Cleavers - Galium Aperine



Galium aperine

Beautiful, vibrant and fresh. Cleavers can be found growing almost everywhere. For a refreshing and lymph-cleansing start to the day make a cold infusion -  pick a handful, wash, bash the leaves up to get the juices going, slice half a lemon thinly, cover the whole lot with cold water (around a pint) and leave in the fridge overnight. Strain and drink on an empty stomach in the morning. Due to its effect on the lymphatic system, Cleavers have a reputation for aiding weight loss and reducing cellulite. A great detoxifying way to start the day. 

Cleavers Monograph


Creeping perennial, weedy herb up to 1m tall. Leaves are lanceolate, borne in whorls of 6-8. Flowers are tiny, starshaped and whitish green. The globular fruits grow clustered 1-3 seeds together; the seeds and entire plant are covered in tiny hairs which stick to passers by.


Alterative, astringent, diuretic, lymphatic, astringent tonic, adaptogen.


Cold, pungent.


Flavonoids, iridoids, polyphonic acids, asperuloside (coumarin glycoside), citic acid, galiosin, tannin.

Traditional Use

'It is a good herb to be taken in spring, to be eaten, chopped small and boiled in gruel to cleanse the blood and strengthen the liver, therby keeping the body in health, and fitting it for that change of season that is coming'

'The juice of the herb and seed taken in wine is used for those bitten by an adder by preserving the heart from venom.'

'It is familiarly taken in broth to keep those lean and lank who are apt to grow fat'

'The juice of the leaves or the leaves a little bruised and applied to an bleeding wound, stays the bleeding. It is also very good to close the lips of green wounds, and the powder strewed there upon does the same and likewise heals ulcers'.

'Being boiled in hogs grease it heals all sorts of hard swellings or kernals in the throat, being annointed there with'.

- Culpeper

Medicinal Uses

Cleavers has a cooling and cleansing action on the whole system making it a good herb for fevers. It is especially valuable in the treatment of inflammatory urinary conditions and suppressed urine. It is used in the treatment of enlarged lymph nodes and lymphadenopathy, where infection is suspected it works best when combined with anti-infectives. It has a reputation to aid in weightloss and cellulite.

The cleansing and lymphatic effects of Gallium aperine make it useful in the treatment of chronic skin disorders including eczema, acne, urticaria and psoriasis.


Cleavers can be harvested from early spring until late summer ( plants tend to go dry and straggly after this) and grow abundantly in most wild places.


Pick Cleavers when they are bright green and fresh and used to make tinctures (fill a jar ¾ way with the fresh chopped herb, fill to the top with vodka, put lid on, leave in a dark place for at least one month shaking it occasionally, strain, bottle and label).

Use Cleavers fresh when possible or chop up and freeze in an ice cube tray for later use.


Cold infusion of the herb – one handful (bruised) to 1 pint left over night and drunk throughout the day.

Tea – 1-2 heaped tsp to 1 cup boiling water steeped for 10 minutes.

Tincture 1:2 – 1-3ml three times daily (30-60ml per week).

Fresh juice – 5-10ml 3 times daily.