Native to Europe but naturalized to the U.S., cleavers has historically been used to treat nodular growths on and under the skin, and even as a treatment for epilepsy. These burr-like plants are excellent as part of a tonic, primarily for detoxification and the lymphatic system because they help stimulate movement of lymph into the bloodstream. Cleavers is an effective treatment for chronic toxicity-related inflammatory conditions including acne, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis and acute inflammation of the lymph nodes. Plus it stimulates the kidneys, improving toxicity drainage, mildly stimulates the liver and when paired with other immune stimulating herbs, helps treat infectious conditions. Cleavers is also beneficial for the health of the blood vessels and can be used to treat bruises, varicose veins and hemorrhoids. This herb is in the same family as coffee but contains less caffeine. Often, the fruits are dried and roasted to be used as a coffee substitute. In addition, you can eat the leaves and stems of the plant as a leaf vegetable if gathered before the fruits appear. Because of the little hooks that are on the plant, it is recommended that you steam or otherwise cook the plant before consuming. Despite the fact that cleavers is generally regarded as safe, you should check with Dr. Bossio if you are interested in using this herb.
Photo credit. "20140618Galium aparine" by AnRo0002 - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Zero, Public Domain Dedication via Wikimedia Commons.
Galium aparine. NDHealthFacts.org.
Cleavers (Galium aparine). Natural Standard.
Mills, S., & Bone, K. (2000). Principles and practice of phytotherapy: Modern herbal medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.