Mold can be a rather pesky part of nature. Whether it shows up as the little fuzzy green growth letting you know it is time to throw out the old bread or the black spots around the pipes in your basement, no one ever really wants to see mold.
There are some people who are able to breathe and eat mold all day without even noticing. Many people don’t realize that molds can deeply penetrate food, so there may be much more than what you can see on the surface. For those who suffer from mold allergies, however, it’s a completely different story.
The symptoms of mold allergies can range from mild to sever. Mild symptoms would include rashes, stuffiness, or itching. More sever symptoms would include fever, or tightness in the chest. If a person has asthma or chronic lung disease, they may be at an even greater risk. In extreme cases, mold may even create an infection in the lungs.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), describes mold as a fungus that thrives in warm, wet environments. Its spores can survive very harsh climates. Most people turn to air purifiers designed to fight mold in order to protect their families from the harmful symptoms that may arise. There are even people who are forced to use costly prescriptions with potentially dangerous side effects.
Thankfully, there is one natural remedy for airborne mold that allergy sufferers may not be aware of — English Ivy.
English Ivy: A Natural Remedy for Mold Allergens?
English Ivy, the evergreen climbing vine that is most commonly found outside, can substantially reduce the amount of mold in the air of your home, according to research presented to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology a few years ago.
West Coast Clinical Trials practitioner Hilary Spyers-Duran is one of the authors of a study that proved the effectiveness of English Ivy in eliminating indoor mold particles. WebMD Health News also lent the notion some credibility, citing the researchers’ findings: “As airborne mold spores have been linked to a variety of serious illnesses, English ivy could reduce indoor mold counts”
The study was conducted by adding English Ivy into separate containers, one with dog feces and the other with moldy bread. After six hours, researchers measured the air quality of each container and discovered that the container with the moldy bread had a 60% drop in airborne-mold. The other container with the dog feces nearly matched the first one, with the ivy reducing the amount of airborne toxins by 58%.
After twelve hours, researchers measured the air quality of each container once again. They found that the container with moldy bread had a 78% drop in airborne toxins, while the container with dog feces had a whopping 94%!
While these initial results are encouraging news for everyone, allergy sufferers or not, it must be noted that more research needs to be done to confidently claim that English Ivy is a natural way to cleanse the air of mold spores. At this time, we would not recommend choosing an English Ivy plant over an air purifier.
The Pros & Cons of English Ivy
Also known as Hedera helix, the origins of English Ivy date back a few centuries to Europe, Africa and Western Asia. It’s an easy-to-grow, perennial vine that you’ve probably seen growing along the sides of buildings and trees. In fact, it’s so easy to grow that many people simply plant it as a groundcover and then never have to deal with it again.
Unfortunately, that same “carefree” nature of the plant is the same reason why many horticulturists recommend you don’t plant it around your home. Or if you do, keep it well maintained and don’t let it spread to other areas of your yard. This is because of it’s aggressive nature of growing out and taking over other plants. A common example of this would be how English Ivy climbs up and wraps itself around trees. It may look nice, but it may actually be harming the tree by limiting the amount of sun and nutrients reach the tree’s foliage. Once it takes over the tree, it also increases the risk of the tree falling over in high winds.
The biggest danger of English Ivy, however, is found in the leaves and berries of the plant. Because it contains glycoside hederin, these parts of the plants are poisonous for pets and humans. If ingested, you may notice a number of symptoms. Mild symptoms would include diarrhea, upset stomach, and dilated pupils. More severe symptoms would include difficulty breathing, fever, lack of coordination and coma. If you think you’ve ingested English Ivy, seek medical help immediately.
If You Buy English Ivy
If you opt for using an English Ivy plant in or around your home, it’s important to understand the risks involved. Because it is poisonous, it’s wise to keep the plant away from pets and children who may be tempted to eat the berries. When it comes to upkeep, be sure to follow the instructions given at purchase and do some research online. Don’t let it overtake everything in your yard, or you will regret it later when everything else starts to die and you have to pull it all up.
You can typically buy one at your local garden store for about $20. While it may help cleanse the air of mold spores, it shouldn’t be used as a complete replacement for a quality air purifier. While it may help, it’s just another tool in the fight against mold. There are many other things you can do to prevent mold from growing in your home.