Mistletoe wasn't always for annoying co-workers at office parties, and it wasn't always just desperate men who think it has magical powers. In previous times, it was held in high regard because it was rootless, green and thriving when the tree it was on looked dead. Celtic druids latched onto it as some sort of supernatural fertility symbol - everything was a fertility symbol to druids - and it crept into popular culture from there.

Today we know it is simply a parasite, which isn't extending its use at office Christmas parties too far. 

But a new study finds it may have value beyond fertility hokum - a compound produced by a particular variety of the plant can help fight obesity-related liver disease in mice, finds a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Jungkee Kwon and colleagues whether the biologically active compounds, such as steroids and flavonoids,  could also help fight fatty liver disease, which is associated with obesity and can progress to liver failure in some cases.

The researchers identified viscothionin as the compound in Korean mistletoe that affects fat metabolism in the liver.

When they treated obese mice with it, their body and liver weights dropped.

The scientists conclude that viscothionin could be explored as a potential therapeutic agent for the treatment of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.