Mistletoe is an evergreen parasitic vine that grows attached to and within the branches of a host tree. There are several species, with the European species held in highest regard by herbalists.
Mistletoe has historically been associated with peace; According to legend, any enemy who stepped under mistletoe was required to lay down their arms and declare a truce until the next day. Mistletoe was also thought to be the "golden bough" written about in the Aenid by Virgil.
Kissing under the mistletoe is a winter tradition that began with the Greek festival of Saturnalia, celebrated in late December. The Druids believed that mistletoe protected its possessors from misfortune and used it as an aphrodisiac, an antidote for poison, and to bestow long life and fertility.*
In Norse mythology, Balder, the son of Odin, was killed by an arrow made of a mistletoe branch shot by the Norse trickster Loki, who knew that this was the one tree that Balder's mother Frigga had not enchanted to do her son no harm. One strain of Christian myth teaches that the mistletoe was once a tree and was used for the lumber to make the cross; the plant was said to have shriveled in shame and become a parasite. Viscum album is of European origin and are most commonly found on apple trees, sometimes growing on oak trees as well. This species is highly venerated by ancient Celts and Germans and is used as a ceremonial plant.
Constituents of Note: Amines (acetylcholine, choline, histamine, GABA and tyramine), antioxidant flavonoids (quercitin, chalcone and flavone derivatives), and terpenoids (beta-amyrin, betulinic acid, oleanic acid, beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, ursolic acid, lupeol and ester combinations), as well as caffeic and myristic acids, mucilage, and tannins.
Precautions: Not for use in pregnancy except under the supervision of a qualified healthcare practitioner. Mistletoe may modify glucose regulation.* People with diabetes or blood pressure conditions are advised to monitor their blood sugar closely and discuss the use of this herb with a qualified healthcare practitioner prior to use.