Mistletoe (generic name)

treats Hepatitis, Arthritis, Respiratory disease, HIV, Immunomodulation, and Cancer
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Evidence

DISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Arthritis: One retrospective case study documented potential benefits of mistletoe extract injection in the management of arthritis. Further research is needed before recommending for or against the use of mistletoe in the treatment of this condition, for which other more proven treatments are available.
Grade: C

Cancer: Mistletoe is one of the most widely used unconventional cancer treatments in Europe. Extracts have been studied for many types of human cancers, including bladder, breast, cervical, CNS, colorectal, head and neck, liver, lung, lymphatic, ovarian, and kidney cancers, as well as melanoma and leukemia. However, mistletoe has not been proven to be effective for any one type of cancer. Larger, well-designed studies are needed before mistletoe can be recommended for cancer patients.
Grade: C

Hepatitis: In a preliminary description in 1997, some patients achieved complete elimination of the virus after treatment withViscum albumalthough these studies were not well designed. A small exploratory trial investigated the effects of mistletoe on liver function, reduction of viral load and inflammation, and maintenance of quality of life by the immunomodulatory and/or cytotoxic actions of mistletoe extracts but little effect was seen. Larger, well-designed clinical trials are needed to resolve this conflicting data.
Grade: C

HIV: Treatment of HIV patients with mistletoe has been done in Europe since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic based on proposed immunomodulatory effects. Treatment seems to be tolerable with minimal side effects reported. Mistletoe may assist in inhibiting progression but not all mistletoe preparations have shown equal effects. Further study is needed before a recommendation can be made.
Grade: C

Immunomodulation: A few small trials found mistletoe to be promising as an immunostimulant in individuals with the common cold. Further study is needed to confirm these results.
Grade: C

Respiratory disease (recurrent): Studies of Iscador® (conducted by the same authors) document improved clinical symptoms and markers of immune function in children with recurrent respiratory disease (RRD) exposed to the Chernobyl nuclear accident. There is insufficient evidence to recommend for or against mistletoe therapy for RDD in general.
Grade: C

Tradition

WARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

Dosing

Adults (over 18 years old)

Traditionally, tea has been made with mistletoe leaves, hawthorn leaves and flowers, and lemon balm leaves in equal parts. Two cups daily has been prepared by infusing 2 teaspoons of the mixture for 5-10 minutes. Cold water infusions, dried aqueous extracts, and fluid extracts (1:1 in 25% alcohol) have been taken by mouth.

Mistletoe has been studied in multiple injectable regimens (intravenous, subcutaneous, intrapleural) and given by a healthcare provider in a controlled setting. Sometimes therapy includes an induction phase and a maintenance phase. Mistletoe should only be given by a qualified healthcare professional. No standard dose can be recommended at this time. Further research is needed as there are many potential side effects and interactions.

Children (under 18 years old)

Mistletoe has been studied in children for respiratory infections. Further research is needed before a recommendation can be made.

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