Extracts from this woody plant are injected or infused for cancer treatment, often reducing side effects and improving quality of life, and perhaps improving survival.

Mistletoe at a glance

Mistletoe is a woody plant, with different species found in many places. Mistletoe is available in three main varieties:

  1. European mistletoe (Viscum album)
  2. Korean mistletoe (Viscum album var. coloratum)
  3. American mistletoe (Phoradendron leucarpum)

This summary focuses on European mistletoe. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved mistletoe as a treatment for cancer or any other medical condition. Mistletoe preparations are most commonly administered as an injection below the skin or as an intravenous infusion.1Professional Resource: Mistletoe. Centre for Health Innovation. January 2020. Viewed October 23, 2021.

Some evidence shows improved tumor response or survival with mistletoe extracts, often used along with conventional treatmentsthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy. Several studies show improved quality of life among people with cancer, often due to fewer side effects of treatments.

CancerChoices ratings for mistletoe

We rate mistletoe on seven attributes, with 0 the lowest rating and 5 the highest. We rate the strength of the evidence supporting the use of mistletoe for a medical benefit, such as improving treatment outcomes or managing side effects.

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Improving treatment outcomes

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Optimizing your body terrain

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Managing side effects and promoting wellness

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Reducing cancer risk

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Use by integrative oncology experts

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Affordability and access

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Keep reading about mistletoe


Nancy Hepp, MS

Lead Researcher
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Ms. Hepp is a researcher and communicator who has been writing and editing educational content on varied health topics for more than 20 years. She serves as lead researcher and writer for CancerChoices and also served as the first program manager. Her graduate work in research and cognitive psychology, her master’s degree in instructional design, and her certificate in web design have all guided her in writing and presenting information for a wide variety of audiences and uses. Nancy’s service as faculty development coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine at Wright State University also provided experience in medical research, plus insights into medical education and medical care from the professional’s perspective.

Nancy Hepp, MS Lead Researcher


Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS

Senior Clinical Consultant
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Laura Pole is senior clinical consultant for CancerChoices. Laura is an oncology clinical nurse specialist who has been providing integrative oncology clinical care, navigation, consultation, and education services for over 40 years. She is the co-creator and co-coordinator of the Integrative Oncology Navigation Training at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC. Laura also manages the “Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use” listserv for Smith Center/Commonweal. In her role as a palliative care educator and consultant, Laura has served as statewide Respecting Choices Faculty for the Virginia POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) Collaborative as well as provided statewide professional education on palliative and end-of-life care for the Virginia Association for Hospices and Palliative Care.

For CancerChoices, Laura curates content and research, networks with clinical and organizational partners, brings awareness and education of integrative oncology at professional and patient conferences and programs, and translates research into information relevant to the patient experience as well as clinical practice.

Laura sees her work with CancerChoices as a perfect alignment of all her passions, knowledge and skills in integrative oncology care. She is honored to serve you.

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS Senior Clinical Consultant

Gunver Sophia Kienle, MD

Physician, medical researcher, and CancerChoices advisor
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Dr. Kienle studied medicine in Witten-Herdecke and Göttingen, Germany, and received methodological training at Harvard University in the USA. Her research interests and activities include clinical trials on anthroposophic medicine, mistletoe therapy, eurythmy therapy, placebo effects, clinical research methodology, clinical judgement, single-case study designs, case reporting, cognition-based medicine, systematic reviews on pre-clinical and clinical studies on mistletoe therapy, and reviews on tumor biology, tumor immunology, bacterial vaccine therapy, and system approaches in medicine. Dr Kienle has conducted a health technology assessment report on anthroposophic medicine.

Gunver Sophia Kienle, MD Physician, medical researcher, and CancerChoices advisor

Last update: December 18, 2023

Last full literature review: October 2021

CancerChoices provides information about integrative in cancer care, a patient-centered approach combining the best of conventional care, self care and evidence-informed complementary care in an integrated plan cancer care. We review complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocial therapy, and acupuncture therapies and self-care lifestyle actions and behaviors that may impact cancer outcomes; examples include eating health-promoting foods, limiting alcohol, increasing physical activity, and managing stress practices to help patients and professionals explore and integrate the best combination of conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy and complementary therapies and practices for each person.

Our staff have no financial conflicts of interest to declare. We receive no funds from any manufacturers or retailers gaining financial profit by promoting or discouraging therapies mentioned on this site.

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