Ali Bayliss is a breast cancer survivor who credits a rather unusual therapy for staying cancer-free: mistletoe injections.
When Bayliss was diagnosed in 2014, she was only in her mid-40s. She underwent a mastectomy on the affected breast and reconstruction. Beyond that, however, she refused all other treatments offered to her, saying that her “weak body couldn’t cope.”
Bayliss had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), a few years earlier, a condition where the body’s own immune system attacks nerve coverings and damages them, leading to brain and spinal deterioration and potential disruption to a variety of bodily functions.
Just because she didn’t want to utilize therapies like chemo or radiation didn’t mean Bayliss was eschewing all treatment, however. She was interested in trying alternative therapies that would be less harsh on her body.
So when her husband, Mike, heard about mistletoe injections and suggested it to Bayliss, she was game to try them.
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“People think mistletoe is just for Christmas but for me it’s a year round thing,” she said. “They’re always really shocked that I use it to treat my cancer as I think to most people it’s just something to kiss under during the festive season.”
Mistletoe extract is made from the semi-parasitic plant that attaches to trees like pine, oak, and apple. The treatment is typically given via injection just underneath the surface of the skin. It can also be taken orally, or injected into into a vein, pleural cavity, or the tumor itself, though all of these methods are far less common.
In the U.S., mistletoe has not been approved by the FDA as a treatment for any medical condition. It has also not been approved in the U.K. However, across Europe, mistletoe treatments are quite common — in fact, mistletoe extract is one of the most prescribed drugs to cancer patients, according to cancer.gov.
Mistletoe is one of the most studied alternative medicines out there. However, it is important to note that it is mostly given as an adjuvant therapy, in addition to other treatment, rather than a standalone therapy.
“The mistletoe has hugely improved my immune system, it has no side effects, in fact I feel nothing when I take it but I’ve not had a cold for years,” she said.
Bayliss has a consultant in Germany, and she orders the injections from there.
However, Bayliss has taken control of her health in other ways, too. She doesn’t eat processed foods, meat or dairy, and instead eats a lot of colorful fruits and vegetables.
Bayliss says her husband has been amazing through all of her health issues.
“I firmly believe that I’d be dead without him and my mistletoe,” she said.Whizzco