The use of medicinal plants to prevent and treat various common diseases in humans, has been a therapeutic tradition of humanity improved thanks to science.

When it comes to respiratory conditions , pharmaceutical companies have resorted to plant extracts to alleviate their symptoms and one of them is hedera helix.

That is why we present this article below where we explain what hedera helix is ​​and what benefits it brings to your health.

What is hedera helix?

Common ivy or by its scientific name hedera helix, is a medicinal plant belonging to the climbing species, being native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. From it an extract is obtained from its intense green leaves, which is used for the preparation of a syrup for medicinal use. 

Note: The extract of the leaves of hedera helix contains flavonoids, saponins and polyphenolic compounds, which have been indicated for the symptomatic treatment of cough and some respiratory tract pathologies of common origin. (1)

On the other hand, the general dose of hedera helix syrup to treat respiratory conditions is 5 ml 3 times a day in adults and adolescents and 2.5 ml in children under 5 years of age 2 times a day, being administered via oral.

What is hedera helix used for?

The hedera helix extract used in the manufacture of pharmaceutical formulas has been indicated in the following cases:

1. Respiratory conditions

The extract of this plant contains some components called saponosides, especially alpha hederin , whose effect on the respiratory tract is to prevent spasms in the bronchial area, avoiding the appearance of coughing , dyspnea, among other symptoms, favoring the dilation of the bronchi. . 

To highlight: Some data from scientific articles describe the effectiveness of alpha hederin in the treatment of conditions of the upper respiratory tract. (two)

2. Liver diseases

This medicine has shown a protective action on the liver, in liver poisoning processes caused by medicines such as paracetamol , whose chemicals are metabolized in this important organ. 

You should know: The scientific literature does not have enough evidence in this regard, however, according to traditional medicine, alpha hederin compounds and amides found in the extract of ivy or hedera helix leaves have been associated with prevention diseases such as liver failure due to its protective properties.

3. Pain and inflammation

The ethanolic and purified extract of common ivy or hedera helix used in traditional medicine have been shown to reduce inflammation due to the compound alpha hederin in combination with other saponins, which alleviate the symptoms of bronchial edema and even the pain caused by coughing In the lungs. (3)

4. Infections by bacteria, fungi and parasites

Traditional medicine has attributed antibacterial, antifungal, and vermifuge properties to the extract of hedera helix leaves, which has been used to treat infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, Shigella, E. Coli, pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Candida Albicans . (4)

Note: Alpha and beta hederin, as well as hederacholchiside A obtained from hedera helix, showed leishmanicidal activity ( elimination of leishmaniasis parasites), being the most active compound. (5)

hedera helix side effects

The consumption of some medicines can cause adverse effects in certain patients , so hedera helix extract can cause some of the following adverse effects:

  • Allergic reactions from contact with any of the chemical components of hedera helix syrup.
  • Vomiting , diarrhea .
  • Uncommon: skin rashes or dyspnoea.

Important: If you notice the appearance of any of these adverse reactions or any other symptom not included in the list, it is advisable to stop taking the hedera helix extract in any pharmaceutical presentation and consult the treating physician.

Hedera helix contraindications

The use of pharmaceutical formulations must take into consideration the particular health conditions of each patient. Being this way, the administration of pharmaceutical formulas with hedera helix extract is contraindicated in any of the following cases:

  • Hypersensitivity to any of the chemical components of hedera helix syrup.
  • During pregnancy or lactation, due to the scarce scientific data on this point.
  • Avoid indicating in children under 1 year of age.
  • Caution in patients with gastritis or gastric ulcer. 
  • Avoid parallel use with cough suppressants such as codeine.

You should know: Before starting treatment with hedera helix extract, the patient must provide his doctor with all important information about his medical history.

Key Findings

  • The hedera helix is ​​a plant, from which a medicinal extract is extracted from its leaves for the manufacture of pharmaceutical formulas.
  • Hedera helix extract is mainly used to treat conditions of the upper respiratory tract.
  • The main component of hedera helix extract is alpha hederin , a chemical compound with properties that prevent bronchial spasms.
  • The administration of hedera helix is ​​contraindicated during pregnancy and lactation , as well as in cases of allergy to the components.

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