Glechoma hederacea / Hondsdraf / Alehoof


Ground ivy belongs to the Lamiaceae family, which includes mints and herbs such as rosemary, pennyroyal, spearmint, basil, catnip, and thyme. Ground ivy is found in dams and shady places, especially in thickets, in Canada, most of the United States, the United Kingdom (except Scotland), Europe, northern Asia, and Japan.

Traditionally, ground ivy has been used for tinnitus, catarrh, diarrhea, bile disorders, hemorrhoids, and as a tonic. Before hops were available in the early 16th Century, the British used ground ivy to clarify beer. During the Tudor period, it was used to preserve beer for sea voyages. Some old English recipes flavored jam with ground ivy and added young spring leaves to oatmeal, soups, and vegetables. In the early 20th Century, ground ivy tea was used in Britain as a cure-all, and was frequently used for tuberculosis and as an antidote for lead poisoning. The stems of the plant were also made into wreaths for the dead.

Today, ground ivy is often a recommended addition to compost heaps because of its high iron content. Animal and laboratory studies indicate that ground ivy may be useful for its antibiotic or anti-inflammatory effects. However, ground ivy is considered by some local governments to be a bothersome and aggressive weed in Europe and North America. There are currently no high quality studies available on the medicinal applications of ground ivy.


The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.

Abscesses, allergies, anthelmintic (expels parasitic worms), antibacterial, antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, appetite stimulant, arthritis, asthma, astringent, bladder irritation, bronchitis, bruises, cancer, catarrh (inflammation of mucous membranes), chronic bronchitis, chest congestion, colds, cough, croup, diarrhea, digestive complaints, diuretic (increases urine flow), ear infection (glue ear), expectorant, fever, gastritis (inflammation of stomach), headache, hemorrhoids, hypochondria, immunostimulant, inflammatory conditions, influenza, jaundice, kidney disease, kidney or bladder stones, laxative, lead toxicity, lung disease, menstrual irregularities, psychiatric disorders (monomania), pulmonary inflammation (chronic), rheumatism, sedative, sinusitis (inflammation of sinuses), mouth infections, sore throat, stimulant, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), tired eyes, tonic, ulcers, upper respiratory infections, urinary tract infection, urinary tract inflammation (chronic), wound healing.


The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.


There is currently no proven safe or effective dose for ground ivy. Traditionally, 2 grams of the dried plant or 2-4 milliliters liquid extract (1:1 in 25% alcohol) three times daily has been used. One cup of tea (2-4 grams dried plant steeped in 150 milliliters boiling water for 5-10 minutes) three times daily has also been used.

Crushed ground ivy leaves have been applied to the skin, but information on dosing or duration is unavailable.


There is currently no proven safe or effective dose for ground ivy in children and use is not recommended.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.


There are very few reports of ground ivy and its adverse effects. Pulegone, a constituent of ground ivy, may be toxic to the liver. Patients with compromised liver function should use ground ivy with caution. Ground ivy may also induce seizures, produce swelling of throat, and labored breathing. Use cautiously in patients with impaired kidney function, as ground ivy oil may irritate the kidneys.


Ground ivy may contain high amounts of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which may decrease the effect of warfarin (Coumadin®) and similar anticoagulants ("blood thinners"). The high vitamin C content may also enhance the body's absorption of iron, increase the levels of aspirin in the blood, decrease fluphenazine levels in the blood, or increase the concentration and effect of birth control pills. 


Ground ivy may contain high amounts of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which may decrease the effect of some anticoagulants ("blood thinners"). The high vitamin C content may also enhance the body's absorption of iron. Individuals taking iron supplements or multivitamins should consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, before taking ground ivy.

Ground ivy also contains pulegone, which is potentially toxic to the liver. This chemical compound may interact with pennyroyal, which also contains pulegone. Caution is advised.


