Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea)
Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
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.
Note: Glechoma hederacea (ground ivy) should not be confused with Hedera helix (English ivy), although the species have similar common names.
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.
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.
No available studies qualify for inclusion in the evidence table.
*Key to grades:A: Strong scientific evidence for this use; B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use; D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. 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 health care professional.
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.
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
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.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to ground ivy, 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 and Breastfeeding
Ground ivy is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of sufficient available scientific evidence.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
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 and 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 edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
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. View Abstract
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. View Abstract
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. View Abstract
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. View Abstract
Kumarasamy Y, Cox PJ, Jaspars M, et al. Biological activity of Glechoma hederacea. Fitoterapia 2002;73(7-8):721-723. View Abstract
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. View Abstract
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. View Abstract
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. View Abstract
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. View Abstract
Zieba J. Isolation and identification of flavonoids from Glechoma hederacea L. Pol.J Pharmacol Pharm 1973;25(6):593-597. View Abstract
Zieba J. Isolation and identification of non-heteroside triterpenoids from Glechoma hederacea L. Pol.J Pharmacol Pharm 1973;25(6):587-592. View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.
March 22, 2017