The Christmas plant mistletoe that couples kiss under according to folklore may also be an effective colon cancer treatment a new study suggests. It also may minimize the side effects of conventional chemotherapy.
The research into mistletoe’s reported cancer fighting properties was conducted at the University of Adelaide in Australia.
Health Sciences Zahra Lotfollahi evaluated the performance of three types of mistletoe extract and chemotherapy in the treatment of colon cancer. Medical News Today reports that one of the extracts — Fraxini — stood head and shoulders above the others and was also gentler on the body than chemotherapy according to Lotfollahi:
“This is an important result because we know that chemotherapy is effective at killing healthy cells as well as cancer cells. This can result in severe side effects for the patient, such as oral mucositis (ulcers in the mouth) and hair loss. Our laboratory studies have shown Fraxini mistletoe extract by itself to be highly effective at reducing the viability of colon cancer cells. At certain concentrations, Fraxini also increased the potency of chemotherapy against the cancer cells.”
Lotfollahi’s supervisor, Professor Gordon Horwath, said according to CBS News that his student’s findings were an important first step and that further research and clinical trials into into mistletoe’s efficacy in fighting colon cancer will be needed. Loftfollahi agreed that “more laboratory testing is needed to further validate this work.”
Employing mistletoe in treating colon cancer could be a significant breakthrough, CBS added:
“… the news of a potential new cure could all the same come as a relief to many at-risk American patients of both genders, as according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, colon cancer is the second leading type of cancer that affects men and women in the United States.”
[Image credit: Elie plus]