But Scottish researchers are now set to embark on laboratory trials to discover whether mistletoe can help to boost the immune systems of cancer patients.
The trials will be run jointly by researchers at Aberdeen University and Dr Stefan Geider at the Camphill Medical Practice in Aberdeen, which already offers cancer patients mistletoe therapy.
One of the practice’s patients who has been treated with the mistletoe extract is John Edrich, 75, a former England international batsman, who believes the therapy helped him to overcome a rare form of leukaemia.
The Surrey cricketer, who played in 77 Tests between 1963 and 1976, was diagnosed with leukaemia in 1999 and given a maximum of seven years to live. But Mr Edrich, who now lives at Ballater on Royal Deeside, said his life had been transformed after undergoing the treatment.