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Mistletoe (Viscum album L.)

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • ABNOBAviscum®, Abnovaviscum® Quercus (AQ), all-heal, American mistletoe, Australian mistletoe, avuscumine, birdlime mistletoe, bird's lime, devil's fuge, Drudenfuss (German), Eurixor®, European mistletoe, folia visci, galactoside-specific lectin, golden bough, Helixor®, herbe de qui (French), Hexenbesen (German), Iscador® QuFrF, Iscador® Qu spezial, Isorel®, Leimmistel (German), Lektinol®, Lignum crusis (Latin), Loranthaceae (family), Mistelkraut (German), Mistelsenker (German), Misteltein (German), mistletoe extract PS76A2, mistletoe lectin (ML), mistletoe of the apple tree (Malus), mistletoe of the fir (Abies), mistletoe of the pine (Pinus), mistrel, ML-1, mystyldene, Phoradendron flavescens (Pursh.) Nuttal, Phoradendron leucarpum, Phoradendron macrophyllum, Phoradendron serotinum (Raf.), Phoradendron tomentosum (DC) (American mistletoe), Plenosol®, Stripites Visci, tallo de muérdago (Spanish), VaQuFrF, vischio (Italian), visci, Visci albi folia, Visci albi fructus, Visci albi herba, Visci albi stipites, viscum, Viscum abietis, Viscum album coloratum (Korean mistletoe), Viscus album quercus frischsaft [QuFrF], Viscum austriacum, Viscum fraxini-2, viscumin, Vogelmistel (German), Vysorel®, white mistletoe.
  • Combination product example: Iscador® (motherwort, kelp, wild lettuce, skullcap, and mistletoe), SyvimanN® (mistletoe and comfrey).

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Once considered a sacred herb in Celtic tradition, mistletoe has been used for centuries for conditions as diverse as high blood pressure, epilepsy, exhaustion, anxiety, arthritis, vertigo (dizziness), and degenerative inflammation of the joints.
  • Two major types of mistletoe, European (Viscum album) and American (Phoradendron leucarpum), contain very similar proteins but are reputed to have different uses. European mistletoe is used for cancer, reducing side effects of cancer therapy, reducing blood pressure, and acting as an antispasmodic and calmative agent. Meanwhile, American mistletoe, the mistletoe of Christmas, is believed to stimulate smooth muscles, increase blood pressure, and trigger uterine and intestinal contractions. However, there is little research to substantiate any of these claims.
  • Beginning in the early 20th Century, European mistletoe came into practice in Europe as an anticancer therapy, and this is the most promising potential use today. The anticancer properties may be related to the immunostimulatory and cytotoxic effects of mistletoe, but there is still insufficient clinical evidence to consider it a proven cancer therapy.
  • Raw American and European mistletoe berries and plants are toxic. In European countries where injectable mistletoe is available, it is considered safe when administered under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

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 provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough 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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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.