by Kristine Brown, RH (AHG)
online classes for kids, 130+ issues, and LOTS of free printables
Ground Ivy is commonly known by many names including Gill-over-the-ground, Gill-over-the-hill, Lizzy-run-up-the-Hedge, Gill-go-by-the-Hedge, Robin-run-in-the-Hedge,creeping Charlie, catsfoot, cat’s paw, turnhoof and alehoofe. This plant is not related to Ivy but is, instead, in the Mint family. Many of his names imply his growing habit of being a ground cover while others such as ‘paw’ and ‘hoof’ describe the shape of his leaves. Ground Ivy was historically used in beer brewing, hence the name ‘ale.’
Do you have Ground Ivy growing in your backyard? If so, grab a sprig to try out this experiment. Take a leaf and chew on it. Observe what you taste. Does it seem bitter or sweet? Spicy or pungent? Does your mouth salivate or dry up? How does your mouth feel, does the leaf warm it up or cool it off? Most people describe Ground Ivy as bitter, pungent, drying and cooling.
Nutritionally, Ground Ivy contains vitamin C, copper, iodine, iron, phosphorus and potassium. He also contains triterpenoids, sesquiterpenes, flavonoids, resin, saponin, tannins, the volatile oil pulegone and a bitter principle known as glechomine.
Medicinally, Ground Ivy is said to be analgesic, anthelmintic, antiatheromatic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, antiviral, astringent, diuretic, expectorant, hepatoprotective, hypoglycemic, hypotensive, mucostatic, urinary tonic, and vulnerary.
Let’s take a look at what Ground Ivy is used for…
Ground Ivy is probably most recognized for his usefulness in being able to remove heavy metals such as lead, mercury and aluminum from the body due to his high levels of vitamin C which bind with the soft, heavy metals. Matthew Wood also surmises that Ground Ivy may be useful for doing the same with petrochemical pollutants as well. Ground Ivy has a long history of being used for chelation and is listed in various historical herbals for treating ‘painters colic’ or ‘lead colic’ as lead poisoning was known by. As a hepatoprotective herb, Ground Ivy protects the liver from these heavy metals by binding with them so they can be filtered and removed from the body through the kidneys.
I became familiar with Ground Ivy after I learned he can help with the inner ear issue known as tinnitus which symptoms include humming or ringing in the ear and loss of hearing. Ground Ivy is also used for those suffering from ‘glue ear,’ medically known as otitis media with effusion, a condition that occurs when the Eustachian tubes fill with fluid in the middle ear, often at the beginning stage of chronic respiratory congestion or with a head cold.
For the respiratory system, Ground Ivy is great for congestion, especially when you have a hot, wet cough as Ground Ivy cools and dries. Other coughs most likely will not benefit from Ground Ivy. Ground Ivy works for both acute respiratory infections as well as chronic respiratory infections, especially when the middle ears are congested, including ailments such as sinusitis and bronchitis. Ground Ivy can also help to soothe a sore throat and makes an all around great remedy for all things cold virus related.
|Gall from ground ivy.|
As well as working on respiratory issues, Ground Ivy can be helpful for eye issues such as conjunctivitis, acute redness, itchiness, soreness, tiredness, and pain in the eyes. A tea made of Ground Ivy with a pinch of sea salt added makes a soothing eye wash.
Ground Ivy can be helpful for urinary problems as well. As a urinary tonic, Ground Ivy tones the urinary system, and may be helpful for those suffering from gout. As a diuretic, Ground Ivy gets the urinary tract back on track and can be used as a tea for cystitis, urinary inflammation and urinary tract infections. Kidney issues may find relief with Ground Ivy as well, from kidney stones to infections.
Ground Ivy is said to help stimulate the bile flow in the gallbladder and liver, and may alleviate jaundice, helping to increase the flow of bile when it seems to be ‘stuck.’ Ground Ivy is also helpful for a congested spleen and lymph.
As a stomachic, Ground Ivy is soothing for intestinal issues such as colic, intestinal cramping, and gas. Because of his astringent nature, Ground Ivy can be helpful for relieving diarrhea.
Topically, Ground Ivy can be applied to hot, itchy skin conditions for gentle relief, as well as cuts and scratches since he is a vulnerary and antiseptic. His traditional use for arthritis and rheumatism suggest that topical applications may be helpful for these conditions as well.
