European and Oriental mistletoe: From mythology to contemporary integrative cancer care

Efraim Lev, Marco Ephraim, Eran Ben-Arye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Medical uses of European mistletoe (Viscum album L.) and Oriental mistletoe (Viscum cruciatum Sieb.) have been common since early times, included cancer therapy. The two mistletoes are mentioned in Classical sources (e.g. Dioscorides and Pliny) and by medieval European practitioners (e.g. Paracelsus) and Arab physicians (e.g. al-Kindi, al-Ghafiqi, and Ibn al-Baytar). These plants are also known as symbols of love and feature in legends throughout ancient and modern Europe. Contemporary traditional medicine uses of mistletoes are found in Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Turkey, and Pakistan.In 1916, Rudolf Steiner mentioned for the first time mistletoe extracts as possible for cancer therapy. V. album has gained notable attention due to its central role as leading remedy in cancer care in Anthroposophic medicine.Contrary to the abundance of studies on V. album, there is lack of clinical trials concerning anti-cancer activities of V. cruciatum. We conclude a discrepancy between the paucity of research data concerning V. cruciatum and its attributed efficacy as suggested in historical and ethno-botanical literature. Thus, based on the significant findings achieved in V. album research, we recommend targeting research on the therapeutic potential of V. cruciatum in cancer care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-137
JournalEuropean Journal of Integrative Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Anthroposophic medicine
  • Cancer
  • Islamic medicine
  • Oncology
  • Viscum album
  • Viscum cruciatum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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