CLEAVERS, Galium aparine

Cleavers Plant

Cleavers is a member of the madder family. It is also known as goose grass, because the geese like it so well. It is also called bedstraw, hedge burs, madder, cleavers wort, catch weed and many more.

Most species of this family are annuals. If you ever handle this plant, you will never forget it. The whole plant is discovered with little soft hooks that cling to almost everything. Children often take a piece of this plant and throw it on someone that is wearing a sweater and the little hooks of the plant will cling to them. That's why the weed is also called “stick on your back.”
The stalk, or stem, is square and covered with hooks and will reach a length of four to seven feet. Six long narrow lance-shaped leaves grow in whorls around the stem. Out from these whorls of leaves grow two little side branches. On the ends of each branch is a little blossom with four white petals.

Cleavers is a climbing plant that grows along ditch banks or along hedgerows. It likes to find a fence or a tree or another herb that grows tall so it can climb. If it can't find anything to attach to and climb on, it will form a dense mat or bed upon the ground. This is why some species are called bedstraw.

My son-in-law has a farm and cleavers grows on the fences and along the ditches. He says cleavers is very useful when you need something to make a dike or dam to control the irrigation water because it mats together so easily.
Cleavers is good for many ailments, although it is mostly known as a diuretic to help the kidneys and urinary problems. Some herbalists claim it is the best herb to remove obstructions in the urinary organs, especially when combined with marsh-mallow, broom, buchu, and uva ursi. Cleavers is also an old time remedy for bed wetting scalding urine and suppressed urine.

Cleavers is also helpful to the liver and the pancreas and the spleen. Old herbals speak of using cleavers tea to rid the body of toxic wastes, purify the blood and promote healing.

I am reminded of a story a friend told me. He knew a lady who had goiter. She was afraid to have an operation, because she was a hemophiliac and she was afraid she would bleed to death. However, she complained to everyone she met about her goiter. Her husband told my friend that she enjoyed her illness. It gave her so much attention. One day my friend told her she would gargle and drink cleavers tea and put cleavers poultice on the goiter and it would help her. She scoffed and said, “How could some silly old weeds help a goiter that is too simple. Who could imagine tea and made out of weeds. That would never help my goiter.” As time went on, the goiter got bigger and she became more worried about having an operation. This situation reminded me about the story in the Bible of the children of Israel in the wilderness who had been bitten by the fiery serpents. Some didn't have the faith to look upon the bronze serpent that that Moses put on the pole and they died. After much coaxing, the lady agreed to try the tea made from the cleavers for awhile. When the goiter stopped growing, she told everyone, “It must be my diet.” She was encouraged to keep using the tea and poultices. When the goiter got smaller and finally disappeared, she had to admit that cleavers was helpful in healing her goiter.
Cleavers is known to help skin problems such as scurvy, scrofula, psoriasis, skin ulcers, and skin diseases in general.
Some of the old herbals speak of making an ointment from cleavers and using it for skin cancer and tumors.
Some people just don't want to give herbs credit for helping their health. But after all, most all medicines had their beginnings from herbs.

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