Natural Standard Monograph, Copyright © 2014 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified health care professional before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
Uses based on scientific evidence
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 professional.
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.
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, central nervous system (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.
In a preliminary description in 1997, some patients achieved complete elimination of the virus after treatment with Viscum album although 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.
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.
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.
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.
*Key to grades:
A: Strong scientific evidence for this use;B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use;D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work);F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
For full grading rationale, click here.
Uses based on tradition or theory
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. 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 health care professional
Abortion, abscesses, amenorrhea (lack of menstrual period), anxiety, arteriosclerosis, asthma, bleeding problems, blood disorders (malignant hematologic disease), chorea, circulatory disorders, constipation, convulsions (infantile), degenerative joint disease/osteoarthritis, depression, diarrhea, dizziness, epilepsy, exhaustion, gallbladder disorders, gallstones, gastrointestinal disorders, gout, headaches, heart conditions, hemorrhoids, high blood pressure, hysteria, increased muscle mass (hypertonia), indigestion, infertility, jaundice, labor induction, liver disorders, low blood pressure, lymphatic disorders (malignant lymphatic disease), osteoporosis, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), skin conditions, sleep disorders, tachycardia, tranquilizer, ulcers, urinary disorders, varicose veins, vascular disorders, venous congestion, whooping cough.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare professional before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare professional immediately if you experience side effects.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare professional before starting a new therapy.
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
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