Alternative medicine has known it for ages, and now conventional medicine agrees—mistletoe can combat cancer.
Mistletoe extract, known as Helixor M, has slowed or stopped the spread of cancer in 21 patients with advanced and treatment-resistant cancers.
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Centre gave the patients 600 mg of mistletoe three times a week intravenously. After 15 weeks of treatment, the cancers had stabilised in five patients, and tumors decreased in size in three other patients, and remained stable for up to five months after treatment had stopped. All the patients reported an overall improvement in quality of life, and the only side effects were fatigue, nausea and chills.
Mistletoe has active ingredients that kill tumour cells and stimulate an immune response. Although it has not been evaluated in clinical trials, it has been used by European complementary therapists in association with chemotherapy in Europe, the researchers say. The US’s drug regulator, the Food and Drug Administration, has not approved mistletoe as a cancer therapy.
The trials are classified as Phase I, and the researchers are planning to move on to Phase II trials where they plan to use mistletoe with chemotherapy.