Jeong HJ, Um JY, et al. Glechoma hederacea inhibits inflammatory mediator release in IFN-gamma and LPS-stimulated mouse peritoneal macrophages. J Ethnopharmacol 7-19-2006;106(3):418-424. View Abstract

Henry DY, Gueritte-Voegelein F, Insel PA, et al. Isolation and characterization of 9-hydroxy-10-trans,12-cis-octadecadienoic acid, a novel regulator of platelet adenylate cyclase from Glechoma hederacea L. Labiatae. Eur J Biochem 12-30-1987;170(1-2):389-394. View Abstract

Komprda T, Stohandlova M, Foltyn J, et al. Content of p-coumaric and ferulic acid in forbs with potential grazing utilization. Arch Tierernahr. 1999;52(1):95-105. View Abstract

Kuhn H, Wiesner R, Alder L, et al. Occurrence of free and esterified lipoxygenase products in leaves of Glechoma hederacea L. and other Labiatae. Eur J Biochem 12-8-1989;186(1-2):155-162. View Abstract

Kumarasamy Y, Cox PJ, Jaspars M, et al. Biological activity of Glechoma hederacea. Fitoterapia 2002;73(7-8):721-723.View Abstract

Singh T, Wu JH, Peumans WJ, et al. Carbohydrate specificity of an insecticidal lectin isolated from the leaves of Glechoma hederacea (ground ivy) towards mammalian glycoconjugates. Biochem J 1-1-2006;393(Pt 1):331-341. View Abstract

Tokuda H, Ohigashi H, Koshimizu K, et al. Inhibitory effects of ursolic and oleanolic acid on skin tumor promotion by 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate. Cancer Lett 1986;33(3):279-285. View Abstract

Wang W, Hause B, Peumans WJ, et al. The Tn antigen-specific lectin from ground ivy is an insecticidal protein with an unusual physiology. Plant Physiol 2003;132(3):1322-1334. View Abstract

Wang W, Peumans WJ, Rouge P, et al. Leaves of the Lamiaceae species Glechoma hederacea (ground ivy) contain a lectin that is structurally and evolutionary related to the legume lectins. Plant J. 2003;33(2):293-304. View Abstract

Zieba J. Isolation and identification of flavonoids from Glechoma hederacea L. Pol.J Pharmacol Pharm 1973;25(6):593-597. View Abstract

Zieba J. Isolation and identification of non-heteroside triterpenoids from Glechoma hederacea L. Pol.J Pharmacol Pharm 1973;25(6):587-592.

Glechoma hederacea monography

Synonym: Nepeta glechoma (1, 2), Nepeta hederacea (3, 4)

Common names:

Ground ivy, Alehoof

Part(s) used:

Aerial parts (flowering stems collected) (5).


G. hederaceais a creeping perennial that grows to 15 cm. Originally native to Europe and Western Asia, is now naturalised in many other temperate regions (1, 6). It is characterised by the presence of purple or yellow green square stems, and green opposite serrate shaped leaves, as well as blue-pink-violet flowers (3, 4).

G. hederacea thrives in shady places (1). It is often found alongside fences, hedges, roads and wet meadows or on the outskirts of woodlands throughout its native distribution (7).

Due to its vigorous growth in favourable conditions G. hederacea is often regarded as a weed (6).


G. hederacea was at one time a popular herb (6, 8). In the early part of the 16th century, it was used to clarify and flavour beer before the introduction of hops (8-10). This gave rise to its synonym Alehoof (8).

British herbalist John Gerard recommended G. hederacea for tinnitus (humming noise and ringing sound of the ears) and kidney diseases (9). Gerard also continued the teaching of Greek physician Dioscorides with its application for sciatica and eye inflammation (6, 10).

G. hederacea was amongst the earliest herbs brought by European settlers to North America (10). The American physicians of the early 19th century had numerous applications for it and in England at the time, it was regarded as a cure-all (8).

The popularity of G. hederacea has diminished with time resulting in its exclusion from many Materia Medica in favor of other herbs. Despite this, the success of G. hederaceain treating respiratory catarrh with kidney and/or gastrointestinal involvement, has ensured that it remains in use amongst traditional herbalists (1, 8, 11).

Major Active Constituents

Other constituents

G. hederacea contains amino acids, including asparagic acid, glutamic acid, proline, tyrosine, valine (18), methionine, cysteine and serine (15, 19). Saponin (5), fatty acids, marrubiin, rosmarinic acid and wax (4, 10, 18).


The chemistry and some pharmacological actions of G. hederacea have been relatively well studied and provide insight and support for some of the herbal uses (1, 10, 18). These studies however, have not included human trials and medicinal use of G. hederacea is largely based on traditional herbal knowledge (10).

Anti-catarrhal, especially for use in the upper respiratory tract; mild expectorant; astringent; anti-inflammatory; diuretic; stomachic; vulnerary (1-5, 18, 19).


