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Mistletoe therapy is a form of treatment in naturopathy that is nowadays often used as an adjunct to alternative medical cancer therapy. Mistletoe used to be a magical plant. It is said that druids only cut the mistletoe with golden sickles and were extremely careful not to drop the plant because it would allegedly lose its effectiveness. The magic of mistletoe has something to do with its very special type of growth.
It is a half parasite, which means that in order to grow it needs a host tree. These include linden, poplar, apple trees, fir and robinia. These trees can suffer quite a bit, and may even die. The roots of mistletoe dig deep into the wood of the tree and in this way suck nutrients and water from the host. The mistletoe is green even in winter and has small, whitish flowers in late February that have a delicate orange scent. The light green branches of the mistletoe branch more and more and take the form of a sphere as they grow. The mistletoe is a slightly poisonous plant and must not be picked in Germany as it is a protected plant species.
Medical use of mistletoe
Mistletoe was once venerated as a magical panacea and even today Christmas bouquets of mistletoe are hung over the front door in some places to protect the house from the negative. A happy life is predicted for a couple kissing under a mistletoe bouquet.
Medicinally, Hildegard von Bingen used mistletoe to freeze the limbs. At Sebastian Kneipp, mistletoe was used to stop bleeding. Epileptics have long been recommended to wear a branch of mistletoe because it should protect them from “falling down”. Today, Viscum album, the Latin name for mistletoe, is mainly used to treat high blood pressure and to treat or treat cancer. However, the spectrum of action of the plant is much larger. It has a versatile hemostatic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and toning (generally strengthening) effect. Mistletoe can also be helpful in the treatment of arteriosclerosis, headache, heart failure and menopausal symptoms.
The leaves and branches of the mistletoe are used. In order to prepare it as tea, the plant parts must be processed as cold extracts. With the cold extraction method, the slightly toxic substances are released from the plant and the tea can then be drunk. Mistletoe is usually used externally, for example in varicose veins, ulcers or eczema, with envelopes and in the form of baths. Mistletoe is also used in cancer therapy in a specially anthroposophically homeopathic or phytotherapeutic preparation.
Ingredients of mistletoe
The mistletoe contains around 600 different proteins, depending on the host tree. The most important proteins are the so-called mistletoe lectins. These occur in at least twenty different compositions in the total extract of a mistletoe. The second most important proteins are the viscotoxins. Mistletoe contains about a thousand different enzymes, plus fats, flavonoids, as well as plenty of potassium and phosphate. The processing of the mistletoe plant depends on the parts used, the time of harvest, the host tree and the fact whether it is a female or male plant. The effect that mistletoe therapy uses to treat cancer only develops through injection. Other effects are achieved with oral administration, since many compounds of mistletoe are broken down in the digestive tract.
Effect of mistletoe in cancer therapy
Mistletoe is the best scientifically investigated plant for cancer therapy. However, the use of mistletoe therapy is still controversial to this day.
According to the approach of mistletoe therapy, the administration of mistletoe preparations by injection results in an immunomodulatory effect in the patient. Mistletoe extracts are said to strengthen the immune system, improve the quality of life and reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and / or radiation therapy. The mistletoe preparations are also said to stimulate programmed cell death in the malignant tumors and thus curb its growth. Mistletoe therapy is also said to help patients regain their normal appetite. The medicinal plant is also generally considered to lighten the mood.
Cancer therapy with mistletoe treatment
Mistletoe therapy for cancer has its origins in anthroposophy. Mistletoe was used as a medicinal plant in cancer treatment more than 85 years ago. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy, discovered mistletoe for use against cancer. According to anthroposophy, man consists of four bodies. Whereby only the physical body is visible. The other three bodies exist as an aura, in three different colors, around the physical body. According to Steiner's teaching, cancer is an imbalance between these four bodies that needs to be treated. This is where mistletoe therapy comes in. Anthroposophical theory says that mistletoe drains energy from the host tree and should therefore also rob the tumor of life.
Mistletoe therapy is now one of the standard therapies for biological cancer defense. Depending on the manufacturer, the mistletoe preparations used in the therapy also differ. Different extraction processes, mixing ratios of the ingredients and addition of, for example, silver or copper, lead to different products. Each type of cancer requires different mistletoe therapy. The host tree plays an important role in this.
In anthroposophy, mistletoe therapy is not a single medication, but is part of an overall treatment concept that is created individually for each patient.
Different mistletoe, i.e. from different host trees, are used for the production of anthroposophical mistletoe preparations. This can also be seen in the name of the preparations. For example, an M in the name means apple tree, which comes from the Latin term malus = apple tree. The mistletoe is collected separately for each harvest season and differentiated into female and male plants, and subjected to different processes and types of treatment depending on the manufacturer.
Since the anthroposophical ideas do not coincide with the natural sciences, the application is still very controversial.
Application of mistletoe therapy
In Germany, various mistletoe preparations are available for therapy, some come from anthroposophy, the others are assigned to phytotherapy. Mistletoe therapy can be used for almost every tumor. This happens especially in the form of an injection, which is usually administered subcutaneously (under the skin). However, some doctors also use the mistletoe preparations as an infusion.
