Drugs A - Z
English ivy (Hedera helix)
Generic Name: Hedera helix
CategoryHerbs & Supplements
Araliaceae (family), common ivy, dried ivy leaves, gum ivy, Hedera helix L., Hedera helix leaf extract, Hedera helix ssp. Canariensis Willd., true ivy, variegated ivy, woodbind.
English ivy (Hedera helix) is native to most of Europe and southwest Asia. Although it is often used as a landscaping groundcover in the United States, it is also an invasive species that is considered a noxious weed in some areas.
Based on preliminary animal studies, English ivy leaf extract may have antimutagenic (anticancer) and antioxidant properties. In addition, it may also be beneficial for children with asthma or adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. However, more research is needed in all of these areas to assess English ivy's potential benefits.
EvidenceDISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Currently, there is insufficient available information to recommend for or against the use of English ivy in treating children with asthma. Additional study is needed in this area.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease:
Currently, there is insufficient available information to recommend for or against the use of English ivy in treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Additional study is needed in this area.
TraditionWARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Antioxidant, arthritis, burns, cancer, cough, decongestant/expectorant, dysentery (severe diarrhea), gallbladder disorders, gout (inflamed foot), inflammation, lice, liver disease, neuropathy (nerve damage), parasites, rheumatic diseases, scabies, scar prevention (stretch marks), skin conditions (calluses), spleen disorders, sunburn, ulcers (gastroduodenal), whooping cough.
Adults (18 years and older):
There is no proven safe or effective dose for English ivy.
Children (younger than 18 years):
There is no proven safe or effective dose for English ivy in children.
SafetyDISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to English ivy (Hedera helix) or its constituents. Crossreaction or cross-senstivity has been noted between Hedera helix and Dendropanax trifidus, Schefflera arboricola, dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), false ragweed (Ambrosia acanthicarpa), giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida), short ragweed (Ambrosia artemisifolia), sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), wild feverfew (Parthenium hysterophorus), yarrow (Achillea millifolium), and tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), and some Dahlia species.
Side Effects and Warnings
The most frequently reported adverse effects related to English ivy are allergy symptoms, such as allergic contact dermatitis, asthmatic bronchitis, or allergic rhinoconjunctivitis (inflammation of the lining of the nose and the mucous membrane that covers the front of the eye and lines the eyelids). Gardeners and those with frequent exposure to English ivy may have a high risk of sensitization and should wear appropriate protective clothing.
Use cautiously in patients with cancer or taking antineoplastic (anticancer) agents.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Interactions with Drugs
Although not well studied in humans, English ivy may have antimutagenic (anticancer) properties. Caution is advised when combining English ivy with other anticancer agents.
English ivy may have antioxidant activity. Although not well studied in humans, combined use of English ivy and antioxidants may have additive effects.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Although not well studied in humans, English ivy may have antimutagenic (anticancer) properties. Caution is advised when combining English ivy with other anticancer herbs or supplements.
English ivy may have antioxidant activity. Although not well studied in humans, combined use of English ivy and other herbs or supplements with antioxidants may have additive effects.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature, and was peer-reviewed and edited by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com): J. Kathryn Bryan, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Dawn Costa, BA, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Nicole Giese, MS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Catherine Ulbricht, PharmD (Massachusetts General Hospital); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration).
BibliographyDISCLAIMER: Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Amara-Mokrane YA, Lehucher-Michel MP, Balansard G, et al. Protective effects of alpha-hederin, chlorophyllin and ascorbic acid towards the induction of micronuclei by doxorubicin in cultured human lymphocytes. Mutagenesis 1996;11(2):161-167.
Billington T, Pharmawati M, Gehring CA. Isolation and immunoaffinity purification of biologically active plant natriuretic peptide. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 6-27-1997;235(3):722-725.
Gaillard Y, Blaise P, Darre A, et al. An unusual case of death: suffocation caused by leaves of common ivy (Hedera helix). Detection of hederacoside C, alpha-hederin, and hederagenin by LC-EI/MS-MS. J Anal Toxicol 2003;27(4):257-262.
Garcia M, Fernandez E, Navarro JA, et al. Allergic contact dermatitis from Hedera helix L. Contact Dermatitis 1995;33(2):133-134.
Gulcin I, Mshvildadze V, Gepdiremen A, et al. Antioxidant activity of saponins isolated from ivy: alpha-hederin, hederasaponin-C, hederacolchiside-E and hederacolchiside-F. Planta Med 2004;70(6):561-563.
Guo R, Pittler MH, Ernst E. Herbal medicines for the treatment of COPD: a systematic review. Eur Respir.J 2006;28(2):330-338.
Hofmann D, Hecker M, Volp A. Efficacy of dry extract of ivy leaves in children with bronchial asthma--a review of randomized controlled trials. Phytomedicine 2003;10(2-3):213-220.
Johnke H, Bjarnason B. [Contact dermatitis allergy to common ivy (Hedera helix L.)]. Ugeskr Laeger 6-20-1994;156(25):3778-3779.
Jors E. [The prevalence of skin and mucosal symptoms in gardeners handling Ficus benjamina (weeping fig) and Hedera helix (ivy). A cross-sectional study]. Ugeskr.Laeger 9-8-2003;165(37):3526-3529.
Massmanian A, Valcuende Cavero F, Ramirez Bosca A, et al. Contact dermatitis from variegated ivy (Hedera helix subsp. canariensis Willd.). Contact Dermatitis 1988;18(4):247-248.
Oka K, Saito F, Yasuhara T, et al. The allergens of Dendropanax trifidus Makino and Fatsia japonica Decne. et Planch. and evaluation of cross-reactions with other plants of the Araliaceae family. Contact Dermatitis 1999;40(4):209-213.
Ozdemir C, Schneider LA, Hinrichs R, et al. [Allergic contact dermatitis to common ivy (Hedera helix L.)]. Hautarzt 2003;54(10):966-969.
Taylor P. Healthy household hints. STEP Perspect 1999;99(3):16.
Villani P, Orsiere T, Sari-Minodier I, et al. [In vitro study of the antimutagenic activity of alphahederin]. Ann Biol Clin (Paris) 2001;59(3):285-289.
Yesudian PD, Franks A. Contact dermatitis from Hedera helix in a husband and wife. Contact Dermatitis 2002;46(2):125-126.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.