Ivy has this effect on health

The ivy (Hedera helix) was already used in antiquity - especially as a painkiller. In addition, the evergreen plant was considered a landmark of life and in art as the plant of the Muses - with ivy-crowned poets testify to it. In 2010, the ivy was named the medicinal plant of the year. Probably everyone knows the ivy, which grows up with its strong shoots on walls and trees or crawls along the forest floor. Gloomy concrete deters him just as little as the dark winter months - and his yellow to dark green foliage dabbed some color into gray everywhere. Its healing effect is less known. Most likely, this meaning is familiar to parents who give their offspring cold-spring ivy juice for coughing attacks.

Effects of ivy

In ancient times, leaves, fruits and roots of the ivy were used internally and externally for ear, head and tooth pain, gout, spleen complaints, menstrual cramps, lung disease, fever and burns. Today, the beneficial extract from its leaves is used. Its effectiveness has meanwhile been proven by studies. Its healing power owes the Ivy to the so-called saponins, which have their name therefore, that they can form soap-like foam (lat. Sapo = soap). They liquefy and dissolve the mucus, but also have an antispasmodic and germ-destroying effect. Ivy is therefore used for acute and chronic inflammations and diseases of the respiratory tract and whooping cough. Ivy is also used in homeopathy. By the way: The saponins are also contained in licorice and the cowslip - which are therefore often mixed with cold tea.

Risks of ivy

However, ivy has not only healing effects, but also shady sides: thus, fresh leaves and their juice can cause allergic reactions to the skin. In addition, the berry fruits of the plant are poisonous, especially for children. Their consumption can cause nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. Also for this reason, ivy should only be used in the ready-made form from the pharmacy.

Ivy in the story

Where the ivy has its German name is not clear. Presumably the first part goes back to an old root word like "ebah" or "ifig", which means "climbers". The second part of the word was probably formed from "heu", a term that also means "foliage". In Old High German put together something like "ep-höu" - climbing foliage. The origin of the botanical name Hedera helix, however, is easier to determine: In Greek, "hédra" means seat and heli is derived from the verb "helissein" so wind, turn off. The ivy loosely attaches itself to the tree.

Ivy as a cultivated plant

Especially in Europe, the ivy plant has a long tradition - vinous as a medicinal plant, because as a crop. As an evergreen plant it stood for eternal life and the immortality of the soul, for love and loyalty; Bride and grooms received ivory boughs as a symbol of their everlasting allegiance. In Egypt and Greece he was consecrated with his eternal presence to certain deities (Osiris or Dionysos). In Christianity graves and churches were adorned with ivy wooden or stone - to admire, for example, in the Altenburg Cathedral or the Cathedral in Reims.

Medicinal plant of the year

Since 1999, a medicinal plant of the year is chosen, which should have not only a proven healing effect, but also an interesting cultural and medical history. The following plants have received this award so far:

  • 1999: buckwheat
  • 2001: Arnica
  • 2002: Stabbing butcher's broom
  • 2003: artichoke
  • 2004: Peppermint
  • 2005: Medicinal squash
  • 2006: Thyme
  • 2007: hops
  • 2008: Common horse chestnut
  • 2009: fennel
  • 2010: ivy
  • 2011: Passion flower
  • 2012: licorice
  • 2013: nasturtium
  • 2014: ribwort plantain
  • 2015: Real St. John's wort
  • 2016: Real caraway
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