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Mistletoe-for-Kissing--Health

There is controversy over the origins of the tradition of kissing under mistletoe at Christmas and similar controversies extend to the use of mistletoe to promote human health. A review of research published the past two years has added a great deal to an understanding of the science related to the therapeutic effects of mistletoe lectins and other plant derivatives. This new research suggests that there are fewer risks of adverse effects from mistletoe lectin treatment than previously believed. Numerous studies support the role of mistletoe therapy with both improvement of quality of life and potentially inhibiting tumor growth in patients with multiple forms of cancer. In fact, most of the studies this last year have focused on the cancer issue elucidating some of the underlying mechanisms by which mistletoe may have an impact in cancer care. Although individual patient case reports do not provide evidence of cause and effect, an interesting case was published of a 43 year old woman with pancreatic adenocarcinoma that had spread to the lymph system and liver. After surgery she was given chemotherapy and began taking mistletoe abstracts. Ten months later the cancer was in remission and the authors point out that “…long term remission of metastatic pancreatic cancer are extremely rare.” Like this case report, much of the therapeutic benefits ascribed to mistletoe are largely unsubstantiated but we are beginning to know more.

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