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Herbal Monograph

Herb:   MISTLETOE   (Viscum Album)

Other Names:  mystyldene, all-heal, birdlime, devil’s fuge (2); Birdlime mistletoe.    (57)


Meridians/Organs/Body Parts affected:    heart, kidneys and circulation    (14)

Part(s) used:  leaves, berries, stems (2); young leafy twigs (15)

Identification & Harvesting:    Plant is a semi-parasitic, round bush growing on deciduous trees, 1-3′ in diameter;  the round branches are repeatedly bifurcated and thickened to knots at the joints and are the same yellow-green color as the leaves.  Leaves are alternate, lanceolate or spatulate, leathery and evergreen.  Flowers are yellow-green, almost insignificant.  Fruit is a glossy, white, pea-sized berry with thick sticky flesh.  When ripe, it is yellowish or orange and has 1 or 2 oval seeds.  Mostly found in Europe and as far afield as Iran.  Not found in America or Australia.  Cultivated in Europe and China.  Collected during spring and airdried at a max. of 100 F.    (2)

Collect young leafy twigs in spring.    (8)

Leaves are opposite, leathery, rather tough, oblanceolate, about 2 inches long, entire at the margins, with a rounded apex, with four or five longitudinal veins, often with the stems broken at the joints, in pieces about 2-1/2 inches long.  The mistletoe used in US has similar but shorter leaves of a yellower green tint and somewhat pubescent.  Tastes insipid and inodorous.    (57)

Active Constituents:    berries — mucilage 2%, referred to as viscin.  Not fully investigated.  Presumably they lack the toxic lectins and viscotoxins.  Leaves — lectins (glycoproteins with 11% carbohydrate), particularly mistletoe lectin I (a.k.a. MLI, VAA I, or viscumin), mistletoe lectin II (MLII), mistletoe lectin III (ML III or VAA II), which are all isolectin mixtures; polypeptides built out of 26 amino acids, .05-.1%, particularly viscotoxins A2, A3, B, Ps1, water soluble polysaccharides known as viscin 4-5% incl. galacturonans, arabino galactans;  sugar alcohols incl. mannitol, quebrachitol, pinitol, viscumitol;  flavonoids incl. glycosides of the quercetins, of quercetin methyl ethers, of the isorhamnetins and rhamnazins;  phenyl alyl alcohols incl. syringin (syrigenin-4′-O-glucosides);  lignans incl. syringaresinol and its glycosides;  triterpenes incl. alpha-amyrin (alpha-viscol), betuline acid, oleanolic acid, ursolic acid.  Stems — contain same constituents as the leaves, but only in very low concentrations, due to the large percentage of structural support tissue.    (2)

viscotoxin (a cardio-acitve polypeptide), triterpenoid saponins, choline, histamine, anti-tumor proteins.  Cayuga Botanicals R.D. Note — [Speculate Hoffmann refers here to the lectins;  cf. Note below.]    (8)

Actions:    Leaves — intracutaneous injections cause local inflammation, which can progress to necrosis.  In animal tests the herb exhibits cytostatic, non-specific immune stimulation.  Cayuga Botanicals R.D. Note — [Speculate this effect derives from the presence of the lectins, known immune-stimulants with a double-edged effect:  lectins cause agglutination of cells in the blood stream, either of malignant cells or foreign microbes, or of the body’s own red blood cells;  if the former, the immunostimulant effect is obviously positive, and if the latter, it can even cause death.  When cells agglutinate in the bloodstream, they form enormous masses, sometimes of hundreds of thousands of cells, that immediately alert the body’s immune system to attack and destroy the masses;  further, the fact of their immense agglomeration renders the blobs in essence defenseless against the T-cells.]  Also the leaves have a hypotensive effect which needs further investigation.  Fruit — purgative, blood purifier.    (2)

nervine, hypotensive, cardiac depressant, possibly anti-tumor.  An excellent relaxing nervine.  Will quiet, soothe and tone the nervous system.  Acts directly on the vagus nerve to reduce heart rate while strengthening peripheral capillary walls.    (8)

Primarily stimulant, tonic;  also diuretic  (14)

Strengthens capillary walls, anti-inflammatory, vulnerary;  slows the heart rate.  Hypotensive, anti-tumor.    (15)

Nervine, antispasmodic, tonic, narcotic.    (57)

