Additional notes (click to expand)

Featured Plant

Hedera helix is a wide-ranging and commonly grown plant, found throughout Europe in woodlands and gardens. There are many references to Hedera helix in traditional European herbals, from lice treatments to poultices for burns and ulcers. Culpeper pointed to an ‘antipathy’ between ivy and wine. In his ‘Complete Herbal’, Culpeper claims that those who have drunk excessive amounts of wine may be promptly cured of their symptoms by drinking a decoction of ivy leaves, boiled in yet more wine. There is some suggestion that this belief was validated by ivy’s vigorous growth habit in the garden, in particular its ability to outgrow and smother neighbouring grape vines. The seeds contain high concentrations of saponins and are now considered to be toxic to humans. The foliage also contains particular saponin compounds, known as hederosaponins, but in lower concentrations. Extracts of Hedera helix foliage are licensed for use in Traditional Herbal Medicines in the UK by the MHRA, and tinctures are marketed for the alleviation of coughs and bronchitis. As one of our hardy evergreen species, Ivy has an association with the festive period, along with mistletoe (Viscum album) and holly (Ilex aquifolium). However, its use in wreaths and crowns is thought to pre-date the Christian era. For the Victorians, ivy was a symbol of fidelity. In the Scottish Highlands, the tradition of wearing ivy wreaths was thought to protect the wearer against evil. Ivy is frequently grown as an ornamental plant in UK gardens. Its dense foliage provides a valuable nesting habitat for birds. Ivy flowers in autumn, thus offering a late season source of pollen and nectar to bees and wasps. The fruit, although not edible to humans, is enjoyed by blackbirds and other native species throughout the winter and early spring.

Medicinal

Traditional Herbal Medicine Registration (THMR).

A. Vogels' Bronchoforce Chesty Cough Ivy Complex oral drops, licensed for use in the UK for treatment of the symptoms of chesty coughs.
MHRA website http://www.mhra.gov.uk/home/groups/spcpil/documents/spcpil/con1458279906405.pdf (accessed 01/12/2017) link

Other use

Indication: Relieve symptoms of urinary tract discomfort in men who have enlarged prostate. Licensed for use in Traditional Herbal Medicines in the UK (UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)).
Medicines and Health Care Regulatory Authority, 2013 Licensed Traditional Herbal Remedies

According to Culpeper’s Complete Herbal, those who have drunk excessive amounts of wine may be promptly cured of their symptoms by drinking a decoction of ivy leaves, boiled in yet more wine.
Culpeper, Nicholas. (1981). Culpeper's Complete Herbal & English Physician, Pitman Press Ltd. Faximile of 1826 Edition ed p81

Toxicity

Side effects/precautions: Hypersensitivity; caution with antitussives (codeine/dextromethorphan), gastritis/gastric ulcer; do not use if pregnant/breast feeding; may cause allergic reactions, gastrointestinal reactions. From Patient information leaflet re Traditional Herbal Medicines in the UK (UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)).
Medicines and Health Care Regulatory Authority, 2013 Licensed Traditional Herbal Remedies

Geographical distribution

  • Africa, Northern Africa, Algeria
  • Africa, Northern Africa, Libya
  • Africa, Northern Africa, Morocco
  • Africa, Northern Africa, Tunisia
  • Asia-Temperate, Western Asia, Cyprus
  • Asia-Temperate, Western Asia, Lebanon-Syria
  • Asia-Temperate, Western Asia, Palestine
  • Asia-Temperate, Western Asia, Turkey
  • Europe, Eastern Europe, Baltic States
  • Europe, Eastern Europe, Belarus
  • Europe, Eastern Europe, Central European Russia
  • Europe, Middle Europe, Austria
  • Europe, Middle Europe, Belgium
  • Europe, Middle Europe, Czech Republic
  • Europe, Middle Europe, Germany
  • Europe, Middle Europe, Netherlands
  • Europe, Middle Europe, Poland
  • Europe, Middle Europe, Switzerland
  • Europe, Northern Europe, Denmark
  • Europe, Northern Europe, Great Britain
  • Europe, Northern Europe, Ireland
  • Europe, Northern Europe, Norway
  • Europe, Northern Europe, Sweden
  • Europe, Southeastern Europe, Albania
  • Europe, Southeastern Europe, Bulgaria
  • Europe, Southeastern Europe, Greece
  • Europe, Southeastern Europe, Italy
  • Europe, Southeastern Europe, Romania
  • Europe, Southeastern Europe, Yugoslavia
  • Europe, Southwestern Europe, France
  • Europe, Southwestern Europe, Portugal
  • Europe, Southwestern Europe, Portugal
  • Europe, Southwestern Europe, Spain
  • Europe, Southwestern Europe, Spain
  • Northern America, Southeastern U.S.A., Georgia

Hedera helix L.

Family: ARALIACEAE
Genus: Hedera
Species: helix L.
Common names: Common Ivy
Pharmacopoeia Londinensis name: Hedera
Distribution summary: Eurasia
Habit: Perennial
Hardiness: H5 - Hardy; cold winter
Garden status: Currently grown
Garden location: Poisons garden (PETO), Pharmacopoeia Londinensis 1618 'Gums, Resins, Tears' (HSE 8 B), North America (A)
Flowering months: January, December
Reason for growing: Medicinal, other use, toxic


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