Materia Medica: Cleavers



A popular herb in folk medicine, Cleavers is a fast growing weed that produces long sticky stems. Young shoots are usually the first weeds to appear in a garden in spring, and make a wonderful cleansing tonic – a remedy widely used in central Europe and the Balkans.




Latin Binomial: Galium aparine

Common Name(s): Rubiaceae

TCM Name

Ayurvedic Name


Physical Description of the Plant:   


Harvest and Collection: 

Parts of the Plant Used:  Dried arial parts and the fresh expressed juice.. The plant should be gathered before flowering and dried in the shade.

Qualities: Cold, sightly dry, salty, moist

Chemical Constituents:



  • Diuretic

  • Alterative

  • Anti-inflammatory

  • Tonic

  • Astringent

  • Anti-neoplastic

  • Depurative


  • Best tonic to the lymphatic system available

  • Lymphatic cogestion & stagnation

  • Swollen glands – esp. in tonsillitis and adenoid trouble (under and about the ears)

  • Dissolves calcareous deposits in the tissues, sweeps fluids and solids down to the kidneys and helps remove them

  • Helpful in ‘gatherings of the nerves’ – inflammation of the nerve endings

  • It is widely used in skin conditions especially the dry varities such as – psoriasis

  • Useful in the treatment of cystitis and other urinary conditions where there is pain and may be combined with demulcents for this

  • Potential use in eczema and kidney stones


None Known

Drug Interactions:



TINCTURE: take 2-4ml of the tincture three times a day.

Dose range between 3.5-7.0 ml of 1:2 liquid extract.


Pour a cup of boiling water onto 2-3 tsp dried herb and leave to infuse for 10-15 mins. This should be drunk 3 times a day.


  • For Lymphatic System, works well with poke root, echinacea and marigold.

  • For skin conditions it works with yellow dock and burdock.

  • Combine with pokeroot or loan qiao – lymphatic/detoxifying herbs.



Flower Essence:  



  • JUICE: Liquidize or pulp fresh plant to make and effective diuretic and lymphatic cleanser for a range of conditions – including glandular fever, tonsillitis and prostate disorders.

  • INFUSION: Generally less strong than fresh juice. Use this for urinary problems such as cystitis or gravel. Also take as cooling drink during fever.

  • COMPRESS: Soak pad in infusion and use on burns, grazes, ulcers and other skin inflammations.

  • CREAM: Use regularly for psoriasis.

  • HAIR RINSE: Use infusion for dandruff or scaling scalp problems.



Scientific Research


Bone, K. (2003). A Clinical Guide to Blending Liquid Herbs: Herbal Formulations for the Individual Patient. St Louis, Missouri: Elsevier

Hoffman, D. (1996).  The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal.  Element Books LTD.

Fetrow, Charles & Juan Avila (2000).  The Complete Guide to Herbal Medicines.  New York, NY: Pocket Books.

Ody, Penelope (1993).  The Complete Medicinal Herbal.  New York, New York: Dorling Kindersley.

Gladstar, Rosemary (2012).  Medicinal Herbs. A beginner's guide. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

Groves, Maria Noel (2016).  Body into Balance.  North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

Thayer, Samuel (2006). Forager’s Harvest. Birchwood, WI: Forager’s Harvest.

Foster, Steven (1993). Herbal Renaissance. Layton, UT: Peregrine Smith Books.

McIntyre, Anne (2010).  The Complete Herbal Tutor.  London, England: Hatchet Company.

Time. 100 Most Healing Foods.