What is the MISTLETE for: Properties and Benefits

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The mistletoe is a plant with a great Christmas tradition in many countries and that, in addition, has been traditionally known for its medicinal properties. In fact, for its properties it was highly prized by the ancient Druids. Currently, it is still widely used to improve health, as it has anti-inflammatory, mild sedative, diuretic, etc., and is also used as part of the Christmas decoration.

If you do not know much about this plant and you are curious to know what it can do for our health, join us in this Green Ecologist article in which we reveal what is mistletoe for, its properties and benefits.

How is the mistletoe plant - characteristics

Between the characteristics of the mistletoe plant are these traits:

  • Its scientific name is Viscum album and it is a semi-parasitic plant.
  • It is native to various areas of Europe, America, and southern and western Asia, so it is naturally widespread.
  • It develops between the branches of other trees, mainly deciduous species and some pines.
  • Its leaves are a bright light green color.
  • Its characteristic and striking round fruits they are green in their early stages of development and white or yellow later.

Medicinal properties of mistletoe

Since ancient times, this plant has been highly appreciated both for its medicinal properties and for those attributed to it of a mystical nature. It is worth observing one by one its properties and also benefits to know when we can use it (however, we should always consult a doctor before starting to take it). A) Yes, What is mistletoe used for?

Properties of mistletoe as a medicinal plant

  • Vasodilator
  • Mild hypotensive
  • Sedative
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Analgesic
  • Immunomodulator
  • Antitumor
  • Antirheumatic
  • Diuretic
  • Lipid-lowering
  • Antispasmodic

It is important to mention that mistletoe can be a toxic plant. Its toxicity is low, and it is necessary to take high amounts for its effects to be negative, but it is better to always look for the right amounts and concentrations when making remedies with it.

What is mistletoe for - benefits

Taking into account the aforementioned properties, the use of the mistletoe as a medicinal plant it can have many benefits.

Currently, the one that gives more to talk about is his ability to fight certain types of cancer due to its cytostatic or antitumor action, in addition to helping to alleviate the effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The NCI (National Cancer Institute) groups and recognizes different studies in the treatment of various types of cancer with injections of subcutaneous ampoules of mistletoe extract, which are very simple to apply. Many centers offer mistletoe treatment to patients receiving radiotherapy or chemotherapy. Dr. Natalia Eres, from the Khuab clinic in Barcelona, affirms that 70% of the patients they treat decide to join mistletoe therapy, which causes the "suicide" of tumor cells and improves the body's response in the fight against cancer[1].

Outside the realm of cancer, these are other benefits of mistletoe and its medicinal uses:

  • Has the ability to relieve sciatica pain. To use this plant for this purpose, a compress made with a solution macerated overnight of a tablespoon of powdered mistletoe in a glass of boiling water should be applied to the affected area.
  • If the mistletoe leaves in a bottle with pharmacy alcohol are left to macerate in the refrigerator, in equal parts and for two weeks, the resulting solution is a great relief against tired legs or areas with circulatory problems.
  • Mistletoe berries, crushed and mixed with lemon juice in equal proportions, are a very good solution against skin conditions, such as pimples and styes.
  • In some cases, which should be assessed by a physician, kidney pain and kidney stones they can be relieved with an infusion of berries and mistletoe leaves. Applied in compresses to the affected area, the mistletoe infusion will help soothe discomfort and expel the stones.
  • In the same way, the leaves macerated for about 12 hours in water, until the mixture acquires a somewhat thick texture, are a very effective remedy for tired or sore feet. You just have to let them rest in the mixture, which can be diluted in more water with a bowl, for approximately 15 or 30 minutes.
  • Is used as mild sedative or tranquilizer because it contains a lectin, viscotoxin, which acts on the myocardium, a part of the heart, and favors the dilation of the arteries and, thus, balances the heart rate by reducing it a little.
  • For this same property just mentioned, mistletoe can help soothe headaches produced by nervous tension.
  • Due to its vasodilator and anti-inflammatory effects, it is used to reduce inflammation of hemorrhoids and varicose veins.
  • It is also used in treatments for rheumatic processes, multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis and others. degenrative type diseases, as it has strong immunomodulatory and antirheumatic properties. Here you can learn more about the best medicinal plants to cure osteoarthritis.
  • Can help regulate cholesterol for its lipid-lowering properties.
  • It also helps remove retained fluids, especially if it is combined with more medicinal plants.

Mistletoe extract, tincture, infusion, powders and juice of the fresh plant are usually consumed. If you want to discover more common medicinal plants, we recommend this other post by Green Ecologist on Types of aromatic and medicinal plants.

Using mistletoe at Christmas

The origin of the use of mistletoe as a source of traditions is in the seventeenth century, when the druids they used it as a magical and sacred plant, for its ability to stay green throughout the season.

In the 18th century a romantic sense was attributed to it: it was said that a young woman of marriageable age could not refuse a kiss under a mistletoe plant, which would also be the start of a romance. The tradition spread quickly, and it ended up becoming the equivalent of a marriage request and a good omen for it.

In fact, it was believed that if the kiss under the mistletoe occurred on Christmas Eve, it was said that the kissed woman would keep her love or find the one she was looking for. This custom has survived to this day as the traditional kiss under the Christmas mistletoe.

In addition, mistletoe is currently and very commonly used as an element of Christmas decoration, where tradition says that it should be placed on or near the door to keep evil spirits at bay. If you like this Christmas plant as a decorative element, here you can learn more about Flowers and typical Christmas plants.

If you want to read more articles similar to What is mistletoe for: properties and benefits, we recommend that you enter our category of natural remedies.

  1. NCI (National Cancer Institute) Mistletoe Extracts (PDQ®) - Patient Version (2022): https://www.cancer.gov/espanol/cancer/treatment/mca/patient/mistletoe-pdq
  • Cebrián, J., (2012), Dictionary of medicinal plants, Barcelona, Spain, Integral RBA Libros.
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