EUROPEAN MISTLETOE Overview Information
European mistletoe is a plant that grows on several different trees. The berries, leaf, and stem of European mistletoe are used to make medicine.
Interest in mistletoe for cancer has grown in North America, ever since Suzanne Somers announced on Larry King Live that she is using it to treat her breast cancer. European mistletoe has been used for treating cancer since the 1920s, especially in Europe. Several brand name mistletoe extracts are available there: Iscador, Eurixor, Helixor, Isorel, Vysorel, and ABNOBAviscum. So far these products are not readily available in North America. There is no proof they work for breast or other cancers. Avoid these products and stick with proven cancer treatments.
European mistletoe is also used for heart and blood vessel conditions including high blood pressure, “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis), internal bleeding, and hemorrhoids; epilepsy and infantile convulsions; gout; psychiatric conditions such as depression; sleep disorders; headache; absence of menstrual periods; symptoms of menopause; and for "blood purifying."
Some people use European mistletoe for treating mental and physical exhaustion; to reduce side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy; as a tranquilizer; and for treating whooping cough, asthma, dizziness, diarrhea, chorea, and liver and gallbladder conditions.
European mistletoe injections are used for cancer and for failing joints.
How does it work?
European mistletoe has several active chemicals. It might stimulate the immune system and kill certain cancer cells in a test tube, but it doesn't seem to work in people.
Possibly Ineffective for:
- Head and neck cancer. Combining European mistletoe extract with surgery or radiation for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma doesn't improve survival.
- Pancreatic cancer. European mistletoe extract does not seem to significantly improve rates of partial or complete remission in patients with advanced (stage IV) pancreatic cancer.
- Cancer of the breast, colon, and stomach. Early research suggests that a specific European mistletoe extract (Iscador, Weleda, Germany) given by injection might improve survival in patients with solid tumors of the breast, colon, or stomach. But these results have been questioned because the study wasn’t designed well. So far, there isn't enough reliable evidence to support using European mistletoe for any type of cancer. Stick to proven treatments.
- Bladder cancer. Some evidence suggests that administering a specific European mistletoe extract placed into the bladder for 6 weeks might reduce bladder cancer recurrence rates in certain patients.
- Hepatitis C. Injecting a water-based extract of European mistletoe may help to fight the viral infection that causes hepatitis C and improve quality of life in some people.
- Reducing the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
- High blood pressure.
- Internal bleeding.
- High cholesterol.
- Sleep disorders.
- Menstrual disorders.
- Other conditions.
EUROPEAN MISTLETOE Side Effects & Safety
European mistletoe is POSSIBLY SAFE when used in appropriate amounts. Taking three berries or two leaves or less by mouth does not seem to cause serious side effects, but larger amounts can be unsafe and cause serious side effects. European mistletoe can cause vomiting, diarrhea, cramping, and other side effects.
Some people inject European mistletoe products. This can cause fever, chills, allergic reactions, and other side effects.
Because the correct amount is sometimes hard to determine, do not take European mistletoe without the advice of your healthcare professional.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: European mistletoe is UNSAFE to use, either by mouth or by injection, during pregnancy. It might stimulate the uterus and cause a miscarriage.
Not enough is known about the safety of using European mistletoe during breast-feeding. It’s best to avoid using it.
“Auto-immune diseases” such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions: European mistletoe might cause the immune system to become more active, and this could increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. If you have one of these conditions, it’s best to avoid using European mistletoe.
Heart disease: There is some evidence European mistletoe might make heart disease worse. Don’t use it if you have a heart problem.
Leukemia: Some test tube studies suggested European mistletoe might be effective against childhood leukemia. But benefits have not been shown in people. In fact, European mistletoe might make leukemia worse. If you have leukemia, don’t take European mistletoe.
Organ transplant: European mistletoe might make the immune system more active. This would be a problem for people who have received an organ transplant. A more active immune system might increase the risk of organ rejection. If you have had an organ transplant, avoid European mistletoe.
Surgery: European mistletoe might affect blood pressure. There is a concern that it might interfere with blood pressure control during and after surgery. Stop taking European mistletoe at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination
- Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs) interacts with EUROPEAN MISTLETOE
European mistletoe seems to decrease blood pressure. Taking European mistletoe along with medications for high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low.
Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), Amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDiuril), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.
- Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants) interacts with EUROPEAN MISTLETOE
European mistletoe seems to increase the immune system. By increasing the immune system European mistletoe might decrease the effectiveness of medications that decrease the immune system.
Some medications that decrease the immune system include azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax), muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf), sirolimus (Rapamune), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone), corticosteroids (glucocorticoids), and others.
EUROPEAN MISTLETOE Dosing
The appropriate dose of European mistletoe depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for European mistletoe. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.