Occuring throughout temperate regions, this genus includes about 70 species of parasitic, evergreen shrubs. Viscum album is a rewarding plant to grow if a suitable host is available, such as an apple tree. Orchards are often used for commercial crops, thereby yielding a return in winter when the trees are dormant. The tradition of kissing under a mistletoe was popularized in Victorian England. It may have originated in Scandinavian legend, according to which Balder, the god of peace, was killed by an arrow made from mistletoe and was resurrected by the other deities. Mistletoe was then entrusted to the goddess of love, who established it as a symbol of love, with the custom that anyone passing beneath it should receive a kiss. Mistletoe was also and important Druidic herb, associated with welcoming the New Year. It was cut only from oak trees at a particular phase of the moon, using a golden sickle. The constituents of V. album appear to vary according to the host plant, which may explain why the Druids regarded mistletoe on oak as superior. These include compounds that affect protein synthesis, the immune and circulatory system, and heart. Viscum album is sometimes used in Chinese medicine but more commonly used are V. coloratum, which grows further east and has yellow to orange-red fruits, and Loranthus europaeus (mulberry mistletoe), a parasite on plants of the beech family (Fagaceae). Viscum capense (Cape mistletoe) is a traditional S African remedy for asthma, bronchitis, diarrhea, and menstrual problems. The Moroccan V. cruciatum is used internally for asthma, epilepsy, and hysteria, and externally for bruises, sprains, and fractures. Viscum is the original Latin name, meaning both "mistletoe" and "birdlime". In certain countries, sale and use of V. album for therapeutic purposes are restricted.

European mistletoe is available as a prescription medication in Europe, where it is sometimes used in conjunction witht other medications to day the progression of solid tumors in the breast, colon, and stomach. It has also been used to improve immune function and to lower blood pressure by slowing the heart rate and dilating the arteries.

Evergreen, parasitic shrub with symmetrically branched stems and leathery obovate, yellow-green leaves, to 5cm (2in) long. Clusters of inconspicuous yellow flowers appear in spring, with males and females on separate plants; females are followed by spherical, sticky, white fruits about 1cm (½in) across.

