Drugs A - Z
Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea)
Generic Name: Glechoma hederacea
CategoryHerbs & Supplements
Alehoof, apigenin, beta-sitosterol, catsfoot, cat's-foot, cat's-paw, chi hsueh ts'ao, choline, creeping Charlie, creeping Jenney, edera terrestre (Italian), field balm, flavonoids, free amino acids, gillrun, gill-go-by-the-hedge, gill-go-over-the-ground, gill-over-the-ground, Glechoma hederacea, Glechoma hederacea var. hederacea, Glechoma hederacea var. micrantha, Glechoma hederacea var. parviflora, Glechoma hederaceum, glechomafuran, glechomine, gleheda, ground ivy tea, groundivy, Gundermann (German), haymaids, hedgemaids, hiedra terrestre (Spanish), hondsdraf, hu po ho, hydroxy-polyenoic fatty acids, kaki-doosi, kakidosi, Labiatae (family), Lamiaceae (family), lectin, lien ch'ien, lierre terrestre (French), lizzy-run-up-the-hedge, luteolin, Lysimachia nummularia, Nepeta glechoma, oleanolic acid, phenolic acids, polyphenols, pseudotannins, pulegone, quercetin, resin, robin-run-in-the-hedge, robin-runs-away, saponin, sesquiterpenes, ti ch'ien ts'ao, triterpenoids, ts'ao, tun-hoof, turnhoof, turnhoofd, triterpenoids, volatile oil, yer sarmasigi.
Ground ivy belongs to the Lamiaceae family, which includes mints and herbs such as rosemary, pennyroyal, spearmint, basil, catnip, and thyme. Ground ivy is found in dams and shady places, especially in thickets, in Canada, most of the United States, the United Kingdom (except Scotland), Europe, northern Asia, and Japan.
Traditionally, ground ivy has been used for tinnitus, catarrh, diarrhea, bile disorders, hemorrhoids, and as a tonic. Before hops were available in the early 16th Century, the British used ground ivy to clarify beer. During the Tudor period, it was used to preserve beer for sea voyages. Some old English recipes flavored jam with ground ivy and added young spring leaves to oatmeal, soups, and vegetables. In the early 20th Century, ground ivy tea was used in Britain as a cure-all, and was frequently used for tuberculosis and as an antidote for lead poisoning. The stems of the plant were also made into wreaths for the dead.
Today, ground ivy is often a recommended addition to compost heaps because of its high iron content. Animal and laboratory studies indicate that ground ivy may be useful for its antibiotic or anti-inflammatory effects. However, ground ivy is considered by some local governments to be a bothersome and aggressive weed in Europe and North America. There are currently no high quality studies available on the medicinal applications of ground ivy.
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.
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.
Abscesses, allergies, anthelmintic (expels parasitic worms), antibacterial, antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, appetite stimulant, arthritis, asthma, astringent, bladder irritation, bronchitis, bruises, cancer, catarrh (inflammation of mucous membranes), chronic bronchitis, chest congestion, colds, cough, croup, diarrhea, digestive complaints, diuretic (increases urine flow), ear infection (glue ear), expectorant, fever, gastritis (inflammation of stomach), headache, hemorrhoids, hypochondria, immunostimulant, inflammatory conditions, influenza, jaundice, kidney disease, kidney or bladder stones, laxative, lead toxicity, lung disease, menstrual irregularities, psychiatric disorders (monomania), pulmonary inflammation (chronic), rheumatism, sedative, sinusitis (inflammation of sinuses), mouth infections, sore throat, stimulant, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), tired eyes, tonic, ulcers, upper respiratory infections, urinary tract infection, urinary tract inflammation (chronic), wound healing.
Adults (over 18 years old)
There is currently no proven safe or effective dose for ground ivy. Traditionally, 2 grams of the dried plant or 2-4 milliliters liquid extract (1:1 in 25% alcohol) three times daily has been used. One cup of tea (2-4 grams dried plant steeped in 150 milliliters boiling water for 5-10 minutes) three times daily has also been used.
Crushed ground ivy leaves have been applied to the skin, but information on dosing or duration is unavailable.
