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Mistletoe Extracts and Their use in Oncology

By Nasha Winters, ND, FABNO

Last year, we celebrated the 100 year anniversary of consistently using mistletoe extract as an injection for cancer therapies. Although we have co-evolved with mistletoe and other toxic plants, there is wisdom in these plants that we often underestimate or ignore. We have been using mistletoe for thousands of years, and even Hippocrates speaks of using it as a therapy for spleen & seizure disorders and neuralgias. In modern medicine, it is the most studied integrative oncology treatment in the world. Although it has lost favor over the last few decades, mistletoe is still very well utilized in Europe, South America, India, Mexico and Canada.

“In 1920 Rudolf Steiner and Dr. Ita Wegman laid the seeds for the creation of a new medicine based on the developing human being. This approach was far ahead of its time looking at how the connections between education, human interaction, environment, and nutrition played into the healthy development of the whole human being. We hope that after over one hundred years, Anthroposophic Medicine can continue to reach out to like-minded colleagues and contribute to the healing of our modern culture.” - Dr. Steven Johnson, DO; President of PAAM, Co-Author of Mistletoe and the Emerging Future of Integrative Oncology

Rudolf Steiner, father of anthroposophic medicine, noticed, according to the Doctrine of Signatures, that mistletoe growing in trees looked like tumors in the branches of the trees. Much like walnuts look like a brain, and have been found to support brain health, he saw mistletoe growing like a tumor. While anthroposophical physicians believe cancer is the ultimate disconnect from Self, Other, Spirit, and cell to cell communication, mistletoe profoundly restores the rhythm of the body in the whole terrain.

The anti-cancer properties of the plant are found in the lectins, polysaccharides and viscotoxins. However, once these compounds hit the air, mouth, or enzymes, they get broken down and the anti-cancer qualities are lost. Therefore, to create modern extracts of mistletoe, they use both extracts of the leaf in the summer and extracts of the berries in the winter. As a cancer therapy, it has always been used in an injectable form, whether subcutaneous, intratumoral, intrapleural, or intravenous. The extracts are then standardized to proper dosing in order to maintain the cytotoxic qualities of the plant. These qualities combine to create an immunomodulating effect, rather than immunostimulating.

In summary, mistletoe can support what I call the “Three R’s of Immunity” in a profound way: Recognize, Respond, and Remember. Most of us are missing one or all three of the “R’s.” I have used this plant myself many years after my own cancer diagnosis and for my own autoimmune conditions. While I wasn’t using mistletoe for my own cancer despite using it in cancer patients for years, I began incorporating mistletoe to see if it could modulate my immune system better.

I have been lecturing on mistletoe for many years, applying it to my patient population almost exclusively for over 15 years, and have become a global expert in teaching and consulting at research trials around the world. With fellow colleagues, I began co-facilitating and teaching physicians how to use it in therapy. These same physicians and I co-authored a book released in November 2021, Mistletoe and the Emerging Future of Integrative Oncology.

Dr. Luis Diaz, MD, head of the Division of Solid Tumor at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, wrote the foreword, and there is a special "How to Use this Book" guide at the beginning, for both patients and physicians. The book was structured following the syllabus for a three-day practitioner training hosted by the Physicians’ Association for Anthroposophic Medicine (PAAM). The chapters highlight several of our key lectures in a condensed form. The book serves as an introductory summary of, not a replacement for, those intensive professional trainings.

This book is a nonprofit book, which means all proceeds go to further enhance mistletoe research. Proceeds will help fund clinical trials, research and patient and physician education.

For more information on the authors, Steven Johnson, DO, Dr. Adam Blanning, MD, Dr. Marion Debus, MD, Dr. Paul Faust, ND, Dr. Mark Hancock, MD and Dr. Peter Hinderberger, MD, as well as additional resources for both patients and prescribers, please see Books can be ordered in the UK through Floris Books and later this year we hope to have a digital version available so stay tuned!

Dr. Nasha Winters, ND, FABNO


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