Ivy is medicinal plant of the year 2010

Plant extract helps with bronchial diseases and acute inflammation of the respiratory tract

From the lobed leaves of the ivy extracts are made, which help relieve inflammatory diseases of the respiratory tract. Now the ivy was voted medicinal plant of the year 2010. © Photo: Martin Bauer GmbH & Co. KG
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Ivy grows in almost every garden. In the city or in the village he covers walls or climbs up trees. Hardly anyone knows, however, that the ivy has a healing effect. Würzburg scientists have therefore named him "the medicinal plant of the year 2010". The ivy is the successor to the fennel, the medicinal plant of the year 2009.

Even the doctors of antiquity used ivy leaves and ivy fruits: as a painkiller or, processed in ointments, burns. Today an extract from the lobed leaves of ivy is used. It improves the symptoms of chronic inflammatory bronchial diseases and acute respiratory infections. Even with whooping cough he is used for relief. The main ingredients responsible for these effects are called saponins.

Effectiveness proven by studies

The efficacy of the ivy extract has been confirmed by clinical studies, as reported by Franz-Christian Czygan, Johannes Gottfried Mayer and Konrad Goehl from the Study Group History of Development of the Medicine Clinic of the University of Würzburg.

But beware: the ivy also has dangerous effects. For example, fresh ivy leaves and their juice can cause allergic inflammation after contact with the skin. Children can poison the berries of the plant - nausea, diarrhea and vomiting are the consequences.

Ivy in cultural history

Like no other medicinal plant, the ivy is linked to European cultural history. It used to be a symbol of eternal life, a symbol of love and loyalty. For the Egyptians he was dedicated to Osiris, in ancient Greece to Dionysus. At that time, they understood him as an indication of the presence of God. display

Poets were crowned with ivy, because the ivy was also a sacred plant of the Muses. Bridal couples received ivy boughs as a symbol of their everlasting bondage. In early Christianity, ivy tendrils can be found on sarcophagi, in the Middle Ages they decorate churches and cathedrals, carved in stone - Reims, Marburg - or carved in wood (Altenburg Cathedral).

Where the name of the ivy comes from

The German word ivy probably goes back to an old root word "ebah" or "ifig" (Old Saxon), which means something like "climber". In the early days, according to the researchers, the stem of the word was associated with Heu : Old High German ep-h u "ebe-h u", which means "climbing foliage" could mean.

The botanical name Hedera helix is ​​probably derived from the Greek term h dra seat - according to the scientists, because the plant sitzt on the tree. Helix comes from the Greek word helis - wind, twist - because the ivy winds around the tree. In the Greeks, the ivy kiss s, which also means Sling .

Who determines the medicinal plant of the year

Since 1999, the Würzburg Study Group Development History of Medicinal Products has chosen the medicinal plant of the year. It consists of medical historians, doctors, pharmacists and biologists. In part, students and lecturers also participate.

What distinguishes the medicinal plant of the year

Each crop selected for the medicinal plant of the year should have an interesting history of culture and medicine and be tested in well-documented or promising pharmacological and clinical studies. In doing so, the study group takes into account, in part, little-known plants, such as the stinging mulberry, in order to bring the public a wider range of medicinal plants closer to the public. Or, as in the case of ivy or peppermint, he chooses very well-known plants, but only a few people know about their curative effects.

Previous medicinal plants of the year

So far, the study group has selected the following medicinal plants of the year. 1999: buckwheat; 2001: Arnica; 2002: stinging cornice; 2003: artichoke; 2004: peppermint; 2005: medicine pumpkin; 2006: thyme; 2007: hops; 2008: Common chestnut, 2009: fennel.

(idw - University W rzburg, 23.11.2009 - DLO)