxins are cytotoxic to cell membranes and cytoskeleton, meaning that they have direct action in killing cancer cells. There are many herbs that do the same thing, some of which some modern chemotherapy agents are derived from. These latter herbs we also use in either oral or rectal suppositories during the course of treatment, depending on you and your cancer.

Lectins are another part of Helixor mistletoe preparations, and these constituents have a number of qualities, including:

  • Inhibiting angiogenesis, or the capacity of a cancer to make new blood vessels so it can spread * Inducing apoptosis, or natural cell death of cancer cells
  • Inhibiting protein synthesis in cancer cells
  • Reduction of platelet aggregation, and also reducing cancer extravasation or spread outside of the local area where the cancer has grown
  • Modulating the immune system, meaning that it stimulates macrophages, T lymphocytes, and NK (natural killer T cells).
  • Palliative effects, meaning it improves quality of life in many cancer patients.

Mistletoe can be administered under the skin or by IV. Which form is prescribed for a patient depends upon many factors that are discussed when you have your consultations.

Other areas of positive mistletoe activity in cancer:

  • Reduces side effects of chemo and radiation
  • Slows immune suppression by chemotherapy
  • Helps prevent low white blood count from chemotherapy
  • Helps prevent or treat anemia or nausea from chemotherapy
  • Reduces pain

If you are interested in this often effective form of integrative cancer therapy, please let us know. We often include this effective therapy in our pateint’s programa.

Robert Zieve, M.D.

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