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Ivy leaf Extract for relief of upper respiratory symptoms

Infant and Children, Immune | July 29, 2020 | Author: Naturopath

Children, Immune

Ivy leaf Extract for relief of upper respiratory symptoms

Ivy (Hedera helix L.), also known as English ivy , is an evergreen climbing plant native to western, central and southern Europe. It has been used medically since ancient times and is now prescribed for the symptomatic treatment of respiratory diseases. Ivy leaf extract may be helpful in conditions of asthma, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, upper respiratory diseases, inflammation and may even have a role to play in arthritis.

Its main role therapeutically is the relief of upper-respiratory symptoms of cough and inflammation of the nose, throat and lung with excess mucus (catarrh).

Properties of Ivy

The leaf of the ivy plant contains many medicinal properties making it useful in many upper respiratory and other conditions. These actions include:

  • Anti-inflammatory 
  • Antispasmodic
  • Antimicrobial
  • Antioxidant

‚ÄčProperties of IvyMany of these actions are due to key components - triterpenoid saponins, alkaloid (emetine) and flavonoids. These  constituents have been researched for their activity in alleviating symptoms.

Ivy leaf can be used for symptom relief of:

  • chesty/bronchial coughs
  • convulsive coughing and help
  • improve respiratory function

Actions of Ivy leaf

Bronchodilator. Ivy leaf has an action on the β2-adrenergic receptor of the smooth muscle of lung. This results in bronchial dilation and allows for more air flow and easier breathing.

Mucolytic action. This means phlegm becomes liquified and thinner, making it easier to remove.

Expectorant. Soothes the airways and make them more productive (meaning coughing has an action in removing phlegm rather than just being convulsive).

Antispasmodic. This is mostly due to action of saponins found in ivy leaf and flavonoids, resulting in less convulsive, non-productive coughing by reducing or lowering muscle spasms.

Anti-inflammatory. In studies EA 575® was shown to offer anti-inflammatory properties from a regulatory effect on the NF-κB pathway (an inflammatory pathway), improving symptoms associated with chronic inflammatory bronchial disorders.

  • EA 575® is a specific extract of Hedera helix  which was developed over 65 years ago using a patented extraction process, as distinct from other Ivy leaf extracts, and is based on extensive research.

Antioxidant. The antioxidant properties of ivy aid in the removal of toxins and help protect cells from free radical damage.

Antiviral anctivity. Ivy leaf has been shown to have antiviral activity towards Enterovirus 71 (EV71). This is the main viral culprit in hand, foot and mouth disease.

Antiallergic. Effective in the relief and control of allergic symptoms.

Antitumor. Ivy shows activity in inhibiting the growth of tumors.

Conditions which may be helped using Ivy leaf Extract

Acute and chronic obstructive airway diseases. Ivy leaf extract can help alleviate the symptoms of acute and chronic obstructive airway diseases such as mucus production and coughing.

Conditions which may be helped using Ivy leaf ExtractAsthma. Ivy leaf extract was shown it improved respiratory function in children with chronic bronchial asthma. Other studies have suggested combining ivy leaf extract with regular inhaled corticosteroid therapy may help children with mild persistent, uncontrolled asthma. 

Bronchitis. Studies have shown that ivy leaf extract is effective and safe in the treatment of bronchitis in both adults and children.

Bronchitis is usually a self-limiting disease which is not helped by antibiotics (unless infection is present). Symptomatic treatment can offer relief and aid recovery. In studies, Ivy leaf EA 575, has been shown to work equal to acetylcysteine, but with better tolerability, in its mucolytic action; beneficial in its ability in reducing coughing spasms; improved expectorant action; improved breathing and in the severity of disease. Other reported improvements included less chest pain, coughing intensity and sleep.

Arthritis. Ivy leaf may offer a useful alternative for conditions of inflammation and arthritis due to its anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antiarthritic properties. Further studies need to be performed.

Other conditions where ivy has been traditionally used or may be of some benefit include: 

  • Liver, gallbladder and spleen conditions
  • Joint pain, swelling and gout
  • Nerve pain
  • Wounds, ulcers, skin infections and warts (topical use)
  • Parasites

Many traditional uses have not yet been confirmed by current research.

In Summary, Ivy leaf can be useful in upper respiratory health conditions due to its ability to:

  • Thins mucus in the airways
  • Loosens mucus making it easier to remove from the lungs
  • Calms coughs

Ivy leaf is available on its own or combined with other cough and cold relieving medications.

It is available in syrup, drops or lozenge form and may also help with other conditions of the upper respiratory system such as sinusitis and allergy. Ivy leaf can be used by children as an adjunct to other specific therapies or by its self. Please follow recommended guidelines for dosage.

Prospan, made by Flordis, contains a specific extract of ivy leaf - Hedera helix (EA 575®) which has been extensively researched and many of the studies performed have used Hedera helix EA 575®.

Cautions and contraindications

  • Like any herbal preparations ivy may cause allergic reactions
  • Ivy leaf is not recommended in pregnancy due to the alkaloid emetine, which may cause uterine contractions
  • There are no known medicinal interactions, but advice should be sought from a medical practitioner/health care provider before taking ivy leaf. 

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Efficacy of dry extract of ivy leaves in children with bronchial asthma – a review of randomized controlled trials https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0944711304702196

Tolerance and effect of an add-on treatment with a cough medicine containing ivy leaves dry extract on lung function in children with bronchial asthma https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S094471131400227X

Assessment of the Efficacy and Safety of Ivy Leaf (Hedera helix) Cough Syrup Compared with Acetylcysteine in Adults and Children with Acute Bronchitis https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2020/1910656/

A Valuable Option for the Treatment of Respiratory Diseases: Review on the Clinical Evidence of the Ivy Leaves Dry Extract EA 575® https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25875509/

Anti-inflammatory effects of ivy leaves dry extract: influence on transcriptional activity of NFκB https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6482290/

The Antiinflammatory and Antiarthritic Properties of Ethanol Extract of Hedera helix https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3719157/


Antiviral Activity of Hederasaponin B from Hedera helix against Enterovirus 71 Subgenotypes C3 and C4a https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24596620/



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