No, it’s not just for the holidays anymore! Mistletoe extract is one of the natural therapies for cancer than many people – and even oncologists – still do not know that much about. However, more and more people in the cancer community are becoming aware of it as an option for treatment. While more research still needs to be done on this extract, there is a growing body of at least anecdotal evidence to support its use.
There have been many cases in recent years of successful use of mistletoe extract in treatment for several different type of cancer. In one case in Great Britain, a woman diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma used this extract in preference to chemotherapy and was successful: her cancer went into remission. Another patient, with metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma (a type of cancer which begins in the pancreas but spreads to the lymph nodes and liver) used the extract alongside chemotherapy after surgery for the first several months, then continued with the extract along afterwards. She, too, showed no evidence of cancer progression after a year, which is exceedingly rare for this normally aggressive form of cancer. A Swiss natural practitioner also reported one six cases of sarcoma he was treating successfully with mistletoe extract.
Mixed Results with Clinical Trials
Mainstream medicine has been slow to accept the use of mistletoe extract as a cancer treatment. They tend to point to several large clinical trials where use of this extract showed mixed results. However, in each of these trials, it was revealed that people used different mistletoe extracts for their treatment and not all extracts are of the same potency or quality, leading to a wide variety of patient outcomes.
Part of this problem lies with the plant itself. The mistletoe plant itself has toxic berries and leaves and an extraction process is required to separate the beneficial compounds from the harmful ones. It is believed that this plant’s remarkable properties lie in the fact that it is rich in phytochemicals, plant-based compounds like lectin. The way in which these chemicals are extracted can greatly influence its potency and efficacy.
One extraction method by a Swiss company, however, has proven to be of a consistent high quality and, not surprisingly, has given consistent positive results. They make the extraction from the fresh whole fruits and leafy shoots of the mistletoe, harvesting it twice a year, and the result is a consistently potent extract which is slated to be used in two separate trials (on pancreatic and colorectal cancer patients, respectively) at cancer treatment centers in both Germany and Austria.
In conclusion, while the extract in these upcoming trials will be used as an adjuvant therapy alongside more conventional treatments, it will be the largest trial of this kind of use one consistent extract on a large cohort of patients to study its efficacy. It could mean that this therapy becomes more mainstream and will help those with this disease not have better rates of survival but also a better quality of life.
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