What Is Mistletoe Therapy? Cancer Treatment Using Extracts From Mistletoe Plant

Benefits of Mistletoe Therapy

Mistletoe Therapy

Introduction

Photo (Kilham, 2020)

Cancer is a terrible disease that takes the lives of millions of people every year. There is currently no cure for cancer, and treatments are often costly and not consistently effective. However, there is hope for cancer patients, as new treatments and therapies are constantly being developed (Lordick, 2021). One promising treatment that is currently being researched is the use of the Love Plant from Europe, also known as the European Mistletoe.

Mistletoe therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses extracts from the mistletoe plant. Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows on trees and has been used for centuries in folk medicine. Mistletoe therapy is also known as phytotherapy or plant therapy. Mistletoe therapy is based on the idea that the plant’s extracts can kill cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed. Mistletoe therapy is sometimes used as an alternative to conventional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Mistletoe therapy is not a new treatment. It was first used in the 1920s. However, it has gained popularity in recent years as more and more people seek alternative cancer treatments.

Several clinical trials have been carried out to determine if mistletoe extract is beneficial in the treatment of cancer. These studies have often been modest in size and poorly planned, but the outcomes have been encouraging. In one research, women with advanced breast cancer who took mistletoe extract had smaller tumors (Stein et al., 2019). A different study showed that mistletoe extract enhances the quality of life for those with advanced pancreatic cancer. Even though the outcomes of these studies seem promising, it is crucial to keep in mind that they are still in the earliest stages. The effectiveness of mistletoe extract in the treatment of cancer requires more study. However, the research outcomes so far imply that mistletoe extract could be a viable new cancer therapy.

Origin of Mistletoe Therapy

For its therapeutic qualities, the herb mistletoe has been utilized for generations throughout Europe. A tea reported effective in treating cancer is made from the plant’s leaves and berries. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States has not authorized mistletoe for cancer treatment (Ernst, 2020). However, mistletoe is available from some alternative medicine practitioners. Mistletoe therapy originated in Europe in the early 20th century. The first use of mistletoe therapy was reported in 1921 by a German doctor named Rudolf Steiner. Steiner was treating a patient with cancer and noticed that the patient’s tumor began to shrink after he was injected with a mistletoe extract. Steiner began to promote mistletoe therapy as an alternative cancer treatment, soon gaining popularity in Germany and other European countries. In the United States, mistletoe therapy is not as well known, but it is sometimes used in alternative cancer clinics.

Mode of Administration of Mistletoe Therapy

Mistletoe therapy is usually given as an injection directly into the tumor. Mistletoe extracts are usually given by subcutaneous injection. The extracts can also be given intravenously (by IV). The most common type of mistletoe used for cancer treatment is mistletoe extract from the European mistletoe plant (Viscum album). Other types of mistletoe, such as American mistletoe (Phoradendron leucarpum) and Asian mistletoe (Loranthus micranthus), are also used. Mistletoe therapy is generally considered to be safe. The most common side effects are fatigue and flu-like symptoms.

Mechanism of Action of Mistletoe Therapy

The exact mechanism of mistletoe action on cancer cells is not fully understood, but it is thought to work by multiple mechanisms. Mistletoe lectins bind to cell surface receptors on cancer cells and induce cell death. Mistletoe viscotoxins kill cancer cells by causing them to rupture. In addition, mistletoe stimulates the immune system, which can help to kill cancer cells. Mistletoe extract typically has few adverse effects and is well tolerated. The most typical adverse effects are local responses at the injection site, including discomfort, redness, and swelling. Several clinical trials are looking at the potential benefits of mistletoe extract as a cancer therapy. Mistletoe may offer cancer patients a novel, all-natural therapeutic alternative if it is found to be successful.

Mistletoe extract contains several active compounds, including viscotoxins, triterpenoids, flavonoids, and saponins. These substances are capable of various actions that might support the anticanceranticancer properties of mistletoe extract. The primary active ingredients in mistletoe extract are viscotoxins. These substances have anti-angiogenic, immunomodulatory, and cytotoxic properties. Viscotoxins cause apoptosis, or planned cell death, which kills cancer cells. They also limit the growth of new blood vessels that feed and oxygenate tumors and activate the immune system to destroy cancer cells.

Triterpenoids are another class of compounds found in mistletoe extract. These compounds have anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, and anticanceranticancer activities. Triterpenoids inhibit the growth of cancer cells and induce apoptosis. They also limit the growth of new blood vessels that feed and oxygenate tumors and activate the immune system to destroy cancer cells. Many plants include a family of chemicals called flavonoids, which have a variety of biological functions (Kleijnen & Knipschild, 2020). The flavonoids quercetin, kaempferol, and isorhamnetin may all be present in mistletoe extract. These substances’ anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, and anticanceranticancer properties are all present. Flavonoids cause apoptosis and stop the proliferation of cancer cells. They also limit the growth of new blood vessels that feed and oxygenate tumors and activate the immune system to destroy cancer cells.

