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European Mistletoe

European mistletoe grows on several types of common trees such as apple, oak, pine and elm trees. European mistletoe is different from American mistletoe, which is used as a holiday decoration. European mistletoe has been used for centuries in medicine for many conditions, including seizures, headaches and arthritis. It is also used in Europe as a treatment for cancer.

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›  Health benefits

Although European mistletoe has been studied for use with cancer patients, its effects are not understood well enough because research quality has been poor.

There have been many clinical trials of European mistletoe for cancer, mostly in Europe. Some have indicated that it improved survival or quality of life, but almost all the trials had major weaknesses that raise doubts about the findings. Trial weaknesses include lack of information about dosage, small numbers of patients, incomplete data and problems with study design.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health and the National Cancer Institute have completed a preliminary trial to evaluate the safety of injected European mistletoe extract in combination with a cancer drug in patients with advanced cancer. It showed that patients could tolerate the herb/drug combination and provided other information that may be helpful in the design of future studies.

›  How much do I need?

The dosage varies depending on age and what it is being used for. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels, and consult your pharmacist, physician or other healthcare professional before using.

European mistletoe berries and leaves can cause serious harmful effects when taken orally. Injected mistletoe extract may cause soreness and inflammation at the injection site, headache, fever, and chills. Serious side effects are rare, but a few severe allergic reactions have been reported.

›  Dietary supplements

The berries, leaves and stems of European mistletoe are used to make extracts, which are usually given by injection under the skin. European mistletoe may also be taken orally as a dietary supplement. In Europe, European mistletoe extracts that are given by injection are sold as prescription drugs. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved the use of European mistletoe as a treatment for cancer or any other medical condition. In the United States, the use of injectable European mistletoe extracts is permitted only in clinical trials.

Source: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

Please consult your health care provider before making changes to your vitamin/supplement regimen.

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