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Mistletoe Therapy

by Mary Martin(more info)

listed in cancer, originally published in issue 80 - September 2002

Most people with cancer opt for orthodox treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery. Unless they have been introduced to complementary medicine, where it is available in some cancer units, they will receive no advice on how to re-establish their immunity after such invasive treatments. Therefore complementary practitioners and Positive Health can have a vital role to play in introducing people to healthier lifestyles. Apart from giving guidance about nutrition and other lifestyle changes, I invariably recommend that cancer patients investigate mistletoe therapy. Few people are aware of it.



Mistletoe therapy was devised as a cancer therapy by doctors working with Rudolph Steiner (1861-1925). Steiner was an Austrian scientist and philosopher who founded anthroposophy, a word taken from two Greek words meaning 'man' and 'wisdom or knowledge' – the knowledge of man. This philosophy encompasses most areas of human activity including medicine.

Steiner considered that people possess four qualities – the physical body, the etheric quality that could be termed the life force, the astral or emotional quality, and the ego, which describes the self- conscious or thinking aspect of our nature. He explored how the soul and spiritual nature influence the physical body. Steiner expounded his findings in some 6,000 lectures, 60 of these given to doctors. His lectures and many written works form the basis of a unique science of body, soul and spirit that encompasses physiology, pathology and therapeutics.

An integrated system called anthroposophic medicine evolved, to be practised by medically qualified doctors. This system broadens out orthodox medicine to take into account all the elements of human nature. Where there is a clear benefit to the patient, orthodox medicine may be used alongside anthroposophic medicine – a system derived from substances taken from natural sources. Where appropriate, rhythmic massages, movement therapy, music therapy, water treatments and counselling are also used. Much research has gone into treatments for cancer, and some have been developed from the mistletoe plant.

Cancer Treatment with Mistletoe

The European species of mistletoe (Viscum album) used in the treatment of cancer is only available under medical supervision and goes under the trade name of Iscador. Mistletoe is a semi-parasitic plant that lives with several species of trees including oak, pine and apple. Interestingly, the chemical properties of the plant vary according to the type of host tree. Iscador derived from mistletoe grown on apple trees is described as Iscador M, on the oak, Iscador Q and on pine, Iscador P. Mistletoe from a specific host tree will be selected for use with a specific kind of primary cancer. Under normal circumstances, mistletoe berries are, of course, highly toxic to people.

Iscador is usually given by subcutaneous injections or oral drops. Inflammation at the site of injection indicates increased immunity.

Doses are gradually increased and adjusted according to the patient's general condition and type of cancer. Treatment can last from several months to years. Iscador stimulates the immune system. Two active ingredients are lectins and viscotoxins that can kill cancer cells and stop them replicating. According to Weleda (UK) Ltd, who manufactures Iscador, the latest research shows that it reduces the side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It is contraindicated for patients with cancer of the brain or spinal cord, but there are no contraindications with other medications.

Case Examples

1. Nine years ago I was given the devastating news that I had cancer. I opted for major surgery and Iscador. Unsurprisingly, my GP refused my request for referral for Iscador. I then consulted a superb private doctor, a lifelong vegetarian and campaigner for natural healthcare. I began a course of Iscador injections prior to surgery. I also took an over-the-counter homeopathic remedy to reduce the trauma of surgery and to accelerate the healing process. Some time after surgery my surgeon told me that a catheter would be necessary. This unwelcome news goaded me into working the reflex points on my hands. It worked like a charm. A catheter was not needed! I soon returned to my practice and running my school. An integrated approach had worked for me – I felt very fit.

2. Thirty-two-year-old Jacqui had chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment for breast cancer. She was anxious to conceive but one of her fallopian tubes was blocked, causing her distress. We hoped that it would normalize with reflexology treatment.

Subsequently, a hospital scan revealed that the tube had cleared. Jacqui was also prescribed a drug that was unsuitable when trying to conceive. I suggested that she ask her doctor about Iscador.

Without hesitation her oncologist referred her to the Royal Homeopathic Hospital where she receives Iscador in drop form on the NHS. She is now pregnant.

Managing Illness

A holistic perspective makes it easier to recognize the human need for hope, reassurance, comfort and self-worth. By helping patients to obtain peace of mind there will be healing at some level although the cancer itself may not always be affected. Self-help strategies are empowering, with a greater chance of mobilizing self-healing.

Obtaining Treatment

This treatment is widely used in Europe and is the number one cancer treatment in Germany. In the UK, anthroposophical doctors and homeopathic doctors, working within the NHS and also privately, are prescribing Iscador. For NHS treatment it is necessary to get a referral, from either a GP or a hospital doctor, to the Royal Homeopathic Hospital in London. Further information can be obtained from Weleda (UK) Ltd, Heanor Road, Ilkeston, Derby DE7 8DR; who can provide details of doctors who prescribe Iscador privately, and also a clinic for residential or outpatient care.


  1. larisa rokhkind said..


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About Mary Martin

A qualified teacher, Mary Martin established her School of Reflexology in 1987. She founded the Association of Reflexologists in 1984 and is an Honorary Life Member. Previously she practised as a Gerson therapist. Mary belongs to a network of therapists attached to the cancer centre at Mount Vernon Hospital. She has had a busy practice in Ruislip since 1983. She may be contacted on Tel: 01895 635621;

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