Conditions & Uses:    Fruit — high or low blood pressure, internal bleeding, epilepsy, arteriosclerosis, bleeding in the lungs, infantile convulsions, gout, hysteria, heavy blood loss.  Stem — used for anxiety, mental and physical exhaustion, agitation.  Leaves — rheumatism, tumor therapy support;  treats degenerative inflammation of the joints by stimulating cuti-visceral reflexes following local inflammation brought about my intradermal injections.  Also used as a palliative therapy for malignant tumors through non-specific immune stimulation.  Folk uses include long-term therapy for cases of mild hypertension and as a protection against arteriosclerosis.    (2)

Eases arteriosclerosis, nervous tachycardia, headache due to hypertension;  shown in current research to act against tumors.    (8)

Internal uses — arteriosclerosis:  tincture*, fluid extract*, decoction*.  High cholesterol, heart tonic:  tincture, fluid extract, syrup.  Poor digestion:  tincture, fluid extract, decoction.  Glandular stimulant:  tincture, fluid extract, decoction, powder*.  Weak pulse:  tincture, fluid extract.

External uses — chilblains (frostbite), leg ulcers:  fomentation.

*Usually used in combination with other herbs when treating the indicated problem.

European mistletoe is used as a cardiac tonic and to stimulate circulation.  At first it will raise the blood pressure, then lower it.  The extract is a wonderful cure for prematurely aged arteries accompanied by high blood pressure.  For arteriosclerosis, combine 1 cup of equal parts mistletoe, hawthorn berries and wild leeks.  Cook them together in two pints of water for 15 minutes;  strain and drink as a broth, one cup three times daily.  Mistletoe extract combined with an equal amount of rauwolfia extract is beneficial in sudden heart palpitations, vascular spasms and difficult breathing during asthma attacks.  Mistletoe is good for dizziness, vertigo and headaches.  In the American Materia Medica by Finley Ellingwood, MD, mistletoe is reported to be used as an agent that affects the heart.  Twenty to thirty drops of the fluid extract were used to treat hypertrophy of the heart with valvular insufficiency, drops, weak pulse and in later stages of disease when the heart was weak or irregular.    (14)

Has been used with benefit in hysteria, epilepsy and other nervous diseases.  Of value in uterine hemorrhages.  Thought to be useful in amenorrhea and dysmenorrhea, and can be taken as a heart tonic in typhoid fever, or hypertension.    (57)

Combinations:    Combine with hawthorn and linden in treatment of hypertension.    (8)

Combine with greater periwinkle or ginkgo tinctures up to a 5 ml dose.  Drink with buckwheat or linden infusion to help repair arteriole walls.  Cayuga Botanicals R.D. Note — [There are a number of other herbs with a strong vaso-tonic action that do not have the dangers and contraindications of mistletoe:  for example, horse chestnut, ginkgo as mentioned, hawthorn, ginger, and many others.  Cf. Cayuga Botanicals  Monographs]    (15)

Precautions:    Leaves — contraindications include protein oversensitivity, chronic-progressive infections, as for example tuberculosis, high fever.  Non-toxic with oral administration.  Berries — said to emetic and evacuant effects and to have caused the death of children, but these are not convincingly substantiated. (2)

Berries are toxic;  avoid herb altogether in pregnancy.    (15)

Tincturing Process:

Applications:    Tea — 2.5 g or 1 tsp crushed, dried leaf with 1 c. cold water;  steep for 12 hours at room temperature, strain.

Wine — add 40 g. dried herb to 1 liter wine.  Preparation is ready after 3 days.

Infusion — 1 c. boiling water over 1-2 tsp dried herb;  infuse 10-15 min;  3 x daily.  Tincture — 1-4 ml, 3 x daily.    (8)

Infusion:  5-15 min., 3 oz., 2-3 x daily.  Decoction:  simmer 5-15 min.;  1 tbsp 3-4 x daily.  Tincture:  30-60 drops (1/2-1 tsp) 2-3 x daily.  Fluid extract:  1/4-1 tsp, 2-3 x daily.  Powder:  2-5 #0 capsules (up to 30 grains), 2-3 x daily.    (14)


Dosage:    Daily dose is 10 g. dried leaf, or 3-4 glasses of the wine, or 1-2 cups of the tea.    (2)

Powdered leaf dose, 1/2-2 drachms.  Liquid extract dose 1/4-1 drachm.    (57)

General Notes:



(2)  PDR for Herbal Medicines (Medical Economics Co., 1998), p. 1219-1221

(8)  The New Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman, p. 215

(14) Natural Healing With Herbs by Humbart Santillo BS, MH, pgs. 146-47

(15) The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody, pgs. 150-51, 181

(57) Potter’s Cyclopaedia by R.C. Wren, F.L.S., pgs. 236-37


PHOTO: Wikipedia