ground ivy large Ground ivy

Ground ivy|Glechoma hederaceae

general characteristics

general characteristics

Common names include ground ivy, Alehoof, cats foot, Gill-go-over-the-ground, Creeping Charlie - was named Nepeta glechoma previously due to its similarity in appearance to catmint/catnip.


Ground ivy is a memeber of the mint family. It is a small perennial plant, not usually more than 8-10 inches tall, with a square stem, slightly hairy round or heart shaped scallop edged leaves and small blueish purple flowers which appear in Springtime and can carry on well into summer. It prefers to grow in shady places such as deciduous woodland or in hedges, field margins and other damp places.


The plant creeps to colonise an area through stolons and will produce new roots from stems wherever they touch the ground. These can be several feet long. The flowers are extremely valuable for many species of bee and other insects as a rich source of early nectar.


It is a European native but was introduced to North America several hundred years ago where it now thrives.


It is no relation to common ivy.

Organic Ground ivy tincture is available to buy in our herbal shop.


harvesting and preparation

harvesting and preparation

Ground ivy leaves are the part used medicinally and can be collected when the plant is just in leaf or harvest the flowering stems. Remove any portions of bare stem and either dry for storage (its actions fade over time though), make into a tincture by adding chopped fresh material to an airtight jar, fill with vodka and store for several weeks before straining out the plant material or make a fresh juice out of some of it.


The leaves are edible in small amounts (a few leaves sprinkled in a salad for example) and used to be popular as part of a spring tonic for 'blood cleansing'. Pick the very young fresh leaves or shoots for eating purposes but try before you add to soups etc as it has a taste that not everyone appreciates.

Plentiful in the wild but just as easily added to a shady area in the garden where it can be allowed to spread and colonise (some consider it an invasive pest however!).


It is toxic to horses and cattle but from what I have read, it can be a life saver for sheep.

Organic Ground ivy tincture is available to buy in our herbal shop.


therapeutic actions and uses

therapeutic actions and uses

Ground ivy is a bitter aromatic plant in nature and was commonly added to beers to give a bitter flavour and to clarify it before hops became popular.

Its actions include being expectorant, anti-tussive, anti-catarrhal, decongestant, anti-inflammatory, bitter, mildly sedative, tonic, diuretic, astringent and is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants.


It is tonic like in its abilities and can be added to herbal tea formulas aimed at conditions like colds, fevers and flu. The fresh juice helps promote perspiration.


It was well known in times past as having a unique affinity for healing conditions in the head and chest (ear, nose, throat, lungs and mouth) and is described as a pectoral (a plant which strengthens the function of the lungs), for clearing catarrh and mucous congestion, coughs, asthma, sinusitis, chronic bronchitis and congestion headaches. It was perhaps the most favoured plant for 'consumption' in past times, better known nowadays as tuberculosis.


Ground ivy has a remarkable effect on tinnitus and ringing in the ears (especially when caused by noise damage) when the juice of the fresh plant is introduced into the ears or as a regular tea. Ear problems resulting from catarrh and mucous congestion and even vertigo and hearing loss may respond favourably to this plant.


It also has a good reputation for remedying the toxic effects of lead from the body and was a favourite remedy for so 'lead colic', a condition affecting painters using the old style lead based paints and other workers regularly exposed to lead. Some herbalists have used it successfully for clearing the effects of mercury (dental fillings and certain vaccines) from the body also.


Ground ivy is useful for ulceration in the mouth and digestive tract, gastritis, excess acid production in the stomach, colic and griping pains, general indigestion, IBS and diarrhoea. It is considered a decent all round digestive tonic.


It has a diuretic action (promotes urine production and flow) so is useful for water retention and can be used as a general supportive tonic in the treatment of conditions affecting the kidneys, bladder and urinary passages and to help against stones in the urinary system.


Can be added to formulas for rheumatism, sciatica, general backache and arthritis where it acts as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever.


It has also been shown to slow the formation of bone eating cells, the osteoclasts, so could well be useful for conditions such as osteoporosis and peridontitis or gum disease with the accompanying weakening of teeth connective tissues.


Dries leaves have been powdered and used as snuff to help relieve headaches.


It can be used to help treat skin infections and wounds and is a good remedy for nettle stings. It has the effect of inhibiting melanin production so could be used in over production of skin pigment such as in freckles or sun damage.


Bruises, swelling and congestion around bangs and knocks may benefit from a poultice of ground ivy.


Has a long held reputation as a decent eyewash for sore and inflamed eyes.


Research is ongoing into its treatment of bladder cancer and certain other cancers.


Click on the link for a beautiful and informative article on the medicinal and magical uses of ground ivy.




dosage and cautions

dosage and cautions

* Ground ivy is toxic in doses over the medicinal range and caution should be observed when using this herb, especially with first use and when taking other medications.

* Avoid during pregnancy and breast feeding.

* Avoid in epilepsy



Tincture: 5 ml up to 3 times daily.

Dried herb in tea form: 1 teaspoon per cup, up to 3 cups daily.



Add 12 to the child’s age. Divide the child’s age by the total.
E.g. dosage for a 4 year old...... 4 {age} divided by 16 {age + 12} = . 25  or 1/4 of the adult dosage.





Child watering plants




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