At the solstices, the druids, dressed in white, cut with a golden sickle mistletoe branches that were then used to prepare precious infusions, capable of curing any ailment. This ancient wisdom, in which magic and knowledge were mixed until they get confused, has passed the centuries and has arrived to us. Even today, in fact, mistletoe is considered a precious natural remedy, against both hypertension and cellular degeneration. Of course, nowadays the mistletoe is harvested without golden sickles and can be found in any herbalist's shop, but its reputation as a beneficial plant has remained, also thanks to numerous scientific researches that have studied and demonstrated its properties. Let's try to deepen the subject.
Mistletoe, antitumor properties
Mistletoe, scientific name Viscum album, contains various active ingredients, such as, for example, mistletoe lectins, which, acting in synergy, have shown an antitumor action. In fact, it has been observed that these substances act in different ways in order to block cellular degeneration, such as inducing apoptosis, namely the programmed death of diseased cells, hindering angiogenesis, that is the formation of new blood vessels that would nourish the tumor, and stimulating the immune system and the body's natural defenses against the threat (Weisseinstein et al, BMC Complement Altern Med, 2014). In some cases, extracts of mistletoe are administered to patients as a complementary therapy in case of cancer and have shown, in addition to the anticancer properties just seen, also to reduce secondary effects such as tiredness, nausea and anxiety (Szurpnicka et al, Arch Pharm Res, 2020). In any case, this is a use that should only be evaluated by the doctor and do-it-yourself should be avoided. In addition, as indicated in the same articles, other research will have to follow to fully understand the antitumor action of mistletoe. By reporting this information, the aim is only to make people understand the importance of mistletoe for health and that a cup of herbal tea from this plant has multiple benefits.
Mistletoe, antioxidant properties and the ability to keep blood pressure under control - Mistletoe also contains antioxidant substances, such as flavonoids and phenols, which fight free radical damage but also inflammation. Not only that, these substances also make mistletoe a useful remedy in case of hypertension (Nazatuk et al, Nat Prod Res, 2016). In fact, aqueous extracts of mistletoe have shown vasodilating properties, capable of reducing blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic, without altering the heart rhythm (Tabassum et al, Pharmacogn Rev, 2011 - Karagoz et al, Anatol J Cardiol, 2016). The well known herbalist Maria Treben, in her book Health through God’s Pharmacy, adds that mistletoe not only has a hypotensive action in case of high blood pressure, but is also able to raise blood pressure if it is too low.
Mistletoe and antidiabetic and anti-cholesterol properties
Mistletoe also shows an antidiabetic action, reducing blood sugar and at the same time increasing the release of insulin. Not only that, mistletoe also works by reducing LDL cholesterol and increasing HDL cholesterol (Szurpnicka et al, Arch Pharm Res, 2020).
Mistletoe tea and contraindications
As indicated by the herbalist Maria Treben, the mistletoe tea is prepared cold. Pour 2 teaspoons of dried mistletoe into a cup of cold water. Leave to infuse for 6 hours, then filter, heat slightly and drink. Maria Treben recommends, as a treatment in case of hypertension, to continue the treatment for 6 weeks, in particular, you should take three cups a day for three weeks, two cups for two weeks and finally one cup in the last week. Mistletoe is generally considered safe but be careful and ask your doctor for advice if you are already taking medications, such as hypotensives, antidiabetic drugs but also immunosuppressants, anticoagulants and antidepressants, to avoid interactions. In any case, it is always better to buy mistletoe in herbalist's shops and specialized shops and avoid autonomous harvesting as some parts of the plant, such as berries, are toxic.