Iscador therapy and homoeopathy

Iscador therapy and homoeopathy

Iscador therapy and homoeopathy


Viscum album is a semi-parasitic plant with more than 1400 varieties in the world. It’s therapeutic use was first introduced by Steiner and Wegman. Only the white berries (European) are used for the treatment. Iscador therapy is quite popular in Europe for cancer treatment. Researchers have shown its supremacy as an adjuvant and as a lone treatment of cancer but results of these researches are not uniform. Its homoeopathic application follows Hahnemann’s doctrine of signature and is known to be effective in treating cancer.

Keywords: Iscador, Viscum album, anthroposophy, homoeopathy, cancer

Abbreviations: MTT- 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide, MCF- Michigan Cancer Foundation-7(place of development of cell line), TNF- tumour necrosis factor, IL- interleukins, VA- viscum album, INF- interferon, WBC- white blood cells, USA – United States of America, FDA – food and drug administration


Iscador therapy was devised by anthroposophical system of medicine, which uses extracts of Viscum album L, commonly known as Mistletoe. Mistletoe is a semi-parasitic plant that grows on various trees like apple (Malus,M), oak (Quercus, Qu),  pine (Pinus , P), elm (Ulmus, U).1,2

Anthroposophy was established by Rudolf Steiner in 1901. He was an Austrian philosopher who studied empirical sciences, philosophy and mathematics in Vienna. Anthroposophical word is derived from greek words ‘anthropo’ and ‘sopho’ meaning human being and wisdom respectively.3,4,5 It is a spiritual as well as scientific view on humanity.5 Anthroposophic medicine relies on cognitive methods and results of anthroposophy.6 Steiner rejected Kant’s idea of finite knowledge about science and proposed how human cognitive capacities can be expanded and utilized to understand interaction beyond particle.7 This understanding was applied to various areas of life, education, medicine, agriculture, art and religion.8

Anthroposophical medicines are derived from natural sources like plant, mineral and animal kingdom.While choosing an anthroposophic substance for a particular disease, the practitioner considers the origin of the substances used. Mineral, plant, or animal properties are thought to have been formed by the most active substance in them, and this property is attributed to the administration of that substance when used to treat another organism. It is believed that it can also affect the action of case. This is related to Samuel Hahnemann’s doctrine of signature. For example, willows are considered rare. Waterside plants usually have heavy, large, dark green leaves that wilt and break easily. The exception is the white willow is a tree that always grows near water and loves light. But unlike other “water” plants, willows have thin, almost dry leaves and look very light with strong branches. They bend easily and form “joints” instead of breaking. Some of these characteristics give clues about what Salix nigra can use to treat arthritis, joint deformities, swollen joints, and more.Using the same doctrine, Steiner thought of using mistletoe for cancer because of its parasitic nature, just like a tumor clings itself to neighboring vessels. The anthroposophic philosophy and homoeopathy both are rooted on the same ground of Vitalism.10

Early in the 1920s, Rudolf Steiner (Austrian philosopher, who was not a physician himself) and Dr Ita Wegman (Dutch physician) founded medical section in anthroposophy. Iscador® was created by Dr Wegman, who had previously created the first mistletoe preparation (Iscar) in 1917 with a pharmacist in Zurich. In 1935, she also co-founded the Society for Cancer Research in Arlesheim (Switzerland).11,12,13

In anthroposophical medicine, Iscador is used as a complementary treatment for many conditions including cancer, despite being a complementary treatment, it is the most common cancer drug used in Germany.14

Extracts of Viscum album L, commonly known as Mistletoe. Mistletoe is a semi-parasitic plant that grows on various trees like apple (Malus, M), oak (Quercus, Qu),  pine (Pinus, P), elm (Ulmus, U).15,16

Effect of Iscador on human body

Iscador analogues induce tumor regression through cell cycle inhibition and interference with apoptotic signaling pathways in cancer cells. This leads to the possibility of affecting angiogenesis.17

In general, Iscador Malus has a stronger reaction than Iscador Quercus. Apoptosis, at least in Iscador Quercus, was induced by mitochondrial activation, but not by a death receptor-dependent pathway17

