Back in the 1960s and 70s, my father worked on the Apollo Moon Landing. During that time, I served as a cadet at the US Air Force Academy. Then, as a new grad student, I worked on analytical chemistry, developing instruments used by NASA for the Skylab and Space Shuttle programs. (We use these same tools today to formulate and quality-check of our Smart Science Nutritionals.™)
Needless to say, I have a fondness for the space agency. In fact, NASA may be the only agency in the Federal Government these days to show signs of “intelligent life in the universe,” as we used to say. It also reminds me of an old joke we used to tell during this time of year:
Q: If athletes get athlete’s foot, what do astronauts get?
But mistletoe is no joke, even around the holidays.
More than 2,000 years ago, the Celts and Druids in Britain called mistletoe an “all healer.” Because it stayed green in the middle of winter, they also believed it had magical powers to heal the body. Since then, Europeans have used mistletoe to treat a variety of acute and chronic health conditions, such as headaches and arthritis.
In 1916, Rudolf Steiner, Ph.D. (1861-1925) began research into mistletoe for the treatment of cancer. At the time, most scientists still considered mistletoe just a folk remedy. However, Dr. Steiner believed mistletoe possessed unique and powerful biologic properties.
Dr. Steiner believed that forces he called “lower organizing forces” result in cell growth and multiplication. Other forces he called “higher organizing forces” control cell growth to form tissues and organs in an orderly fashion. He also believed that the balance between these forces determined your susceptibility to cancer. Serious imbalances, he said, resulted in cancer.
He theorized that mistletoe’s liquid extract could help reestablish the balance between these forces. And that it could potentially fight back cancerous tumors.
As it turns out, Steiner was onto something…
In fact, recent research seems to support Dr. Steiner’s work. It appears that chemicals in mistletoe extract may block cancer growth and even kill cancer cells directly. It also appears to support the body’s immune system. Plus, research shows that mistletoe extract may even improve the well being and survival rates of patients with cancers of the cervix, ovary, breast, stomach, colon, and lung.
Today, medical clinics in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Great Britain, and Germany offer mistletoe injections. In fact, mistletoe injections are among the most widely used alternative treatments for cancer in the world. Many of these clinics have operated since the 1920s when Dr. Steiner’s work first became public
Approximately 100,000 cancer patients have been treated with Iscador, the trade name of the most commonly available mistletoe extract. It’s made from a European species of mistletoe that differs slightly from the North American species.
As is the case with many alternative therapies, Iscador injections are given alongside several “holistic” therapies. Indeed, at European clinics, doctors deliver Iscador injections in conjunction with artistic, movement, and dietary therapies. Together, these therapies aim to strengthen your “higher organizing forces.” In modern terms, the therapies help enhance your body’s natural cancer-fighting abilities.
These clinics also recommend Iscador injections alongside conventional therapies, such as chemotherapy or surgery. Patients receive Iscador injections as a complementary therapy prior to surgery. It’s also prescribed following completion of chemotherapy and/or radiation.
Proponents also recommend that patients receive injections early in the course of the disease. And although it’s not a cure, Iscador may help improve quality of life for patients with terminal cancer.
Unfortunately, mistletoe injections are not FDA approved. Which means you can’t get them in the U.S. except through clinical trials currently underway. However, some North American patients travel to European clinics for mistletoe treatment. And there are some practitioners willing to prescribe mistletoe to patients in the United States and Canada.
If you or someone you know might be a candidate consult with your physician. Then you might consider booking a trip back to the old country.
“Mistletoe therapy in oncology.” Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 Apr 16;(2):CD003297
“Mistletoe viscotoxins increase natural killer cell-mediated cytotoxicity.” Eur J Biochem. 2002; 269(10): 2,591-2,600