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Botanical names: Hedera helix
Ivy is an evergreen climber native to the damp woods of western,
central, and southern Europe. The leaf is used medicinally. It should be
carefully distinguished from poison ivy found in the Americas.
25 drops of a leaf extract twice per day
A study involving children with bronchial asthma suggested that ivy leaf
was effective in increasing the amount of oxygen in the lungs.
Adults: 50 drops of extract twice per day; children: 25 drops twice
Ivy leaf is anti-inflammatory and has been shown to be as effective
as the drug ambroxol for chronic bronchitis.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
50 drops of a concentrated alcohol extract twice per day
One double-blind trial found an ivy leaf extract to be as effective as
the mucus-dissolving drug ambroxol for treating chronic bronchitis,
which is a component of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by
Ivy leaves were held in high regard by the ancients. They formed not
only the poet’s crown but also the wreath of the Greek god of wine,
Dionysus. The ancient Greeks believed that binding the forehead with ivy
leaves would prevent the effects of inebriation. Greek priests
presented a wreath of ivy to newlyweds, and ivy has been traditionally
regarded as a symbol of fidelity. Romans regarded ivy as excellent feed
for their cattle. Traditional herbalists have used ivy for a wide number
of complaints, including bronchitis, whooping cough, arthritis,
rheumatism, and dysentery. Decoctions of the herb were applied
externally against lice, scabies, and sunburn.
How to Use It
Standardized ivy leaf extract can be taken by itself or in water at 25
drops twice per day as a supportive treatment for children with asthma.
At least double this amount may be necessary to benefit adults with
asthma. However, ivy is not intended to replace standard medical
therapies and should only be used following consultation with a
healthcare professional. A similar amount can be used for people with a
cough or bronchitis.
The 0.3 gram daily tea preparation of the herb, suggested in the German
Commission E monographs, is not recommended for pediatric use because
the quantities of the saponins it contains are too variable and could
induce nausea and vomiting. Since ivy contains small amounts of emetine,
it is not recommended during pregnancy, as this specific alkaloid may
increase uterine contractions. In addition, the leaf itself can be quite
irritating when handled and may cause allergic skin reactions.
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, &
At the time of writing, there were no well-known interactions with this
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