Habitat & Cultivation:
This plant seems to be Native in North America. However, it seems like this plant grows everywhere! It sure grows in the PNW Washington.
Cleavers were used as a love medicine by one Native American tribe, by using it in the bath as an infusion by women who wanted to be successful in love. When the root is decocted, a red dye comes out and it was said the it dyed the bones red. It was also used as a remedy for the bites of venomous creatures such as snakes and spiders. Used in Sweden to give healing properties to milk.
Soothing/relaxing to urinary and nervous systems
Lymphagogue = increases lymphatic drainage, breaks up lymphatic congestion (esp in pelvis), and general lymphatic tonic.
Depurative = strong alterative, use with dry conditions (eczema and psoriasis).
GU = painful micturition, dysuria, voiding pain associated with gonorrhea, cystitis, pyelonephritis, urethritis, prostatitis, and renal stones; Reduces edema caused by water retention.
Skin = psoriasis, eczema, lichen, nodular growths (pulp can be used as a poultice).
Inflammatory conditions = fever and lymphadenopathy associated with infection.
MSK = rheumatoid arthritis (reduces edema of the joints).
unable to find contraindications for cleavers
System affinities for the pelvis and urinary tract; also skin and MSK/joints
gentle/mild, soothing, moving/changing, and moistening
Safety Class 1A
Tincture: 4-8mL, 3x/day (1:5 in 25%)
Infusion: pour 1 cup of boiling water over 2-3 teaspoons of dried herb and infuse for 10-15 minutes. Drink 3x/day. (Though our powerpoint say hot water reduces medicinal value)
Can also juice or puree in a blender (Preserve with 50% glycerine)
Can make into popsicles for kids
Fresh is best!
Hot water, aging or drying reduce the medicinal value
Pulp can be used topically as a poultice
Personal Experience: I
My son and I always harvest and eat cleavers fresh when we go on our nature walks. Every time I start to feel a sore throat I go in search of cleavers.
American Botanical Council. (1990). Cleavers Monograph.
AHPA. (2013). Botanical safety handbook (2nd ed.). CRC Press, FL.
Hoffman, David (2004). Therapeutic Herbalism
Blankespoor, J (2019). Introduction to Immune Stimulants, Immunomodulators, Antimicrobials. Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine
Cleavers (Galium aparine)