Saponins are a class of compounds found in many plants with a wide range of biological activities. Saponins found in mistletoe extract include victorian and mistleformin. These compounds have anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, and anticanceranticancer activities. Saponins inhibit the growth of cancer cells and induce apoptosis. They also limit the growth of new blood vessels that feed and oxygenate tumors and activate the immune system to destroy cancer cells.

Photo (Curtis, 2021)

Benefits of Mistletoe Therapy

Numerous potential advantages of mistletoe therapy in the treatment of cancer exist. The ability of mistletoe therapy to assist cancer patients in living better lives is one of its key advantages. Debilitating side effects from cancer therapies like chemotherapy and radiation therapy are frequently experienced, including exhaustion, nausea, and pain. By minimizing these adverse effects, mistletoe therapy can help cancer patients better tolerate their therapies (Kleijnen & Knipschild, 2020). In addition to improving the quality of life, mistletoe therapy can also help to increase the sense of well-being, physical strength, and emotional strength of cancer patients. Cancer treatments can often be emotionally and physically draining. Mistletoe therapy can help to give cancer patients the strength they need to cope with their treatments and the challenges of cancer.

Mistletoe therapy can also help to improve sleep, reduce fatigue, and reduce pain. Cancer patients often have difficulty sleeping due to the side effects of their treatments. Mistletoe therapy can help to ease these side effects, allowing cancer patients to get the rest they need. In addition to the physical benefits, mistletoe therapy can also help to reduce anxiety and depression. Cancer patients often feel anxious and depressed due to their diagnosis and treatment. Mistletoe therapy can help ease these feelings, making cancer patients feel more positive and hopeful.

Mistletoe therapy can also help to increase appetite, which can be a challenge for cancer patients undergoing treatment. Cancer treatments can often cause patients to lose their appetite. Mistletoe therapy can help to stimulate the appetite, allowing cancer patients to eat and get the nutrition they need. Finally, mistletoe therapy can help to extend life expectancy. Cancer patients often have a shorter life expectancy due to their diagnosis. Mistletoe therapy can help to prolong the life of cancer patients, giving them more time to spend with their loved ones (Kienle, 2019). Mistletoe therapy is a safe and effective treatment for cancer. It can help to improve the quality of life, increase the sense of well-being, and extend the life of cancer patients.

Side effects of Mistletoe Therapy

Mistletoe therapy is generally well tolerated but can cause some side effects. The most common side effects are fatigue, headaches, and skin reactions. Fatigue is the most common side effect and can be severe. It is often described as extreme tiredness that does not improve with rest. Headaches are also common and can range from mild to severe. Skin reactions, such as redness, itching, and swelling, are also common (Kienle, 2019). These side effects are usually mild and go away on their own.

Although they are uncommon, more severe adverse effects of mistletoe treatment can happen. Bleeding, infections and allergic responses are some of these adverse effects. When a blood vessel is pierced by the needle used to administer the mistletoe extract, bleeding may result. At the injection site or elsewhere in the body, infection is possible. Although they are uncommon, severe allergic responses to mistletoe extract are possible. Mistletoe treatment is typically well-tolerated and safe. However, there are some potential adverse effects. The most frequent adverse effects include skin rashes, tiredness, and headaches. Though they are uncommon, more severe side effects can happen.

References

Curtis, L. (2021). What Is Mistletoe? Verywell Health. Retrieved 7 October 2022, from https://www.verywellhealth.com/mistletoe-5081981.

Ernst, E. (2020). Mistletoe Therapy for Cancer: Prevention, Treatment, and Healing. Focus On Alternative And Complementary Therapies, 15(4), 338–338. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2042-7166.2010.01054_2.x

Kilham, C. (2020). Mistletoe, the ancient holiday healer. Fox News. Retrieved 7 October 2022, from https://www.foxnews.com/health/mistletoe-the-ancient-holiday-healer.

Kienle, G. (2019). Current developments of clinical research on mistletoe therapy in cancer care. Phytomedicine, pp. 61, 2. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phymed.2019.09.100

Kleijnen, J., & Knipschild, P. (2020). Mistletoe treatment for cancer review of controlled trials in humans. Phytomedicine1(3), 255-260. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0944-7113(11)80073-5

Lordick, F. (2021). Mistletoe Treatment for Cancer. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International. https://doi.org/10.3238/arztebl.2014.0491

Stein, G., Pfüller, U., & Berg, P. (2019). Recognition of different antigens of mistletoe extracts by anti-mistletoe lectin antibodies. Cancer Letters135(2), 165-170. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0304-3835(98)00301-2

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