Mistletoe extract acts on many levels: On the one hand, it boosts the immune system by multiplying and activating the immune cells. On the other, mistletoe extract can induce apoptosis – the process of natural cell death – which can inhibit tumor growth.
Healthy tissue is not adversely affected by this. On the contrary: Mistletoe extract protects the DNA of immune cells and other healthy cells against damage caused by cytostatic drugs. As a result, side effects of chemotherapy can be reduced.
Mistletoe therapy results in significant improvements in patients’ quality of life:
- It activates the immune system and the production of defense cells.
- It stimulates “programmed cell death” (apoptosis), particularly in tumor cells, which have lost this ability and thus multiply uncontrollably.
- It protects the DNA of healthy cells against damage caused by cytostatic drugs, so the side effects of chemotherapy are reduced.
- Patients’ general well-being improves, as the immune system remains active and infections are prevented.
- Fatigue, particularly during and after chemotherapy, is less severe.
- Nausea during chemotherapy is reduced.
- It stimulates the appetite, the body gains new energy.
- Sleep improves.
- Energy increases.
- Mistletoe products raise the patient’s body temperature slightly, warming their body through. Many cancer patients have a low average body temperature and easily feel cold.
- Less sensitivity to pain, so fewer painkillers and sedatives are needed.
- Patients often report a more positive outlook, more courage and initiative, and less fear.
Sometimes, mistletoe therapy can also help shrink a tumor and prolong survival.
This mode of action makes mistletoe therapy a key supplement to standard oncological therapies.
How to use mistletoe
Mistletoe therapy is an individual one. Before starting the therapy, please discuss it with your doctor in detail. He will decide which host tree is best suited to your specific situation. Helixor manufactures mistletoe products from apple tree, fir, and pine mistletoe.
Mistletoe products for cancer therapy are manufactured exclusively as ampoules. They must always be stored at room temperature (maximum 25 °C) or in a fridge (2 – 8 °C) in the closed package (protected from light). Please pay close attention to our instructions for subcutaneous injection as well as the package leaflet.
Usually, mistletoe products are injected subcutaneously, two to three times a week. Ideally around the navel or into the upper thighs, because the skin is less sensitive to pain there.
Never inject into any of the following:
- Inflamed skin areas
- Radiation fields (areas where you receive or have received radiation therapy)
- The chest or arm where you had breast surgery
- Near recent surgical scars
The first injection must be done by your doctor or their assistant. After you are familiar with the process, you can administer the ampoule yourself, or ask a relative or caregiver to do it.
Ideally, you will see reddening and slight swelling at the injection site. This so-called local reaction reaches a peak 2 – 3 days after the injection was given, then quickly disappears. This is neither an allergy nor a side effect – your body is responding to the mistletoe extract. Sometimes, the injection site will itch a little. Your doctor will select a dosage to keep the diameter of your local reaction under 5 cm (2 in).
Please keep the following in mind:
- If there is no reddening or swelling at the injection site, you will need to increase your dosage (talk to your doctor first).
- If the local reaction is smaller than 5 cm (2 in), keep the dosage constant – don’t increase it.
- If the local reaction is about 5 cm (2 in), go down one dosage step.
- If the local reaction is larger than 5 cm (2 in), go down two dosage steps.
The next injection is given after the local reaction subsides. That’s why it can sometimes take several weeks for you and your doctor to find the right dosage for you.
The optimum dosage is achieved when your overall well-being and/or specific symptoms (such as pain, fear, or depression) improve and your body temperature increases slightly, by about 1 °C (1.8 °F). You will feel pleasantly warm. However, if you develop a fever above 38 °C (100.4 °F), you need to contact your doctor and discuss how to proceed.
Duration of mistletoe therapy
If the tumor is still detectable, or if you are receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy, the mistletoe therapy is continued without a break. Later on, to avoid habituation, individual therapy cycles are recommended. Mistletoe therapy is usually administered for several years.