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Cleavers


    Scientific Names

    Cleavers
    • Galium aparine L.
    • Rubiaceae
    • Madder family

    Common Names

    ivyAperine
    ivyBedstraw
    ivyCatchstraw
    ivyCatchweed
    ivyCheese rent herb robin
    ivyCheese rent herb
    ivyChu-yang-yang (Chinese name)
    ivyClabber grass
    ivyCleaverwort
    ivyClivers
    ivyCoachweed
    ivyGoose-grass
    ivyGoose-share
    ivyGoose’s hair
    ivyGrip grass
    ivyGravel grass
    ivyGosling weed
    ivyHedge-burrs
    ivyLove-man
    ivyMilk sweet
    ivyPoor robin
    ivySavoyan
    ivyScratchweed
    ivyStick-a-back
    ivySweethearts
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    Parts Usually Used

    The entire herb
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    Description of Plant(s) and Culture

    Cleavers is a scrambling annual plant; a tender taproot produces the weak, square, procumbent or climbing, prickly, four-angled stems have hooked bristles on the angles; stem grows from 2-6 feet long supported by other vegetation. The rough, oblong-lanceolate to almost linear leaves occur in whorls of 6 or 8 around the stem. The tiny, tubular, white or greenish-white flowers (arranged as the Maltese cross) grow in cymes on long, axillary peduncles in upper leaf axils from May to September. The fruit (following after the blossoms) consists of two joined, bristly, globular, one-seeded carpels. The entire plant is covered with tiny bristly, spines.

    Another variety: Called cleaver’s vine (Galium verum) is also known as Lady;s bedstraw, Maid’s hair, and Cheese rennet. (Of the same genus (Galium) but a different plant. Also Galium odoratum.
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    Where Found

    Found in moist or grassy places, thickets, moist shady woodland, waste places and along riverbanks and fences in Canada, the eastern half of the United States, and the Pacific coast. Dense, tangled masses of cleavers can be seen clinging to surrounding vegetation in most hedgerows.
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    Medicinal Properties

    Antispasmodic, mild astringent, diaphoretic, diuretic, vulnerary, refrigerant, aperient, alterative, tonic
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    Biochemical Information

    A glycosides, asperuloside, coumarins, tannins, citric acid
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    Legends, Myths and Stories

    A popular herb in folk medicines throughout the centuries, cleavers or goosegrass is a vigorously growing weed that twines through hedges or garden shrubberies producing long sticky stems. The young shoots are some of the first weeds to appear in spring and make an excellent cleansing tonic, a remedy widely used in central Europe and the Balkans. Also cooked as a vegetable, like spinach.

    A medical herbalist reported the case of an overweight woman who took daily infusions of cleavers. During the first month nothing happened, but on the fifth week she began slowly losing weight, and at the end of 6 months her weight was down to normal. She had lost a total of 32 lbs. and has not put them back on again.

    The root makes a permanent red dye.
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    Uses

    The predominant uses for cleavers is external, although the tea has been recommended for stomach and intestinal catarrh and for irritations of mucous membranes, tonsillitis, including those of the urinary tract, arthritis, jaundice, dropsy. The juice of the fresh plant or a tea made from the dried plant is popular for skin problems. The juice or tea is applied daily and allowed to dry (before each application, wash the affected area with rectified alcohol, burning the cloth each time). If preferred, make a salve for the skin by mixing the fresh juice with butter (renew every 3 hours and burn the cloth used to apply it). Applying the crushed fresh leaves directly is also said to be helpful for skin problems and for stopping bleeding. Cleavers is used in Europe for healing wounds and sores, psoriasis, cysts, boils, swellings or for treating skin infections, swollen lymph glands, snakebites. Makes a good face wash to clear the complexion.

    An infusion can be used to stimulate the kidneys, to help the body eliminate excess water, help cure cystitis, and to expel kidney stones. Juice of fresh herb used for scurvy. Juice contains citric acid, reported to have antitumor activity. The cold infusion removes freckles when applied externally.

    Due to its refrigerant properties it is excellent in all cases of fever, scarlet fever, measles, and all acute diseases.

    Good in scrofula and inflammatory stages of gonorrhea.

    Cleavers (Galium aparine) which the Chinese call Chu-yang-yang, was considered by the ancients as an excellent remedy for obesity and also for cleansing the blood.

    Used as a lotion it makes a first-rate tonic for the scalp, which clears it of dandruff, and the skin. It was once held to cure leprosy and is still used to treat skin cancer.

    The ancient Greeks matted it together to make a natural, rough sieve, supposedly for straining milk.
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    Formulas or Dosages

    Use the juice of the fresh plant or dry the plant immediately to keep for later use.

    Infusion: steep 1 oz. dried herb in 1 pint warm (not boiling) water for 2 hours. Take 2 to 8 tbsp., 3-4 times a day. May sweeten with honey.

    Fluid extract: half-dram doses in a cup of water or milk, 3 times daily.

    Tincture: take 20-30 drops in water, as required.
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    Warning

    This herb may be used freely. But it should be taken for only 2 weeks at a time, and then skip 1-2 weeks.

    Juice may cause contact dermatitis.
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    Bibliography

    Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

    Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

    Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

    Buy It! Culpeper's Complete Herbal & English Physician: Updated With 117 Modern Herbs, by Nicholas Culpeper, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1990, (reprint of 1814)

    Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

    Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

    Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

    Buy It!The Magic of Herbs, by David Conway, published by Jonathan Cape, Thirty Bedford Square, London, England. (Out of print)

    Herbal Gardening, compiled by The Robison York State Herb Garden, Cornell Plantations, Matthaei Botanical Gardens of the University of Michigan, University of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley., Pantheon Books, Knopf Publishing Group, New York, 1994, first edition

    Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

    Buy It! American Folk Medicine/i>, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

    Buy It! Secrets of the Chinese Herbalists, by Richard Lucas, Parker Publishing Company, Inc., West Nyack, NY, 1987.

    Buy It! Webster's New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

    Buy It! An Instant Guide to Medicinal Plants, by Pamela Forey and Ruth Lindsay, Crescent Books (January 27, 1992).

    Buy It! The Magic of Herbs in Daily Living, by Richard Lucas, Parker Publishing Co. (1988).

    Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

    Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature's Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

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