English Ivy

Other Name(s):

Gum Ivy, Hedera helix, Hedera taurica, Hederae Helicis Folium, Herbes à Cors, Hiedra Común, Ivy, Lierre, Lierre Commun, Lierre Grimpant, True Ivy, Woodbind.


English ivy is a vine. The leaves are used to make medicine.

People take English ivy by mouth for swelling and blockage of airway passages, to treat and improve lung function in people with bronchial swelling, to help bring up mucus and other material up from the lungs, for liver disorders, spleen disorders, gallbladder disorders, gout, joint pain and swelling, and scrofulosis.

People apply English ivy to the skin for burns, calluses, skin infection, inflammation, nerve pain, parasites, ulcers, joint pain and swelling, and vein swelling.

How does it work?

English ivy might stimulate mucus glands and have expectorant properties. This might improve lung function in people with breathing difficulty due to swelling and blockage of airway passages. English ivy might also have antioxidant effects.


COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is the same as adult-onset asthma. See Answer

Uses & Effectiveness

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Bronchitis. Early research shows that taking cough syrup (Prospan; Panoto-s; Athos; Abrilar) or herbal drops (Prospan Herbal Drops) containing English ivy leaf extract by mouth, alone or with usual treatment, for about 1-3 weeks might improve lung function in children ages <1 to 15 years, as well as adults, with sudden or recurring bronchitis. however, it's too soon to tell if the improvement is due to english ivy extract, the usual treatment, or natural course of the disease.
  • Liver disorders.
  • Spleen disorders.
  • Gallbladder disorders.
  • Gout.
  • Joint pain and swelling.
  • Scrofulosis.
  • Skin wounds.
  • Nerve pain.
  • Ulcers.
  • Parasites.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of English ivy for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

Cough syrup (Prospan; Panoto-s; Athos; Abrilar) containing English ivy leaf extract is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth three times daily for 1 week. English ivy leaf might cause skin irritation when taken by mouth. English ivy leaf extract might cause mild stomach problems.

Not enough is known about the safety of applying English ivy to the skin. In some people, contact with English ivy leaf might cause allergic skin reactions. But this is fairly uncommon.


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Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of English ivy during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: Cough syrup (Prospan; Panoto-s; Athos; Abrilar) or herbal drops (Prospan) containing English ivy leaf extract are POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth three times daily for up to 20 days.


The appropriate dose of English ivy depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for English ivy. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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Ozdemir, C., Schneider, L. A., Hinrichs, R., Staib, G., Weber, L., Weiss, J. M., and Scharffetter-Kochanek, K. [Allergic contact dermatitis to common ivy (Hedera helix L.)]. Hautarzt 2003;54(10):966-969. View abstract.

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;11:161-7. View abstract.

Boyle J, Harman RM. Contact dermatitis to Hedera helix (common ivy). Contact Dermatitis 1985;12(2):111-112. View abstract.

Fazio S, Pouso J, Dolinsky D, et al. Tolerance, safety and efficacy of Hedera helix extract in inflammatory bronchial diseases under clinical practice conditions: a prospective, open, multicentre postmarketing study in 9657 patients. Phytomedicine 2009;16(1):17-24. View abstract.

Gaillard Y, Blaise P, Darre A, Barbier T, Pepin G. 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. View abstract.

García M, Fernández E, Navarro JA, et al. Allergic contact dermatitis from Hedera helix L. Contact Dermatitis 1995;33(2):133-4. View abstract.

Gulcin I, Mshvildadze V, Gepdiremen A, Elias R. Antioxidant activity of saponins isolated from ivy: alpha-hederin, hederasaponin-C, hederacolchiside-E and hederacolchiside-F. Planta Med 2004;70(6):561-563. View abstract.

Gulyas A, Repges R, Dethlefsen U. Therapy of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases in children (Translation). Atemvegs und Lungenkrankheiten 1997;23:291-4.

Hausen BM, Brohan J, Konig WA, et al. Allergic and irritant contact dermatitis from falcarinol and didehydrofalcarinol in common ivy (Hedera helix L.). Contact Dermatitis 1987;17(1):1-9. View abstract.

Johnke H, Bjarnason B. [Contact dermatitis allergy to common ivy (Hedera helix L.)]. Ugeskr Laeger 1994;156(25):3778-3779. View abstract.

Lässig W, Generlich G, Heydolph F, Paditz E. Efficacy and tolerability of ivy-containing cough remedies. TW Pediatr 1996;9:489-491.

Mitchell, J. C. Allergic contact dermatitis from Hedera helix and Brassaia actinophylla (Araliaceae). Contact Dermatitis 1981;7(3):158-159. View abstract.

Villani P, Orsiere T, Sari-Minodier I, Bouvenot G, Botta A. [In vitro study of the antimutagenic activity of alphahederin]. Ann Biol Clin (Paris) 2001;59(3):285-289. View abstract.

Yesudian PD, Franks A. Contact dermatitis from Hedera helix in a husband and wife. Contact Dermatitis 2002;46(2):125-126. View abstract.

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