European Mistletoe or Viscum Album

European Mistletoe or Viscum Album has been used as a medicine since the time of Hippocrates for disorders of the heart and circulatory disorders, arthritis and even neurological disorders like epilepsy. At the turn of the 20th century Mistletoe was postulated to have anticancer effects by anthroposophy creator Rudolf Steiner. In 1916 a preparation made from mistletoe was tested in cancer patients successfully and since then tens of millions of doses have been administered to patients across Europe. It has become the most commonly used natural cancer therapy in Europe and has been validated by hundreds of clinical trials. European mistletoe is a safe non-toxic therapy.

European Mistletoe has been widely studied both for its mechanism of action and its clinical activity on cancer patients. Current research has shown the following therapeutic mechanisms of action for mistletoe:

  • Direct cytotoxic (cancer cell killing) effect – several components (most notably mistletoe lectins) have strong activity on cancer cells. These components have been shown to cause apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells.
  • Inhibition of tumour growth and metastasis – several animal and human studies have shown an improvement in overall survival and reduced disease progression in individuals receiving mistletoe treatment.
  • Strong Immunostimulant – almost all studied components of mistletoe have strong immune stimulating activity well beyond that of other botanicals.
  • Selective Cytoprotection – components of mistletoe have been shown to protect the DNA of healthy immune cells. It is believed that this is why patients taking mistletoe alongside standard chemotherapy have fewer side effects and a generally better quality of life.
  • Strong Neuro-Endocrine Support – patients receiving treatment with European mistletoe were shown to have improved quality of life in several studies. This translated to improved energy, sleep, appetite and reduced pain.

European mistletoe is the most widely studied and used complimentary therapy for cancer in Europe. It has a long history of safe activity use in solid tumours like breast, prostate and colorectal cancer along with systemic cancers like leukemia and multiple myeloma.

Many clinical trials and review articles have been conducted which validate the activity of mistletoe in cancer treatment. Recent, good quality, clinical trials have shown viscum to reduce side effects of conventional treatment like chemotherapy, improve quality of life of cancer patients, and potentially positively impact overall survival and recurrence rates in various cancers.

Review Articles on European Mistletoe

Kienle, G. S., & Kiene, H. (2010). Review article: Influence of Viscum album L (European mistletoe) extracts on quality of life in cancer patients: a systematic review of controlled clinical studies. Integrative Cancer Therapies, 9(2), 142–57. doi:10.1177/1534735410369673

Friedel, W. E., Matthes, H., Bock, P. R., & Zänker, K. S. (2009). Systematic Evaluation of the Clinical Effects of Supportive Mistletoe Treatment within Chemo- and / or Radiotherapy Protocols and Long-Term Mistletoe Application in Nonmetastatic Colorectal Carcinoma : Multicenter , Controlled , Observational Cohort Study, 7(4), 137–145. doi:10.2310/7200.2009.0014

Ostermann, T., Raak, C., & Büssing, A. (2009). Survival of cancer patients treated with mistletoe extract (Iscador): a systematic literature review. BMC Cancer, 9, 451. doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-451
Kienle, G. S., Glockmann, A., Schink, M., & Kiene, H. (2009). Viscum album L. extracts in breast and gynaecological cancers: a systematic review of clinical and preclinical research. Journal of experimental & clinical cancer research : CR (Vol. 28). doi:10.1186/1756-9966-28-79

Safety of European Mistletoe

Steele, M. L., Axtner, J., Happe, A., Kröz, M., Matthes, H., & Schad, F. (2014). Safety of Intravenous Application of Mistletoe (Viscum album L.) Preparations in Oncology: An Observational Study. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM, 2014, 236310. doi:10.1155/2014/236310

Kienle, G. S., Grugel, R., & Kiene, H. (2011). Safety of higher dosages of Viscum album L . in animals and humans – systematic review of immune changes and safety parameters. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 11(1), 72. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-72

Pancreatic Cancer

Tröger, W., Galun, D., Reif, M., Schumann, a, Stanković, N., & Milićević, M. (2013). Viscum album [L.] extract therapy in patients with locally advanced or metastatic pancreatic cancer: A randomised clinical trial on overall survival. European Journal of Cancer (Oxford, England : 1990). doi:10.1016/j.ejca.2013.06.043
Colorectal Cancer

Oniu, T., Cazacu, M., Muntean, V., Oniu, M., Mihailov, A., Lungoci, C., & Cluj-napoca, S. C. C. F. (2011). IMUNOTERAPIA CU EXTRACT DE VISCUM ALBUM ÎN TRATAMENTUL CANCERULUI COLORECTAL AVANSAT, 7(4).
Lung Cancer

Bar-Sela, G., Wollner, M., Hammer, L., Agbarya, A., Dudnik, E., & Haim, N. (2013). Mistletoe as complementary treatment in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer treated with carboplatin-based combinations: A randomised phase II study. European Journal of Cancer (Oxford, England : 1990), 49(5), 1058–64. doi:10.1016/j.ejca.2012.11.007

Liver Cancer

Mabed, M., El-Helw, L., & Shamaa, S. (2004). Phase II study of viscum fraxini-2 in patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma. British Journal of Cancer, 90(1), 65–9. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6601463
Mixed Cancers

Piao, B. K., Wang, Y. X., Xie, G. R., Mansmann, U., Matthes, H., Beuth, J., & Lin, H. S. (2004). Impact of complementary mistletoe extract treatment on quality of life in breast, ovarian and non-small cell lung cancer patients. A prospective randomized controlled clinical trial. Anticancer Research, 24(1), 303–9. Retrieved from

Kidney Cancer (Renal Cell Carcinoma)

Anticancer Res. 2019 Oct;39(10):5597-5604. doi: 10.21873/anticanres.13754.

Bilateral Asynchronous Renal Cell Carcinoma With Lung Metastases: A Case Report of a Patient Treated Solely With High-dose Intravenous and Subcutaneous Viscum album Extract for a Second Renal Lesion.
Reynel M1, Villegas Y2, Kiene H3, Werthmann PG3,4, Kienle GS3,4.