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Mistletoe  for Cancer Therapy in Dogs and Cats

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What is Mistletoe and how can it help my pet?

Mistletoe ( Viscum Album) is a parasitic plant that grows on trees.  Most of us are familiar with it hanging in door ways and couples kissing under it at Christmas time.  Ancient Druids considered it magical because it bloomed in the winter when most other plants were dead.  They considered it a promotor of fertility and longevity.  Mistletoe was  used for medicinal purposes such as seizure and pain treatment  and to "calm the nerves" by the Druids.

In 1917 Dr Ita Wegman and Dr Rudolf Steiner gave mistletoe to  cancer patients and saw positive results.  Mistletoe was used as a "warming therapy"  to induce a strong immune response to the cancer.  Mistletoe has been used in Europe (primarily Switzerland and Germany) for cancer treatment ever since. It is also used in South America.

How does Mistletoe work?

Mistletoe contains lectins and viscotoxins that stimulate the immune system to fight cancer and induce apoptosis (destruction) of cancer cells.  Mistletoe supports natural killer cells and CD8t cells that break down cancer cell membranes and encourages the immune system to seek out tumor cells and damage them.  Mistletoe decreases tumor metastasis (spread) by decreasing vascular endothelial growth factor so the blood supply to the tumor is limited.  Mistletoe also has endorphin-like substances that improve quality of life and decrease pain.

Is Mistletoe effective for all types of cancer?

Mistletoe can be used for malignant or non-malignant (benign) tumors. It can be used for most types of cancer but works best for solid tumors such as bladder tumors (transitional cell carcinoma), liver tumors, lung tumors, lymphoma, mammary tumors and mast cell tumors.

Mistletoe is not used in patients with brain tumors or spinal cord tumors.

How is Mistletoe given?

Mistletoe is given by subcutaneous injection (SQ) with a tiny needle (25 g) three times weekly.  We can teach you how to give the injections at home.  If you don't feel comfortable doing this at home and live nearby the injections can be given here in the clinic. 

Mistletoe is given in increasing increments until we see a reaction occur. Mistletoe is not a protocol therapy - it is individualized to the pet. Local reactions may appear as a small bump, tenderness, heat, redness or swelling at the injection site.  Systemic reactions may appear as your pet acting tired, slightly lethargic or running a mild fever.  The reactions are a good sign - they mean your pet's immune system is being activated to fight the cancer.  People taking mistletoe report experiencing a better quality of life.

Taking Mistletoe by mouth is not recommended due to poor absorption and studies show it is not effective when taken by mouth.


Can Mistletoe be given if a pet is on chemotherapy, radiation or other medications?

Yes, mistletoe can be combined with chemotherapy and radiation treatments.  It improves the quality of life in human patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation by decreasing fatigue, insomnia, nausea and pain and increasing energy.  Mistletoe can also be combined with ozone, supplements, acupuncture and herbs. 

   - or -

Mistletoe can be used as a palliative cancer treatment when conventional therapies (chemotherapy, radiation) are not an option.

What types of animals do you treat with Mistletoe?

We treat dogs and cats.

What animals should NOT be treated with Mistletoe?

Animals allergic to mistletoe,  latex, banana, avocado, kiwi and chestnuts should not take mistletoe. 

Mistletoe should not be given the same day a pet receives IV Vitamin C, chemotherapy or radiation. ( It can be given on the next day.)

Animals with an acute infection should not take mistletoe.

Animals with autoimmune diseases being treated with immune suppressants should not take mistletoe.

Pregnant or nursing animals should not take mistletoe.

Animals with intracranial or spinal cord tumors should not take mistletoe.

Animals with hormonal diseases (feline hyperthyroidism, diabetes mellitus, Cushing's disease) must be medicated and controlled before beginning mistletoe.

What are the side effects of Mistletoe?

Mistletoe is generally well tolerated, however your pet may experience some minor side effects:

     A lump, swelling, tenderness or itchiness at the injection site.

     Mild fever

     Mild lethargy

     GI signs like vomiting, diarrhea or pasty stools.  The GI side effects tend to decrease with repeated injections as the pet              becomes accustomed to it.  GI signs respond well to Maropitant (Cerenia) and probiotics.

A bump, tenderness or itching at the injection site and mild fever is actually a good sign that the pet's immune system is being stimulated.

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