Parts used and where grown
Ivy is an evergreen climber native to the damp woods of western central and southern Europe. The leaf is used medicinally.1 It should be carefully distinguished from poison ivy found in the Americas.
Although ivy’s composition has not been subject to detailed scientific investigations it is known to contain 5–8% saponins. Other constituents in the leaf include an alkaloid called emetine that is similar to one found in the herb tylophora. Although emetine typically induces vomiting in ivy leaf it seems to increase the secretion of mucus in the lungs. While the emetine content is very low in ivy this could in part explain its traditional use as an expectorant (a substance that promotes the removal of mucous from the respiratory tract). Animal studies have shown the saponins found in ivy extract prevent the spasm of muscles in the bronchial area.
While very few human clinical trials have been performed on ivy a controlled trial in a group of children with bronchial asthma found that 25 drops of ivy leaf extract given twice per day was effective in improving airflow into the lungs after only three days of use. However the incidence of cough and shortness of breath symptoms did not change during the short trial period. Ivy leaf is approved by the German Commission E for use against chronic inflammatory bronchial conditions and productive coughs due to its actions as an expectorant. One double-blind human trial found ivy leaf to be as effective as the drug ambroxol for treating the symptoms of chronic bronchitis.10
In addition to the use of ivy to treat asthma clinical reports from Europe suggest that topical cream preparations containing ivy horsetail and lady’s mantle are beneficial in reducing although not eliminating skin stretch marks.
How much is usually taken?
Standardized ivy leaf extract can be taken by itself or in water at 25 drops twice per day as a supportive treatment for children with asthma.At least double this amount may be necessary to benefit adults with asthma. However ivy is not intended to replace standard medical therapies and should only be used following consultation with a healthcare professional. A similar amount can be used for people with a cough or bronchitis.
In addition to NAC clinical studies have also shown extracts of ivy leaf to produce meaningful improvements in lung and bronchial conditions. Ivy leaf has a long history of use in asthma and COPD. Its mechanism based on recent clinical research is through its ability to reduce bronchial spasm and improve respiratory secretions. Several double-blind studies have shown that ivy extract improves lung function and reduces asthma attacks.These studies included double-blind studies in children. For example in one double-blind study 25 children aged 10-15 years with asthma demonstrated improvements in lung capacity after 10 days of treatment with ivy extract. Improvements were shown to be clinically relevant and statistically significant 3 hours after administration of ivy extract on the 10th day of treatment. Results from this study and others indicates that ivy extract requires some time to work but can produce clinical improvement in bronchial asthma and COPD.
In a previous issue of HerbalGram Armstrong and Epstein1 discussed the history biology chemistry and toxicity of the genus Toxicodendron to which poison ivy belongs and they addressed some popular remedies for both treatment and prevention of lesions. Some major points that are immediately pertinent to this discussion are reviewed below.
Two species of poison ivy are recognized from Northern America: eastern poison ivy (T. radicans) and its sister species western poison ivy (T. rydbergii). Depending on the botanist several subspecies of eastern poison ivy may be acknowledged.2 This genus also harbors a number of other poisonous plants including Pacific poison oak (T. diversilobum [Torr. & Gray] Greene) Atlantic poison oak (T. pubescens P. Mill.) and poison sumac (T. vernix [L.] Kuntze). Exposure and reaction to any one of these plants will render an individual reactive to all others due to allergen similarity.3 For ease of reference the dermatitides caused by all of these plants will be considered under TD.
Poison ivy powerful allergens known collectively as urushiol easily transfer to human skin. Urushiols are alkenyl polyphenols.4 To spark an immune response these relatively small chemicals must first bind to proteins on skin cellswhich then sets off a chain reaction involving many aspects of the immune system. Typically this series of events takes two to several days to culminate and people often don realize they contacted the plant until the hypersensitivity reaction is well underway. Additionally poison ivy often goes unrecognized in the field either because people aren looking for it or don recognize it (poison ivy exhibits a high degree of morphological variability contingent on genetic and environmental factors). A list of plants containing urushiol and producing TD and related inflammations。
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There are almost as many antidotes for the inflammation caused by Poison Ivy as for the bites of the rattlesnake. Alkaline lotions especially carbonate of soda alum and hyposulphite of soda are all The root is reddish and branching; the leaves rather large threeparted (which will readily distinguish it from the five-parted Ampelopsis). The central leaflet has a longer stalk the lateral ones are almost stalkless. The leaflets are entire when young but when full-grown they are variously indented downy beneath thin and about 4 inches long. They abound with an acrid juice which darkens when exposed to air and when applied to the skin produces the inflammation and swelling referred to. When dry the leaves are papery and brittle sometimes with black spots of exuded juice turned black on drying. The flowers are in loose slender clusters or panicles in the axils of the leaves and are small recommended and the patient is advised to moisten the skin constantly with the agent in solution. A hot solution of potassium permanganate applied locally is also recommended as a cure also solutions of lead and ammonia. Rhus venenata has similar poisonous qualities.
