Mistletoe therapy for cancer | Strengthening the immune system

Mistletoe therapy as a complementary therapy concept for cancer patients ➤ the naturopathic procedure to strengthen the immune system

More and more cancer patients are turning to naturopathic methods to support chemotherapy and radiation therapy in their fight against malignant cells. Among the most popular remedies are mistletoe preparations such as Iscador, Abnobavisum and Helixor. Based on anthroposophically extended medicine, these have already been in clinical use for decades, are constantly being further developed and are nowadays used as supportive treatments for various types of cancer. They are said to have not only a direct antitumor effect, but also to reduce the side effects of the primary forms of treatment. Many patients nowadays therefore rely on mistletoe therapy as a complementary treatment to increase their quality of life and improve their general well-being.

The history of mistletoe: from Christmas custom to medicinal plant

Mistletoe is a small, bushy plant high up in the canopy of our oak, pine and apple trees. As a wondrous plant that only becomes visible in the bare winter months, they have always been surrounded by something mysterious. Already in early times they were attributed such a magical effect and druids harvested them with a golden sickle to add to their magical tinctures. For this reason, mistletoe was also used as a Christmas decoration: to drive away evil spirits, to work their magic in our homes and to give happiness to lovers.

Since mistletoe has always been used as a medicinal plant, it was at the beginning of the last century that the idea of using it in cancer therapy first arose. The original thesis behind this was: if mistletoe is a parasite that lives in the tree and the tumor is a parasite that lives in the human, perhaps these two parasites can fight each other. Today, this concept is considered more scientifically. Numerous studies made it their goal to investigate the antitumor as well as immune-boosting effects of mistletoe and to establish these herbal remedies in complementary medicine therapy.

Mistletoe therapy for cancer treatment in anthroposophic medicine

Mistletoe therapy is a complementary form of treatment for cancer patients. As a rule, it is not used independently but as a complement to surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Its goal is to inhibit tumor growth on the one hand and to strengthen the immune system on the other. Thus, it does not represent an alternative medicine to the standard oncological procedures that have been tested, but merely an accompanying form of treatment. Mistletoe therapy must always be carried out in consultation with the attending physician to determine whether it can be combined with ongoing oncological therapy. After approval, treatment is usually given on a longer-term basis over several years. Mistletoe preparations are first used concomitantly with chemotherapy or radiotherapy to improve the current quality of life, and then the dose is adjusted to strengthen the immune system. However, the exact application must always be adapted to the individual patient, the form of cancer and the course of the disease.

Mode of action and success of mistletoe therapy

The first goal of mistletoe therapy is to improve the quality of life of those affected by reducing the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Next, it is intended to stimulate the immune system and improve the body's own defenses, thus reducing the risk of infection. Frequently, an improvement in current mood is also noted in this context, and in some cases even tumor regression or alleviation of the course of the disease. However, even if mistletoe therapy does not always have a direct antitumor effect, it often indirectly improves the general well-being of patients by alleviating their physical as well as psychological side effects. This is precisely the reason for its success in Germany and the choice of mistletoe therapy as a supportive measure in the fight against cancer, as patients reported the following improvements:


✔️Appetite returns

✔️Weight increases

✔️Sleep improves 

✔️Feeling of cold fades

✔️Mood lifts

✔️Fear subsides

✔️Pain subsides 

✔️Performance increase 

✔️Energy grows


In addition, mistletoe treatment is usually well tolerated. Side effects are rare and often manifest themselves only as mild allergic symptoms or inflammatory skin reactions at the injection site. In some cases, however, dizziness, nausea or mental confusion may occur.

The correct application of mistletoe preparations

Mistletoe extracts are usually injected under the skin (subcutaneously). These injections can be administered by the doctor, nursing staff or relatives - many patients even learn to give themselves the injections. In special situations, intravenous administration is also possible. Taking mistletoe drops or mistletoe capsules, on the other hand, is not suitable for cancer therapy, as it is intended for other applications in the field of homeopathy or as a nutritional supplement.

All mistletoe preparations approved in Germany are generally available without prescription. Questions about cost coverage must be clarified accordingly with the health insurance company. The duration, frequency and dosage, on the other hand, are defined by the physician. The doctor also decides whether breaks are necessary between the individual treatment cycles and answers all other therapy questions. Mistletoe treatment is not recommended for thyroid problems, renal cell carcinoma, malignant melanoma, primary brain tumors as well as brain metastases and cancers that affect the immune system (such as leukemia).

Germany's Most Popular Mistletoe Preparations: Iscador, Abnobaviscum & Helixor

The ingredients of the mistletoe plant are determined by its respective host tree and by its different properties throughout the year. For this reason, a distinction is made between summer and winter mistletoe and a mix of various mistletoe species is used for the preparations. The mistletoe varieties are processed separately in order to preserve their host tree-specific properties. The sap from leaves and twigs is then diluted with water and, depending on the manufacturer, enriched with additional substances. The most popular mistletoe preparations in Germany include:

Abnobaviscum mistletoe preparations are pressed juices from mistletoe leaves, stems and berries from the host trees fir, maple, almond, birch, hawthorn, ash, apple tree, pine and oak. Typical for this product is the yellow-green color, which comes about due to the special extraction process. As a result, it contains additional fat-related components such as the green plant pigment chlorophyll.

  • Abietes = Fir mistletoe
  • Aceris = maple mistletoe
  • Amygdali = almond mistletoe
  • Betulae = birch mistletoe
  • Crataegi = hawthorn mistletoe
  • Fraxini = ash mistletoe
  • Mali = apple mistletoe
  • Pini = pine mistletoe
  • Quercus = oak mistletoe


Abnobaviscum medicines

The total extract contains three parts winter and one part summer extract. Due to the anticyclic mistletoe behavior, the winter extract is attributed a special significance. The manufacturer places a particularly high value on the naturalness of its products: The plants are processed as naturally as possible, the extracts are bottled sterilely and without additives, the preparations are not fermented and the mistletoe comes exclusively from regional wild collection. Mistletoe from fir, apple and pine trees is processed here.

  • Helixor A (Abies = fir mistletoe)
  • Helixor M (Malus = apple tree mistletoe)
  • Helixor P (Pini = pine tree mistletoe)


Helixor medicines

This preparation was approved as early as 1926 and was the first mistletoe extract developed for cancer therapy. Mistletoe from pine, oak, elm and apple trees, whose leaves, stems and buds are harvested twice a year, is used for this purpose. The fermented summer and winter extracts are then added in equal proportions to the traditional medicine by a special mixing process. A large proportion is also mixed with homeopathically dosed additions of certain metal salts to support the specific mode of action of mistletoe. Iscador is also known for its wide range of host trees, concentration strengths and metal additives. The most common injections include:

  • ISCADOR A (Abies = Fir).
  • ISCADOR M (Malus = apple tree)
  • ISCADOR P (Pinus = pine)
  • ISCADOR Qu (Quercus = oak)
  • ISCADOR U (Ulmus = Elm)


Iscador medicines

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