Due to their broncholytic and secretolic properties, ivy leaf dried extract has long provided its worth in practice. Their efficacy has been demonstrated in numerous scientific studies. According to a pharmacological investigation, its constituent appears to be responsible for the improvement in lung function observed in clinical studies.
Ivy Leaf Dera Cough.
As well as being a decorative plant it is well known historically for being a medicinal plant, going back as far as the ancient Greeks. It was made famous by Hippocrates (The Father of Medicine), who used it extensively. Over the years Ivy has been used for many purposes – it was supposed to prevent intoxication from alcohol and was also part of a formula originating in the 12th century that was used as an early anaesthetic. Its inclusion in this formula may well have been due to its antiseptic actions. It was also used to reduce swelling of the brain and feet and to treat haemorrhages and dysentery.
However, more recent scientific studies have shown its benefits in a number of different areas, which we will examine.
Actions of Ivy Leaf
Overall The German Commission E approved Hedera leaves for the treatment of catarrhs of the respiratory tract and symptoms of chronic inflammatory bronchial conditions such as bronchitis, asthma, bronchiectasis, emphysema and pneumonia.The German Commission E is a Scientific Advisory Board, equivalent to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) in America. The way in which ivy helps with these respiratory conditions and other uses will be examined below.
A spasm is an involuntary contraction of the muscles, so an antispasmodic promotes muscle relaxation. In the case of coughing generally this is a voluntary action, using the bronchial muscles to clear irritants from the respiratory system. However with respiratory illness a cough can become involuntary due to excess muscle spasm. This makes ivy very useful for relaxing airway spasms and reducing cough frequency.
In asthma there is constriction of the airways that can make breathing out difficult. Byrelaxing the bronchial system this means breathing becomes easier. A German study treating children who had asthma with ivy leaf extract or a placebo, found that those taking ivy leaf extract had improved respiratory function compared to those using a placebo. 6
Research has shown that alpha-Hederin (one of the Ivy leaf saponin components) activates specific receptors (β-adrenoreceptors) in the airways causing the muscle to relax and make breathing easier.
A secretolytic is a substance that makes thick, sticky mucous looser and more liquid, making it much easier to clear out of the airways. The soapy effects of ivy leaf saponins makes mucous less thick so it can be coughed up. Mucous helps to soothes and lubricate irritated membranes or surfaces in the airways, which can help with irritation and dryness in the respiratory system.7
The alpha-Hederin in ivy leaf extract encourages the cells in the bronchial system toincrease the production and secretion of surfactant. This decreases the surface tension on the liquid film covering the cells that exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide in the lungs (pulmonary alveoli) allowing us to breathe freely. The less-viscous secretion is then easier to expectorate and the irritable or unproductive cough is soothed.
A number of studies have shown that ivy leaf has anti-inflammatory effects. Certainly is it well known that flavonoids are able to reduce inflammation as they block the release of histamine. 5 Histamines are released in response to detected allergens, such as in hayfever that can cause inflammation in the respiratory system. There are a number of In vivo (human or animal) studies that show ivy leaf saponins, like alpha-hederin and hederasaponin-C, also exhibit anti-inflammatory effects. 7
It was stated earlier that the Triterpenoid saponins were thought to have antimicrobial actions. One study showed that Ivy leaf extract exhibited activity against strains ofStaphylococcus and E. coli and Klebsella pneumonia. 2 Other studies have recorded ivy leaf activity against 23 strains of bacteria and the yeast Candida albicans. 3 There are also several other studies that demonstrate ivy leaf has antifungal actions against candida. Rao et al., (1974) found that the ivy leaf saponin Hederacoside C inhibited influenza virus at 54% in a concentration of 100 μg/ml.
Ivy Leaf Usess
Given ivy leaf’s ability to dilate bronchioles and relaxing the airways it is an ideal herb to use for people with breathing difficulties. Since it moisturises the airways, by increasing surfactant, it can help soothe a dry and irritated respiratory system. This often manifests as a persistent dry cough. However since the saponins liquefy mucous and make it less thick for easier removal, it can help someone who has over thick mucus that cannot be expectorated. Ivy can help with wet or dry coughs.
Ivy leaf’s general anti-inflammatory actions may help reduce airway inflammation, that can occur as a result of immune system activation when the respiratory tract is under attack by bacteria or viruses. The anti-histamine effects could also make it a useful plant for those with breathing difficulties triggered by allergic reactions.
Finally when you have bacterial or viral infections that are affecting the airways ivy leaf help to protect the tissues with its antimicrobial actions.
Ivy Leaf side effects
Generally ivy leaf is considered a very safe herb for use with adults and children. Ivy allergy is very rare (less than 1 in 10,000 people) and may cause shortness of breath, swelling, reddening of the skin or itching.
Ivy leaf tolerability was demonstrated in a study by (Kraft et al., 2004). This used dried Ivy leaf extract in children, with the aim of detecting the type and frequency of side effects. As you can see from the chart these side effects were extremely low. Making ivy leaf extract a safe, well tolerated solution for use in children of all ages and adults as well.