Also indexed as:Viscum album
Mistletoe: Main Image© Martin Wall
Botanical names:
Viscum album

Parts Used & Where Grown

Mistletoe grows as a partial parasite on a variety of trees—particularly pine, apple, plum, poplar, and spruce—across northern Europe and Asia. The young leafy twigs with flowers are used. Mistletoe’s white berries are potentially toxic and should be avoided. American mistletoe, various species of Phoradendron, are similar but have not been widely studied. They should not be substituted for European mistletoe until more information is available.

  • Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
  • Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
  • For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

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This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for AmountWhy
HIV and AIDS Support
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Mistletoe injections into the skin have shown beneficial effects in people with HIV.
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
European mistletoe has reduced headaches and dizziness associated with high blood pressure, according to preliminary research, and has a small blood pressure-lowering effect.
Type 1 Diabetes
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Mistletoe extract has been shown to stimulate insulin release from pancreas cells, and it may reduce diabetes symptoms.
Type 2 Diabetes
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Mistletoe extract has been shown to stimulate insulin release from pancreas cells, and it may reduce diabetes symptoms.

Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

The ancient Druids of northern Europe and other pagan groups revered mistletoe, particularly when it infected oak trees (a rare occurrence). Over time, this reverence of mistletoe was translated into the Christian ritual of hanging mistletoe over doorways at Christmas. The custom of kissing under the mistletoe may be a remnant of pagan orgies held before mistletoe altars.1

The name mistletoe is said to derive from the Celtic word for “all-heal.” This correlates with its historical use for everything from nervous complaints to bleeding to tumors.2 It is difficult to categorize all of the uses of mistletoe, particularly when one looks at the vast number of uses for this herb in traditional Chinese and Korean medicine. In the early 20th century, Rudolf Steiner created what is known as anthroposophical medicine. This mystical system used a variety of unusual remedies, including special extracts of mistletoe for injection. Steiner helped bring mistletoe into the modern era of scientific research, particularly as a potential treatment for cancer.3

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2018.