The Real (and Weird) Reason We Kiss Under the Mistletoe

Mention “mistletoe” this time of year and most people think fondly of potted Christmas trees and poinsettias, or of traditions like kissing under a bundle of white-berried boughs, cutting down an evergreen tree in the forest, or taking care of a Christmas tree at home. But beneath all the holiday cheer lurks an opportunistic plant with both a “naughty or nice” side. But not like naughty in the kissing-with-tongue sense: Eating the berries of certain species can lead to illness or even death (in severe cases), yet other types of mistletoe have historically been used to treat a range of ailments, including leprosy, infertility, epilepsy, and even cancer. (In fact, recent research suggests that mistletoe extract injections could be the next big thing in cancer therapy.) How this seemingly innocuous—yet deviously toxic—plant made its way … Continue reading The Real (and Weird) Reason We Kiss Under the Mistletoe