A surprising health benefit means that all year round could be merry and bright.

By Samantha Zabell
Updated December 19, 2014
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Contrary to popular belief, when it comes to pets, poinsettias and Christmas cactus are relatively harmless; if ingested, these plants may cause an irritating reaction in the mouths of dogs and especially cats. Mistletoe and holly, however, can be toxic if ingested. Dangerous for: Cats and dogs.Possible symptoms: Mistletoe and holly may cause vomiting, diarrhea, and heart arrhythmia in both cats and dogs.
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When you see mistletoe hanging from the ceiling, it means it’s time to pucker up. But now scientists may have found a new reason to break out the plant—it could help prevent liver disease.

New research published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that a compound produced by Korean mistletoe might help fight obesity-related liver disease—at least it did so in mice. Researchers at the American Chemical Society treated obese mice with the compound viscothionin, which they identified as the extract that might be good for the liver. Once treated, the body and liver weights in mice decreased, making the scientists think that it has major potential to treat adults with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, abbreviated NAFD. In some cases, the disease has no complications, but in others, it can cause inflammation or scarring in the liver.

Although they have yet to test it on human adults with NAFD, it’s possible that this species of mistletoe might be good for more than just decoration.