Herb of the Month: Ivy Leaf (Hedera helix)

Author: Angelique Bone   Date Posted:1 July 2019 

This well-known herb goes by the Latin name of Hedera helix and is well known for its use in cough mixtures. In fact, have a look at the label of most children’s cough mixtures and you’re likely to find that this is the main active ingredient. It is also used in natural cough mixtures for adults.

Ivy is an evergreen climbing plant, which grows natively in Europe. It has been popular amongst different cultures for centuries - In ancient Greece, Ivy was wrapped around people’s foreheads as it was thought to prevent them from becoming inebriated, while Ivy wreaths were presented to newlyweds and were thought to be a symbol of fidelity. The Romans used it as feed for their cattle.

In Western Herbal medicine we use this herb predominantly for minor chest complaints, coughs and conditions which require the break-down of mucous in both adults and children. A clinical trial has shown that ivy Leaf extract, syrup and cough drops are over 90% effective in reducing cough and mucous in children between the ages of 0 and 13 years.² The mucolytic and anti-inflammatory properties make this herb useful in the treatment of various minor chest and bronchial complaints in both adults and children. 



Ivy leaf is also used in some topical preparations to soothe and relieve itching and irritation of the skin, while homoeopathically it is used for inflammation of the respiratory tract and for rheumatic disorders. While cough mixtures are often only used on an “as needed” basis, Ivy Leaf tinctures or extracts can also be used for longer periods when required.

Ivy Leaf is generally a well-tolerated herb when used within the recommended dosage range. Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should always consult a healthcare practitioner before taking herbal medicines.


2. Schmidt M, Thomsen U and Schmidt U, 2012, “Suitability of Ivy Extract for the Treatment of Paediatric Cough”, Phytotherapy Research, Vol. 26(12), pp. 1942 – 1947. [Study funded by Krewel-Meuselbach, holder of the marketing authorization of the study preparations. Study design, performance and evaluation were done by Prof. Dr Ulrich Schmidt from Working Group for Drug Safety.]


Written by Angelique Bone

Angelique (BHSc Naturopathy) is a qualified naturopath with a passion for herbal medicine and helping other people feel the best that they can. She believes that balance and moderation is important in maintaining good health.

Angelique enjoys reading, spending time with her family and baking goodies with her two young boys.

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