Ivy: Uses, herbal medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Ivy: Uses, herbal medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Ivy is native to central, western, and southern Europe, including the Mediterranean and western Asia. The drug is mainly imported from Eastern Europe.

Ivy in herbal medicine

The ivy leaves (Hederae folium) are used in herbal medicine. The leaves collected in spring and early summer from non-flowering branches (juvenile form) from the lower part of the plant are particularly suitable.


Ivy: Characteristics of the climbing plant

Ivy is a well-known evergreen climbing plant that can climb up to 20 m high on buildings, installations, trees or other “scaffolding”. The non-flowering shoots, the so-called juvenile form, climb with the help of aerial roots.

While the leaves of the juvenile form are small and 3-5 lobed, the leaves of the mature form are larger and ovate. Inconspicuous, light green flowers appear in late summer in spherical inflorescences. The fruits of the plant are green when unripe. They are blue-black when ripe.

Ivy as medicine

The ivy leaves used as a drug are 4-10 cm long, dark green and heart-finger-shaped. The light leaf veins stand out clearly on the dark green background, as seen in the cut drug. The young leaves are partly hairy, while the older ones are glabrous.

In addition to the leaves, brown to dark green petioles are also found in the drug.


smell and taste of ivy

The scent of ivy leaves is only very faintly perceptible. The leaves smell peculiar and musty.

The taste of ivy leaves is slimy, slightly spicy and faintly bitter.

Ivy – Application

Ivy leaves are used to treat various inflammatory diseases, primarily of the respiratory tract. The leaves can be used to treat and prevent chronic inflammatory diseases of the bronchi, such as spastic bronchitis.

Traditional use of ivy

Furthermore, ivy is also suitable for treating acute inflammation of the respiratory tract, inflammation of the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract (catarrh), colds, and coughs, and it helps relieve whooping cough. From a traditional point of view, ivy can support clearing mucus in the respiratory tract in general.

Ivy leaves are also said to be effective against fungi such as Candida albicans, the causative agent of various fungal diseases of the skin and mucous membranes, and parasites.


Ivy in folk medicine

Ivy leaves have also been used in folk medicine for a long time to treat respiratory tract inflammation. Extracts from the wood of the plant are also applied topically in creams and lotions to relieve itching associated with skin problems. Ivy is also a component of various care products for treating cellulite.

Homeopathic use of ivy

In homoeopathy, fresh and unlignified shoots treat acute inflammation of various organs such as the upper and lower respiratory tract, the liver, the gastrointestinal tract, the pancreas, the musculoskeletal system, and thyroid diseases.


constituents of ivy

Ivy leaves contain 2.5-6% triterpene saponins, including hederacosides B to I. Of these, hederacoside C is the most important, with a proportion of up to 7%. This is present as an inactive precursor and is converted into active α-hederin in the body. According to the European Pharmacopoeia, the drug should contain a minimum of 3% heteracoside C.

Other ingredients determining effectiveness are flavonoids, polyacetylenes and chlorogenic acid esters.

Ivy: For what indication?

Typical uses of ivy are:

  • inflammation of the airways
  • inflammation of the mucous membranes
  • colds
  • catarrh
  • spastic bronchitis
  • Cough
  • whooping cough
  • Mushrooms
  • parasites

Ivy – dosage

Dry extracts obtained from ivy leaves are available in single preparations in the form of tablets, effervescent tablets, coated tablets, juices, drops, suppositories and other forms of preparation. In addition, some combination preparations contain ivy in drops or juice, such as thyme extract. Tea preparations with ivy leaves hardly exist today.

Average daily dose

Unless otherwise prescribed, the average daily dose is 0.3 g of the ivy leaves.


Ivy: Preparation of ivy tea

To prepare a tea from ivy leaves, 0.5 g of the drug (1 teaspoon corresponds to about 0.8 g) is poured over with boiling water and, after 10 minutes, passed through a tea strainer.

With inflamed mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, coughs and colds, 1 cup can be drunk 1-2 times daily. You can sweeten it with honey to cover up the bitter taste. However, the intake of ivy leaves in tea is hardly daily today.

Important notes on the use of ivy

Ivy fruits have a high content of saponins. In very high concentrations, these have a toxic effect on cells, so the fruits are poisonous to humans.

Ivy leaves should be stored dry and protected from light.

Ivy – Synonyms

German plant name: ivy

German synonyms of the plant: Common Ivy, Common Ivy, Tree Death, Eppig, Periwinkle, Wall Evergreen, Wall Vine, Wall Peacock, Vine Ivy, Dead Vine, Wintergreen

Latin plant name: Ivy helix L.

Latin synonyms of the plant: Hedera caucasian, Hedera chrysocolla, Hedera Taurica

German drug name: Ivy leaves

German synonyms of the drug: Adamsblätter, Ivenblätter, Rampelblätter

Latin drug name: Ivy leaf

Latin synonyms of the drug: Helix Ivy Leaf, Helix Ivy Herb, Ivy Leaves, Tree Ivy Leaves, Common Ivy Leaves, Helix Ivy Leaves, Greater Ivy Leaves, Black Ivy Leaves, Helix Leaves

English name: Ivy leaf (Droge); Ivy, Common ivy, English Ivy, Woodbind

Plant family Latin: Araliaceae

Plant family German: Araliaceae 

Ivy – effect

In particular, the saponins in ivy leaves have an expectorant effect, making it easier to cough up mucus from the airways. This can be explained by indirect irritation of a specific nerve (nervus vagus) in the stomach. Saponins also irritate the skin and mucous membranes and stimulate secretion.

The active α-herein, the flavonoids and the chlorogenic acid esters also have an antispasmodic effect.

Ivy: side effects

Fresh ivy leaves and the juice obtained from them can cause allergic reactions due to the falcarinol they contain. Cross-reactions with other species of Araliaceae have also been described.


Interactions and contraindications

There are currently no known interactions with other drugs, and there are no contraindications. Ivy leaves should only not be taken if you have a known allergy to ivy or other aralia plants.



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