Mistletoe has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. It was reportedly used by the Druids and the ancient Greeks, and it appears in legend and folklore as a panacea. It has been used in various forms to treat cancer, epilepsy, infertility, menopausal symptoms, nervous tension, asthma, hypertension, headache, and dermatitis. Mistletoe is culturally deeply rooted in Europe and known for millennia as an important medicinal plant. The Celtic Druids even considered oak mistletoe to be "all-healing".

Mistletoes are flowering plants that do not rooted in the soil but live on trees or shrubs and can be supplied with water and nutrients by their woody host plants.

The white-berried mistletoe (Viscum album) has the largest host range among the world's more than 1,000 mistletoe species. In Central Europe it occurs with three subspecies:

• as hardwood mistletoe (V. album ssp. album) on various deciduous trees such as apple tree, oak, elm, poplar, maple, linden, birch

• as pine mistletoe (V. album ssp. austriacum) on pines

• as fir-mistletoe (V. album ssp. abietis) on fir trees.

The subspecies of the white-berried mistletoe differ in addition to some morphological features, especially in pharmacological properties. Like all mistletoe species, the white-misty mistletoe does not form a root, which penetrates into the soil and could absorb water and minerals there. Instead, the mistletoe seedling develops a so-called Haustorium in the host branch, which gives him connection to the water supply system of the tree and allows the supply of water, minerals and certain organic substances.

For a long time it has been a demanding challenge to cultivate the mistletoe on trees, where it rarely occurs in nature. For a sustainable cultivation of mistletoe on oaks and elms it is important to select climatic suitable sites with optimal soil conditions. There, selected trees can fully develop their disposition for mistletoe and grow up under optimal conditions.

Mistletoe are physiologically characterized by their respective host tree (eg oak, apple tree, pine, elm, fir), which is expressed in their ingredient spectrum. By separately processing the different types of mistletoe, host-specific mistletoe preparations are produced.

For almost a century, mistletoe has also been used in the adjunctive treatment of cancer. It has botanical peculiarities, by which it differs clearly from other higher flowering plants. The special botanical properties of mistletoe correspond with their pharmacological properties.

In 1917, mistletoe extract was used for the first time by Dr. Ita Wegman for the treatment of cancer patients. The foundations for the pharmaceutical-therapeutic concept of anthroposophic mistletoe preparations were developed by Dr. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophic medicine in the 1920s.

Mistletoe preparations are total extracts of the mistletoe plant and have a complex ingredient spectrum. They are used in integrative oncology as an adjuvant treatment for tumor diseases and are continuously being further developed through research.

Mistletoes have a wealth of different mineral and organic ingredients. Of particular interest in pharmacological terms are two mistletoe-specific substances: viscotoxins and mistletoe lectins. Viscotoxins and mistletoe lectins, on the other hand, are protein substances that are formed by mistletoe. Their concentration varies depending on the subspecies of mistletoe and the host tree on which it grows. Viscotoxins reach their highest concentration in summer in the young leaves, while the mistletoe lectins are most concentrated in winter and in the older stems.

Mistletoe has been shown to stimulate increases in the number and the activity of various types of white blood cells. Immune-system-enhancing cytokines, such as interleukin-1, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor -alpha, are released by white blood cells after exposure to mistletoe extracts. Other evidence suggests that mistletoe exerts its cytotoxic effects by interfering with protein synthesis in target cells. and by inducing apoptosis. Mistletoe may also serve a bridging function, bringing together immune system effector cells and tumor cells.