The Wellness Library

What is Viscum Album Extract (Mistletoe) & How Does it Support Cancer Care

by | Dec 14, 2023 | Cancer Care

Did you know about the fascinating world of Viscum Album Extract (VAE), also known as mistletoe. While mistletoe may bring to mind festive holiday traditions, it holds an entirely different significance in the realm of medicine, particularly in cancer care. So, let’s unwrap the mystery and discover what this intriguing plant has to offer. 

Meet Mistletoe: More Than Just a Seasonal Ornament 

Before we dive into the therapeutic potential of mistletoe, let’s get to know this intriguing plant a bit better. Mistletoe is not just a decorative plant used during the holiday season; it’s a fascinating parasitic plant that attaches itself to the above-ground parts of various trees. Much like tumors in our bodies, mistletoe infiltrates and grows alongside its host tree. 

A Multifaceted Herb with Global Uses 

Mistletoe isn’t a one-size-fits-all plant; there are various species, each associated with the tree it grows on. It has been used for centuries in different parts of the world for a variety of purposes. While mistletoe is famous for its role in cancer care, it’s also employed to treat conditions such as hypertension and rheumatic joint diseases in other regions. 

The Role of Mistletoe in Cancer Care 

One of the most well-known uses of mistletoe is as an adjunct to cancer care. It’s essential to note that mistletoe therapy is typically reserved for late-stage and terminal cancer patients when other treatment options have been exhausted. Mistletoe is believed to be particularly helpful due to its immune-modulating properties. 

Unpacking Mistletoe’s Immune-Boosting Powers 

Mistletoe acts as an immune modulator, meaning it can influence the way our immune system functions. It helps the immune system mount a more effective response against cancer cells and reduces inflammation. Research has shown promising results in breast cancer, with mistletoe therapy improving survival time, quality of life, and remission rates, and reducing adverse reactions to conventional treatments. 

For instance, a study published in the Journal of Cancer Research and Therapeutics found that breast cancer patients receiving mistletoe therapy alongside conventional treatments experienced a 20% increase in survival time compared to those who didn’t receive mistletoe therapy. 

Hope for Pancreatic Cancer Patients 

Pancreatic cancer is notoriously challenging to treat, but mistletoe therapy has shown promise here too. Patients have reported significant improvements in pain management, appetite restoration, alleviation of insomnia, and overall survival time while using mistletoe therapy alongside their conventional treatments. 

Understanding the Limitations 

While mistletoe therapy offers hope, it’s important to be aware of its limitations. One potential

side effect of immune modulation is fever, and in severe cases, swelling in the brain can occur. For this reason, mistletoe therapy is avoided if there are brain metastases present. Regular imaging via CT scan, PET scan, or MRI is crucial to assess eligibility for VAE and monitor tumor size and progression. 

Consultation is Key 

Before embarking on mistletoe therapy, it’s imperative to consult with a medical oncologist. VAE is not suitable for pregnant patients, and only a qualified medical professional can determine if this therapy is the right fit for an individual’s unique situation. 

In closing, mistletoe isn’t just a festive decoration; it’s a plant with significant potential in cancer care. Its immune-modulating properties offer hope to late-stage and terminal cancer patients. However, it’s essential to navigate this path under the guidance of a knowledgeable medical team. 

Remember, knowledge is power, and being informed about your treatment options empowers you to make the best decisions for your health. If you or a loved one are considering mistletoe therapy, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider for more information and guidance. Here’s to the pursuit of hope and healing on your journey to wellness!

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