Viscum Album, an herbal remedy for animals affected by cancer

Discover the benefits of Viscum Album (better known by its common name of mistletoe) to help your pet suffering from cancer.

Who does not have in mind this image of the Gallic druid, sickle in hand, picking mistletoe at the bottom of the forests to prepare a mysterious elixir healing all the evils of men? This plant with “magical” virtues for the Gauls was already used by the Greeks and Romans. Celsius and Dioscoride already evoked its anti-tumor effects. It was Rudolf Seiner who, in 1921, rationalized its use in anticancer therapy. Since hundreds of basic and clinical research confirm its benefits in oncology.

Mistletoe has many features making it apart from many other plants:

– its leaf is identical on both sides

– mistletoe does not show either heliotropism (does not turn towards the sun) or geotropism (seems not to be subject to earthly attraction). It is maintained as in weightlessness, between two worlds

– it is a little warmer inside the mistletoe ball than outside

– it does not have any bark

– its maturity comes in winter. Plants that work “upside down” from others often have remarkable peculiarities. Mistletoe develops against the current of the usual way plants work, making it, in a way, an “extra-terrestrial plant”


One of the fundamental principles in herbal medicine is the use of the totum of the plant, meaning the juxtaposition of all the chemical molecules extracted from the plant is more effective than each of its molecules used one after the other. The Viscum album is no exception to this rule. We find lectins (Viscum album pini has less than the others, which we will use in practice), viscotoxins, polysaccharides, flavonoids, triterpenes, polyphenols, phytohormone, thiols … etc.


In recent decades, research on Viscum album has accelerated and laboratories around the world are trying to decipher the action of Vicum album on both immunostimulation, apoptosis (programmed cell death) or cytotoxicity on cancer cells. The research also focuses on inflammation by its anti-Cox2 effect or its antioxidant and hypoglycemic effects. However, we are still far from knowing everything about this plant and every year new publications make us progress on the understanding of its different actions. You can read a selected bibliography below.

See our page for all practical information about this treatment for your pet at our veterinary practice in Cannes.


