toxic

The Plant Detective
7:17 pm
Fri December 26, 2014

Mistletoe (Part Two): Druids And German Cancer Patients Swear By It

Viscum album, subsp. album - Laubholz-Mistel. (CC BY 2.0)
Credit Flickr user, Nuuuuuuuuuuul

Modern interest in mistletoe as a possible treatment for cancer began in the 1920s. For centuries, it had been used as something of a cure-all, but when mistletoe's immunostimulant properties were confirmed, the Druids' reverence for the healing power of this parasite got some scientific validation. Since then, lots of studies have been done in Germany, where many cancer patients augment conventional treatment with mistletoe extracts. In the lab, it kills certain cancer cells, while boosting the number and activity of white blood cells.

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The Plant Detective
5:00 am
Sat December 20, 2014

Mistletoe (Part One): A Parasite That Can Hurt Or Heal

European mistletoe (Viscum album). (CC BY 2.0)
Credit Flickr user, free photos

Mistletoe, a parasitic plant that grows on a wide range of host trees, shows up on every continent but Antarctica - and on each continent, it's been used in folk medicine. From ancient Greece into twentieth-century America, it was prescribed for epilepsy. Over the centuries, healers have used mistletoe to treat arthritis, menstrual problems, miscarriage (through controlling bleeding), hypertension, and pain - and that's just the short list. It's prescribed frequently in Europe. But don't try any of these uses without a trained health practitioner, because mistletoe can be toxic.

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The Plant Detective
8:00 am
Fri May 9, 2014

Astragalus

5/10/14: This week on "The Plant Detective:" For centuries, the root of Astragalus membranaceus has been used in Chinese traditional medicine, usually in combination with other herbs, to support the immune system and fight fatigue. Today, researchers are investigating roles for astragalus in cancer treatment and heart disease.

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