Cleavers is a spring ephemeral associated with the Moon. The moon as we know works with the water on earth as well as in our bodies, we are intricately connected to its ebb & flow, moving with the tides. Cleavers works with the waters in our bodies. When we pay attention, we notice it likes to grow near water or in moist, cool soil. Hence an indication that it works with water in our bodies, lymph and kidneys.
A water aspect in our body that it primarily works with is the lymph system, which has been equated to our body’s sewer system. Lymph moves by deep breathing, stretching, yoga, exercise, eating fruit as well as herbs called lymphagauges. It is important to move & clean our lymph otherwise we find ourselves in damp or stagnant states (probably physically and emotionally as both tend to be linked). We do not want our cells sitting in their own waste.
Since we are graced with Cleavers presence in the spring, it is perfect timing to begin the process of moving that slow, thick winter accumulation. Suggesting to utilize this herb as a spring tonic, getting your body cleansed by assisting the movement of lymph and stimulating the kidneys to name a few. Cleavers is a gentle and nontoxic herb.
“As a medicinal herb it is most commonly used to treat the lymphatic system, a network of vessels which runs alongside the blood circulation carrying waste materials in lymph fluid ready for processing in the lymph nodes and organs such as the tonsils, thymus and spleen. The lymph has no pump of its own so is reliant on the movement of blood and muscles to aid its journey, so exercise is vital for a healthy lymphatic system. It’s functions are primarily to aid cleansing of the tissues and assist the immune system by transporting white blood cells and antibodies…The water element also governs the emotions and Cleavers can help us to gently let go of the past and be ready to embrace the new growth and change that Spring awakens” (Whispering Earth)
“The fresh plant or juice of Cleavers herb is used as a medicinal poultice for wounds, ulcers and many other skin problems. An infusion has shown of benefit in the treatment of glandular fever, tonsilitis, hepatitis and cystitis. The infusion is also used to treat liver, bladder and urinary problems.
The dried or fresh herb is alterative, anti-inflammatory, antiphlogistic, aperient, astringent, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, tonic and vulnerary. The plant contains the valuable constituent asperuloside, a substance that is converted into prostaglandins by the body. Prostaglandins are hormone-like compounds that stimulate the uterus and affect blood vessels. Much more scientific research is being done on the plant it is of great interest to the pharmaceutical industry.
The Cleavers plant contains organic acids, flavonoids, tannins, fatty acids, glycoside asperuloside, gallotannic acid and citric acid.” – Deb Jackson & Karen Bergeron
Galium Aparine is native to Europe, grows in light woodlands and open fields. Common name is bedstraw as deer used to nest in cleaver patches. It gets it’s common name, Cleavers by clinging to any being that touches it. That way the seeds are likely travel. Looking closely we can observe the small hooks or cleaves which grab onto passer-bye’s. It also has a multiple whorls of leaves around the stem and tiny white 4 petaled flowers.
“From early times it was customary to prepare a bed for childbirth with Bedstraw… Many of us in the country have come across patches of bedstraw with clear evidence that deer had made their bed there in the night.” ~ Matthew Wood (The Book of Herbal Wisdom, 283)
Michael Tierra states that Cleavers is one of the most effective diuretic blood purifiers known.
“It removes fever, heat, swelling or stagnation in the lymphatics, and burning from infection, heat or dryness in the renal tract. It also acts on gravely problems from clogged filtering in the kidneys. In short we may say that Cleavers cools, moistens, filters, detoxifies and promotes transportation within the hidden waterways of the body… By cleansing through the lymphatics under the skin and stimulating the kidneys to remove waste products, it has a notable action in acute and chronic skin disease. ” (The Book of Herbal Wisdom, 285-286)
Cleavers is all about getting things moving and flowing again…helping to remove excess fluids through its diuretic action…it has been used to treat cancers, both internally and externally as a poultice.
- astringent, high tannins
- supportive in UTI’s
- wounds and burns (poultice)
- swollen glands or sore throat (used for children)
- affinity to tongue, throat, neck and ears
- helps clear away debris after anti-biotic use
- cancer fighting tendencies
- male prostate issues
- burning or suppressed urine
- rulership of moon & venus
- Deer Medicine for the Nerves (irritated nervous system or irritated with little things in life)
- not to use if diabetic
- bitter, cool
It is very moistening thus Cleavers aids in cases where worry & anxiety are present which have a tendency to be related to dry tissue states. A sign that one needs cleavers is the red papillae on tongue which indicates inflamed lymph.
For a more detailed history and uses visit Erin Poior’s Website.
Cleavers loses its potency if drying or heating so it is best to make fresh infusion, tincture or some other method. Cleavers has been noted to be infused over a stove as well as added to ointments. Thus far I have made tea infusion and have tincture on hand and ready to use & share. Email email@example.com if you would like to purchase Cleavers tincture or set up a health consultation.
Lucinda Warner’s Favorite Ways to use cleavers…
Cleavers Green Juice
Juice is my favorite way to take them and also the most potent as we are ingesting the life blood of the plant which is an incredible gift. It does require the use of a juicer but if you don’t have one you could whizz it in the blender with some water and then strain, though I haven’t tried it this way. I juice a big handful of cleavers with some apple, fennel, lemon, ginger and celery. This makes a delicious cleansing and revitalizing drink for bright Spring mornings.
Make your Cleavers into a delicious green vinegar by lightly packing a jar with them then covering in un-pasteurized apple cider vinegar. Cap with a plastic not metal lid (vinegar corrodes metal) and allow to infuse for three weeks before straining and rebottling. This makes a lovely spring salad dressing with a drizzle of olive oil.
Cleavers Cold Infusion
Many people prepare their cleavers as a cold infusion by popping a handful in a glass, covering in cold water and leaving overnight to infuse. Strain and drink in the morning for a refreshing start to the day.
Fun Fact: Dried and roasted seeds were used as a drink similar to coffee.
~ All information contained within this blog is intended to educate, entertain and inspire only. If you have any specific health concerns, please visit your local herbalist, contact Terra Sura (firstname.lastname@example.org) to set up health consultation or healthcare provider for the appropriate guidance and support ~
- Matthew Wood, The Book of Herbal Wisdom, 1997
- Jethro Kloss, Back to Eden, 119
- Michael Tierra, The Way of Herbs, 1980 pg 199