"Where the bouquet is hanging will be served." With a wreath of grapevines or ivy, winemakers - since the decree of Charlemagne - have drawn attention to their wine taverns. Only if such a little wreath hung on the front door, wine growers were allowed to run an economy. Even today, Ivy (Hedera helix) is still symbolic on many a tavern sign.
Already in ancient times ivy was dedicated to the gods of wine and fertility. Later, the evergreen plant stood as a Christian symbol of faithfulness and immortality. Thus, the plant entwines many graves and cemetery walls, but also served as a plant decoration at weddings.
Ivy blossoms in autumn and presents its fruits in spring - shiny black berries. But beware: keep your fingers away from ivy. The whole plant is poisonous to humans.
What does ivy look like and where does the medicinal plant come from?
Ivy is an evergreen climber that can grow up to 20 meters tall. The leaves are leathery and dark green on the top. Their shape varies from heart-shaped to lanceolate. Young leaves are hairy, older than bald. The inconspicuous flowers look greenish-yellow and arrange themselves in simple umbels. The fruit is a spherical, black berry. Ivy belongs to the Ivy family (Araliaceae) and blooms from September to December. He is native to Western, Central and Southern Europe. Wild it grows in forests and rocks. Planted it often occurs in gardens and on house walls.
Which plant parts and ingredients are used?
The active ingredients are found in ivy leaves. They contain 2.5 to 6 percent triterpene saponins, which are among the phytochemicals. Especially the substances hederacoside C and B as well as alpha-hederin play a role for the effect. In addition, the leaves contain flavonoids, caffeic acid derivatives and essential oil.
What do the ingredients do? How does ivy help?
Triterpene saponins, especially alpha-hederin, reflexively stimulate the bronchial mucosa via nerve fibers in the stomach to produce more fluid mucus. This makes it easier to cough up the secretion. At the same time, ivy extract also attacks directly on the bronchial mucous membrane and causes the mucus to be better removed from the respiratory tract. In addition, alpha-hederin relaxes the bronchial muscles and thus relaxes the respiratory tract.
Due to these effects, ivy is used as a herbal remedy for coughing - especially if it is clogged. Most of the extracts are used as cough syrup, drops or in teas. Medicinal plants such as thyme, primrose root and eucalyptus also have an expectorant effect.
Fresh ivy leaves can cause allergic reactions on the skin. Do not collect ivy to process it as a remedy. Because the plant is poisonous.