A study using mouse peritoneal macrophages examined the effect of G. hederacea on nitric oxide (NO), interleukin (IL) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) which were induced by interferon-gamma and lipolysaccharide. Results showed that G. hederacea inhibited production of NO (in a dose dependent manner), a pro-inflammatory cytokine and TNF-alpha. No effect was shown with IL-6 production and increased production of one IL. The study concluded that G. hederacea could be used to control inflammatory diseases that are mediated by macrophages (20).

Some anti-inflammatory activity has been demonstrated in animal models (10, 18, 19, 21).

Anti-cancer activity of ursolic acid and oleanolic acid isolated from G. hederacea was studied in vivo against Epstein Barr Virus tumour production in mouse skin. The inhibition of tumour promotion in mouse skin was successful and considered comparable to a known tumour promoter inhibitor, retinolic acid (22).

One study has looked at the free radical scavenging potential of 45 plant species. Results indicate that the n-hexane extraction of G. hederacea using a methanol extraction had considerable free radical scavenging activity (23).

Rosmarinic acid, a constituent of G. hederacea and a common compound in the Lamiaceae family, has demonstrated antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity in vitro (24, 25). Rosmarinic acid is attributed to some of the astringent activity of G. hederacea (18).

Aerial parts of G. hederacea (n-hexane, dichloromethane and methanol extracts) were screened in a study for antibacterial, free radical scavenging activity and general toxicity (26).


Indications are based on traditional knowledge and use (10, 18).

Respiratory catarrh; bronchitis; problems involving mucous membranes (ear, nose, throat and digestive system); chronic congestive conditions (glue ear and tinnitus); gastrointestinal disturbances (diarrhoea, gastritis, hyperacidity); cystitis (1-3, 5, 6, 18, 19).

Specific indications: Chronic bronchial catarrh (3, 18).

Contra-indications and Cautions

No documented contra-indications or cautions (10, 18).

The volatile oil component of G. hederacea contains pulegone which is known to be hepatotoxic and a gastrointestinal irritant (25). Although present in low concentrations, caution is recommended for use during pregnancy, lactation and in combination with other herbs containing pulegone (10, 18).

Hypothetical interactions have been proposed with some medications (oral contraceptives, iron, asprin, warfarin) based on the ascorbic acid content of G. hederacea (none of the above herb-drug interactions have documented cases) (10).


Dry herb:

Liquid extract:


1. Chevallier A. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. 2nd ed. New York: DK Publishing inc.; 2000.

2. Thomsen M. Phytotherapy desk reference: a clinical handbook. 3rd ed. Michael Thomsen; 2005.

3. Anonymous. British Herbal Pharmacopoeia. Association BHM, editor: British Herbal Medicine Association; 1983.

4. Wren RC. Potters New Cyclopedia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations. England: CW Daniel Company Ltd; 1985.

5. Hoffmann D. The New Holistic Herbal. Haddington: Scotprint; 1990.

6. Anonymous. Magic and Medicine of Plants. Surry Hills Australia: Readers Digest Australia; 1994.

7. Gabriel I. Herb identifier and handbook. New York: Sterling publishing company; 1979.

8. Grieve MM. A Modern Herbal. Leyel MCF, editor. Great Britain: Mackays of Chatham PLC; 1931.

9. Gerard J. Gerard's Herbal: Historie of Plants. Woodward M, editor. United Kingdom: Senate; 1597.

10. Natural Standards Monograph [database on the Internet] 2008 [cited 16/08/2008]. Available from: .

11. Cook W. The Physiomedical Dispensatory. 1869 [cited 2008 27/08].

12. Zieba J. Isolation and identification of flavonoids from Glechoma hederaceae. Pol J Pharmacol Pharm [serial on the Internet]. 1973 [cited 16/08/2008]; 25(6):593-97.

13. Kikuchi M, Goto J, Noguchi S, Kakuda R, Yaoita Y. Glycosides from whole plants of Glechoma hederacea L. The Japanese Society Of Pharmacognosy 2008;62 (4):479-80.

14. Zieba J. Isolation and identification of nonheteroside triterpenoids from Glechoma hederaceae. Pol J Pharmacol Pharm [serial on the Internet]. 1973 [cited 16/08/2008]; 25(6):587-592.

15. Takemoto T, Kusano G, Hikino H. Constituents of ground ivy. Yakugaku Zasshi [serial on the Internet]. 1966 [cited 20/09/2008]; 86: 1162-65.

16. Stahl E, Datta SN. New sesquiterpenoids of the ground ivy (Glechoma hederaceae). Justus Liebigs Ann Chem [serial on the Internet]. 1972 [cited 20/09/2008]; 757.

