The Last Furlong

Comments on the race of life.

Sore throat and ENGLISH Ivy pruning


I have put a rather boring title to this post – and I’ve done it on purpose – so that OTHER people might find it easily on their web browsers.

But I have discovered a less well-known fact. Pruning or cutting Ivy – English Ivy – causes SORE THROATS – and other symptoms. Read on!

Yesterday, after a morning of cutting back swathes of English Ivy, Mr Furlong and I, simultaneously, developed the most dreadful burning throats and horrid post nasal drips and a dry coughy coughs. I can’t speak for him – but he suffered.

I can only tell you how I felt. Last night was a terrible night! I couldn’t eat – no appetite. Burning dry throat, scratchy-tonsils, closing throat feeling, aching burny body as if feverish, slightly nauseas and trying to make it go away with throat lozenges and little sips of milk. We did not sleep well.

Entwined in my personal suffering was the thought that BOTH of us could not develop the exact same “flu” symptoms, at precisely the same moment on a day, and that maybe we were developing some dreadful infection which we might have spread on to our little granddaughter and her Mommy. We’d spent the afternoon together.

Something didn’t add up.

The only thing we had in common, Mr Furlong and I, was cutting back Ivy – fortunately not for a very long period of the morning, but plenty of it.

I looked up “Ivy makes me sick” and I got loads of stuff on Poison Ivy. English Ivy is not Poison Ivy.

But down at the bottom of the page was a little homoeopathic link that indicated Ivy was used for “sore throats”. Immediately I knew I was on to something for in Homeopathy, they use like for like. In other words, if a plant gives you a sore throat, they will use the same plant to relieve sore throat.

The minute I typed in “English Ivy sore throat” into Google, I began to get results.

So, to summarise, pruning tons of English Ivy can make you sick! Yes.

I was wearing latex gloves but when we have recovered, Mr Furlong and I will continue the job wearing masks, gloves and long sleeves – and we’ll do it in SHORT BURSTS.

Just telling you – we have been feeling really, really SICK.

And yes – it IS the English Ivy.

Warning from a gardening forum

“one word of warning, when working with ivy, it gives off fumes,which can cause respiratory problems, sore throats, etc ,so don’t stick at the ivy pruning for any length of time and DO NOT shred, (gives if even more fumes!) or put on compost heap.”

Symptoms from Right Diagnosis

  • Contact dermatitis
  • Ataxia
  • Burning throat sensation
  • Coma
  • Skin blistering
  • Diarrhea
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Rash
  • Nausea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Hyperactivity
  • Drooling
  • Fever
  • Increased thirst
  • Weakness
  • Staggering

Thank god we didn’t prune English Ivy all day! We might be in comas now.



Author: Elizabeth

I'm someone also pounding the Path, just like you.. I'm retired, going into Old Age and loving my life. I'm hoping to remain happy and well for as long as possible. Old Age is not SO bad - yet!

22 thoughts on “Sore throat and ENGLISH Ivy pruning

  1. Gosh – this is quite scary! I never knew that. I’ll try to remember this for future. I hope you are both feeling better today.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good heavens. I have a slight Ivy problem which I have to cut back twice a year. But it only ever makes me sneeze a lot.

    However, the Ivy on my end wall has mysteriously died, after years and years. I have no idea why. I haven’t done anything to it, and the roses in front of it are fine.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Am I right or am I wrong – burning throat ivy? | The Last Furlong

  4. Pingback: Ivy science – burning throat after pruning English Ivy | The Last Furlong

  5. I googled this because I thought surely it’s not just me, but every time I pull out ivy for more than just a few minutes I develop a terrible cough. So I figured it must give off something, maybe as a defence mechanism. I’ve tried doing it with the overhead sprays on and I’m fine!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Doctors seem to know nothing about this, but recently I saw a professional gardener all togged out like a man in outer space, cutting down an old ivy. He said they can make you really sick. HE knew all about it! Thanks for your interesting comment.


  6. I told my doctor that ivy causes breathing problems and rashes on me when I cut it back. They listed it on my medical charts as an allergy to tannic acid. Hmmm, I don’t know, but I do have issues with lotions containing ivy extract and pruning the shrub. I have a variegated English ivy in a planter in the yard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting comment. Thank you very much. Our doctor was very dubious about us getting sick from the ivy. She was completely ignorant. Your doctor at least noted your response as an ‘allergy’ . I think you are not in the UK? I think its more than an allergy – its a ‘poisoning’. My husband an I got poisoned simultaneously! 😀


  7. Pingback: Time out | The Last Furlong

  8. I found your post after searching ivy and sore throat. I spent five hours yesterday trying to paint a wall which has beautiful ivy trailing over it. I thought I was doing a great job of propping up great swathes of it to get underneath with my paintbrush. I am so sick today! First symptoms yesterday were chest pains and sore throat. Then diarrhoea last night and today I feel like I have the flu … sore skin, aching bones, throat that feels it’s been rubbed with sandpaper and a blocked nose. Hoping the symptoms don’t last long but lesson learnt!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry – didn’t see this sooner. We were sick for a week. The doctor will know nothing about this – but professional gardeners/landscapers do! They wear protection and masks! What country are you in Lizzie? UK?


  9. I was in Kent last week helping my son remove masses of ivy from hedging & since then we have both been coughing a lot so yes I do agree that there is something which comes off it to cause this reaction! Will be speaking to doctor on Friday so I’ll tell him about your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Evertyime I cut my hedge with ivy going underneath it I cough uncontrollably with tickly dry throat and nose and sneeze a lot …I have to go indoors and take a drink and calm down. Horrible.Thought it was dust but reading these pages I am more informed. I usually end up with a sinus type headache later.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve just cut some Ivy down in my garden,for four days now I have felt terrible really sore throat that closed up,a cough that won’t go away,aching all over and feeling sick.It was only when my neighbour mentioned it could be the ivy so decided to look it up,and I’m glad I did.Glad this was on here.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Woke up this morning with a tight chest, difficulty breathing and a face full of acne (not sure that the acne is relevant, I think it just joins in if the going gets rough) after the initial panic and a walk with the dog to test if I was dying or just ill, I remembered the huge amount of ivy I’d pulled off my garden fence yesterday and thinking at the time ‘all this dust cannot be healthy.’ I found your blog on my first search and now I can rest easy – I’m not dying – well, not at this moment anyway. Thankyou.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: Sickness from Ivy | The Last Furlong

Please do comment! That's part of the fun...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s