Plant Profiler

English ivy (Hedera helix)

English ivy (Hedera helix) Image
Synonyms / Common Names / Related Terms
Araliaceae (family), common ivy, dried ivy leaves, gum ivy, Hedera helix L., Hedera helix leaf extract, Hedera helix ssp. Canariensis Willd., true ivy, variegated ivy, woodbind.
Note: Hedera helix (English ivy) should not be confused with Glechoma hederacea (ground ivy), although the species have similar common names.

Mechanism of Action


  • Constituents: Hederasaponin-C, alpha-hederin, hederacoside C, and hederagenin have been isolated from Hedera helix.3,6,1 According to one report, powdered dried leaves of Hedera helix contain 21.83mg/g of hederacoside C, 0.41mg/g of alpha-hederin, and 0.02mg/g of hederagenin.6 The major allergens in Hedera helix may be falcarinol and didehydrofalcarinol, which are present in the plants year round.5,4
  • Antimutagenic: In laboratory studies, alpha-hederin from Hedera helix demonstrated both desmutagenic and bioantimutagenic activity.1 This is conclusion is supported by an earlier in vitro study in human lymphocytes, in which alpha-hederin exerted a desmutagenic effect and seemed to induce metabolic enzymes that inactivated doxorubicin.2 In addition, the effective antimutagenic concentrations of alpha-hederin showed no clastogenic, aneugenic or cytotoxic effects in human lymphocytes.
  • Antioxidant effects: In an in vitro study, alpha-hederin and hederasaponin-C from Hedera helix exhibited strong total antioxidant activity that was comparable to known antioxidants a-tocopherol, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT).3
  • Cardiovascular effects: A plant natriuretic peptide has been isolated from Hedera helix with immunoaffinity purification using rabbit anti-alpha-atrial natriuretic peptides antiserum, which indicates that the proteins may be structurally homologous.7 The atrial natriuretic peptides (ANP), in pharmacological doses, promote salt and water excretion and lower blood pressure, although these effects were not shown in this preliminary in vitro study.


  • Insufficient available evidence.


  1. Villani, P., Orsiere, T., Sari-Minodier, I., Bouvenot, G., and Botta, A. [In vitro study of the antimutagenic activity of alphahederin]. Ann Biol
    Clin (Paris)
    2001;59(3):285-289. 11397676
  2. Amara-Mokrane, Y. A., Lehucher-Michel, M. P., Balansard, G., Dumenil, G., and Botta, A. Protective effects of alpha-hederin, chlorophyllin and ascorbic acid towards the induction of micronuclei by doxorubicin in cultured human lymphocytes. Mutagenesis 1996;11(2):161-167. 8671733
  3. Gulcin, I., Mshvildadze, V., Gepdiremen, A., and Elias, R. Antioxidant activity of saponins isolated from ivy: alpha-hederin, hederasaponin-C, hederacolchiside-E and hederacolchiside-F. Planta Med 2004;70(6):561-563. 15241892
  4. Hausen, B. M., Brohan, J., Konig, W. A., Faasch, H., Hahn, H., and Bruhn, G. Allergic and irritant contact dermatitis from falcarinol and didehydrofalcarinol in common ivy (Hedera helix L.). Contact Dermatitis 1987;17(1):1-9. 3652685
  5. Ozdemir, C., Schneider, L. A., Hinrichs, R., Staib, G., Weber, L., Weiss, J. M., and Scharffetter-Kochanek, K. [Allergic contact dermatitis to common ivy (Hedera helix L.)]. Hautarzt 2003;54(10):966-969. 14513244
  6. Gaillard, Y., Blaise, P., Darre, A., Barbier, T., and Pepin, G. An unusual case of death: suffocation caused by leaves of common ivy (Hedera helix). Detection of hederacoside C, alpha-hederin, and hederagenin by LC-EI/MS-MS. J Anal Toxicol 2003;27(4):257-262. 12820750
  7. Billington, T., Pharmawati, M., and Gehring, C. A. Isolation and immunoaffinity purification of biologically active plant natriuretic peptide. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 6-27-1997;235(3):722-725. 9207228

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