Ground Ivy

Botanical Name: Nepeta hederacea (syn. Glechoma hederacea, Nepeta Clechoma) | Family: Lamiaceae or Labiatae

Common name(s): Ground Ivy, Creeping Charlie, Ale Hoof, and many more!


  • Herbaceous; perennial vine | Zones 3-10 | up to 8 inches | Small lavender flowers in the spring
  • Sun to shade | Likes damp ground, but really grows everywhere.


Harvest when flowering between April and June.


Infusion: One teaspoon of dried herb to one cup of boiling water. Let sit for 10-15 minutes. Drink 3x/day.

Tincture: 1-4ml, 3x/day.

External: apply as a poultice to abscesses and tumors. The dried leaves can be snuffed to relieve congestion headaches.


Constituents: Bitter, tannin, essential oil, resin, saponin, flavonoids, minerals (including iron, copper, iodine, phosphorus, and potassium), vitamin C

Actions: Anti-catarrhal, astringent/glossary], diuretic, expectorant, stimulant, tonic, vulnerary

Uses: Coughs, sinus congestion, inner ear fluid build-up, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, all kidney complaints, abscesses and tumors, gastritus, acid indigestion.

Combinations: Combine with yarrow or chamomile flowers for and external poultice; with coltsfoot, white horehound, and elecampane for coughs; with goldenseal for excess sinus mucus.

Cautions: Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine mentions that this herb is safe for children and that it is a tonic herb. However, multiple online sources say it is unsafe for pregnancy and others caution that there is no known recommended dose for children. I also came across cautions when you have kidney disease or epilepsy. The kidney disease caution contradicts what my references said about it being good for kidney issues. I am leaving all of this confusing information here for now as I continue to research this herb.


  • Holistic Herbal, David Hoffman
  • A Modern Herbal, Mrs. M. Grieve
  • Indian Herbalogy of North America, Alma R. Hutchins
  • Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Andrew Chevallier
  • Plants for a Future
  • USDA Plant Guide

Fun Fact: ground ivy was used in beer making before it was replaced by hops. 

Another fun fact: This stuff has invaded my property. I have mixed feelings about that, but it is a great ground cover and it’s medicinal. And I just put up a tincture of it and I’m drying some.

Serious fact: studies have shown two components of ground ivy to inhibit tumor growth / epstein barr virus. Read more. I can not find that information in my herbal references. It also seems like this plant was used more in the past than it is now (for instance, painters used to use it as a protection and curative from lead exposure, and it was used to help prevent scurvy). Reading about it, I think it has some serious potential, since epstein barr virus is becoming connected to autoimmune diseases and most people have been exposed and carry the virus (dormant). And since I have loads of it, I am going to start working with it.