Children (under 18 years old)
There is currently no proven safe or effective dose for ground ivy in children and use is not recommended.
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 ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea), or other members of the Lamiaceae family, including mint, rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme, and lavender.
Side Effects and Warnings
There are very few reports of ground ivy and its adverse effects. Pulegone, a constituent of ground ivy, may be toxic to the liver. Patients with compromised liver function should use ground ivy with caution. Ground ivy may also induce seizures, produce swelling of throat, and labored breathing. Use cautiously in patients with impaired kidney function, as ground ivy oil may irritate the kidneys.
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
Ground ivy is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of sufficient available scientific evidence.
Interactions with Drugs
Ground ivy may contain high amounts of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which may decrease the effect of warfarin (Coumadin®) and similar anticoagulants ("blood thinners"). The high vitamin C content may also enhance the body's absorption of iron, increase the levels of aspirin in the blood, decrease fluphenazine levels in the blood, or increase the concentration and effect of birth control pills. Consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, before taking ground ivy.
Interactions with Herbs & Dietary Supplements
Ground ivy may contain high amounts of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which may decrease the effect of some anticoagulants ("blood thinners"). The high vitamin C content may also enhance the body's absorption of iron. Individuals taking iron supplements or multivitamins should consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, before taking ground ivy.
Ground ivy also contains pulegone, which is potentially toxic to the liver. This chemical compound may interact with pennyroyal, which also contains pulegone. Caution is advised.
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): Ashley Brigham, PharmD (Northeastern University); James Ceurvels, PharmD (Northeastern University); Nicole Giese, MS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Rebecca Strauss, PharmD (Northeastern University); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); 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.
An HJ, Jeong HJ, Um JY, et al. Glechoma hederacea inhibits inflammatory mediator release in IFN-gamma and LPS-stimulated mouse peritoneal macrophages. J Ethnopharmacol 7-19-2006;106(3):418-424.
Henry DY, Gueritte-Voegelein F, Insel PA, et al. Isolation and characterization of 9-hydroxy-10-trans,12-cis-octadecadienoic acid, a novel regulator of platelet adenylate cyclase from Glechoma hederacea L. Labiatae. Eur J Biochem 12-30-1987;170(1-2):389-394.
Komprda T, Stohandlova M, Foltyn J, et al. Content of p-coumaric and ferulic acid in forbs with potential grazing utilization. Arch Tierernahr. 1999;52(1):95-105.
Kuhn H, Wiesner R, Alder L, et al. Occurrence of free and esterified lipoxygenase products in leaves of Glechoma hederacea L. and other Labiatae. Eur J Biochem 12-8-1989;186(1-2):155-162.
Kumarasamy Y, Cox PJ, Jaspars M, et al. Biological activity of Glechoma hederacea. Fitoterapia 2002;73(7-8):721-723.
Singh T, Wu JH, Peumans WJ, et al. Carbohydrate specificity of an insecticidal lectin isolated from the leaves of Glechoma hederacea (ground ivy) towards mammalian glycoconjugates. Biochem J 1-1-2006;393(Pt 1):331-341.
Tokuda H, Ohigashi H, Koshimizu K, et al. Inhibitory effects of ursolic and oleanolic acid on skin tumor promotion by 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate. Cancer Lett 1986;33(3):279-285.
Wang W, Hause B, Peumans WJ, et al. The Tn antigen-specific lectin from ground ivy is an insecticidal protein with an unusual physiology. Plant Physiol 2003;132(3):1322-1334.
Wang W, Peumans WJ, Rouge P, et al. Leaves of the Lamiaceae species Glechoma hederacea (ground ivy) contain a lectin that is structurally and evolutionary related to the legume lectins. Plant J. 2003;33(2):293-304.
Zieba J. Isolation and identification of flavonoids from Glechoma hederacea L. Pol.J Pharmacol Pharm 1973;25(6):593-597.
Zieba J. Isolation and identification of non-heteroside triterpenoids from Glechoma hederacea L. Pol.J Pharmacol Pharm 1973;25(6):587-592.
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.