GROUND IVY - Glechoma hederacea

For years and years, I looked at you, growing in my garden.

I’d pull you out and toss you aside, Pulling, pulling, pulling, pulling.

I didn’t hear your message then, I was blind and couldn’t see.
But this didn’t stop you- oh no!  Year after year you came back.

Then one day I got smarter, Started listening to Great Wind.
She had so much to teach me, I had so much to learn.

Now every spring, I go looking, Anxious to find you growing.

Now I listen, now I know – You have so very much to say.

“it is recommended against the humming noise and ringing sound of the ears, being put into them and for them that are hard of hearing.”

- Gerard, 1633

You may know this ‘weed’ by other names, such as: Gill-over-the-ground, Cat’s Foot, Alehoof or Creeping Charlie. But no doubt, you’ve seen him growing in and around your garden.

Ground Ivy is one of the most common perennial weeds in my area. It’s a smooth downy plant with creeping stems and roots. The leaves are opposite, roundish and heart shaped at the base and bluntly toothed. The undersides are paler, having ‘hairy tumors‘. These tumors have a strong flavor and contain volatile oils, but my research failed to come up with any specific use for them. However, when you look at the roots of this plant, they remind you of the way cancer spreads. Then you look at this ‘hairy tumor’ and something says- The whole plant- ‘Good for cancerous tumors.’

The delicate flowers are lavender to purplish-blue and about 1/2 inch long. They grow in small clusters and bloom between late March and July. Ground Ivy has a balsamic odor and a slightly bitter taste to it. For edible and medicinal purposes, the whole plant is used. It is VERY easy to grow- anywhere- full sun to full shade and anywhere in-between!

Ground Ivy contains sesquiterpenes, flavonoids (principally glyco-sides of luteolin, apigenin and quercitin), triterpenoids, a bitter substance (glechomine), phenolic acids, polyphenols-volatile oil, saponin, resin, and choline. The minerals iron, copper, iodine, phosphorus and potassium are also found in this plant.

Ground ivy is used most often in the treatment of bronchitis, because of its expectorant action. It is also beneficial when used for tinnitus- ringing in the ears.

Due to its anti-inflammatory and astringent actions, Ground Ivy is helpful in the treatment of diarrhea and as a topical application for hemorrhoids. It’s claimed to be an herb for all inward wounds, and ulcerations. It is also said to ease all gripping pains, gas and choleric conditions of the stomach and spleen. It is believed to encourage bile flow, and has been used successfully to treat gastric and duodenal ulcers as well as yellow jaundice and inflammations of the lower urinary tract, particularly cystitis. Ground Ivy is a good all- around general metabolism stimulant.

In days gone by, the fresh juice of Ground Ivy was sniffed up the nose to relieve headaches. And for external use the fresh, bruised leaves bound around a wound would always hastened recovery. When boiled together, ground ivy, honey and marigold (calendula) will produce an infusion to clean fistulas and ulcers. The juice of ground ivy is also said to be good for bruises and black eyes too. Combine it with yarrow or chamomile to make an excellent poultice for abscesses. For making ‘juice’ or a poultice- you’ll want to use a little water and steep the herb in this for a few minutes or longer- it’s that easy.

The Cherokee Indians used Ground Ivy in an infusion to heal colds, measles and hives in their children. It was also once used as an antidote for lead poisoning in America, long, long ago.

The ancient herbalists or ‘witches’ as they were sometimes called, said Ground Ivy would cure insanity and melancholia (depression) by opening the stoppings of the spleen. So who knows? Maybe these ‘witches’ knew something others didn’t. Maybe that’s why they were burned at the stake- they knew too much- they knew Mother Nature’s secrets.

From pages 109 – 110: Do It Yourself Weed Medicine