Wednesday, 6 June 2018

A medicinal parasite

Mistletoe (Viscum album), sinkers in host tissue, longitudinal.

The evergreen, spherical shrub of about 1 m in diameter grows on different trees. As a semi-parasite the mistletoe assimilates with its leaf green. The sinkers of the mistletoe penetrate deep into the wood body of the host plants and withdraw only water and mineral salts from the host, but this causes the part above the infestation site to suffer. The opposite, oblong-ovate leaves evaporate only a little water due to their leathery texture.

The mistletoe contains viscotoxins, choline and histamine. These substances lower blood pressure, heal inflammation of the joints and support the treatment of malignant tumors. In mythology and folk belief, mistletoe has an important place. It is used, among others, against lightning, disease and witchcraft. The medicinal effect was already known in ancient times.

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