Ground ivy (Glechoma) is a balsamic mint (Lamiaceae) springing up to carpet yards this time of year. It’s a creeping plant with tiny, roundish leaves and purple lipped flowers . Gather leaves, flowers and stems, which can be dried for later herb use or alcohol extracted (tinctured). Reportedly, it is said to be one of the first herb and edible plants brought to the North American continent by early settlers.
Sometimes referred to as Gill-over-the-Ground, possibly derived from French guiller “to ferment beer,” as glechoma was used it to flavor and clarify beer before the use of hops.
Ground ivy, like violet flower, is high in Vitamin C. The plant is antibacterial, antiviral,, antiseptic and a expectorant. Ground ivy is pleasant tasting and contains volatile oils, which relieve congestion and inflammation of mucous membranes affiliated with colds, flu, and sinusitis. Herbalist Matthew Wood recommends it be taken internally for ear aches, infections and for colds that start in the ears.
Ground ivy reportedly was used for centuries to prevent and treat a type of lead poisoning called “painter’s colic.” Herbalists Matthew Wood and David Winston have both used ground ivy for mercury poisoning, a concern for anyone who has ever had a cavity filled or fillings removed.
Ground-Ivy is being studied for use in Leukemia, Hepatitis, many kinds of cancer, and HIV. The fresh juice or a medicinal tea is often used to treat digestive disorders, gastritis, and acid indigestion. In addition, ground ivy has a reputation for being a tonic for the kidneys and bladder.
Ground ivy compress or poultice is applied topically to cleanse sores, abscesses, and boils . Added to the bath as an emollient it softens skin and has a sedative, calming effect.
So how do you make use of the prolific mint? I pick leaves, stem and flowers when in bloom (beginning in March typically). Make sure you pick chemical pesticide-free plants. I bring in baskets of the fragrant plant to dry. Keep in a dark location (under a bed works fine) and allow air to circulate in the basket. I shake or rotate the drying plant daily. You do not want too much plant compacted on itself which makes it damp and likely to spoil/mold.
You can use 1 teaspoon of dried leaves, or 2 teaspoons fresh leaves per cup. Cover with hot, nearly boiling water and let it steep/brew for 15 minutes.
Herbalists may also suggest you express fresh juice with a press and take 1 teaspoon 3 times daily.
I like to make ground ivy tincture/alcohol extract. Alcohol permeates the cell walls of the plant to bring out many beneficial healing components. I make a pint to a quart of tincture to have on hand. I pack a clean canning jar full of ground ivy then cover with at least 80 proof vodka; leave no more than about one-half to one inch of space between alcohol and lid. Use a chopstick or butter knife to poke around the sides of the jar and settle the plant in, making sure the vodka completely covers the plant. Put the lid on the jar and label the jar with Ground Ivy and the date. Store jar out of direct light for approximately 4-6 weeks. Inside a kitchen cupboard works fine. Be sure to shake the jar every day or so and check to be sure that no leaves have risen above the level of the alcohol (you do not want any mold to grow). Add more alcohol if needed. If any of the plant has floated above the alcohol and turned color, remove that part. After 6 weeks, strain your tincture through a sieve, non-bleached coffee filter or piece of cheesecloth into a clean jar or bottles. Return the strained off plant material to the earth or compost. Matthew wood suggests a dosage of tincture is 3-30 drops 3 times a day , while others suggest up to 1-3 ml 3 times a day.
The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants by Matthew Wood.
The American Extra Pharmacopoeia by David Winston
*This information on the uses of herbs is not intended as a substitute for consulting with your physician or other health care provider. Any attempt to diagnose and treat an illness should be done under the direction of a health care professional. . It does not cover all possible uses, actions, precautions, side effects, or interactions of the herbs/plants discussed. Any statements made about herbs, and/or remedies have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration . Mother Earth Living and the author are not responsible for any adverse effects or consequences resulting from the use of any of the information discussed. If you are on other medications/ drugs, or are pregnant or breastfeeding or have a diagnosed medical condition, please consult your health care professional before taking any herbs/botanicals.