Mistletoe Therapy

Mistletoe Therapy for Cancer Treatment

Mistletoe Therapy for cancer treatment is one of the most widely studied and evidence-based, naturopathic medicines prescribed for cancer patients in Europe. The liquid extract of the Mistletoe plant has been used as an alternative method to treat cancer for almost a century.

Numerous studies have shown Mistletoe Therapy for cancer treatment can enhance cancer patient survival rates, improve quality of life, and reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.

What is Mistletoe

Mistletoe, or Viscum Album, is a plant that attaches itself to trees, such as apple, oak, maple, elm, pine, and birch. It is native to Europe and Western Asia, with medicinal uses dating back to ancient civilizations. The biological extracts from this plant have broad applications in the field of oncology that have demonstrated consistent safety and effectiveness when used with the established treatment protocols for Mistletoe Therapy for Cancer Treatment.

Mistletoe Therapy for cancer treatment can be used in malignant and non-malignant tumors. Mistletoe Therapy stimulates bone marrow activity along with conventional treatments. It can offset the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, such as nausea, vomiting, and lack of appetite. It can also be used to diminish tumor-related pain and to reduce the risk of tumor recurrence.

Can Mistletoe Therapy be a beneficial therapy for my cancer? 

Mistletoe is indicated for all sites and histological cancer types, including all cancer stages, any point in the course of cancer, and as an after-cancer prophylaxis for relapse or secondary cancer.

Does My Oncologist Offer Mistletoe Therapy?

Despite mistletoe’s long track record of clinical use in Europe and several Asian countries, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to consider it in a category of unproven biologic therapies, and it has yet to be fully adopted by Western medicine. However, in 2016 Mistletoe was approved for a large study at the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, where a large cohort of cancer patients is enrolled and given mistletoe alongside conventional treatments. Hopefully, the published results of this study will bring awareness and acceptance of the benefits of this therapy and its broad application across the field of oncology.

Although traditional oncologists cannot currently offer this treatment for cancer patients, naturopathic oncology practitioners, including The Riordan Clinic’s providers can administer this cancer care.

What can I expect when I am treated?

Mistletoe is injected under the skin on the abdomen for most patients. It typically causes some harmless localized inflammation, including swelling, redness, tenderness, and itching, up to the size of a silver dollar. Other side effects can include a temporary rise in body temperature and fatigue. Overall, patients tolerate the treatment very well.

The maintenance treatment is given three times each week. Your first mistletoe injection will be done at The Riordan Clinic so we can demonstrate safe and proper injection techniques, as well as observe you for any allergic reaction. Allergic reactions to subcutaneous mistletoe are extremely rareAll subsequent injections can be administered at home by you or a trained caregiver.

The therapy can also be provided via IV, when appropriate. IV therapy is administered at the Riordan Clinic.

Should I be concerned about any interactions with other drugs I take? 

There are no known interactions, including chemotherapy drugs.

What benefits can I expect from Mistletoe Therapy? 

  • Activation of the immune system and the production of defense cells
  • Stimulation of programmed cell death (apoptosis) in cancer cells and blockage of angiogenesis (new blood supply)
  • Protection and stabilization of the DNA of healthy cells against damage caused by cytostatic drugs, such as chemotherapy
  • Improvement in general well-being
  • Reduced fatigue, particularly during and after chemotherapy
  • Reduced nausea during chemotherapy
  • Improved appetite
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased energy
  • A slight increase in body temperature (many cancer patients have a lower-than-average body temperature and often feel cold)
  • Less sensitivity to pain, so fewer painkillers, and sedatives are needed
  • Patients often report a more positive outlook, more courage, and initiative, and less fear

Are there any special populations that cannot use Mistletoe Therapy? 

Yes. This therapy is not recommended for anyone with an allergy to Mistletoe, or anyone with acute inflammatory disease, autoimmune disease, high fever, pregnancy, Myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis,  or uncontrolled hyperthyroidism.

Can I receive Mistletoe Therapy while receiving other treatments, such as radiation or chemotherapy?

Yes. Mistletoe can help alleviate some of the common side effects of radiation and chemotherapy, such as fatigue, nausea, and difficulty sleeping. Read the above-detailed list of benefits of Mistletoe Therapy.

Have there been clinical studies done on Mistletoe Therapy?

Many of the clinical studies examining mistletoe use in cancer patients have shown improved outcomes, both in conjunction with conventional treatments and as a stand-alone adjuvant therapy. Another compelling benefit, which has been observed in a multitude of clinical trials, is improved quality of life. Among those are fewer or less severe side effects from chemotherapy such as fatigue, depression, nausea, and vomiting as well as improved emotional well-being and concentration. Visit the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Cancer Institute (NCI) to read more about studies examining mistletoe use for cancer patients.

Is Mistletoe Therapy covered by health insurance?

Health insurance does not currently cover this treatment because it is considered alternative medicine. We accept cash, personal checks, money orders, Visa, Master Card, American Express, and Discover.

There is also a program called the Advance Care Card that allows you to apply for credit that you can use for medical expenses at any of our three Riordan Clinic locations. Although this program is not managed by the Riordan Clinic, we have worked closely with their team to make sure that the program is a viable option for co-learners. Several options for financing include an interest-free repayment period.

Additional Resources

  • Website and Videos: “What is Mistletoe” by Believe Big
  • Video: “Mistletoe: A Beneficial Supplement in Integrative Cancer Care” [Part 1] [Part 2]
  • PDQ® Integrative, Alternative, and Complementary Therapies Editorial Board. PDQ Mistletoe Extracts. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Accessed 12/15/2020. [PMID: 26389415]



Mistletoe: A Beneficial Supplement in Integrative Cancer Care

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