Mistletoe has been shown to stimulate the number and activity of NK cells, monocytes/macrophages, T cells (particularly T helper cells), and stimulate the release of cytokines such as interleukin-1, interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor in vitro. Studies in human and animal cancer cell lines have confirmed effects such as increasing DNA stability, inducing cell apoptosis, and inhibiting cell proliferation. Cytotoxic effects occur most strongly during her G0 phase (resting phase) of the cell cycle.18

Lectins and viscotoxins are the two main active ingredients in mistletoe preparations. Lectins are glycoproteins that can bind to sugar moieties on the surface of cells. Effects of ML-1(viscumin) include disruption of intracellular protein synthesis, initiation of cytokine production, and activation of leukocytes. Furthermore, ML-1 can therapeutically influence metastatic and apoptotic processes. Viscotoxins act primarily by damaging cell membranes and inducing cell necrosis rather than modulating the immune system. One study suggested that mistletoe itself could promote the development of cancer. However, subsequent studies have disputed this claim.18

Iscador therapy as adjuvant

Representative features of leucocyte microcirculation and immunology were assessed before, during, and after radiotherapy and chemotherapy in patients with otorrhinolaryngeal cancer.18

Additional administration of mistletoe extract reduces the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy and accelerates the reconstitution process.  Mistletoe extracts are superior in terms of response rate, overall survival, quality of life, and reduced side effects, thus reducing debilitation in cancer patients. Several experiments with tumour-bearing animals have shown significant reduction in tumor growth and prolong survival.19

Preparation and administration-

Mistletoe is a semi-parasitic plant with 1400 varieties in world, but only the European plant extract is used for cancer treatment.9,18

The medicines are prepared according to homoeopathy which are ultra-diluted solutions and they are mostly injected in Europe but in USA it is administrated orally because FDA has not approved of Iscador injectables.18

Reactions under Iscador therapy

  1. Inflammatory reaction- this subsides in few hours
  2. Increase in body temperature (slight)- indicates curative process, hence desirable
  3. Transient increase in WBC’s
  4. Immune stimulation-
  5. Better general health
  6. Improved appetite
  7. Weight gain
  8. Sleep improvement
  9. Decrease fatigue and depression
  10. Stimulates optimum urinary and bowel movement
  11. Reduction in pain

The drug Iscador is imported into India and is very expensive, but much cheaper than the cost of conventional cancer treatment. As recommended by your doctor, Iscador should be continued for several years with few interruptions.20

Homoeopathic use of Viscum album-

Viscum album – Boericke’s new manual of homoeopathic materia medica with repertory by William Boericke

Viscum album is used for low blood pressure. Its symptoms point towards rheumatic and gouty complaints, neuralgia, especially sciatica. Epilepsy, chorea, rheumatic deafness, asthma are treated with Viscum album. Rheumatism with tearing pain.21

Viscum album- Materia medica of new Homoeopathic remedies by Dr OA Julian

Anti-tumourous, by external use (as for papilloma, due to necrotising properties of viscotoxin). In homoeopathic therapeutics, the indications for Viscum album are valid especially for the nervous system (epilepsy, neuralgia), and for the circulatory and locomotor systems. The Arlesheim school of anthroposophic medicine uses fermented Viscum album or “Iscador” in a completely original, for the treatment of cancer.22

Osteosarcoma development is inhibited by homoeopathic Viscum album extract.

Two homoeopathic Viscum album preparations (VAD3 and VAD30- decimal scale potencies) were added to an osteosarcoma cell line during culture, and the MTT assay was used to gauge the vitality of the cells. Low quantities of the homoeopathic VAD3 and VAD30 were able to lower the number of osteosarcoma cells by 50%, according to the MTT assay.23

Human breast cancer cell line in vitro culture is cytotoxic to homoeopathic Viscum album

MCF-7 is a human breast adenocarcinoma cell line that can be used as a preclinical model to test therapeutic compounds such ultra-diluted Viscum album. As per results Viscum album presented higher cytotoxic action on human breast cancer cell line. 24

Homoeopathic Viscum album at potencies presents cytokine modulatery effect produced by in vitro culture of mesenchymal stem cells

The purpose of this study was to assess the immunologic effects of homoeopathic VA on mesenchymal stem cells in vitro. The VA D3 and VA200CH concentrations decreased the levels of IL-6 and IL-1b while having no effect on TNF- and IFN-responses. The findings suggest it may be useful as immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory drugs.25

European Viscum album: a potent phytotherapeuticagent with multifarious phytochemicals, pharmacological properties and clinical evidence

Crude extracts and identified chemical components from Viscum album have demonstrated notable therapeutic effects in animal models and in individuals with inflammatory, autoimmune, and cancerous diseases.26

Homoeopathic Viscum album on squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) treatment

Squamous cell carcinoma in a 9-year-old pitbull dog (Canis familiaris) completely healed in four weeks.  The intravenous Viscum album therapy linked to Hamamelis virginiana, was given orally.27

Viscum album in case of pancreatic cancer

According to this study, mistletoe that has been implanted into the tumour may increase a patient’s chance of surviving pancreatic cancer.28

Discussion and conclusion-

Laboratory studies have shown her two main effects of Viscum album immunomodulatory and cytotoxic. The use of mistletoe follows the Hahnemannian principles of doctrine of signature and vitalism is used for the treatment of cancer effectively. Although the proving of Viscum album contain no symptoms like cancer but the aforementioned researches gives an idea about further researches and drug proving on animal modules or cell lines in-vitro required which may help in further enhancing the existing literature.

Financial support and sponsorship-


Conflict of interest



  1. Mistletoe. [Online]. 2021 [cited 2022 Jul 30]. Available from: URL:
  2. Mistletoe therapy (ISCADOR). [Online]. [cited 2022 Jul 30]. Available from: URL:
  3. Anthropo-. [Online]. [cited 2022 Jul 30]. Available from: URL:
  4.  Sophy. [Online]. ]. [cited 2022 Jul 30]. Available from: URL:
  5. Kienle GS, Albonico HU, Baars E, Hamre HJ, Zimmermann P, Kiene H. Anthroposophic medicine: an integrative medical system originating in europe. Glob Adv Health Med. 2013 Nov [cited 2022 Jul 30]; 2(6):20-31. Available from: URL:,Rudolf%20Steiner%20and%20Ita%20Wegman.
  6. Anthroposophy. [Online] 2013 [cited 2022 Jul 30]. Available from: URL:
  7. Rudolf Steiner. Truth and knowledge. [type of medium=online]. Available from: URL: [cited 2022 Jul 30].
  8. Dr. Mehta F. Iscador therapy for Cancer. [Online]. 2007

; Available from: URL:

  • Dr. Mehta F. Iscador therapy for Cancer. [Online]. 2007 [cited 2022 Aug 14]; Available from: URL:
  • Anthroposophic medicine. [Online] 2015 [cited 2022 Aug 14]. Available from: URL:
  • Kienle GS, Albonico HU, Baars E, Hamre HJ, Zimmermann P, Kiene H. Anthroposophic medicine: an integrative medical system originating in europe. Glob Adv Health Med. 2013 Nov

; 2(6):20-31. Available from: URL:,Rudolf%20Steiner%20and%20Ita%20Wegman.

  1. Iscador. [Online] 2021 [cited 2022 July 30]. Available from: URL:
  2. Mehta F. Iscador therapy for cancer. [Online]. 2010 [cited 2022 Jul 30]; Available from: URL:
  3. Grossarth-Maticek r, Kiene H, Baumgartner SM, Ziegler R. Use of Iscador, an extract of European mistletoe (Viscum album), in cancer treatment: prospective nonrandomized and randomized matched-pair studies nested within a cohort study. Altern Ther health Med [serial online] 2001 May-Jun

; 7(3):57-66, 68-72, 74-6. Available from: URL:,used%20oncological%20drug%20in%20Germany.

