Ivy, Hedera helix, Uses of Ivy, Herb

Ivy, Hedera helix, Uses of Ivy, Herb

Hedera helix Araliaceae

This evergreen shrub grows wild throughout Europe and Asia, creeping or climbing in woods, in hedgerows and on walls. Little roots on its branches act as crampons and allow it to climb. Ivy's shiny dark green leaves are if two kinds: unlobed on flower-bearing branches and sharply divided into three to five lobes on non-jlowering branches. The small greenish yellow flowers are followed by spherical, usually black fruits.

Parts used

Wood and leaves

The wood is taken from mature branches and the bark is stripped off. The wood is then cut into small pieces for use in infusions or syrups. . The leaves, which are picked when young and fresh, are for external use only in ointments and creams.


Ivy wood contains saponins which have antispasmodic and expectorant actions. The leaves contain the same saponins, as well as sterols, phenols and flavonoids. There are also mucilages, which soothe coughs, tannins and anthocyanins. The alkaloid emetine is also present.

Medicinal uses

When taken internally, ivy wood is recommended as a treatment for coughs during attacks of bronchitis. This is due to its ability to ease spasms, release phlegm and soothe a sore throat. German research performed in 1997 has demonstrated ivy wood's ability to ease spasms, while extracts from ivy leaves have been shown to release phlegm.

The leaf extract has also been found to attack fungal infections and other germs and may act against tumours.

Extracts of ivy wood and leaves are used in cellulite-reducing cosmetic products that are applied topically as a complement to slimming regimes. Creams containing extracts of ivy are also used externally to treat itching skin, burns, warts, scabies and rheumatism.


Ivy can be grown in a variety of soils and in heavily shaded locations. Grow from semi-ripe cuttings in summer.


For internal use

TO TREAT coughs, bronchial attacks
INFUSION Put 1 sachet in 200m I of boiling water. Leave to infuse for 5 minutes. Takeá1-2 cupsa day at mealtimes.
SYRUP (made from extracts) Take 1-3 tablespoons a day. For external use
TO TREAT itching skin and cellulite CREAM. GEL Apply to affected area two or three times a day.



  • The leaves have shown no toxicity but there is a risk of contact dermatitis when they are handled during harvesting or preparation.
  • The berries are poisonous.
  • Excessive use can lead to diarrhoea. an upset stomach and vomiting. as well as slowing the heartbeat.


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