Ground Ivy can also be helpful for sciatica pain, I would use a poultice directly over the affected area along with a tea or extract internally. Dioscorides used Ground Ivy as a “remedy against sciatica or ache in the hucklebone.” Adele Dawson states that she finds that Ground Ivy is not helpful for sporadic, acute cases of sciatica and surmises that Ground Ivy would best be used for chronic cases.
I am curious to try Ground Ivy more in conditions of the heart as research has shown Ground Ivy to be antiatheromatic, hypotensive, and anti-inflammatory as well as hypoglycemic due to his triterpenoids oleanolic and ursolic acid.
There are no known contraindications, side effects or adverse effects with drug interactions. It is possibly safe for pregnant and lactating women though no studies have been done.
Ground Ivy Extract
This extract can be used for respiratory infections, tinnitus, and heavy metal toxicity, as well as urinary, digestive and bile issues.
Fresh Ground Ivy
Fill your jar halfway with chopped Ground Ivy. Add grain alcohol halfway then add water to fill the jar.
Let steep for 4 weeks before using, shaking daily. You may wish to strain off the Ground Ivy at the end of the 4 week period.
Dosage for adults: 30 drops 4-5 times daily. Double for chelation
Children 2-6 - 10 drops; Children 7-12 - 20 drops 4-5 times daily.
Ground Ivy Tea
This tea is used for helping with chelation, tinnitus, and respiratory, urinary, digestive and bile issues. For tinnitus, it may be slow to work; expect results to take 30-90 days to be effective. This tea is also great as an eye wash for eye complaints.
1 tablespoon dried Ground Ivy
10 oz boiling water
Steep Ground Ivy in boiling water for 15-20 minutes.
Dosage for adults: 2-4 cups daily.
For children 2-6, 1/2-1 cup daily; 6-12 should drink 1-2 cups daily.
Ground Ivy Vinegar
Ground Ivy vinegar is great for getting a daily dose of Ground Ivy’s minerals. Use it on salads, a tablespoon in a cup of water before a meal to aid digestion. This can also be applied topically to help with hot, itchy skin conditions.
Fresh Ground Ivy
Apple cider vinegar
Fill your jar with chopped up Ground Ivy then pour the Apple cider vinegar over the shoots to fill the jar. Cover with a lid.
Label and shake daily for 2 weeks.
Dyeing with Ground Ivy
Ground Ivy gives a rich palette of greens when using it as a dye. This is a perfect way to use a bunch of Ground Ivy from your yard if he is taking over! You can experiment in getting different shades by using different mordants.
Fresh Ground Ivy
A large stock pot
13 oz. Alum
7 oz. Cream of tartar
Natural dye fabric (cotton, wool, silk, linen are all good - they will dye slightly differently in color)
Section of copper piping or other copper material (if using pennies, make sure they are pure copper pennies made prior to 1982)*
*Optional items to test out different shades - If you want to experiment with the optional colors, place the rusty nails (or other iron objects) into a jar and cover with rain water.
Do the same for the copper piping in a separate jar. Be sure to label both jars so you know which is which.
Let soak for several days until the water turns a deep rust color.*
To begin, add 1 gallon water., alum and cream of tartar to the stock pot and stir to dissolve. Bring the water to a boil then turn off. Have a big person help you with this step if you are not used to using a stove.
Add the dye materials, stirring to soak and let steep until cool. Strain off the water and set aside the dye materials. You can also begin this at the same time as the next step to save time (in separate pots).
Chop up enough Ground Ivy to fill your stock pot loosely with the plant material.
Cover the Ground Ivy with water and place on the stove. Bring the pot to a boil then turn down to a simmer, simmering for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool, steeping for 6-8 hours. You may wish to start this step the evening before you want to dye, allowing the mixture to cool overnight.
Strain off the plant material and compost. If you are doing a dye bath of just this mixture, add your material to the pot and return the liquid mixture to a simmer for 30 minutes. Let sit another 6 hours before straining.
If you want to experiment with colors, split your dye bath in to 2-4 sections, depending on which mordants you want to try (copper, iron, baking soda, plain). Add about 1/4 cup of the mordants to each dye bath, labeling the dye baths accordingly. Follow the instructions to dye the materials.
Once the materials have soaked for 6 hours, use the tongs to remove them and rinse them in cool water until the water runs clear.
Hang to dry.