Sage Advice Blog

Mistletoe Therapy and Cancer

October 24, 2019

Marisa Soski, ND, MS


Background on Mistletoe Therapy

Now you may be thinking: “Mistletoe, like the one you kiss under on Christmas?” Well, no, not exactly. This mistletoe is a different species whose Latin name is Viscum album (European mistletoe). Mistletoe has been used as medicine since roughly 300 BCE as a cure-all for many conditions. In modern history, mistletoe has become a potent adjunctive anti-cancer therapy. This use was pioneered by Rudolf Steiner in the early 1920’s, before the introduction of chemotherapy and radiation as conventional cancer treatments. It is now produced and used through the medicinal teachings of Steiner, called Anthroposophic Medicine. (To learn more about Anthroposophic Medicine please visit


Mistletoe grows as a semi-parasite on host trees, meaning it needs the tree to grow but does not destroy the host in the process. Host trees include apple, pine, fir, hawthorn, poplar, oak, willow, linden, ash, and elm.


Mistletoe and Cancer

Mistletoe has over 170 biologically active ingredients, including alkaloids (viscotoxins), lectins, glycoproteins, poly- and oligosaccharides, flavonoids, and triterpenes. These active constituents help fight cancer by inhibiting cancer cell protein synthesis, causing cancer cell membranes to become leaky, inducing tumor cell death, modulating the immune system to better recognize cancer cells, inhibiting new blood vessel formation in tumors, and protecting DNA in healthy cells. Mistletoe therapy can be used on its own but has shown more potent results when combined with conventional therapy such as chemotherapy or immunotherapy. It also can be used to prevent recurrence of previously diagnosed and treated cancer.


Mistletoe therapy can also help improve quality of life for cancer patients, including improvement of general well-being, more energy, improved sleep, improved appetite, less pain, better tolerance of conventional therapy side effects, improved mood, and more independence. Although not anticipated, it is important to note that there are some potential side effects including a rise in body temperature, allergic reaction, or local inflammation at the injection site with swelling, redness, tenderness, and itchiness.


How Can You Gain the Benefits of Mistletoe Therapy?

Mistletoe is created as a homeopathic preparation and is approved for oral consumption. For cancer treatment, however, this medicine is used “off label” as either a subcutaneous or intravenous injection. To see if you or a loved one are a good candidate for mistletoe therapy and for physician supervision while receiving treatment, please contact our clinic and meet with one of our providers.


Mistletoe growing in Helixor's teaching garden in Rosenfield, Germany.




  • Kienle GS, Kiene H. 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. 2010;9(2):142:157.
  • Berg PA, Stein GM. Does mistletoe therapy influence the defense of epithelial tumors? A critical immunological analysis: DMW. 2001;126(12):339-345.



DISCLAIMER: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. There are no financial ties to any supplement companies, pharmaceutical companies, or to any of the products mentioned in this post. This post is not meant to treat, cure, prevent, or diagnose conditions or diseases and is meant for educational purposes. As always, please consult your doctor before trying any new treatments or supplements.



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