Mistletoe (viscum album) is a popular herb to have around the house during the holidays though usually people are using it as an excuse for a kiss, not a medicine. Medicinal use of mistletoe has been around for hundreds of years but has to be used carefully because pure mistletoe can be extremely toxic. I have been using mistletoe clinically for years but not to necessarily promote a more romantic lifestyle. Mistletoe extracts can be used to help fight one of our most feared diseases – CANCER.
Cancer is often thought of as an evil invader of the body. It isn’t. It is a breakdown in the normal regulation of cell growth and maturity. The interesting thing about cancer cells that makes them so dangerous is that cancer cells outcompete our normal cells. This allows them to monopolize energy and space. It is these effects that makes cancer so dangerous but also what makes it hard to treat. Finding therapies that can isolate cancer cells while preserving normal cells is difficult, they are after all both your cells.
In my approach to cancer therapy I look to not just killing cancer cells but also treatments that support the immune system. The immune system can differentiate cancer cells from normal cells in many cases. It is the immune system that needs to be supported to really help a patient survive not just cancer but cancer therapy. Most cancer therapies target rapidly dividing cells, including those of the immune system. It is a delicate balance with these therapies between help and harm. One of the things I look to do with patients is help to swing the balance towards help and to do this I use special extracts of mistletoe that stimulate and support the immune system. Studies have shown that mistletoe extracts can help to stimulate Natural Killer cells (NK cells) and reduce the metastasis of cancer cells.
This is important to prevent the spread of cancer and speed up the destruction of existing cancer. This is effect is especially important in patients who are receiving surgery to manage a cancer as surgery can reduce NK cell activity in cancer patients. Infusing a patient with mistletoe peri-operatively can reduce the NK cell suppression
As it is always difficult to measure the exact mechanism of the therapy, especially when the mechanism of disease is not fully understood, it is often helpful to simply assess outcomes. In the case of cancer, without being too morbid, the target outcome is survival. A study done in conjunction with the United Nations at the European Center for Peace and Development (what a great name), looking at over 10,000 cancer patients showed that patients who used mistletoe extracts had on average a 40% longer survival than those who did not. This is a very strong finding and is probably the reason that mistletoe, although regarded as complementary medicine, is the number one cancer treatment used in Germany.
Helping the body to fight disease is our mandate at Markham Integrative Medicine. It is through the use and understanding of substances like mistletoe that support the healing powers of the body that we are able to get results with patients and have them referring their friends and families; our greatest compliment.
Dr. Beatty practices Naturopathic Medicine at Markham Integrative Medicine. Consultation with Dr. Beatty can be arranged by phoning (905)294-2335, or by completing the contact form located on our website: https://integrative-medicine.ca/book-your-appointment.html