Despite all the successes of modern oncology, cancer mortality continues to grow. According to the World Health Organization, oncological diseases are one of the main causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. So in 2012, there were about 14 million new cases of the disease and 8.2 million cancer-related deaths. The number of new cases is expected to increase by about 70% over the next 20 years. The number of cancer cases is projected to continue to grow from 14 million in 2012 to 22 million in the following decades.
At the same time, the WHO World Cancer Report (2014) notes that “the main goal is to cure cancer or significantly prolong life. Improving the patient’s quality of life is also an important goal. This can be achieved through supportive therapy or palliative care and psychological support”.
These goals cannot be realized without recognizing the fact that classical cancer treatments can and should be expanded due to the possibilities of complementary and integrative medicine. The model of an integrative approach to the treatment of oncological diseases in the EU countries has been effectively developed in anthroposophical medicine for many decades. Along with various types of palliative care, such as psychological counseling, rhythmic massage, therapeutic eurythmia, hydrotherapy, Botmer gymnastics, etc. In the anthroposophical integrative concept, phyto- and homeopathic drugs are actively included in the treatment of cancer patients. Moreover, their effectiveness is very high, which was convincingly shown by the data presented at the World Congress on Integrative Medicine, held at the Filder Anthroposophical Clinic in Stuttgart in June 2016.
Among the most deeply researched potentiated (homeopathic) remedies and have been used for many decades in complex therapy, primarily within the framework of the anthroposophical clinical concept, it is worth noting the preparations of white mistletoe (Viscum album), which are widely represented in the pharmaceutical market of Europe by a variety of oral and injectable forms. Moreover, most preparations contain a potentiated mistletoe extract. First of all, these are drugs abnobaViscum, Helixor, Iscador, Iscucin.
Mistletoe was first introduced as a specific anticancer agent by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). In 1920-1924, he recommended mistletoe to doctors and pharmacists as a drug for the treatment of cancer. In his recommendations, he proceeded from the results of his own scientific and spiritual research. A special method for the production of mistletoe preparations, a very complex process of mixing and combining extracts from mistletoe collected at different times of the year (summer and winter), potentiation of mixed plant juices was also developed by him personally.
To date, mistletoe is the most researched medicinal plant, both pharmacologically and clinically. For many years, European symposiums on mistletoe research have been held in Germany. 6th Symposium “Mistletoe in the treatment of tumor diseases. Basic research and Clinical Practice” was held in October 2015 and was devoted to the immunological aspects of mistletoe action, the development of treatment methods using mistletoe preparations and the results of new clinical studies.
According to many researchers treatment with mistletoe preparations can give clinically relevant prolongation of the life span of cancer patients and has a stimulating effect on self-regulation. For example, in a large epidemiological study (10226 patients), Prof. Maticek studied the effectiveness of cancer treatment using a potentiated extract of Viscum album (European mistletoe) – the drug Iscador. Moreover, the evaluation of treatment was carried out during integrative therapy, i.e. in combination with radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and non-traditional types of treatment. During the study, it was shown that “mistletoe extracts containing a complex of oncologically relevant active substances and having a variety of anticancer effects can increase life expectancy in patients with various types of cancerous tumors … their effectiveness has been noted in patients with rectal carcinoma, colon carcinoma, gastric carcinoma, breast carcinoma (with or without axillary and remote metastases) and small-cell and non-small-cell forms of bronchogenic carcinoma. The results of the study confirm the statement of anthroposophical medicine that mistletoe therapy is fundamentally effective in the treatment of cancer, regardless of the type of tumor.” More than 15 years have passed since this publication, and research on mistletoe continues. We should at least mention some of them:
- On the effect of mistletoe preparations on the quality of life and immunity of patients with stomach cancer (Kab-Choong Kim et al., 2012):
- Efficacy and safety of ash mistletoe (viscum fraxini 2) in the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (Mohamed A. Ebrahim et al., 2010);
- Randomized clinical trial of the use of mistletoe preparations in pancreatic cancer with metastasis (W.Troger, et al., 2013);
- Application of white mistletoe extract in patients with non-invasive bladder cancer. (Achim Rose et al., 2015) et al.
Another plant that is actively used in integrative oncology in the form of a homeopathic preparation is Helleborus niger – hellebore black or Caucasian. Its activity in relation to lymphomas, breast cancer, neoplasms and metastatic processes of the brain began to be investigated only in recent years, when data from a number of pilot studies were published. A number of publications note the high efficacy of the potentiated drug Helleborus niger fermente D4 in relation to brain tumor processes accompanied by edema, since along with immunomodulatory substances, steroid-like substances (beta-endizone) with a pronounced decongestant effect were found in the plant. An increasing number of specialists are using potentiated hellebore preparations in combination with mistletoe preparations, which gives a stable result and allows reducing the appointment of potent drugs in cancer patients.
The list of homeopathic preparations obtained from plants is far from being limited to these two. It should also be mentioned preparations of autumn timelessness, Icelandic moss, celandine, hemlock, aconite, etc.