Cleavers Galium aparine
Cleavers is an annual with a slender taproot that produces a weak, square, prickly stem that grows from 1 to 2 feet long. The rough, lance-shaped leaves grow in whorls of 6 to 8 around the stem. The stems and leaves are covered with little hooked bristles. Small white flowers appear on the stalks from the leaf axils during spring and summer. Mature plants produce fruit consisting of two joined, bristly, globular, one-seeded carpels.
Cleavers contains iridoids, anthraquinones, polyphenolic acids, alkanes, flavonoids, and tannins. The iridoid, asperuloside acts as a mild laxative. Cleavers’ main action is that of a diuretic. Because of its ability to eliminate toxins from the body through the urinary system, it is used for kidney stones and other urinary complaints, such as cystitis. Its eliminative nature also makes it useful in treating skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
The detoxifying properties have made this herb useful in the treatment of cancers and similar illnesses.
Cleavers has reportedly also been used for insomnia.
Cleavers is thought to be an effective lymphatic cleanser, and is used in swollen lymph glands. Women have long valued this herb for relieving tender, fibrocystic breast tissue.
Another traditional use for this herb is in detoxifying the system after ingesting toxic substances or things that have cause an allergic reaction.
For tumors or swelling, the suggested preparation is a juice extracted from the fresh plant which grows prolifically in most gardens and along river banks and fences in most of North America.
A wine glass full a day made of the fresh stems and leaves is the standard traditional dose.
Tinctures and infusions are also useful, and the fresh stems and leaves are eaten in salads or steamed lightly.
Some like to slow-roast the fruits until brown and grind for use as a coffee substitute.