17. Wang W, Peumans WJ, Rouge P, Rossi C, Proost P, Chen J, et al. Leaves of the Laminaceae species Glechoma Hederacea (ground ivy) contain a lectin that is structurally and evolutionary related to the legume lectins. The Plant Journal: For Cell And Molecular Biology 2003;33(2):293-304.

18. Barnes J, Anderson LA, Philipson JD. Herbal Medicines. London: Pharmaceutical Press; 2007 [cited 19/09/2008].

19. Anonymous. British herbal Compendium. Bradley PR, editor. Dorset England: British Herbal Medical Association; 1992.

20. An HJ, Jeong HJ, Um JY, Kim HM, Hong SH. Glechoma hederacea inhibits inflammatory mediator release in IFN-gamma and LPS-stimulated mouse peritoneal macrophages. J Ethnopharmacol 2006;106(3):418-24.[Abstract online].

21. Mascolo N, Autore G, Capasso F, Menghini A, Fasulo MP. Biological Screening of Italian Medicinal Plants for Anti-inflammatory Activity. Phytother Res [serial on the Internet]. 1987 [cited 20/09/2008]; 1.

22. Tokuda H, Ohigashi H, Koshimizu K, Ito Y. Inhibitory effects of ursolic and oleanolic acid on skin tumor promotion by 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate. Cancer Letters [serial on the Internet]. 1986 [cited 16/08/2008]; 33(3): 279-85.

23. Kumarasamy Y, Byres M, Cox PJ, Jaspars M, Nahar L, Sarker SD. Screening Seeds of some Scottish Plants for Free Radical Scavenging Activity. Phytotherapy Research [serial on the Internet]. 2007 [cited 15/11/2008]; 21(7).

24. Mills S, Bone K. Principles And Practice Of Phytotherapy. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone; 2000.

25. Heinrich M, Barnes J, Gibbons S, Williamson EM. Fundamentals Of Pharmacognosy And Phytotherapy. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone; 2004.

26. Kumarasamy Y, Cox PJ, Jaspars M, Nahar L, Sarker SD. Biological activity of Glechoma hederaceae. Fitoterapia 2002;73(7-8):721-

27. Medline [database on the Internet] 2008.

Dodonaeus over Onderhave.   Cap. vi.  Cruijdeboeck deel 6 capitel 6   

Chamaecissus, Hedera terrestris, Corona terrae, Onderhave

1644 Vlaams: Onderhave, Veyl (Eerdt- oft Leeghen)

1616 Latijn: Hedera terrestris

1554/1557: Chamaecissus, Corona terrae, Grundreb, Gundelreb, Hedera terrestris, Lierre terrestre, Lyarre terrestre, Onderhave

....ghekerfde bladerkens/ die van ruecke sterck/ van smaecke bitterachtich ende cleynder/ ronder ende teerder sijn/ dan die bladeren van Veyl. Die bloemkens wassen tusschen die bladeren/ ende sijn van smaecke bitter/ ende van verwen purpurachtich.


Onderhave es hier te lande seer ghemeyn ende wast in vele hoven/ in lomberachtige ende vochtighe plaetsen.

Onderhave bloeyet van in Aprill tot in deynde van den zoomer/ ende blijft meest alle het iaer duer gruen.


Dit cruyt wordt gheheeten in Griecx Chamaecissos. In Latijn Hedera terrestris ende Corona terrae/ ende met die namen eest in die Apoteken bekent. In Hoochduytsch Gundelreb ende Grundreb. In Neerduytsch Onderhave. In Franchois Lyarre terrestre.


Onderhave es werm ende drooghe van natueren tot schier in den derden graedt/ sonderlinghe die bloemen.

Cracht ende werckinghe

A Onderhave in water ghesoden ende ghedroncken opent die verstoptheyt van der levere ende van der milten/ ende es seer goet seven daghen achter een ghebruyckt/ den ghenen die de geelsucht hebben.

B Onderhave in der selver manieren dertich oft veertich daghen ghebruyckt es goet den ghenen die dat sciatica dat es pijne in die hope hebben.

C Dit self cruyt ghewreven ende in die ooren ghesteken/ beneempt dat tuyten ende gheneest dat qualick hooren.

