Iscador is a Mistletoe-based complementary treatment for cancer that has been in use for over 90 years. It was devised by Rudolf Steiner in Switzerland in 1921.
The anti-cancer effects of Iscador are based on two mechanisms. First the immune system is modulated in such a way that tumour cells are attacked more efficiently by the body’s own immune system. Secondly there are direct, inhibitory effects on tumour growth.
The aims of treatment with Iscador are:
- To increase the efficacy of conventional tumour therapies
- To reduce the side effects of chemo and radiotherapy
- To stimulate defence mechanisms against cancer cells
- To inhibit the growth of malignant cells
- To improve the patients general well-being and quality of life
Iscador does not claim to be a curative treatment in its own right and is not intended to be an alternative to conventional medicine. It can be given alongside other anti-cancer treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
Iscador treatment is very safe and generally does not cause side effects. It is given either orally as drops or by injection under the skin. In Europe, Viscum album L (mistletoe) is the most commonly used complementary therapy by patients with cancer and is integrated into conventional oncology treatment programmes in Germany, Switzerland and Holland. Iscador is the most commonly used mistletoe preparation used in cancer treatment and has the most extensive research carried out on it.
In recent years it has been the subject of many randomised controlled trials (RCTs). Although there are some limitations of these studies due to poor design, a relatively consistent finding was a reduction in the side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy and/or improvement of quality of life (QOL).
A recent systematic review of mistletoe therapy for cancer which focused on QoL ( quality of life) outcomes included 26 RCTs and 10 controlled trials. Fifteen of these studies involved breast cancer patients. The authors reported that the results of the RCTs showed improvement in QoL measures in 22 of the studies, 3 showed no differences and one did not report. These improvements were in fatigue, sleep, exhaustion, energy, nausea, vomiting, appetite, depression, anxiety, concentration, functional well-being and ability to work. There was a less consistent association with improvement of pain, diarrhoea, general performance and side effects of conventional treatment. Some smaller studies have also shown improvement in life expectancy and reduction of cancer spread but these studies have poor methodology and do not provide reliable evidence.
Iscador has been well studied in breast and colorectal cancer; it can also be used in cancers of the digestive tract ( tongue, oral cavity, oesophagus; stomach, liver, gallbladder and pancreas; small and large intestine , rectum and anus); urogenital tract ( kidney, bladder, prostate, testes, penis, uterus, ovaries, vulva, vagina and cervix); breast, respiratory tract (nose, pharynx, larynx, pleura and bronchi); thyroid gland, skin, connective and muscle tissue ( sarcomas).
Iscador preparations are made of fermented aqueous extracts of the freshly harvested white-berried mistletoe (Viscum album L.) grown on different host trees. Host trees used are apple (Malus, M), oak (Quercus, Qu), pine (Pinus, P), elm (Ulmus, U). Mistletoe contains viscotoxins and lectins which have been shown to have a stimulating effect on the immune system.
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What is the difference between oral and injectable Iscador?
Iscador is available in two forms, oral drops and injectable. Here at Orchard Barn Health we currently only prescribe oral drops, this is in line with the prescribing practice and protocols used at the National Centre for Integrated Medicine, Bristol and the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine, London. Dr Sally Moorcroft was trained by Dr Liz Thompson and Dr Sosie Kassab both leading experts in cancer care and Iscador use and uses their protocols in her clinic.
However, these are slightly different to the protocols often found in Europe and the USA where injectable forms are more commonly used. At present most of our data and research has been done on injected Mistletoe, so when looking at the studies this is what you will often find. If you would like to discuss further any issues or questions about the injected or oral forms please contact our reception team.