Mistletoe (Viscum album)
Mistletoe is most often seen at Christmas, when many people buy it in small packets from the store to hang in their homes over the holidays. It is an unusual plant in the way that it grows; it attaches to a branch of a tree and grows as a parasite. It fruits around the Winter Solstice. It was considered an important ritual herb to the druids long before we hung it in the house at the holidays to kiss under.
Key Medicinal Uses
Internally Mistletoe is used in Europe to treat cancer. It is also used for headaches and seizures. There is some evidence it may also be helpful for high blood pressure, HIV support and both types of diabetes. It also stimulates the immune system.
Externally - Not used as an external treatment but does have other obvious uses at Christmas!
Herbs to Combine/Supplement
This herb does not seem to be used in combined formulas. It is being combined with a chemotherapy drug, gemcitabine in a cancer study to test its effectiveness.
Leaves, berries Leaves, young twigs and berries are all used medicinally.
Do not eat the raw, unprocessed European variety of the herb. It is poisonous and will result in seizures, vomiting, bradycardia (slowing of the heart rate) and death. American mistletoe is not safe to take medicinally. Injected commercial extracts (available in Europe) are considered safe as long as the label dosage is followed. These injections have been known to cause redness, rash or itching at the injection site, low fevers and flu-like symptoms.
Pregnant or lactating women should not take mistletoe in any form and it is not an appropriate medicine for children.
Preparation and Dosage
A cold infusion can be made easily by soaking 2 to 4 teaspoons of chopped mistletoe in two cups of water over night. In the morning, you can add a little honey to taste. Drink it early. Steep another batch all day long and drink it before bed. Or you can make a hot herbal tea by steeping 1 teaspoon of leaves in a cup of boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes. Two cups can be taken per day. If you prefer tincture, the dosage is 1/8 teaspoon three times per day.
Mistletoe has very few side effects if taken as directed.