Mistletoe is being studied as an alternative treatment for colon cancer. The Fraxini mistletoe species appears to kill cancer cells while preserving healthy cells.
When we think of mistletoe, most of us think of the Christmas tradition of smooching under a small plastic bunch of green leaves with white berries. But mistletoe is more than a holiday decoration. It’s a plant that grows on several kinds of trees found in Europe, Great Britain, and western Asia. And it holds promise as an alternative treatment to chemotherapy for colon cancer patients.
Already used in Europe as an authorized treatment for colon cancer, researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia have studied the effectiveness of three types of mistletoe extract and chemotherapy on colon cancer cells and healthy intestinal cells.
Mistletoe grows on trees
An extract from the Fraxini mistletoe species, which grows on ash trees, proved to be more potent against colon cancer cells, but gentler on healthy intestinal cells, than chemotherapy.
“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 ulcers in the mouth and hair loss,” Health Sciences student Zahra Lotfollahi says.
Colon cancer is the second leading cause of death by cancer in the Western world. Further research will hopefully illuminate mistletoe’s viability as a safe alternative colon cancer treatment.
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