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Ivy as an Herb

Ivy as an Herb

Hedera spp.


English Ivy

English ivy and its close cousin Atlantic or Irish ivy are well-known European vines. They have been widely used in North America landscapes. The tyype of vine is evergreen and well-adapted to the mild Pacific Northwest climate.

English ivy will always be a favorite among gardeners for its versatility.

Contrary to common belief, English ivy does not kill trees if it is allowed to cover their trunks. However, it will eventually damage stucco walls or old grouting between bricks or stones.

Ivy as an Herb for Medicinal Uses

Medicinally, the fresh leaves are utilized, from which a fluid extract is prepared. The fluid extract is mostly given in the form of a tincture, in doses of 5 to 30 drops.

In 1798, a physician named Du Fressoy noticed a young man who had been cured of a herpetic eruption on his wrist of six years after being accidentally poisoned by Ivy. He then tried the use of the plant in the treatment of obstinate herpetic eruptions as well as in palsy. Many cases yielded well to the drug. Since then it has rapidly gained a place in general practice, meeting with some success in the treatment of paralysis, acute rheumatism and stiffness.

Ivy is used extensively by homoeopathists for rheumatism, ringworm and other skin disorders. It is considered one of the most useful remedies in a great majority of cases of Nettlerash, especially if caused by a particular food reaction or allergy.

Ivy has been recommended in cases of incontinence of urine.

The milky juice of ivy is also used as an indelible ink for marking linen. It is also an ingredient for liquid dressings or varnishes for finishing boots or shoes.

English Ivy Fragrance Oil can be used for aromatherpy.

Magickal properties. Ivy is carried by women (and brides) for good luck. Wherever it is grown or strewn, it guards against negativity and disaster. Use ivy in fidelity and love charms. Ivy is magickally paired with holly.

Ivy Folklore

In England it was once believed that if ivy refused to grow on a grave it meant the soul was unhappy in its other world. If it flourished on a young girls grave, it meant she died of unrequited love.

Dreaming of ivy can foretell of a broken engagement.

If ivy grows on a tree in your dream, you may have grief. If it grows on a house you may have wealth.

"Oh roses for the flush of youth,
And laurel for the perfect prime;
But pick an ivy branch for me
Grown old before my time."

- Christina Georgina Rossetti, 1862

Poisen Ivy

Poison Ivy plant

The American Poison Ivy is one of the species of Sumachs, an attractive group of plants widely distributed in Europe, Asia and North America.

Amazingly, 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 recommended. A 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, in addition to solutions of lead and ammonia.

The blistering rash caused by poison ivy is the direct result of contact with the oily toxicant, known as "urushiol." Urushiol is found in resin ducts within the plant's phloem. These ducts are found throughout the plant, including the roots, stems, bark, leaflets and certain flower parts. The plant has to be crushed, broken, or in some way injured to release the resin. The injury may be something as little as an insect chewing on the plant.

Once urushiol is released, it can find its way to your skin by direct contact with the plant and then spread by touching other parts of the body. Because the sticky, oily substance is easily transmitted, there are indirect ways to contact it, for instance, from the fur of the family pet, garden tools, garden gloves, clothing, golf balls or other objects that have come in contact with an injured plant. Contrary to popular belief, the rash from poison ivy cannot be transmitted from touching the oozing blisters.

If you know you have contacted poison ivy, wash the area as soon as possible with soap and cool water. Warm water may cause the resin to penetrate the skin faster. Because urushiol can penetrate in a matter of minutes, you may still get a rash, but at least you have contained the infected area. A visible reaction, redness and swelling may be apparent within 12 to 24 hours. Contact your family physician or pharmacist for recommendations for effective non-prescription medication.

Culinary Uses of Ivy

Not recommended for culinary use.

Folklore

Ivy (non poisonous varieties) is grown to grow up the outside of the home to act as a guardian and protector. It is worn or carried by brides to bring luck to the marriage and is known as a symbol of friendship and fidelity.

Folklore

Ivy brings good luck to women, and is often carried by brides for this reason. It is used in love and fidelity charms, and guards against negativity and disaster.

Caution

Anyone who has ever experienced the blisters, swelling, and extreme itching from an unfortunate encounter with poison ivy, learns quickly to avoid it whenever possible. It grows in non-cultivated sites, such as along stream banks, roadways, fencerows, and woodlands. It can even make an appearance in your ornamental shrub or perennial borders. Therefore, knowing how to identify and control it are the best defenses against accidental contact.

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