Medicinal plant of the month December: Common ivy (Hedera helix)

Common ivy (Hedera helix) is a tried and true plant known for its antispasmodic and expectorant properties. It relieves the symptoms of cough and bronchitis.

The Hedera helix belongs to the Araliaceae family. It can be found in almost all European cultivated garden forms.

Thanks to its adhesive roots, the evergreen climbing plant grows along trees or walls. Its leaves are three to five lobed, dark green and shiny. There is often a light leaf veining. On blooming sprouts, the leaves grow more diamond-shaped or lanceolate. In autumn, the plant forms greenish-yellow ivy flowers, from which pea-sized, blue-black berries later grow. Like ivy leaves, they are poisonous.

Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, expectorant

Ivy has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The leaves of the plant are used for medicines. They contain saponins and flavonoids. A special triterpene sapoin, hedera-saponin C (hederacoside C), is metabolized in the body to alpha-hederin. This process ensures the antispasmodic and expectorant effect of the plant.

Ivy works:

  • expectorant
  • antispasmodic
  • antiviral
  • antibiotic
  • anti-inflammatory


It is therefore considered a popular remedy for coughs, bronchitis, whooping cough and dry cough. The ivy is administered in the form of teas, drops, cough syrup or tablets. Often also in combination with thyme herb or primula root.

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