Mistletoe Benefits

Mistletoe
Latin Name

Viscum album

Also Known As

Viscum, Herbe de la Croix and Lignum Cruces

Origin

Europe and America

Parts Used

Dried leafy twigs

Traditional Use and Health Benefits

This mystical plant tends to conjure up pictures of stealing a kiss at Christmas, however Mistletoe has a long and esteemed history as a powerful medicinal herb.

Derived from the Celtic word meaning “all heal”, Mistletoe was mainly used to treat nervous disorders such as anxiety, depression and insomnia. It was usually prepared in a healing tea or tincture, although the berries were also crushed and made into a salve for various skin conditions.

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that attaches to its host tree via a structure called the haustorium, through which it extracts water and nutrients.

Mistletoe Benefits

Anxiety/Stress/Insomnia

Mistletoe is a powerful nervine - a herb that strengthens and feeds the nervous system. For anxiety, Mistletoe acts to lower the stress hormone cortisol, bringing the nerves down to a more manageable level.

Mistletoe has been used traditionally as a relaxant and herbal remedy for sleep for centuries. The chemical components of this herb impact the release of neurotransmitters that calm down and soothe the nervous system, which in turn will allow for a healthy and restful sleep.

Heart Health

Mistletoe is classed as “hypotensive”, meaning it can lower blood pressure. According to David Hoffman, author of “Medical Herbalism: The Science Principles and Practices of Herbal Medicine”, “Mistletoe opens up circulation to areas that have been cut off from adequate blood supply by tension. It reduces cardiovascular tension and blood pressure, while bringing in new blood, blood sugar, and healing to areas long cut off, tensed up, weakened, or damaged.”

Its ability to lower blood pressure helps to prevent pressure on the cardiovascular system which in turn prevents the chances of shrinkage of the arteries which can induce atherosclerosis. This action can help to prevent coronary heart disease and strokes.

Mistletoe has also been found to upregulate the nitric oxide pathway. A lack of nitric oxide to the heart can lead to heart failure and other dangerous heart conditions.

Immune Boosting

Mistletoe is an immune stimulant, with studies showing it can both stimulate and modulate the immune system. It is antioxidant, antibacterial and antiviral, helping to defend the body and fight off illnesses.

Mistletoe can also be used to strengthen the immune system post-operational. A 2006 study on immune modulation using Mistletoe found that an extract of the herb’s active ingredient “iscador”, could minimise the immune suppression triggered by anaesthesia and operation stress.

Respiratory Health

The nerve soothing properties of Mistletoe calm the respiratory system and relieve irritation in the bronchial tubes. It relaxes tightness in the chest and calms down persistent coughing and soothes inflamed sore throats.

It can also bring down the wheezing that can be brought on by asthma attack by calming the mental distress and panic.

Prevents DNA Damage

A 2012 study published in “Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine” found that Mistletoe extracts from plants grown on lime, locust and hedge-maple trees, significantly protected against nuclear DNA damage. Methanolic extracts were shown to prevent oxidative DNA damage, although its activity is dependant on the host tree.

There are many published studies that show the bioactive phenolic compounds in all strains of Mistletoe are powerfully antioxidant, protecting the cells of the body from oxidative stress and free radical damage.

Typical Use
Mistletoe Tincture   Take 1ml to 4 ml up to 3 times a day or as directed by a Herbal Practitioner   Mistletoe Tea 1-2 teaspoons cut herb per 1 cup of boiling water, leave to infuse  
Folklore and History
The tradition of kissing under the Mistletoe stems from the Scandinavian legend of Balder, the god of Peace, who was slain with an arrow made of Mistletoe. He was restored to life at the request of the other gods and goddesses, then Mistletoe was given into the keeping of the goddess of Love. It was ordained that everyone who passed under it should receive a kiss to show that the branch had now become an emblem of love. Mistletoe was also a plant of peace in antiquity. If enemies met by chance beneath it in a forest, they laid down their arms and maintained a truce until the next day. Mistletoe
Constituents

Mistletoe contains β-phenylethylamine, tyramine, and structurally related compounds such as iscador. 

Precautions

Not to be given to children or pregnant women. Do not take if using MAO inhibitor medication, such as some anti-depressants. Please consult your health practitioner if you are taking any prescription medication before using Mistletoe.