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Mistletoe

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  • Botanical: Viscum album
  • Family: Santalaceae
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Mistletoe

Botanical

Viscum album

Family

Santalaceae

Known as

Mistletoe, Viscum album, European Mistletoe, Common Mistletoe, Mistel, Affalter, Albranken, Birnäpsel, Bocksfutter, Donarbesen, Donnerbeseb, Drudenfuss, Geisskraut, Heil aller Schäden, Heiligkreuzholz, Hexenbesen, Hexenchrut, Hexennest, Immergrün, Kenster

Old Use

ceremonial use

Collection Times

November to December

Parts Used

fruit

Medicinal

arteriosclerosis, arthritis, bleeding, bile weakness, cancer, constipation, diabetes, dizziness, eczema, epilepsy, fever, hay fever, headache, high blood preasure, indigestion, menstrual problems, menopausal symptom, rheumatism, ulcers, varicose veins, edema, hay fever, neurasthenia, rapid pulse

Heart & Circulation

circulation, hemostatic, high blood pressure, varicose veins, palpitations, rapid pulse

Muscle & Joints

arthritis, convulsions, rheumatism, spasm

Mind & Nerves

anxiety, anorexia, depression, epilepsy, insomnia, memory, nervousness, sleep, stress relief

Stomach & Intestinal

cancer, stomach pain, stomach cramps

Skin & Hair

hair loss

Properties

anticonvulsive, antispasmodic, anti inflammatory, diuretic, hypotensive, narcotic, nervine, stimulant, tonic

Description

The stem is yellowish and smooth, freely forked, separating when dead into bone-like joints. The leaves are tongue-shaped, broader towards the end, 1 to 3 inches long, very thick and leathery, of a dull yellow-green colour, arranged in pairs, with very short footstalks. The flowers, small and inconspicuous, are arranged in threes, in close short spikes or clusters in the forks of the branches, and are of two varieties, the male and female occurring on different plants. Neither male nor female flowers have a corolla, the parts of the fructification springing from the yellowish calyx.

They open in May. The fruit is a globular, smooth, white berry, ripening in December.

Properties & Uses

Other Uses - None known

Traditional Use

Mistletoe is chiefly used to lower blood pressure and heart rate, ease anxiety and promote sleep. In low doses it can also relieve panic attacks and headaches, and also improves the ability to concentrate. The plant's efficacy as an anticancer treatment has been subject to a significant amount of research - there is no doubt that certain constituents of the plant , especially the viscotoxins, exhibit an anticancer activity but the value of the whole plant in cancer treatment is not fully accepted. It is said that the constituents of mistletoe vary according to the host plant it is growing on - that found on oak trees is said to be superior. Because of the potential side effects, this plant should only be used internally under the guidance of a skilled practitioner. Using the plant internally can provoke intolerant reactions to certain substances. The leaves and young twigs contain several medically active compounds. They are antispasmodic, cardiac, cytostatic, diuretic, hypotensive, narcotic, nervine, stimulant, tonic and vasodilator. They are harvested just before the berries form and are dried for later use. Mistletoe has a reputation for curing epilepsy and other convulsive nervous disorders. The effect of the correct dosage is to lessen and temporarily benumb the nervous activity that causes the spasms, but larger doses can produce the problem. Mistletoe has also been employed in checking internal haemorrhages, in treating high blood pressure and in treating cancer of the stomach, lungs and ovaries. Externally, the plant has been used to treat arthritis, rheumatism, chilblains, leg ulcers and varicose veins. A homeopathic remedy is made from equal quantities of the berries and leaves. It is difficult to make because of the viscidity of the sap. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Viscum album Mistletoe for rheumatism, tremor therapy as a adjuvant 

Cautions

All parts of the plant are poisonous, though the toxicity level is very slight. Hepatitis may occur. Toxic doses: hypotension, coma, seizures, pupil dilation, death. Contraindicated during pregnancy. Can interfere with allopathic drugs for high blood pressure, heart disease, antidepressants and anticoagulants. Avoid for progressive disorders like tuberculosis. It's use for cancers and leukemia is currently under review

Distribution

Mistletoe is found throughout Europe, and in this country is particularly common in Herefordshire and Worcestershire. In Scotland it is almost unknown.

Constituents

Mistletoe contains mucilage, sugar, a fixed oil, resin, an odorous principle, some tannin and various salts.