Common Name:
Other Names:
All-Heal, Birdlime, Devil's Fuge, European Mistletoe, Visci.
Botanical Name:
Viscum album
Native Location:
Europe, east to the Caucasus
On young upper branches of a host tree, such as oak, apple, willow, linden, hawthorn, popular, or mountain ash, at least 15 years old.
By crushing fruit into crevices of bark, protected from birds, in spring. Best results are obtained by sowing into the same host tree as the fruits was harvested from. Seedlings are very slow growing.
Leafy stems and fruits are collected in autumn and dried for use in infusions, liquid extracts, tablets, and tinctures.
1m (3ft)
1m (3ft)
Parts Used:
Leafy stems, fruits, whole plant
A pungent, bitter-sweet, warmiing herb that lowers blood pressure, stimulates the immune system, slow heart beat, relaxes spasms, and has sedative, diuretic, and anti-cancer effects.
5 of Swords
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for mild hypertension, arteriosclerosis, nervous tachycardia, nervous tension, insomnia, panic attacks, tinnitus, epilepsy, St. Vitus's dance and cancer (especially of lungs and ovaries). Externally for arthritis, rheumatism, chilblains, leg ulcers, and varicose veins. Combines well with Crataegus laevigata (See, Hawthorn) and Melissa officinalis (See, Balm) for mild hypertension; and with Ginkgo biloba (See, Ginkgo) or Vinca major (See, Greater Periwinkle) for arteriosclerosis.
European mistletoe fruit is used to treat epilepsy, gout, cramps, tumors, rheumatism, and hardening of the arteries. The stem of European mistletoe is used to treat physical and mental exhaustion and as a tranquilizer. Germany's Commission E has approved the use of the European mistletoe herb as a treatment for rheumatism and a supportive therapy in the treatment of tumors.
Typical Dose:
A typical dose of European mistletoe may range from 2 to 6 gm of dried leaves taken three times a day.
Possible Side Effects:
European mistletoe's side effects include fever, chills, headache, and chest pain.
Drug Interactions:
Taking European mistletoe with these drugs may reduce or prevent drug absorption:
Ferric Gluconate, (Ferrlecit)
Ferrous Fumarate, (Femiron, Feostat)
Ferrous Glucanate, (Fergon, Novo-Ferrogluc)
Ferrous Sulfate, (Feratab, Fer-Iron)
Ferrous Sulfate and Ascorbic Acide, (Fero-Grad 500, Vitelle Irospan)
Iron-Dextran Complex, (Dexferrum, INFeD)
Polysaccharide-Iron Complex, (Hytinic, Niferex)
Taking European mistletoe with these drugs may interfere with the action of the drug:
Atenolol, (Apo-Atenol, Tenormin)
Cyclosporine, (Neoral, Sandimmune)
Dexamethasone, (Decadron, Dexasone)
Methylprednisolone, (Depo-Medrol, Medrol)
Prednisone, (Apo-Prednisone, Deltasone)
Taking European mistletoe with these drugs may increase the risk of hypotension (low blood pressure):
Acebutolol, (Novo-Acebutolol, Sectral)
Amlopidine, (Norvasc)
Atenolol, (Apo-Atenolol, Tenormin)
Benazepril, (Lotensin)
Betaxolol, (Betoptic S, Kerlone)
Bisoprolol, (Monocor, Zebeta)
Bumetanide, (Bumex, Burinex)
Candesartan, (Atacand)
Captopril, (Capoten, Novo-Captopril)
Carteolol, (Cartrol, Ocupress)
Carvedilol, (Coreg)
Chlorothiazide, (Diuril)
Chlorthalidone, (Apo-Chlorthalidone, Thalitone)
Clonidine, (Catapres, Duraclon)
Diazoxide, (Hyperstat, Proglycem)
Diltiazem, (Cardizem, Tiazac)
Doxazosin, (Alti-Doxazosin, Cardura)
Enalapril, (Vasotec)
Eplerenone, (Inspra)
Eprosartan, (Teveten)
Esmolol, (Brevibloc)
Felodipine, (Plendil, Renedil)
Fenoldopam, (Corlopam)
Fosinopril, (Monopril)
Furosemide, (Apo-Furosemide, Lasix)
Guanabenz, (Wytensin)
Guanadrel, (Hylorel)
Guanfacine, (Tenex)
Hydralazine, (Apresoline, Novo-Hylazin)
Hydrochlorothiazide, (Apo-Hydro, Microzide)
Hydrochlorothiazide and Triamterene, (Dyazide, Maxzide)
Indapamide, (Lozol, Nu-Indapamide)
Irbesartan, (Avapro)
Isradipine, (DynaCirc)
Labetalol, (Normodyne, Trandate)
Lisinopril, (Prinivil, Zestril)
Losartan, (Cozaar)
Mecamylamine, (Inversine)
Mefruside, (Baycaron)
Methylchlothiazide, (Aquatensen, Enduron)
Methyldopa, (Apo-Methyldopa, Nu-Medopa)
Metolazone, (Mykrox, Zaroxolyn)
Metoprolol, (Betaloc, Lopressor)
Minoxidil, (Loniten, Rogaine)
Moexipril, (Univasc)
Nadolol, (Apo-Nadol, Corgard)
Nicardipine, (Cardene)
Nifedipine, (Adalat CC, Procardia)
Nisoldipine, (Sular)
Nitroglycerin, (Minitran, Nitro-Dur)
Nitroprusside, (Nipride, Nitropress)
Olmesartan, (Benicar)
Oxprenolol, (Slow-Trasicor, Trasicor)
Perindopril Erbumine, (Aceon, Coversyl)
Phenoxybenzamine, (Dibenzyline)
Phentolamine, (Regitine, Rogitine)
Pindolol, (Apo-Pindol, Novo-Pindol)
Polythiazide, (Renese)
Prazosin, (Minipress, Nu-Prazo)
Propranolol, (Inderal, InnoPran XL)
Quinapril, (Accupril)
Ramipril, (Altace)
Reserpine, (Reserpine)
Spironolactone, (Aldactone, Novo-Spiroton)
Telmisartan, (Micardis)
Terazosin, (Alti-Terazosin, Hytrin)
Timolol, (Betimol, Timoptic)
Torsemide, (Demadex)
Trandolapril, (Mavik)
Triamterene, (Dyrenium)
Trichlormethiazide, (Matatensin, Naqua)
Valsartan, (Diovan)
Verapamil, (Calan, Isoptin SR)
Lab Test Alterations:
  • May increase values on liver function tests including aspartic acid transaminase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), total bilirubin, and urine bilirubin.
  • May increase lymphocyte counts.
  • When injected, may contribute to eosinophilia (abnormally high amounts of a certain kind of white blood cell).
  • May cause decreased red blood cells.
Disease Effects:
  • May worsen cardiovascular ailments.
  • May worsen cases of potential transplant rejection by stimulating the immune system.
Supplement Interactions:
  • May be cardiotoxic and have negative effects on the strength of heart contractions.
  • May decrease the effectiveness of agents such as English Hawthorn that have positive effects on the strength of heart contractions.
All parts, especiall the berries, are toxic if eaten.
For use by qualified practitioners only.
Encyclopedia of Herbs by Deni Brown Copyright © 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited. pg 406
The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide by Geo.T.Grossberg,MD and Barry Fox,PhD. Copyright©2007 Barry Fox,PhD. Pp. 210-212