Kisses and Much More

| March 17, 2013 | 0 Comments

by Chris­tine Horner, MD
Per­haps one of your favorite activ­i­ties is putting up the mistle­toe dur­ing the Hol­i­days and get­ting a spe­cial some­one to give you a kiss. But did you know that mistle­toe can also help you if you have breast cancer?

Yes—kisses really do help you to heal, but mistle­toe offers much more. The plant itself has sev­eral prop­er­ties that can help you to tol­er­ate your treat­ments bet­ter and even improve your sur­vival!
It’s no secret that chemother­apy takes a toll on your qual­ity of life. Mistle­toe prepa­ra­tions, also known as Iscador, have been fre­quently used by breast can­cer patients in Cen­tral Europe and research shows that these patients report a bet­ter qual­ity of life.

Mistle­toe has also been shown to help fight breast can­cer tumor growth in a num­ber of ways. A 2006 Ger­man study reported that when mistle­toe extract was injected into breast can­cer tumors in mice, the tumors shrank, the rate of cell divi­sion decreased, and there was increased tumor cell death. Another 2006 study con­ducted in Nor­way, found that mistle­toe extract worked to decrease tumor growth through sev­eral dif­fer­ent mech­a­nisms, includ­ing stop­ping new blood ves­sels from grow­ing which feed tumors (anti-angiogenic) and by mak­ing tumor cells more sen­si­tive to being killed (apop­to­sis) by a cancer-fighting sub­stance in our immune sys­tem called “tumor-necrosis fac­tor.” Know­ing of mistletoe’s var­i­ous anti-cancer effects makes it easy to under­stand why a study pub­lished in the Euro­pean Jour­nal of Med­ical Research in 2006 found that breast can­cer patients receiv­ing mistle­toe, in addi­tional to con­ven­tional ther­apy, had longer sur­vival times than those who received con­ven­tional ther­apy alone.

Mistle­toe isn’t the only plant that can ben­e­fit you in fight­ing breast cancer—there are many—which is why choos­ing what to take can some­times be so over­whelm­ing and con­fus­ing. My advice is to work with a natur­o­pathic oncol­o­gist who has been trained in com­ple­men­tary can­cer ther­a­pies. Tra­di­tional Chi­nese Med­i­cine doc­tors can also be a great resource. There are a few herbs from Tra­di­tional Chi­nese Med­i­cine which your doc­tor may rec­om­mend that can pro­vide excep­tional sup­port for your can­cer care. One of those herbs is gin­seng, a root of a plant com­monly used in China, and also widely avail­able in the US.

Kills Can­cer Cells
Dozens of stud­ies con­ducted in the last decade con­sis­tently show that Panax gin­seng not only stops breast can­cer cells from grow­ing, but also kills them by a process known as apop­totic cell death. One such study was con­ducted in Seoul, Korea and pub­lished in the jour­nal Can­cer Research in 2005. Another study pub­lished in Life Sci­ences in Nov. 2004 found that gin­seng killed can­cer cells more effec­tively than sev­eral chemother­a­peu­tic agents includ­ing epiru­bicin, 5-fluorouracil and cyclophospamide!

Enhances Chemother­apy
You may want to seri­ously con­sider tak­ing gin­seng if you are cur­rently under­go­ing chemother­apy treat­ment. There are numer­ous stud­ies show­ing that gin­seng increases the tumor cell killing abil­i­ties of chemother­apy. For exam­ple, a study con­ducted at the Uni­ver­sity of Cam­bridge in the United King­dom found gin­seng enhanced the abil­ity of mitox­antrone to kill human breast can­cer cells. Another study pub­lished in 2004 and con­ducted at the Uni­ver­sity of British Colum­bia found that gin­seng could make tumor cells that were multi-drug resis­tant much more sen­si­tive to chemother­apy. A third study from Har­vard Med­ical School found Amer­i­can Gin­seng (Panux quin­que­folius) used con­cur­rently with breast can­cer ther­a­peu­tic agents resulted in “a sig­nif­i­cant sup­pres­sion of cell growth for most drugs eval­u­ated.” They con­cluded that Amer­i­can gin­seng worked syn­er­gis­ti­cally with breast can­cer chemother­a­peu­tic drugs to stop cell growth.

Improves Qual­ity of Life
Gin­seng has also been found to improve the qual­ity of life of breast can­cer patients. In a study pub­lished in the Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Epi­demi­ol­ogy in 2006, researchers at Van­der­bilt Uni­ver­sity stud­ied gin­seng and breast can­cer patients in China. One thou­sand four hun­dred and fifty-five breast can­cer patients were recruited for the Shang­hai Breast Can­cer Study from August 1996–1998 and were fol­lowed through 2002. Twenty-seven per­cent of the patients were gin­seng users before their can­cer diag­no­sis. Com­pared to those women who had never used of gin­seng, their death rate was sig­nif­i­cantly lower. The women who began gin­seng after their can­cer diag­no­sis tested much higher than nonusers for Qual­ity of Life scores. Psy­cho­log­i­cal and social well-being and over­all qual­ity of life improved as cumu­la­tive gin­seng use increased.

How to Take Gin­seng
Gin­seng comes in stan­dard­ized doses in cap­sules that you can pur­chase at most health food stores. The rec­om­mended dose is 1 to 2 grams daily. It is pos­si­ble to over­dose on gin­seng, so don’t take more than what is rec­om­mended. Mas­sive over­doses can bring about Gin­seng Abuse Syn­drome char­ac­ter­ized by hyper­ten­sion, ner­vous­ness, insom­nia, hyper­to­nia (mus­cle rigid­ity), edema, morn­ing diar­rhea, inabil­ity to con­cen­trate and skin eruptions.

Chris­tine Horner, MD
Chris­tine Horner, MD is a board cer­ti­fied and nation­ally rec­og­nized sur­geon, author, expert in nat­ural med­i­cine, pro­fes­sional speaker and a relent­less cham­pion for women’s health. She is the author of Wak­ing the War­rior God­dess: Dr. Chris­tine Horner’s Pro­gram to Pro­tect Against and Fight Breast Can­cer, win­ner of the Inde­pen­dent Book Pub­lish­ers Award 2006 for Best Book in Health, Med­i­cine, and Nutri­tion. For more infor­ma­tion see page 38 or visit

Category: Nourish

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *