In a seasonally appropriate report, Discovery News describes the healing powers of mistletoe. In addition to whatever Christmas kisses under the plant contribute to well being, the European Journal of Integrative Medicine reports a lot of good can be done by mistletoe in other ways:
Over the course of a few decades, cancer patients who added mistletoe preparations to their standard therapies lived an average of half a year longer. The two related studies, conducted by different teams, found that other cancer patients, including individuals suffering from pancreatic cancer, experienced reduced drug reactions, could better withstand chemotherapy, and had prolonged remission periods with the added fermented mistletoe preparations.
Ziegler explained that, “mistletoe is an old medical drug in Europe, particularly in Germany, and goes back at least to Hippocrates.”
“The exact mechanism of its (healing) actions are not known,” she said, adding that prior studies, both on animals and in the lab, have indicated it curbs the growth of cancerous tumors.
Holiday celebrants, however, should never just munch on mistletoe, as-is. Reports are mixed concerning the possible toxicity of the American version of the plant. While Ziegler says, “Viscum album preparations are extremely well tolerated,” patients should consult their doctors before taking any such treatment.