Diagnosed with Cancer? Your two greatest challenges are understanding cancer and understanding possible side effects from chemo and radiation.  Knowledge is Power!

Learn about conventional, complementary, and integrative therapies.

Dealing with treatment side effects? Learn about evidence-based therapies to alleviate your symptoms.

Click the orange button to the right to learn more.

Mistletoe Extract as Cancer Therapy

Share Button

Is mistletoe extract (ME) an anti-cancer therapy or an anti-side effect therapy? Or both? ME is one of those complementary therapies that often asked about in some of the online groups that I monitor.

According to the research and trial study linked below, ME has been shown to slow slow several types of cancer ask well as improve quality of life. Based on the study below, I cannot go so far as to say that ME “fights” cancer or “kills” cancer only because the study did not show this overwhelmingly.

The issue that stuck out to me primarily is that ME may be important for the relapsed/refractory cancer patient. That patient who has undergone chemotherapy repeatedly who is probably weakening and whose cancer may not be responding to chemo well.

ME is an evidence-based but non-conventional therapy meaning it has not been approved by the FDA.

In my experience, “evidence-based non-conventional means that ME is like curcumin, resveratrol, melatonin, HBOT, etc. etc. Dozens of therapies shown to help cancer patients but that have not been approved by the FDA.

Mistletoe extract contains a diverse array of biologically active compounds, with viscotoxin and mistletoe lectins being the most studied. These compounds have demonstrated immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, and cytotoxic properties in laboratory studies. The extract is thought to exert its effects through multiple mechanisms:

  1. Immunomodulation: Mistletoe extract has been shown to enhance the activity of various immune cells, including natural killer cells, T-cells, and macrophages. This stimulation of the immune system is crucial in recognizing and targeting cancer cells.
  2. Induction of Apoptosis: Studies suggest that mistletoe extract can induce programmed cell death (apoptosis) in cancer cells, effectively halting their uncontrolled growth and division.
  3. Anti-angiogenic Effects: By inhibiting the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis), mistletoe extract may limit the nutrient supply to tumors, impeding their growth and metastasis.
  4. Reduction of Tumor Cell Adhesion and Invasion: Mistletoe lectins have been shown to interfere with the adhesion and invasion of cancer cells, further impeding their ability to spread.

Clinical Evidence

Clinical trials investigating mistletoe extract as a cancer therapy have shown promising results. In studies across various cancer types, including

  • breast,
  • colon,
  • and pancreatic cancer,

mistletoe extract has demonstrated improvements in quality of life, reduced side effects of conventional treatments, and even prolonged survival rates. Additionally, its favorable safety profile makes it an attractive option for patients seeking complementary therapies.

Breast Cancer: Noteworthy Advances

In breast cancer, mistletoe extract has shown particular promise. Research suggests that it may enhance the efficacy of chemotherapy, while simultaneously reducing its associated side effects. Studies have reported improved tolerance to chemotherapy, reduced fatigue, and enhanced emotional well-being in patients receiving mistletoe extract alongside conventional treatment regimens.

Quality of Life and Symptom Management

Beyond its potential anti-cancer effects, mistletoe extract has demonstrated benefits in improving the overall quality of life for cancer patients. Many individuals undergoing conventional cancer treatments experience debilitating side effects such as

  • fatigue,
  • nausea,
  • and pain.

Mistletoe extract has shown promise in alleviating these symptoms, allowing patients to better tolerate and adhere to their prescribed treatments.

Considerations and Future Directions

While mistletoe extract presents a compelling adjunctive therapy for cancer patients, it is important to approach its integration into treatment plans with careful consideration. Collaboration between oncologists, integrative medicine practitioners, and patients is crucial to ensure that mistletoe extract is used in a safe and effective manner, tailored to individual needs and circumstances.

Looking ahead, ongoing research endeavors seek to further elucidate the specific mechanisms of mistletoe extract’s action, refine dosing protocols, and explore its potential in combination with other therapies. Additionally, efforts are underway to standardize production processes and ensure the quality and purity of mistletoe extract preparations.


Mistletoe extract, with its ancient roots and modern scientific validation, stands at the forefront of complementary cancer therapies. Its diverse array of bioactive compounds and multifaceted mechanisms of action hold great promise in enhancing the treatment outcomes and quality of life for cancer patients. As research continues to unfold, mistletoe extract may very well find its place as a valuable asset in the comprehensive approach to cancer care.

What type and stage of cancer have you been diagnosed with? Have you undergone mistletoe extract or are you considering taking it? Let me know David. PeopleBeatingCancer@gmail.com.


David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Phase I Trial of Intravenous Mistletoe Extract in Advanced Cancer

Twenty-one patients were recruited. The median follow-up duration was 15.3 weeks. The MTD was 600 mg. Treatment-related adverse events (AE) occurred in 13 patients (61.9%), with the most common being

  • fatigue (28.6%),
  • nausea (9.5%),
  • and chills (9.5%).

Grade 3+ treatment-related AEs were noted in 3 patients (14.8%). Stable disease was observed in 5 patients who had one to six prior therapies. Reductions in baseline target lesions were observed in 3 patients who had two to six prior therapies. Objective responses were not observed. The disease control rate (percentage of complete/partial response and stable disease) was 23.8%. The median stable disease was 15 weeks. Serum cancer antigen-125 or carcinoembryonic antigen showed a slower rate of increase at higher dose levels. The median QoL by Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General increased from 79.7 at week 1 to 93 at week 4…

Conclusions: Intravenous mistletoe demonstrated manageable toxicities with disease control and improved QoL in a heavily pretreated solid tumor population.
Significance: Although ME is widely used for cancers, its efficacy and safety are uncertain. This first phase I trial of intravenous mistletoe (Helixor M) aimed to determine phase II dosing and to evaluate safety. We recruited 21 patients with relapsed/refractory metastatic solid tumor. Intravenous mistletoe (600 mg, 3/week) demonstrated manageable toxicities (fatigue, nausea, and chills) with disease control and improved QoL.”

Leave a Comment: