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Research seed: Mistletoe

In this article, we discuss the “Impact of complementary mistletoe extract treatment on quality of life in breast, ovarian and non-small cell lung cancer patients: A prospective randomized controlled clinical trial

Mistletoe research seed
Mistletoe (Viscum album)

Plant name and species

Mistletoe (Viscum album)

Aim of study

The aim of this study was to see the efficacy, safety and side effects of a standardized mistletoe extract when given alongside chemotherapy treatment.

Study method

A total of 224 patients were involved in the study, and they either had breast, ovarian or non-small cell lung cancer.  A total of 115 were treated with mistletoe and 109 were treated with the approved immunomodulating phytopharmacon Lentinan. The mistletoe extract used was a standardised mistletoe extract (sME) called HELIXOR®. 

Different questionnaires such as FLIC (Functional Living Index-Cancer), TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine Index) and the KPI (Karnofsky Performance Index) were used to assess if the medicine helped people compared to Lentinan treatment.

Results of study

The study showed that quality of life was significantly improved for patients taking sME. Additionally, the occurrence of adverse was less frequent in the group having mistletoe ( 52 versus 90 and number of serious adverse events being 5 versus 10) which were due mostly to chemotherapy.

Discussion

Approval of this study was based on previous pharmacological, pharmacokinetical and pharmatoxicological investigations. A total of 7 patients developed a mild local inflammatory reaction at the site of injection, with 4 also having fever but the reactions were harmless overall. The administration of mistletoe via an injection does not adhere to traditional herbalist treatments. However, the nature of the active compounds that have these therapeutic effects (viscotoxins) means that they are not very bioavailable when swallowed so injections are best. Interestingly there are mistletoe clinics where when can access efficacious treatment safely, and more can be read about this herb and these clinics in our mistletoe monograph.

Conclusion

Mistletoe extract when injected could potentially be used to support patients with cancer to alleviate side effects and improve quality of life.

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