  •  Pae HO, Seo WG, Oh GS, Shin MK, Lee HS, Lee HS, Kim SB, Chung HT. Potentiation of tumor necrosis factor-alpha-induced apoptosis by mistletoe lectin. Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 2000 Nov;22(4):697-709. PMID 11105782
  • Braedel-Ruoff S. Immunomodulatory effects of Viscum album extracts on natural killer cells: review of clinical trials. Forsch Komplementmed. 2010 Apr;17(2):63-73. PMID 20484913
  • Büssing A. Immune modulation using mistletoe (Viscum album L.) extracts Iscador. Arzneimittelforschung. 2006 Jun;56(6A):508-15. PMID 16927532
  • Büssing A, Stumpf C, Tröger W, Schietzel M. Course of mitogen-stimulated T lymphocytes in cancer patients treated with Viscum album extracts. Anticancer Res. 2007 Jul-Aug;27(4C):2903-10. PMID 17695469
  • Duong Van Huyen JP, Delignat S, Bayry J, Kazatchkine MD, Bruneval P, Nicoletti A, Kaveri SV. Interleukin-12 is associated with the in vivo anti-tumor effect of mistletoe extracts in b16 mouse melanoma. Cancer Lett. 2006 Nov 8;243(1):32-7. INSERM U430, Institut des Cordeliers, IFR 58, Paris. PMID 16412563
  • Hostanska K, Hajto T, Fischer J, Mengs U, Weber K, Lentzen H, Saller R. Selective modulation of phosphatidylserine exposure on subpopulations of human peripheral blood lymphocytes by a plant lectin, Viscum album agglutinin (VAA)-I and its recombinant form (rVAA) in vitro. Cancer Detect Prev. 1999;23(6):511-23. PMID 10571662
  • Elluru SR, Duong Van Huyen JP, Delignat S, Prost F, Heudes D, Kazatchkine MD, Friboulet A, Kaveri SV. Antiangiogenic properties of viscum album extracts are associated with endothelial cytotoxicity. Anticancer Res. 2009 Aug;29(8):2945-50. PMID 19661299 texte intégral
  • Harmsma M, Gromme M, Ummelen M, Dignef W, Tusenius KJ, Ramaekers FC. Differential effects of Viscum album extract Iscador(R)Qu on cell cycle progression and apoptosis in cancer cells.. Int J Oncol. 2004 Dec;25(6):1521-9. [2]
  • Duong Van Huyen JP, Bayry J, Delignat S, Gaston AT, Michel O, Bruneval P, Kazatchkine MD, Nicoletti A, Kaveri SV. Induction of apoptosis of endothelial cells by Viscum album : A role for anti-tumoral properties of mistletoe lectins. Molecular Medicine. 2002 Oct;8(10):600-6. PMID 12477970 Texte intégral : [3]
  • Elluru S, Duong Van Huyen JP, Delignat S, Prost F, Bayry J, Kazatchkine MD, Kaveri SV. Molecular mechanisms underlying the immunomodulatory effects of mistletoe (Viscum album L.) extracts Iscador. Arzneimittelforschung. 2006 Jun;56(6A):461-6. PMID 16927527
  • Grossarth-Maticek R, Kiene H, Baumgartner SM, Ziegler R. Use of Iscador®, an extract of european mistletoe (Viscum album) in cancer treatment: prospective nonrandomized and randomized matched-pair studies nested within a cohort study. Alternative therapies in health and medicine, May-June 2001; vol.7, n°3, pp. 57-78. texte intégral
  • Huber R, Barth H, Schmitt-Graff A, Klein R. Hypereosinophilia induced by high-dose intratumoral and peritumoral mistletoe application to a patient with pancreatic carcinoma. J Altern Complement Med. 2000 Aug;6(4):305-10. PMID 10976976
  • Huber R, Ludtke H, Wieber J, Beckmann C. Safety and effects of two mistletoe preparations on production of Interleukin-6 and other immune parameters – a placebo controlled clinical trial in healthy subjects. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2011, 11:116 (24 November 2011)
  • Duong Van Huyen JP, Delignat S, Kazatchkine MD, Kaveri SV. Comparative study of the sensitivity of lymphoblastoid and transformed monocytic cell lines to the cytotoxic effects of Viscum album extracts of different origin. Chemotherapy. 2003 Dec;49(6):298-302. PMID 14671430
  • Eggenschwiler J, Patrignani A, Wagner U, Rehrauer H, Schlapbach R, Rist L, Ramos MH, Viviani A. Gene expression profiles of different breast cancer cells compared with their responsiveness to fermented mistletoe (Viscum album L.) extracts Iscador from oak (Quercus), pine (Pinus), white fir (Abies) and apple tree (Malus) in vitro. Arzneimittelforschung. 2006 Jun;56(6A):483-96. PMID 16927530
  • Ostermann T, Raak C, Büssing A. Survival of cancer patients treated with mistletoe extract (Iscador): a systematic literature review. BMC Cancer 2009, 9:451 PMID 20021637 texte intégral : [4]
  • Bock PR, Friedel WE, Hanisch J, Karasmann M, Schneider B. Efficacy and Safety of Long-term Complementary Treatment with Standardised European Mistletoe Extract (Viscum album L.) in Addition to the Conventional Adjuvant Oncological Therapy in Patients with Primary Non-metastatic Breast Cancer. Results of a multicentre, comparative, epidemiological cohort study in Germany and Switzerland. Arzneim.-Forsch./Drug Res. 2004 ; 54, N° 8, 456-466. Texte intégral : [5]
  • Schumacher K, Schneider B, Reich G, Stiefel T, Stoll G, Bock PR, Hanisch J, Beuth J. Influence of postoperative complementary treatment with lectin-standardized mistletoe extract on breast cancer patients. A controlled epidemiological multicentric retrolective cohort study. Anticancer Res. 2003 Nov-Dec;23(6D):5081-7. PMID 14981970
  • Horneber MA, Bueschel G, Huber R, Linde K, Rostock M. Mistletoe therapy in oncology. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 Apr 16;(2):CD003297. PMID 18425885
  • Kienle GS, Kiene H. Complementary cancer therapy: a systematic review of prospective clinical trials on anthroposophic mistletoe extracts. Eur J Med Res. 2007 Mar 26;12(3):103-19. PMID 17507307
  • Kienle GS, Kiene H. Review article: Influence of Viscum album L (European mistletoe) extracts on quality of life in cancer patients: a systematic review of controlled clinical studies. Integr Cancer Ther. 2010 Jun;9(2):142-57. PMID 20483874
