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Mistletoe Breast Cancer

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What does mistletoe do for breast cancer patients? To phrase this question differently, does mistletoe help breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy?

This is a blog post about the quality of life of breast cancer patients undergoing chemo. It isn’t really about quantity of life like most breast cancer focused articles are.

I am a long-term cancer survivor of a different type of cancer called multiple myeloma. Conventional therapies did little for me other than saddle me with a lifetime os long-term side effects. Few newly diagnosed cancer patients understand that managing cancer is about both quality and quantity of life.

The research below talks about mistletoe and breast cancer patients and their quality of life.

Mistletoe extract, also known as Iscador or Viscum album, is a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapy that is sometimes used by cancer patients. It is derived from various species of mistletoe and has been studied for its potential effects on cancer treatment.

Here are some potential risks and benefits associated with mistletoe extract for cancer patients:


  1. Immunomodulatory effects: Some laboratory and animal studies have suggested that mistletoe extract may have immunomodulatory effects, which means it may help regulate the immune system. This could potentially enhance the body’s natural defenses against cancer cells.
  2. Symptom relief and quality of life: Some small studies and anecdotal reports have suggested that mistletoe extract may help improve cancer-related symptoms such as fatigue, pain, and nausea. It may also have positive effects on overall quality of life.
  3. Enhanced well-being: Some patients have reported feeling a sense of well-being and improved mood after using mistletoe extract. However, this is subjective and can vary from person to person.

Risks and considerations:

  1. Lack of robust clinical evidence: While there have been some studies on mistletoe extract, the overall body of evidence is not as extensive or rigorous as that for conventional cancer treatments. This means that its effectiveness and safety are not as well-established.
  2. Possible allergic reactions: Some individuals may be allergic to mistletoe or its components, which could lead to allergic reactions ranging from mild skin irritation to more severe allergic responses.
  3. Interactions with other treatments: Mistletoe extract may interact with other cancer treatments or medications a patient is receiving. It’s crucial to inform your healthcare team about any complementary therapies you are considering.
  4. Contamination and quality control: The quality and purity of mistletoe extracts can vary depending on the manufacturer and production methods. This lack of standardization raises concerns about product consistency and potential contamination.
  5. Cost: Mistletoe extract treatments can be expensive and may not be covered by insurance, adding to the financial burden of cancer care.

It’s important for cancer patients to discuss the use of mistletoe extract or any other complementary therapy with their healthcare team. They can provide guidance, weigh the potential risks and benefits, and help make an informed decision that is tailored to the individual’s specific situation and needs.

Have you been diagnosed with breast cancer? Are you struggling with the side effects of chemotherapy? Let me know. Thanks. David.PeopleBeatingCancer@gmail.com

David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Quality of Life in Breast Cancer Patients Treated With Mistletoe Extracts: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

“Background: Breast cancer is the most common cancer type in women and quality of life an essential part of patients’ well-being. Although the treatment with mistletoe extracts is covered by multiple cancer guidelines and reviews, it is uncertain whether mistletoe extracts can improve the quality of life in breast cancer patients. We therefore performed a systematic review and meta-analysis on this topic…

Discussion:  Our results indicate a clinically relevant, medium-sized effect of mistletoe extracts on the quality of life in breast cancer patients which may be based on the immunomodulating effects of mistletoe extracts during chemotherapy…

Mistletoe extracts (ME) are injected subcutaneously 2 to 3 times a week, during and beyond standard oncologic treatments.9 Recent meta-analyses of clinical studies concluded that application of ME produces a significant, medium-sized effect on QoL in cancer and may prolong survival…1012

The most studied bioactive components are viscotoxins and lectins, but ME also contain other compounds such as

  • flavonoids,
  • phenolic acids and
  • polysaccharides.13

One possible clinically observed mode of ME is immunomodulation, which may reduce inflammatory markers and the rate of neutropenia. This, together with a peripheral endorphin-release, may form the basis for an improvement of quality of life and reduction of side effects related to standard oncological therapies…14,15



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