Cleavers Plant: Exploring its History and Medicinal Properties receives compensation from some of the companies, products, and services listed on this page. Advertising Disclosure

The cleavers plant, known by its scientific name Galium aparine, is a multipurpose herb with a long history of use in traditional medicine. This plant, sometimes known as “bedstraw” or “stickywilly,” has drawn the interest of herbal enthusiasts and those looking to improve their health owing to its extraordinary medical characteristics.

cleavers plant

Through the Ages with Cleavers

Through the ages, cleavers have left behind signs of their importance in many prehistoric societies. Historical evidence suggests that ancient civilizations, including the Greeks and Egyptians, employed cleavers for their therapeutic properties. It was highly valued in conventional medicine for its diuretic effects and was often used to assist the lymphatic system.

Particular Qualities

Cleavers may be identified by their distinctive physical features. The plant may attach to other plants and surfaces because of the tiny, hook-like hairs that decorate its thin, dangling stems and give them a sticky quality. Around the stem, the lance-shaped leaves are organized in whorls. Cleavers produce tiny, white, star-shaped blooms throughout the spring and summer.

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Location and Habitat

Hedgerows, woodlands, and riverbanks are frequent places to find cleavers, which love moist, rich soil. They are extensively dispersed over North America, Asia, and Europe.

Health Benefits of the Cleavers Plant

Cleavers have many possible health advantages, including those that help skin health and detoxification.

Detoxification and Lymphatic Support

Supporting the lymphatic system is one of Cleavers’ most important health advantages. The lymphatic system is essential for the body’s removal of toxins, waste, and other toxic substances. Cleavers is said to have diuretic effects that increase urine output and help the body remove debris and pollutants. Cleavers may enhance lymphatic drainage, improving overall detoxification and aiding with problems like water retention and swollen lymph nodes.

Skin Health and Wound Healing

cleavers leaves and flower buds

Traditional medicine has used cleavers for a long time to heal numerous skin diseases. Due to its anti-inflammatory and calming characteristics, it is a possible treatment for skin irritations such as rashes, eczema, and minor wounds. Cleavers may be added to bathwater or used topically as a poultice to calm and nourish the skin. The herb’s capacity to promote cell regeneration and defend against infection may be responsible for its putative wound-healing abilities.

Mild Diuretic and Kidney Support

Due to their diuretic properties, Cleavers may assist kidney function by increasing urine production and facilitating the body’s waste product disposal. Taking it as part of a balanced wellness regimen may help lower the risk of kidney stones and promote overall kidney health.

Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant Properties

The bioactive substances found in cleavers, such as flavonoids, tannins, and phenolic acids, have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities. By scavenging dangerous free radicals, antioxidants help the body experience less oxidative stress. Cardiovascular disorders and certain malignancies are among the health problems linked to chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. Including cleavers in the diet or taking it as a herbal supplement may help alleviate these worries and advance general health.

Potential Immune Support

Cleavers is often used in conventional herbal remedies as an immune system booster. The herb’s purported detoxifying and antioxidant capabilities may support immune function by easing the strain of toxins and oxidative stress on the body’s defenses.

Lymphatic System Support for Breast Health

Cleavers have a long history of promoting breast health. It is traditionally used topically in certain cultures to reduce breast discomfort and swelling. While additional study is necessary, some herbalists think that cleavers may help to improve lymphatic movement in the breast region and preserve healthy breast tissue.

Cleavers Plant Side Effects

Despite cleavers having various medicinal benefits, it is essential to understand that it has specific adverse effects, just like any herbal medicine. Although most people believe Cleavers to be safe when taken sensibly and sparingly, it is essential to be aware of any possible adverse effects.

Skin Irritation and Allergic Reactions

Cleavers might irritate some people’s skin when handled directly or used topically. The skin may become red, itchy, or exhibit rash-like symptoms due to the plant’s tiny hooked hairs adhering to the skin. Additionally, those sensitive to Cleavers may also be allergic to quinine or coffee, both members of the Rubiaceae family of plants. Therefore, it is advised to do a patch test before using cleavers topically and stop treatment immediately if any negative responses happen.

Stomach Upset and Digestive Issues

Although cleavers is mainly considered safe for eating, some individuals may feel moderate gastrointestinal pain, nausea, or upset stomach after consuming them. When taking the herb internally, those with sensitive stomachs or pre-existing digestive disorders should use care since these side effects are often minor and transient.

Diuretic Effects and Dehydration

The diuretic qualities of cleavers are well recognized to stimulate urine output and aid in detoxifying. However, excessive usage or intake might result in a person urinating more than usual and perhaps being dehydrated, mainly if they don’t drink enough water to compensate for the increased output. Symptoms of dehydration include weariness, a dry mouth, and dizziness. As a result, it’s essential to consume enough water while utilizing cleavers as a diuretic.

Interaction with Medications

Like many herbal supplements, cleavers may interact with certain medicines, lowering their efficacy or causing unfavorable side effects. Before using it, anyone using diuretics, blood thinners, or other prescription medicines should speak with a healthcare provider to prevent any possible interactions.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

There hasn’t been enough research on the safety of using cleavers during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Women expecting or breastfeeding should avoid taking it without first talking to their doctor because of their diuretic effects and propensity to stimulate the uterus.

Low Blood Pressure

Some people’s blood pressure may drop due to the diuretic effects of cleavers. While people with hypertension may benefit from this, those with low blood pressure or those who use blood pressure-lowering medicine may have problems. Regular blood pressure checks are necessary, particularly if cleavers are taken with prescription drugs.


When exposed to the sun, cleavers may, under some circumstances, enhance photosensitivity, increasing the risk of sunburn or skin irritation. To reduce the possibility of photosensitivity responses, anyone using cleavers topically should take measures such as donning protective clothes and applying sunscreen.

Preparation and Dosage
  • Infusion: Let three ounces to two pints of cold water stand for 3 to 4 hours and take three ounces (cold) 3 to 4 times daily or 1 ½ ounces to one pint of warm water. Steep for 2 hours and take one cup 3 to 4 times daily.
  • Tincture: Take ½ to one teaspoon 3 to 4 times daily.
  • Fluid extract: Take ½ to 1 teaspoon 3 to 4 times daily.
  • Powder: Take 5 to 10 #0 capsules (30 to 60 grains) 3 to 4 times daily.

(Note: This page is meant to provide general information only and is not intended to be taken as medical advice. Before using herbal medicines or supplements, get the advice of a licensed healthcare expert.)

  • Vance Ferrell Harold M. Cherne, M.D. The Natural Remedies Encyclopedia [Book]. – Altamont, TN: Harvestime Books, 2010. – Vol. Seventh Edition: 7: pp. 152, 153.

Last update on 2023-10-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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