  • Kienle GS, Berrino F, Büssing A, Portalupi E, Rosenzweig S, Kiene H. Mistletoe in cancer – a systematic review on controlled clinical trials. Eur J Med Res. 2003 Mar 27;8(3):109-19. PMID 12730032
  • Piao BK, Wang YX, Xie GR, Mansmann U, Matthes H, Beuth J, Lin HS. Impact of complementary mistletoe extract treatment on quality of life in breast, ovarian and non-small cell lung cancer patients. A prospective randomized controlled clinical trial. Anticancer Res. 2004 Jan-Feb;24(1):303-9. PMID 15015612
  • Ernst E, Schmidt K, Steuer-Vogt MK. Mistletoe for cancer? A systematic review of randomised clinical trials. Int J Cancer. 2003 Nov 1;107(2):262-7. PMID 12949804
  • Weissenstein U, Kunz M, Urech K, Baumgartner S. Interaction of standardized mistletoe (Viscum album) extracts with chemotherapeutic drugs regarding cytostatic and cytotoxic effects in vitro. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:6 (8 January 2014) Abstract texte intégral
  • Gunver S Kienle, Renate Grugel, Helmut Kiene Safety of higher dosages of Viscum album L. in animals and humans – systematic review of immune changes and safety parameters. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2011, 11:72 doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-72
  • Khan T, Ali S, Qayyum R, Hussain I, Wahid F, Shah A. Intestinal and vascular smooth muscle relaxant effect of Viscum album explains its medicinal use in hyperactive gut disorders and hypertension. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2016, 16:251 (27 July 2016) Abstract [6]
  • Hunziker-Basler N, Zuzak TJ, Eggenschwiler J, Rist L, Simões-Wüst AP, Viviani A. Prolonged cytotoxic effect of aqueous extracts from dried viscum album on bladder cancer cells. Pharmazie. 2007 Mar;62(3):237-8. PMID 17416204
  • Urech K, Buessing A, Thalmann G, Schaefermeyer H, Heusser P. Antiproliferative effects of mistletoe (Viscum album L.) extract in urinary bladder carcinoma cell lines. Anticancer Res. 2006 Jul-Aug;26(4B):3049-55. PMID 16886633
  • Mengs U, Schwarz T, Bulitta M, Weber K. Madaus AG. Antitumoral effects of an intravesically applied aqueous mistletoe extract on urinary bladder carcinoma MB49 in mice. Anticancer Res. 2000 Sep- Oct;20(5B):3565-8. PMID 11131663
  • Chernyshov VP, Heusser P, Omelchenko LI, Chernyshova LI, Vodyanik MA, Vykhovanets EV, Galazyuk LV, Pochinok TV, Gaiday NV, Gumenyuk ME, Zelinsky GM, Schaefermeyer H, Schaefermeyer G. Immunomodulatory and clinical effects of Viscum album (Iscador M and Iscador P) in children with recurrent respiratory infections as a result of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Am J Ther. 2000 May;7(3):195-203. PMID: 11317168
  • Bruneton J. Pharmacognosie, Phytochimie, Plantes médicinales. Ed. Tec et Doc. 1997.
  • Documentation Weleda
  • Kienle GS, Grugel R, Kiene H. Safety of higher dosages of Viscum album L. in animals and humans–systematic review of immune changes and safety parameters. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Aug 28;11:72. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-11-72. PMID 21871125
  1. Büssing A, Tröger W, Stumpf C, Schietzel M. Local reactions to treatments with Viscum album L. extracts and their association with T-lymphocyte subsets and quality of life. Anticancer Res. 2008 May-Jun;28(3B):1893-7. PMID 18630477
  • Étude et bibliographie du National Cancer Institute :
  • Ziegler R. Mistletoe Preparation Iscador: Are there Methodological Concerns with Respect to Controlled Clinical Trials?Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2009 Mar;6(1):19-30. doi: 10.1093/ecam/nem121. PMID 18955241 texte intégral
  • Wichtl Max, Anton Robert. Plantes thérapeutiques : Tradition, pratique officinale, science et thérapeutique. Ed. Tec & Doc. Cachan. 1999.
  • Revue Phytotherapie n° 14
  • Antony S, Kuttan R, Kuttan G. Effect of viscum album in the inhibition of lung metastasis in mice induced by B16F10 melanoma cells. J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 1997 Jun;16(2):159-62. PMID 9261741
  • Baudino S. Extraits de gui (Viscum album L.) : leurs propriétés inhibitrices sur quelques systèmes végétaux = Extracts from mistletoe plants (Viscum album L.): their inhibitory properties against some plan systems. 1985. Thèse d’université Biol. vég. Paris 6.
  • Friedel WE, Matthes H, Bock PR et all. Mistletoe in supportive care in patients with primary non-metastatic colorectal carcinoma. ESMO conférence Lugano, Switzerland, juillet 2007
  • Hamre HJ, Witt CM, Glockmann A, Ziegler R, Willich SN, Kiene H. Anthroposophic medical therapy in chronic disease: a four-year prospective cohort study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2007 Apr 23;7:10.
  • Kaveri SV, Duong Van Huyen JP, et coll. Variable sensitivity of lymphoblastoid cells to apoptosis induced by Viscum album Qu FrF, a therapeutic preparation of mistletoe lectin. Chemotherapy. 2001 Sep-Oct;47(5):366-76. [7]
  • Mansky PJ, Grem J, Wallerstedt DB, Monahan BP, Blackman MR. Mistletoe and gemcitabine in patients with advanced cancer: a model for the phase I study of botanicals and botanical-drug interactions in cancer therapy. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, USA. Integr Cancer Ther. 2003 Dec;2(4):345-52. PMID 14713326
  • Matthes H, Friedel WE, Bock PR et all. Supportive care in pancreatic carcinoma patients treated with a fermented mistletoe (Viscum album L.) extract. ESMO conférence Lugano, Switzerland, 5-8 juillet 2007