Mistletoe is a widely used therapy in Europe to treat cancer. Research shows that mistletoe extracts may stimulate the immune system to fight cancer.

by Dr. Andrew Dickens, NMD

Mistletoe is a small evergreen shrub that is semi-parasitic on other plants. Instead of producing roots in the ground, mistletoe sends out root like structures into tree branches. It has had a significant role in herbal medicine for thousands of years. It started to gain attention as a chemotherapeutic agent in the 1920s.

Today, mistletoe is a widely used therapy in Europe to treat cancer. Research shows that mistletoe extracts may stimulate the immune system to fight cancer. Mistletoe extracts have been evaluated in numerous clinical studies and improvements in survival, quality of life, and/or stimulation of the immune system have been frequently reported.[1]

Three components of mistletoe – lectins, alkaloids, and viscotoxins – are thought to be responsible for its mechanism of action.

Because this natural botanical is not patentable, it met with resistance in U.S. mainstream medicine. The FDA has not approved mistletoe as a treatment for any medical condition. However, consumer demand has prompted Johns Hopkins University to study mistletoe as a cancer treatment. Mistletoe is allowed at this time by compassionate use in the U.S. Mistletoe extracts can be ordered from suppliers in North America and Europe.

Clinical Trials for Cancer

Thanks to a stage IV colon cancer survivor named Ivelisse Page, the mainstream attention and studies we would like to see are coming. Ms. Page had several surgeries, after which her doctors recommended that she start chemotherapy. But she researched and decided to use mistletoe therapy instead. She received daily injections of mistletoe, thymus, other homeopathic remedies, and lives today cancer-free.

In 2011, Page founded Believe Big, a nonprofit foundation that helps cancer patients. Thanks in great part to her efforts, the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center began clinical trials on mistletoe in 2016. Their phase I study is intended to provide information on safety, side effects, and dosing.

The Believe Big organization is continuing to push for FDA approval, which would allow cancer institutes to offer mistletoe therapy as a standard cancer treatment.

Click to read more about The Johns Hopkins trial

Click to read more about Ivelisse Page and the Believe Big organization

Click to read comments from the lead investigator of the John Hopkins Trial

This is a most unusual collaboration between John Hopkins and an organization representing patients – usually the second party to such a collaboration is a pharmaceutical company. This effort is being largely funded through public donations to Believe Big.

[1] https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/hp/mistletoe-pdq#section/_35