- Family Labiatae
- Glechoma hederacea syn. Nepeta glechoma
- Alehoof, Gill-go-over-the-Ground, Lizzy-run-up-the-Hedge, Gill-go-by-the-Hedge, Robin-run-in-the-Hedge, Catsfoot/Cat’s Foot, Hedgemaids, Tun-hoof, Haymaids, Turnhoof, Creeping Charlie, Cat’s-paw
- Death has occurred in animals, especially horses, who have ingested large quantities of the plant.
Native to Europe and western Asia, ground ivy is now naturalized in other temperate zones, including North America. It thrives on the outskirts of woods and along paths and hedges. A common wild plant, ground ivy is a creeping perennial, growing to six inches, producing long rooting runners, notched kidney-shaped leaves, and purple-blue flowers growing in whorls. The plant has a mild, unpleasant, mint-like smell and a hot, bitter taste. The leaves are gathered during the summer.
In parts of England, the plant, known as “alehoof”, used to flavour and clarify ale, the traditional drink of the Anglo-Saxons.
During medieval times, it was recommended for fever, and was a popular treatment for chronic coughs.
The 16th century herbalist, John Gerard, considered it a valuable remedy for tinnitus (noise, ringing of the ears).
- digestive aid
- a volatile oil
- a bitter principle (glechomine)
- Aerial parts.
Decoctions, infusions, and tinctures are used to treat various disorders, but mainly to treat problems involving the mucous membranes of the ear, nose, throat, and chest, and the digestive system. It is a well-tolerated herb and mild enough for children to clear up lingering congestion and to treat such chronic conditions as “glue ear” and sinusitis. It helps reduce excessive membrane secretions as occurs in bronchitis, colds, pneumonia, and sore throats.
Its binding nature helps to counter diarrhea and to dry up watery secretions.
It is also beneficial in kidney disorders, including cases of bladder and kidney stones and to increase urinary output.
It has long been employed as a digestive aid and to prevent scurvy.
In Italy, the ground ivy is used for arthritis and rheumatism.
In Chinese medicine, it is used to treat carbuncles, erysipelas, lower abdominal pain, scabies, scrofulous, irregular menstruation, coughs, dysentery, and jaundice.
In homeopathy, it is used for diarrhea and hemorrhoids.
Poultices and compresses are applied externally to treat poorly healing wounds, ulcers, and skin diseases.