Start with a very low dose and slowly increase it until you see redness at the puncture site. The redness is a sign of the body's reaction to the mistletoe extract and is therefore desirable. Depending on the size of the redness, the last dose used is maintained, increased or decreased. It may also be necessary to switch to another preparation with the mistletoe from another host tree. The first injection is usually carried out by a doctor in order to be able to intervene immediately, depending on the patient's reaction. For each mistletoe therapy, an individual plan is tailored to the patient. The choice of a suitable mistletoe preparation depends on the type of disease and also on the experience of the doctor.
Mistletoe therapy is often started before chemotherapy or radiation begins. This is to ensure that the patient survives conventional medical treatment more easily or with fewer side effects. However, injections on the day of chemotherapy or radiation are not recommended. Likewise, it should never be injected directly into the area to be irradiated.
If the patient gets an infection, the mistletoe therapy is interrupted until the infection has subsided.
Side effects with mistletoe therapy
Mistletoe therapy is usually well tolerated. Slight redness and swelling are, however, possible reactions. Flu-like symptoms can also occasionally occur. These can usually be influenced by changing the dose. Allergy rarely occurs. It is important that every reaction of the organism to the mistletoe therapy is communicated to the attending doctor so that the therapy is successful or can be discontinued or adjusted immediately if there are intolerances.
During the injection, small hardenings can occur if the needle is set too low and the agent has penetrated into the subcutaneous fat. From here, the liquid administered cannot distribute itself correctly. However, these small knots heal, at the latest after a few weeks. Redness that persists for more than two days is a sign that the amount of mistletoe extract has been selected too high or incorrectly injected.
Mistletoe in phytotherapy
Mistletoe preparations, which are used in Germany for cancer treatment, can also be used as phytotherapeutics with a standardized content of isolated mistletoe lectin, which enables exact dosing. When used for mistletoe therapy, these agents are diluted with physiological saline before the first injection in order to test their tolerance. If there is no or very little redness in the area of the injection, the treatment is started in a predetermined concentration. However, if the local reaction is more violent, the agent is diluted further or switched to another preparation. Poplar mistletoe is used almost exclusively for the phytotherapeutic mistletoe preparations.
Important information about mistletoe therapy
Mistletoe therapy can be started before surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy, immediately after the diagnosis. The mistletoe extracts strengthen the immune system, strengthen the organism and prepare the body for the upcoming conventional medical therapy. Before the mistletoe therapy, the blood values should be checked and then checked at recurring intervals. Continuing mistletoe therapy during chemotherapy or radiation therapy is also advantageous, but should not be injected into the area to be irradiated on the same day and not directly. Even if the body has already metastasized, mistletoe therapy can be used. Mistletoe therapy often returns to appetite, the patient no longer loses weight and sleep quality increases.
Again and again there is a question about the possible use of mistletoe therapy for lymphoma. Oncologists who oppose mistletoe therapy reject this. However, there are no results that speak against mistletoe therapy in this case. However, it is important that the treatment of lymphoma is carried out and monitored by a specialist doctor. In general, this biological cancer therapy should only be carried out under the care of an experienced doctor. The Society of Anthroposophic Doctors in Germany offers an overview of the doctors who are eligible for this.
Mistletoe therapy is usually carried out over a longer period of time, depending on the illness, possibly for years. The attending physician must also have the simultaneous use with other immunomodulating substances, such as the thymus extract, clarified, as there are still no research results on possible interactions with other biological agents.
Which mistletoe preparation is used as part of the therapy depends on the illness and the experience of the doctor. In this case, "the right remedy" does not exist. The claim that mistletoe therapy can promote tumor growth is repeatedly discussed, but there is no scientific evidence to support this.
Health insurers cover the costs
The statutory health insurance funds can cover the costs of mistletoe therapy, but are not obliged to do so. Most private health insurance companies cover the costs in full and at any time of cancer.
Mistletoe preparation must be injected
Mistletoe therapy is carried out by injecting the preparations under the skin, since these would be digested and almost ineffective if used orally. Children are an exception. Mistletoe drops are sometimes used here. In children, the mucous membranes are still extremely permeable and the mistletoe substance gets into the blood in this way. However, no approved mistletoe drops are available for oral use in Germany. These have to be ordered in England and therefore have to be paid for yourself.
Every patient can learn to spray or have someone else do it for them. The puncture is only a small prick, since it uses a very thin needle. Various areas, such as the abdomen, upper arm or thigh, are suitable for the injection. The insertion near the tumor is optimal. There are two suitable times of the day for spraying. To stimulate the organism, spraying is carried out from seven to nine in the morning and to support the warming component of the mistletoe between five and seven in the evening. There should not be a constant change between times, but the general change to a different time is possible. A different injection site is selected for each injection. Half an hour of rest should then always be observed.
Injection during mistletoe therapy can cause a fever that is sometimes even desirable, especially if it does not exceed 38 degrees Celsius. The organism's ability to regulate body temperature in the case of cancer is often exhausted and can be relearned by fever. In some cases, a fever of around 39.5 degrees Celsius is provoked, which is part of the therapy, but should only be carried out under the supervision of an experienced therapist. (sw)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
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