Herb: CLEAVERS (Galium aparine; Rubiaceae)
Other Names: Clivers, barweed, hedgeheriff, hayriffe, eriffe, grip grass, hayruff, scratchweed, mutton chops, robin-run-in-the-grass, love-man, goosebill, everlasting friendship, coachweed, gosling weed, hedge-burs, stick-a-back, sweethearts. (2) goosegrass (8) (15); clives (8); bedstraw, catchweed, cleaverwort (50)
Character/Energetics: bitter, cool (6) ; cold, slightly dry, salty (15)
Meridians/Organs/Body Parts affected: bladder, gall bladder (6); lymphatic system (15); kidneys, bladder, blood and skin (14)
Parts used: aerial portions (6) (15); dried aerial parts and fresh expressed juice (8) tops (14)
Identification & Harvesting: Plant is 2-5 ft. high. Stem is decumbent or climbing, sharply quadrangular even to the point of being winged and branched. Leaves are long, and margins and midrib are thorny. Foliage leaves are arranged in false whorls of 6 or 8. They are lancolate from a wedge-shaped base, 1-3 in. long and 3-8 mm wide, and thorny-tipped. There are a few small white or greenish flowers in axillary, stemmed cymes. Corolla is about 2mm long and has a pointed tip. A common wild plant throughout Europe, Asia from Siberia to the Himalayas, and in North and South America (2)
The plant should be gathered before flowering and dried in the shade (8); Harvest from spring to fall (15)
Active constituents: Iridoide monoterpenes incl. asperuloside; benzyl isoquinoline alkaloids incl. protopine; beta-carbon alkaloids incl. harmine; quinazoline alkaloids incl. 1-hydroxydesoxypeganin, 8-hydroxy-2,3-dehydrodesoxypeganin; flavonoids. (2)
calcium and sodium (1); a glycoside, asperuloside (6); coumarins, tannins, glycosides, citric acid (15); …gallotannic acid (8)
Actions: diuretic, alterative, aperient (6); …lymphatic cleanser, mild astringent (15);
…anti-inflammatory, tonic, astringent, anti-neoplastic (8); …antipyretic, laxative (14)
…refrigerant, aperient, anti-scorbutic (50)
Conditions and Uses: Used internally as well as externally for ulcers, festering glands, lumps in the breast, and skin rashes. Also used for lithuresisand calculosis and as a diuretic for dropsy, bladder catarrh, and retention of urine (ischuria). Efficacy has not been proven. (2)
…a blood cleanser, strengthens the liver; used as a wash in skin disorders; aids in reducing and bed wetting (1); one of the best remedies for kidney and bladder troubles. Useful in obstructions such as stones or gravel in the urinary organ. Makes an excellent wash for the face to clear complexion. (1a)
Cleavers eliminates excess fluid, counteracts inflammations, and urinary infections, hepatitis and venereal disease. In the East Indies, the sucus (juice) of the herb taken in teaspoonful doses is considered a very effective treatment for gonorrhea. It is a blood purifier as well as an effective diuretic. Thus it is excellent for inflammations, both taken internally and applied topically in the form of a poultice. It has a good reputation as an external application for cancerous growths and tumors. A decoction sponged on the face with a soft cloth is useful for sunburn and freckles. A tea is considered excellent for the treatment of psoriasis and various skin diseases. The ancient Greeks matted it together to make a natural, rough sieve, supposedly for straining milk.(6)
Cleavers is a very valuable plant and is perhaps the best tonic to the lymphatic system available. As a lymphatic tonic with alterative and diuretic actions it may be used in a wide range of problems where the lymphatic system is involved. Thus it would be used in swollen glands(lymphadenitis) anywhere in the body and especially in tonsillitis and adenoid trouble. It is widely used in skin conditions, especially in the dry varieties such as psoriasis. It will be useful in the treatment of cystitis and other urinary conditions where there is pain and may be combined with demulcents for this. There is a long tradition for the use of cleavers in the treatment of ulcers and tumors, which may be the result of the lymphatic drainage. Cleavers makes an excellent vegetable. (8)
Cleavers is excellent when used to help break fevers and when there is suppressed urine, inflammations of the kidneys and bladder and scalding urine during gonorrhea. It is a powerful diuretic and will rid the body of excess fluid. It will clean the blood and strengthen the liver. Combine with marshmallow root, uvi ursi and buchu for urinary complaints.
Internal: Blood purifier: Infusion; Colds in the head: Infusion; Edema: Infusion, Fluid Extract;
Kidney inflammation: Infusion, Fluid Extract; Prostatis: Infusion*, Fluid Extract*;
Skin diseases: Infusion, Fluid Extract;Urinary obstructions: Fluid Extract*, Infusion*
External: Burns and scalds: Salve; Sunburn: Fomentation, Salve; Tumors: Salve*
* Usually used in combination with other herbs when treating the indicated problem. (14)
Best used fresh, the aerial parts are a potent diuretic and lymphatic cleanser, effective in many cases involving swollen or enlarged lymph glands. Often described as a blood purifier, they are used for skin problems and other conditions where the body is failing to rid itself of toxins. They can also be cooked as a vegetable gently sweated in the pan like spinach.
