Healthy Life: Mistletoe – Viscum Album

Mistletoe at Mustard Seed Sentinel
Credit: Paul Zoetemeijer

Mistletoe – Viscum Album

by Valerie Lull

During this season of the year mistletoe brings up pictures of happy couples kissing underneath it. This custom came from the Celts who had priests called Druids.

The Druids put mistletoe over the doors of their houses because it was considered sacred and fighting was not permitted under it. In today’s world it is traditionally used at Christmas time as part of the decoration and festivities.

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows in trees. It is also considered an herb and has been used in Europe for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. The berries, leaves, and stems are the parts of the plants that are used. Some of the conditions it has been used for are epilepsy, hypertension, infertility, and arthritis.

Mistletoe, for medicinal uses, in our times is probably best known for its use with cancer. There is not much scientific evidence for this, though there is anecdotal evidence.

Mistletoe at Mustard Seed Sentinel
Credit: Annie Spratt
The use of mistletoe for cancer in the United States was brought to public attention by the celebrity Susanne Somers who took it to treat her breast cancer. Her cancer went away but it is anecdotal evidence lacking scientific study.

In folk medicine, European mistletoe was used for cardiovascular disease. It is also reportedly an antispasmodic, and good for asthma, the immune system, epilepsy, hiccups, hemorrhoids, headaches and menopause.

It has also been used to help ease the effects of chemo and radiation treatments in cancer patients.

A tea can be made from it for treating hypertension.

Mistletoe has side effects and is not generally recommended in this country for cancer treatment because there is very little scientific evidence that it works.

It seems to kill cancer cells in the lab but not in people in real life. It is contraindicated if a woman is pregnant or nursing.

Mistletoe is considered toxic, especially the berries. Used in small amounts it is possibly safe, but side effects are vomiting, cramping and diarrhea. Because of the lack of good evidence, it is extremely important that you work with a health care professional if you want to try it. It is not recommended for auto-immune diseases like multiple sclerosis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Do not take mistletoe if you are taking blood pressure medicine. It is probably best to use it during the holidays as a decorative and festive item rather than as a remedy.

My new book, Glorious Garlic. Enjoy. Feel Good and Live Longer makes a great, inexpensive gift item for the holidays. Go to my website for more information. I wish a happy holiday season to everyone and best wishes for 2020.

About the Author

Valerie Lull at Mustard Seed Sentinel

Valerie B. Lull, author of Ten Healthy Teas, is an herbalist and wellness coach. At the age of 45 she was diagnosed with Diabetes and staying in good health became her passion. She studied at the American College of Healthcare Sciences in Portland, Oregon. Valerie has always had a passion for staying healthy and for the health benefits of teas and the various ways they can be prepared. Valerie’s passion for tea started in childhood, when she experienced a traditional-style teatime with her Canadian relatives.

Read about tea, herbs, spices and nutrition on her blog. Visit her at her website and on Twitter. You can contact Valerie via email as well.

Valerie’s new book, Glorious Garlic! is now on Amazon. Check it out.

You can read her “Healthy Life” column on the 4th Monday each month here at Mustard Seed Sentinel.

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