  1. Mistletoe. [Online]. 2021 [cited 2022 Jul 30]. Available from: URL:
  2. Mistletoe therapy (ISCADOR). [Online]. [cited 2022 Jul 30]. Available from: URL:
  3.  Harmsma M,Ummelen M, Dignef W,Tusenius KJ,Ramaekers FCS. MUbio Products B.V.,Maastricht. Extracts Iscador on Cell Cycle and Survival of Tumor Cells. Aging[serial online] 2006

: p.474-482.Available from: URL:

  1.  Ring M. Mistletoe extract in cancer: an anthroposophic remedy. Altern med alert

2005 [cited 2022 Aug 14]: 8(5):55-60. Available from: URL:

  1.  Klopp R, Schmidt W, Werner E, Werner M, Niemer W, Beuth J. Influence of Complementary Viscum album (Iscador®) Administration on Microcirculation and Immune System of Ear, Nose and Throat Carcinoma Patients Treated with Radiation and Chemotherapy. Aging [serial online] 2005 Jan 1 [cited 2022 Aug 10]: vol 25; p.601-610.Available from: URL:
  2. Boericke W. Boericke’s new manual of homoeopathic material medica with repertory 3rd revised & augumented ed.; New Delhi B.jain publishers (P) Ltd. p.594
  3.  Julian OA. Materia medica of new Homoeopathic remedies. U.K: Bernie convention.; 1979. p.556-62
  4. Valle ACV, Aguiar LR, Brunel HSS, Malard PF, Andrade RV.Homoeopathic Viscum album extract inhibits the growth of osteosarcoma cells. Intgr Stand Homoeopathy[serial online ].2020 Dec 24[ cited 2022 Aug 13];3(3):59-63.doi: 10.25259/JISH_32_2020.
  5. Valle ACV, Aguiar LR, MalardPF, Brunel HSS, Villarroel CLP, Andrade RV.

Homoeopathic viscum album (10-3) is more cytotoxic to in vitro culture of human breast cancer cell line than to human mesenchymal stem cell.Int. j. high dilution res.[serial online] 2020[cited 2022 Aug 13 ];19(4): 25-34.

  • Valle ACV, Brunel HSS, Malard PF, Villarroel CL, Andrade RV. Homeopathic Viscum Album at Potencies D3 and 200CH Presents Cytokine Modulatory Effect Produced by in vitro Culture of Mesenchymal Stem Cells. Curr Res Cmpl Alt Med[serial online]2022May27.[cited 2022 Aug 13] 6:155.
  • Singh BN, Saha C, Galun D, Upreti DK,   Bayry J, Kaveri SV. European viscum album: a potent Phytotherapeutic agent with Multifarious phytochemicals, pharmacological properties and clinical evidence. RSC Adv.[serial online ]2016Feb 22. [Cited 2022 Aug 13 ]; 6;  23837-23857.
  •  ValleACV, Carvalho AC.  Homeopathic Viscum album on the treatment of Squamous Cell Carcinoma Lesion in a Dog (Canis familiaris) – Case Report. Integr J Vet Biosci;[serial online] 2021May 15. [Cited 2022 Aug 13];5(2): 1–3. DOI: 10.31038/IJVB.2021523.
  • Schad F, Atxner J, Buchwald D, Happe A, Popp S, Kroz M. Intratumoral Mistletoe (Viscum album L) Therapy in Patients With Unresectable Pancreas Carcinoma: A Retrospective Analysis. Integr Cancer Ther.[serial online]2014 Jul[cited 2022 Aug 13];13(4):332-40doi -0.1177/1534735413513637.

About the authors-

  1. Dr Prastuti Jaiswal- Assistant Professor, Department of Materia Medica, Dr. M. P. K. Homoeopathic Medical College, Hospital & Research Centre, A constituent of Homoeopathy University, Jaipur (Rajasthan)
  2. Dr Sakshi Bhadana, Dr Surbhi, Dr Satya Prakash Singh (PG Scholar)- Department of Materia Medica, Dr. M. P. K. Homoeopathic Medical College, Hospital & Research Centre, A constituent of Homoeopathy University, Jaipur (Rajasthan)

Posted By

Homeopathy360 Team