Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Mistletoe hepatitis.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981; 282 doi: (Published 17 January 1981) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981;282:186
  1. J Harvey,
  2. D G Colin-Jones


    A 49-year-old woman presented with nausea, general malaise, and a dull ache in the right hypochondrium. Liver biopsy showed slight inflammatory-cell infiltration, and results of liver function tests suggested hepatitis. Hepatitis B surface antigen was not detected, and a cholecystogram was normal. Two years later she presented with similar symptoms, and both illnesses were found to have occurred after ingestion of a herbal remedy containing kelp, motherwort, skullcap, and mistletoe. A challenge test established this to be the cause of the illness. Mistletoe is the only constituent of the tablets known to contain any potential toxin and thus was probably the cause of the illness. Mistletoe is widely used in herbal remedies, whose ingestion may therefore cause hepatitis.