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Ivy leaf for cough relief

29 March 2011

Ivy leaf is not one of the most widely known medicinal herbs for cough relief, but Kate Ferguson discusses how the use of this herb may help to provide relief from irritating coughs.

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The use of ivy leaf (or Hedera helix) can be traced back to ancient times when it was used in rituals and medicinally.

Wreaths of ivy were used in dedications to Bacchus – also known as Dionysus, the god of wine and intoxication – and were bound to the forehead to prevent intoxication. The leaves were also bruised and simmered in wine to prevent the drinker from becoming drunk. Greek priests would present newly-weds with ivy wreaths as a symbol of fidelity.

Ivy leaf at a glance

Name: Hedera helix (Ivy leaf, English ivy)
Part used: Leaf
Actions: expectorant, secretolytic, antispasmodic
Conditions used for: cough, respiratory catarrh
How to take it: Ivy leaf is best taken as syrup and can also be taken as a tea or as a lozenge
Where do I find it: From a health food store or pharmacy. A naturopath or herbalist may have the liquid form in their dispensary.

Today, ivy leaf is used therapeutically to help relieve symptoms that affect the respiratory system – in particular coughs and catarrh (inflammation of the nose and throat with increased production of mucus).

Ivy leaf may help to relieve symptoms associated with respiratory catarrh.

Ivy leaf may also help to ease cough, help to relieve sinusitis, a build up of congestion and catarrh.

How it works

The main components of ivy leaf that give it its health benefits are called saponins. The saponins trigger a response or irritation in the gut mucosa which then leads to stimulation of the mucous glands in the bronchioles which is essentially a reflex reaction.

The saponins in ivy leaf increase secretions in the respiratory tract which helps to thin out mucus in the chest, making it easier to ‘cough up’. Thick and tenacious mucus will stimulate the cough reflex. By thinning out and clearing the congestion, the cough reflex is not stimulated.

A further action of ivy leaf that is thought to affect its actions as a makes it an effective cough remedy is as an antispasmodic that may help to reduce coughing.

Do you suffer from recurring coughs? Get natural tips and relief in our Cold, Flu, Allergies & Immunity Community

References available on request


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Jennifer                      Jennifer

Hi Julie, it can be very frustrating to try and deal with symptoms when the cause is unknown. It’s important to try and find out what the cause is as this can impact on how to best treat your symptoms. Have you considered going to an ear nose and throat specialist, or maybe you already have? If you have a microbial cause, then you may need to consider taking an antimicrobial or immune system acting herb(s). If the cause is due to an allergy, which can be either airborne or food, then you may need to consider treating that. Buying special dust mite covers on your pillows and mattress may assist. If you have a suspected food allergy, then keep a note of what you eat and if your symptoms worsen as a consequence so you may need to target and eliminate certain foods. I also suggest that you check with your healthcare professional with regards to side effects of medications which you are taking.
Some people have areas of constitutional weakness, i.e. one person may be prone to respiratory problems, whereas another person may have a weakness in their gut. It would be best for you to call our Naturopathic Advisory Service on 1800 803 760 so that we can give more individualised advice. The herb ivy leaf helps reduce the cough reflex and thins out the mucus, which then eases a cough, it may be something that may be of benefit. All the best Julie, from Jen (Blackmores naturopath)
, posted on 04 April 2014. Report Abuse

Although I do not have a cough i am troubled by persistent mucus gathering in my throat and it is severely hindering my attempts to sleep owing to the fact I feel like I am choking .Before going to sleep I keep needing to sit up in-order to expel mouthfuls of mucus and repeat this several times throughout the night....I have no problems breathing in but often have difficulty breathing out Last year I tried the Cpap mask but it only made my condition worse I breath through my nose and have never been a mouth breather I do not have a cold and I am otherwise healthy except i take medication for restless legs my diet is free from any wheat, dairy, soy, egg, bananas, sugar,avocados and alcohol.I have never smoked and at 72 live a very active life .This condition has been bothering me for over 10 years and has become more chronic lately Hope you can advise me as I have tried specialists ...doctors ...and acupuncture including Chinese medicine Julie , posted on 02 April 2014. Report Abuse

kathleen                      kathleen

Ivy leaf can be taken in conjunction with your son’s medications and will be helpful in relieving and soothing his chesty cough and chest congestion
It is ideal for productive coughs, especially if there is sticky or thick mucus present. Ivy leaf may help to thin and loosen mucus making it easier to cough up.

Good luck Kath (Blackmores Naturopath)

, posted on 11 March 2014. Report Abuse

My son is about 13 years of age. Occasionally he suffers from an attack of cough and bronchial spasm and is treated with bronco dilators. Can you please advise that ivy leaves with be effective for his asthmatic cough or otherwise. , posted on 10 March 2014. Report Abuse

I use IVY Leaf syrup since yesterday and feel very well. and found it is very useful. Thank you very much. , posted on 04 December 2013. Report Abuse


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