Cancer Care with Mistletoe Therapy

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By: Susie Fairgrieve
Park Attwood Clinic is a 14-bed clinic in Worcestershire, England, which has cared for hundreds of women with breast cancer over the last 24 years. Patients are seen as outpatients and can have inpatient residential care, with outpatient follow-up treatment. The conventionally qualified doctors and nurses incorporate various natural medicines and holistic therapies into the treatment program, to strengthen the patient on all levels: physical and emotional. The approach is known as anthroposophic medicine and integrates conventional treatments with complementary ones, underpinned by the belief that our well-being is influenced not just by our physical health, but also depends on our psychological and spiritual health.

Anthroposophic medicine takes into account mind, body and soul and is designed to treat a particular person as well as particular illnesses. One of the therapies frequently prescribed at the clinic is mistletoe therapy. Clinical Director Dr. Maurice Orange, arts (Utrecht NL)* has 20 years’ experience with mistletoe therapy for cancer patients, and has worked at Park Attwood since 1987. He currently treats and advises around 200 patients a year with cancer, and about 50 percent of these are women with breast cancer.

Doctors have been developing cancer medicines prepared from mistletoe (Viscum album) since the 1920s, and this therapy forms the backbone of medical care given to cancer patients in anthroposophic medicine and at Park Attwood. Mistletoe treatment for cancer is far better known in Europe, and there are several consultant-led centers and hospitals in Germany, Austria and Switzerland that specialize in this therapy. For instance, the Lukas Clinic near Basel, Switzerland has treated over 30,000 patients and is a well-known center of excellence for cancer care. Mistletoe preparations are the best-selling anti- cancer drugs in Germany, used by over half of all physicians, usually as an adjunct to conventional therapies.

Mistletoe also helps with common side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy like fatigue, nausea, digestive complaints and weight loss, sleeplessness, low mood and infections. It can also help to reduce pain. It has been shown to stimulate and strengthen the immunological defense systems, and so support the body in fighting the effects of cancer. Or as Dr. Orange eloquently sums up its overall effects: “Mistletoe offers guidance to the body and plants seeds of strength, confidence and hope.”

Different types of mistletoe are available, harvested from different trees and prepared by varying manufacturing processes, and the clinic can advise on the most suitable form for an individual patient. The mistletoe extract is usually given as a subcutaneous injection. Once an initial course of treatment is established, patients are encouraged to learn how to self-administer the therapy in the comfort of their own home. An immune stimulation by mistletoe can result in a little light-headedness or feelings of weariness, flu-like symptoms, and a slight reddening of the skin at the site of the injection, all of which are transient. It can be given in substantial doses to increase body temperature and produce fever, which has been shown to improve the immune response of the body and is seen as a positive effect.

The doctors at Park Attwood recommend the use of mistletoe therapy in conjunction with conventional treatments, not as an alternative.

For more information about Park Attwood visit their website

* arts (Utrecht NL) represents the medical qualification in the Netherlands.

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