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Cleavers – (Galium aparine)


Also known as goosegrass and bedstraw, cleavers is found all over the world. Its long stem and circlets of leaves are covered with tiny spines that make the plant stick to clothing and fur like Velcro. Tiny white flowers bloom in late spring/early summer. The seeds form in burr-like pods that stick to anything that passes by. This plant was used long ago as a natural cheese rennet. The plant is easily harvested, having brittle stems that break easily.


Key Medicinal Uses

Internally – Cleavers is a diuretic, and can be used to relieve edema and promote urination during bladder infections. It has also been used by people suffering from jaundice, lymph swellings and wounds. It is a mild laxative. It is also a tonic herb, which restores, nourishes and supports the entire body. An infusion can be taken for fever, tonsillitis, cystitis and hepatitis as well as for urinary and liver problems. The herb contains a compound called asperuloside, which is converted into prostaglandins in the body. Prostaglandins are hormone-like compounds that can stimulate the uterus and blood vessels. Studies have shown that it also lowers blood pressure.

Externally – Cleavers can be used as a wash for a clear complexion. It is also good for skin cancer and eczema, psoriasis and seborrhea. The fresh plant or the juice from the plant can be used as a poultice for wounds, ulcers and other problems of the skin. Fresh leaves can be used to stop bleeding on abrasions and to reduce inflammation and quicken healing.

Other Uses – Cleavers produces a red dye from the roots and is edible, though it is better cooked in soups or as a potherb. The seeds, when dried and roasted, make a good coffee substitute. The infusion has been used as a hair tonic, to promote the growth of long hair.

Herbs to Combine/Supplement

Combine with uva-ursi, buchu and marshmallow root for kidney and bladder problems.

Parts Used

Whole plant – The whole plant is used medicinally.


There are no known contraindications for taking cleavers. It appears to be safe for most people. You may want to use caution while pregnant since large doses may affect the uterus. Some people may experience contact dermatitis if the fresh plant comes into direct contact with the skin.

Preparation and Dosage

Cleavers is most frequently taken as a tincture or a tea. For tincture, take 3 to 5 ml up to three times per day. Tea can be made by steeping 2 to 3 teaspoons in 1 cup of boiling water for ten to fifteen minutes. Drink 1 cup three or more times per day.

Cleavers Herbal Remedies Top