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Plant Family: 



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.


Parts Used/Collection: 

Aerial parts


Herbal Actions: 


  • Lymphatic cleanser

  • Diuretic 

  • Vulnerary

  • Mild astringent 

  • Anti-lithic

  • Antispasmodic

  • Soothing/relaxing to urinary and nervous systems

  • Urinary demulcent

  • Mild diaphoretic

  • Alternative

  • Anti-inflammatory

  • Tonic



  • 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

Plant Constituents: 



System Affinities:

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)

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