English Ivy


English Ivy Introduction

English Ivy is a common ornamental climbing vine that can be seen on building faces and in garden pots though out the world. This type of Ivy can be found in a variety of colorations, ranging from plain green leaves to all manner of variegation and patterns. The growth pattern of Ivy ranges from smalls pots in kitchen window boxes, to enormous vines that can take over the fronts of ancient edifices.

English Ivy Food Sources

Parts Used:

Parts of English Ivy that are used to make medicine include the leaves and berries. Typically medicines made from this herb take the form of syrups (i.e. cough syrups), tablets, whole leaf preparations, and capsules.

English Ivy Uses:

Anti-Tumor activity

There is some evidence to suggest that extracts of Ivy may have some anti-tumor activity, specifically against carcinoma and melanoma cell lines. This has only been demonstrated in experimental settings, however. [1]

Respiratory Remedy

Preparations of Ivy have been traditionally used in respiratory conditions such as Asthma and Chronic Bronchitis. One german study involving over 1300 individuals showed significant improvement in symptoms of cough, spitting, difficult breathing, and respiratory pain, by as much as 92 - 86%. Ivy has demonstrated to be particularly effective in the treatment of cough in young children.

It seems that the active constituents of Ivy are the saponins and phenolic compounds. Both of which have been shown to posses antispasmodic activity. I may be particularly helpful in relieving uncomfortable coughs. The extract of Ivy has also been found to have comparable activity to that of a synthetic mucolytic agent (Ambroxol). [2-5]

Glandular Swellings

Preparations of Ivy have also been traditionally used to reduce glandular swellings; such as tonsillitis and mastitis. However, no studies demonstrating the efficacy of this treatment method, other than it traditional use, exist in medical literature. [6]

English Ivy Dosages

Customary dosages of English Ivy taken in either tablet or capsulated forms, range from 250 - 800 milligrams (mg) per day. Ivy teas can are usually consumed up to three times per day, or as needed. Standard dosages for the most common delivery forms are listed below:

  • Tincture: 1 - 5 drops, twice per day (dosages often vary)
  • Tablets: 97.5 - 130 mg, dried Ivy extract, one to two times per day

English Ivy Contraindications and Toxicitie

In its application as a therapeutic agent, Ivy has a very good safety record. However, there are reports of gardeners and others having allergic reactions to the plant. Anyone that has had an allergic reaction to Ivy should avoid using it as a medicine or using any preparation that includes Ivy as a constituent.


1. Barthomeuf C; Debiton E; Mshvildadze V; Kemertelidze E; Balansard G In vitro activity of hederacolchisid A1 compared with other saponins from Hedera colchica against proliferation of human carcinoma and melanoma cells. Planta Med 2002 Aug;68(8):672-5 (ISSN: 0032-0943)

2. Hecker M; Runkel F; Voelp A Treatment of chronic bronchitis with ivy leaf special extract–multicenter post-marketing surveillance study in 1,350 patients, Behandlung chronischer Bronchitis mit einem Spezialextrakt aus Efeublattern - multizentrische Anwendungsbeobachtung mit 1350 Patienten.] Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd 2002 Apr;9(2):77-84

3. Lassig W, Generlich H, Heydolph F, Paditz E Efficacy and Tolerance of Ivy-Containing Cough Medications TW Pediatric 1996; 489.

4. Trute A, Gross J, Mutschler E, Nahrstedt A In vitro Antispasmodic Compounds of the Dry Extract Obtained from Hedera helix Planta Med. 1997;63(2):125-129.

5. Meyer-Wegener J, Liebscher K, Hettich M, Kastner HG Ivy versus Ambroxol in Chronic Bronchitis Zeitschrift für Allgemeinmedizin. 1993; 69:61-66.

6. William Mitchell,Jr., Plant Medicine in Practice (St. Louis MO: Churchill Livingston, 2003), 246.


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