Ivy LeafHedera helix
The climbing ivy that adorns the sides of buildings has a long history of traditional medicinal use. Herbalists used ivy for such disparate conditions as arthritis, bronchitis, dysentery, and whooping cough. Topical applications of the herb were used for skin problems such as lice, eczema, and sunburn.
What is Ivy Leaf Used for Today?
Ivy leaf is one of many herbs used in Europe as an expectorant, a substance said to thin mucous and thereby loosen coughs. (In the United States, the herbal product guaifenesin takes this role in almost all over-the-counter cough formulas.) Germany’s Commission E has approved ivy leaf for treatment of mucous in the respiratory passages. 1
Other studies on ivy leaf compared various forms of the product to each other, and thereby do not prove anything about efficacy.
A typical dose of standardized ivy leaf extract is 25 drops twice per day in children or 50 or more drops twice per day in adults.
Fairly extensive monitoring indicates that ivy leaf rarely causes any noticeable side effects.
Nausea and vomiting are possible with excessive doses, or in very susceptible people. Ivy leaf is not recommended during pregnancy due to its emetine content.
Safety in pregnant or nursing women, young children, or people with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.
7. Hecker M, Runkel F, Voelp A. Treatment of chronic bronchitis with ivy leaf special extract—multicenter post-marketing surveillance study in 1,350 patients [in German]. Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd . 2002;9:77–84.
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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