Common Name: Cleavers (also bedstraw, goose grass, gosling weed and hedge-burs)
Botanical Name: Galium aparine
Parts Used: Aerial parts
Family: Madder (Rubiaceae)
Origins: Native to Europe, Asia and N. America
Actions: Alterative, anti-inflammatory, astringent, diuretic, tonic, vulnerary
Effects on Doshas: Pacifying to Pitta and Kapha, can be aggravating to Vata
Tastes: Salty, sweet, bitter
Energetics: Cooling, moistening
Planetary Ruler: Moon
Elemental Ruler: Water
Cleavers is known for its alterative and diuretic properties. It gets everything flowing, helping move stagnation and cleanse toxins from the body. Cleavers is cooling and moistening and is a top herb for relieving irritations and heat related inflammation in the body. It has affinity for the urinary and lymphatic systems and is also known as an effective vulnerary, or “wound healer.”
Internally speaking, cleavers is wonderful for clearing swollen glands, edema and cystic growths as well as relieving urinary pain due to infection, irritations or stones/gravel. Topically, it makes a wonderful remedy for minor burns and cuts as well as treatment for psoriasis and eczema.
Additionally, Cleavers’ actions can be applied to the emotional body. It can soothe and calm emotional irritations, ease the pain of old emotional wounds, and can flush out anything that we may be “clinging” to that is no longer serving us.
Cleavers does not keep well if dried, and is much more medicinal to use or tincture fresh. It combines well with herbs such as Uva ursi (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), Usnea (Usnea spp.), Horsetail (Equisetum arvense), Cornsilk (Zea mays), Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) and Couchgrass (Elytrigia repens).
Cleavers Cleanse Juice
1 quart jar full fresh cleavers, aerial parts, well washed
4 cups fresh or frozen pineapple chunks
Water to top
Place cleavers and pineapple in a blender, cover to top with water and blend until smooth. Strain for a thinner juice style drink or leave as is for a smoothie style drink. As cleavers is very diuretic it is best to only drink one cup at a time. You can store the leftovers in an airtight glass jar in the fridge for 24 hours.
I learned this recipe from my herbalism teacher Trilby Sedlacek, RH (AHG). I have made it every year since. As soon as I start to see and feel the greening of spring, I head out in search of cleavers. I harvest the young plant (the older it is, the tougher it is) and I make this drink every day for the first two or so weeks of spring. It really does wonders for readying my body for the light, energetic seasons ahead while helping me release all that is old, dead and heavy.