Enig wetenschappelijk onderzoek Glechoma

Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2011 Jun 1;21(11):3483-j.bmcl.2011.02.002. Anti-inflammatory activity of constituents from Glechoma hederacea var. longituba. Kim J, Song S, Lee I, Kim Y, Yoo I, Ryoo I, Bae K. College of Pharmacy, Chungnam National University, Daejeon 305-764, Republic of Korea.

Rosmarinic acid, its analogues, and a phenolic compound were obtained from G. hederacea var. longituba. There were two new compounds, methyl isoferuloyl-7-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl) lactate (1) and benzyl-4'-hydroxy-benzoyl-3'-O-β-D-glucopyranoside (4), and four known compounds (2, 3, 5 and 6). The structures of these compounds were determined on the basis of spectroscopic methods. Each compound was tested by NF-κB luciferase assay and three rosmarinic acid analogues inhibited NF-κB production and the induction of COX-2 and iNOS mRNA in HepG2 cells.

Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2012;76(10):1877-83. Anti-melanogenesis effect of Glechoma hederacea L. extract on B16 murine melanoma cells.

Qiao Z, Koizumi Y, Zhang M, Natsui M, Flores MJ, Gao L, Yusa K, Koyota S, Sugiyama T. Department of Biochemistry, Akita University Graduate School of Medicine, Akita, Japan.

Glechoma hederacea L. (Labiatae) has been used in folk medicine to treat various ailments for centuries. We investigated the effects of G. hederacea extract on melanogenesis in B16 melanoma cells. It significantly reduced both the cellular melanin content and tyrosinase activity in a concentration-dependent manner. An MTT assay did not reveal any obvious cytotoxicity. Furthermore, we found that G. hederacea extract decreased tyrosinase and microphthalmia-associated transcription factor protein expression, but did not inhibit tyrosinase-related protein-1 and tyrosinase-related protein-2 expression. RT-PCR analysis indicated that the antimelanogenic effect of G. hederacea extract might be due to inhibition of tyrosinase gene transcription. Moreover, this effect is regulated via suppression of microphthalmia-associated transcription factor protein expression. Our data indicate that G. hederacea extract inhibits melanin synthesis in B16 melanoma cells but is not cytotoxic. Hence it might prove a useful therapeutic agent for treating hyperpigmentation and an effective component of whitening cosmetics.

Plant J. 2003 Jan;33(2):293-304. Leaves of the Lamiaceae species Glechoma hederacea (ground ivy) contain a lectin that is structurally and evolutionary related to the legume lectins. Wang W, Peumans WJ, Rougé P, Rossi C, Proost P, Chen J, Van Damme EJ.

Laboratory for Phytopathology and Plant Protection, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Willem de Croylaan 42, 3001 Leuven, Belgium.

A novel lectin has been isolated and cloned from leaves of Glechoma hederacea (ground ivy), a typical representative of the plant family Lamiaceae. Biochemical analyses indicated that the G. hederacea agglutinin (Gleheda) is a tetrameric protein consisting of four subunits pairwise linked through an interchain disulphide bridge and exhibits a preferential specificity towards N-acetylgalactosamine. Cloning of the corresponding gene and molecular modeling of the deduced sequence demonstrated that Gleheda shares high sequence similarity with the legume lectins and exhibits the same overall fold and three-dimensional structure as the classical legume lectins. The identification of a soluble and active legume lectin ortholog in G. hederacea not only indicates that the yet unclassified Lamiaceae lectins belong to the same lectin family as the legume lectins, but also sheds a new light on the specificity, physiological role and evolution of the classical legume lectins.

Glechoma hederacea. Gundelrebe. Heilkräftig und zauberwidrig. Wer in der Walpurgisnacht (letzte Aprilnacht) einen Gundelrebenkranz trägt, erkennt alle Hexen. Auch melkte man die Kühe, wenn sie im Frühjahr zum ersten Mal ausgetrieben wurden, durch einen solchen Kranz, um die Milch zu vermehren und die Thiere [Tiere] vor jederlei Schaden zu schützen. Als einst Petrus heftiges Zahnweh hatte, sagte ihm der Heiland:

Nimm drei Gundelreben

Und lass' sie deinen Mund umschweben.

Der Name Gundelrebe (auch Gundermann) wird nach Grimm auf die Walküre Gundr bezogen, nach Schmeller (Bair. Wörterbuch) hängt er einfach mit Gund (feuchter Ort) zusammen.

Quelle: Zauberpflanzen und Amulette, Dr. E. M. Kronfeld, Wien 1898, S. 29ff