English ivy is an aggressive invader that threatens all vegetation levels of forested and open areas growing along the ground as well as into the forest canopy. The dense growth and abundant leaves which spring from the stems like small umbrellas form a thick canopy just above the ground and prevent sunlight from reaching other plants. Similarly vines climbing up tree trunks spread out and surround branches and twigs preventing most of the sunlight from reaching the leaves of the host tree. Loss of host tree vigor evident within a few years is followed by death a few years later. The added weight of vines makes infested trees susceptible to blow-over during storms. English ivy also serves as a reservoir for bacterial leaf scorch (Xylella fastidiosa) a plant pathogen that is harmful to native trees such as elms oaks and maples. English ivy is a popular plant recommended by Cooperative Extension offices for use as a low maintenance alternative to lawns. It is widely used by homeowners horticulturists landscape contractors parks departments and others desiring a fast-growing low maintenance evergreen groundcover. Once established at a site English ivy can be expected to move beyond its intended borders into neighboring yards parks and other lands either by vegetative means or by seed.
BIOLOGY & SPREAD:
Ivy reproduces vegetatively and by seed which is dispersed to new areas primarily by birds including English house sparrows European starlings robins Stellar jays and cedar waxwings. New plants grow easily from cuttings or from stems making contact with the soil.
The leaves of the adult or reproductive form are usually a lighter green thick ovate to rhombic in shape and have less prominent whitish veins. During the adult stage H. helixproduces terminal clusters of greenish-white flowers from September to October pollinated by wasps bees and flies along the northwest coastline of North America. The following spring Hedera helix produces a dark purple fleshy drupe fruit (see Fig. 3).
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The plant is said to be poisonous in large doses[7 10 65 76] although the leaves are eaten with impunity by various mammals without any noticeable harmful affects.
Woodlands hedges and shady places climbing up trees walls etc and clambering over the ground. Found on all types of soils.
Plants For A Future Rating (1-5):
Depending on who is doing the talking ground ivy can be classified as either an aggressive uncontrollable lawn weed or a fast-growing attractive ground cover. Also commonly called Creeping Charlie ground Ivy is a member of the mint family a family which as we know includes some seriously rampant members as far as growth habit and rapid spread are concerned and ground ivy is no exception.
Ground Ivy is a sprawling warm season perennial with the characteristic square stems (which are often purple) of mint family members. When brushed or crushed the rounded scalloped leaves emit a pleasant minty scent and the dainty flowers are violet in color. Left to its own devices ground ivy will spread quickly and aggressively choking out lawn grasses and other shorter and weaker plants. However it really doesn't seem to affect taller plants and bulbs much at all and its thick spread does effectively crowd out and eventually eliminate less attractive garden invaders such as crabgrass.
Recent experiments have shown that ivy can be grown successfully using subirrigation systems (Pennisi and van Iersel unpubl.) Subirrigation systems decrease or virtually eliminate chemical runoff from greenhouses. As public awareness of environmental protection increases growers may be pressured by strict laws and regulations to reduce or eliminate chemical runoff from their operations. In subirrigation systems benches or whole greenhouse sections are flooded with a fertilizer solution pumped from a holding tank. The fertilizer solution is picked up by the potting medium through a wicking action. After approximately 15 to 20 minutes the fertilizer solution remaining on the bench or the flooded floor is drained back into the holding tank where it is stored until the next fertigation (usually the next day). In addition to environmental benefits zero runoff systems save labor water and fertilizer and can produce more uniform crops than overhead or drip irrigation. Good quality ivy plants intended for interior use were produced using subirrigation with 100 ppm N 50 ppm P and 100 ppm K and light levels of 1500 fc (Pennisi and van Iersel unpubl.) Current research is underway to develop detailed guidelines including optimal light levels fertilizer rates growing media and optimal ranges for the leachate EC and pH of the growing medium for production of ivy in subirrigation systems.
To produce an attractive well-branched plant in a hanging basket ivy should be pinched once or twice during production. The first pinch is usually done when plants are small and consists of removing the soft new growth as soon as cuttings have rooted and have shown 1 to 2 inches of growth. In this pinch called a 'soft pinch' the tip of the vine and the first node with a recently expanded leaf are removed. For cultivars that branch well naturally this one pinch may be sufficient to produce a full basket. A second pinch may be necessary for cultivars with less natural branching. At this stage of their growth the vines may extend several inches from the rim of the hanging basket. The second pinch involves removing the shoot tip and two to three nodes below. Some growers may choose to start with the second pinch after the baskets are hung however the softer the pinch the less growth is wasted. When baskets need to be kept in the green-house longer or the first pinch has not produced sufficient branching another pinch may be necessary. This one is directed towards keeping the vine's length to the height of the pot's bottom. How full the basket look also depends on the number of cuttings that were originally stuck in it. Cultivar selection is important to help minimize manual labor; self-branching cultivars require less pinching while trailing cultivars may need more than three pinches to produce a well-branched plant. Cultivars with small leaves may require higher number of cuttings and/or more pinches to produce a full basket while fewer cuttings may be needed of large-leafed cultivars.