Tonsillitis: alterative; cleanses the lymphatic system; good for all lymphatic problems including glandular fever and adenoids/take an infusion, or drink 10 ml fresh juice, 3x daily/can combine with anti-bacterials like goldenseal (5-10 drops), purple coneflower (up to 10 ml), or dried pokeroot (10-20 drops) added to the juice in tincture form; support with gargles, as for sore throat (see pgs 142-43 in text)
Psoriasis: cleansing, diuretic, and astringent; useful for many types of skin problem/take 10 ml fresh juice or an infusion 3x daily; also use externally as an ointment or cream/combines well with red clover to reduce overproduction of cells, and with cleansing stimulants like stinging nettle or figwort. Use 3 parts cleavers or 1-2 parts other herbs. (15)
CLEAVERS (Galium aparine; Rubiaceae)
Conditions and Uses (cont):
…aids lymphatic drainage and thus detoxifies the tissue (22)
The expressed juice… has been used in congestion of the spleen, scrofula, scorbutic eruptions and lepra. It is considered a very effective remedy for kidney and bladder troubles, inflammation of these organs, suppression of urine; largely used in combination with broom, uva ursi and buchu. (50)
Combinations: For cystitis and other urinary conditions where there is pain, cleavers may be combined with demulcents…For the lymphatic system it will work well with poke root, echinacea and marigold….For skin conditions it is best combined with yellow dock and burdock. (8)
Combine with marshmallow root, uvi ursi and buchu for urinary complaints (14)
Can be combined with other lymphatic and detoxifying herbs such as dried pokeroot or lian qiao/// For tonsillitis, can combine with anti-bacterials like goldenseal (5-10 drops), purple coneflower (up to 10 ml), or dried pokeroot (10-20 drops) added to the juice in tincture form; support with gargles, as for sore throat (see pgs 142-43 in text) ///For psoriasis, combines well with red clover to reduce overproduction of cells, and with cleansing stimulants like stinging nettle or figwort. Use 3 parts cleavers or 1-2 parts other herbs. (15)
….largely used in combination with broom, uva ursi and buchu. (50)
Tincturing Process: 32-65% alcohol (10), 30-50% alcohol (46)
Vita Mix: 5.5 gr: 1 oz alcohol ideal ratio. Fill cleavers just above blades level. Process 45 seconds forward, 25 seconds reverse, 11 seconds forward (minimum) (1b)
Dosage & Applications: standard infusion or 3‑9 gms. (6)
Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 2-3 tsp. of the dried herb and leave to infuse 10-15 min. Take 3x daily
Tincture: take 2-4 ml 3x daily (8)
Infusion: 3 oz to 2 pints cold water; let stand 3-4 hrs. 3 oz. (cold) 3-4x daily; or 11/2 to 1 pint of warm water. 1 cup 3-4x daily.
Tincture: 1/2 to 1 tsp. 3x daily
Fluid Extract: 1/2 to 1 tsp. 3x daily
Powder: 5 to 10 #0 capsules (30-60 grains) 3-4x daily (14)
Juice: Liquidize or pulp the fresh plant to make an effective diuretic and lymphatic cleanser for a range of conditions, including glandular fever, tonsillitis, and prostate disorders.
Infusion: Generally less strong than the juice. Use for urinary problems such as cystitis and gravel; also take as a cooling drink for fevers.
Tincture: Use for the same ailments as the infusion. Can be combined with other lymphatic and detoxifying herbs such as dried pokeroot or lian qiao.
Compress: Soak a pad in the infusion and use for burns, grazes, ulcers, and other skin inflammations.
Cream: Use regularly to relieve psoriasis.
Hair Rinse: Use the infusion for dandruff or scaling scalp problems. (15)
Precautions: No recorded risks or side effects. (2) May be used freely (50)
Divination: w (1); t (48)
”Women do usually make pottage of cleavers…to cause lanknesse and keepe them from fatness.” John Gerard, 1597.
A popular herb in folk medicine throughout the centuries, cleavers or goosegrass is a vigorously growing weed that twines through hedges or garden shrubberies producing long sticky stems. The young shoots are some of the first weeds to appear in spring and make an excellent cleansing tonic, a remedy widely used in central Europe and the Balkans. (15)
(1) Cayuga Botanicals Research Data, (“Cleavers” file: Source: Heindel–Rosicrucian)
(1a) ibid Research Data, (“Cleavers” file: Source: HCBL 11/94)
(1b) ibid Research Data, (“Cleavers Tincture” file)
(2) PDR for Herbal Medicines (Medical Economics Co., 1998), pgs. 859-60
(6) Planetary Herbology by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., pgs 220-221
(8) The New Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman, pg. 191
(10) Herbal Preparations and Natural Therapies by Debra Nuzzi St. Claire, M.H, pg. 127
(14) Natural Healing With Herbs by Humbart Santillo BS, MH, pgs 104-05
(15) The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody, pgs. 62, 142-43, 146-47
(22) Herbs and Herbal Formulas (booklet) by Mark Hershiser, pg. 7
(46) Gifts of the Earth: The Healing Way of Herbal Medicine by Tieraona, pg. 35
(48) The Rulership Book by Rex E. Bills, pg. 26
(50) The Practical Herbalist and Astrologer by Ira N. Shaw, pg. 36