Featured Food: Mistletoe

I love to learn to learn news things, and boy today (actually the last couple of week’s in general) did I ever learn about mistletoe! Most of you probably correlate mistletoe with the picture, as that cheesy decoration during the Holiday great for making out and sneaking kisses underneath. Never really did I think about it’s potential health benefits. Let’s begin with a little history lesson, because although I study and present mostly science, history/geography/culture is wear my heart lies-plus mistletoe has a rich history. It is a bush that hangs from other tress like poplar, willow, birch, pear, plum, cherry, maple and more (although it is the fruit-bearing trees that have the best reputation). Before it became traditional representation to honor our hyped-up hormones, it was actually seen as a pagan religious symbol in olden days. They actually considered it to be quite magical because of attributes like:

  • healed diseases
  • brought good fortune
  • Harry - Harry Potter moviesprotected against witch craft (you’ve got to be leery of those Harry Potter types)
  • considered to bring fertility

In the Middle Ages they hung it to protect against unclean spirits. The Romans, actually steer us towards today’s use, because they used it to legalize marriages, with the happy couple kissing under neath the mistletoe. Vikings take it to the brink of magical powers, believing that it had the power to bring back the dead (I warned you they were a little extreme). I know this is overwhelming cool, but I’m also aware that this is a ‘health’ blog, so here is the impressive health benefit resume for mistletoe (I had to do much decoding for this too in order to simplify):

  • First and foremost is what Cowan included in his cancer chapter that says mistletoe: selectively kills only cancer, leaving no collateral damage. It normalizes immune response and helps to restore healthy communication amongst cells (noting that research for this is 70+ years in the making).
  • It raises body temperature
  • Affects interleukin-2 (another aspect of immunity), lowering it when it is high, while also raising it when it is low.
  • antispasmodic (as in the relieving of spasms)
  • calming
  • cytostatic (cell growth and division)
  • purgative (cleanse)
  • cardiotonic (heart strengthening)
  • vermifuge (expel worms/parasites)
  • diuretic

Naturally with this pedigree it has been used to help with/calm: colds, asthma, epilepsy, nervous fits, hysteria, ischemia, memory disturbances, uterine cramps, immunity disturbances, not to forget the mentioned studies with cancer. Of course I would not suggest self-medicating yourself with mistletoe extract, but it may be an amusing subject to ask your physician about. Mistletoe? Who knew? I surely didn’t, but I thoroughly enjoyed learning and presenting it to you. More Fourfold Path to Healing coming next week!

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