Cleavers, botanical name Galium aparine, is an herb-like annual plant that is found growing in damp or verdant locales as well as besides the banks or rivers and along the fences in eastern United States, Canada as well as the Pacific coast. Belonging to the plant family Rubiaceae, cleavers has a thin taproot that gives rise to a frail, rectangular, prostrate or climbing thorny stem that grows up to a length of anything between two feet to six feet. This herbaceous annual plant produces coarse leaves whose shape varies from oblong to the head of a lance to nearly straight or linear. The leaves of cleavers appear in whorls of about six to eight encircling the stem. Cleavers bears diminutive flowers having white or greenish-white hues during the period between May and September. Cleavers gives off a potent smell similar to that of honey. July is the ideal time for harvesting this herb.
Cleavers possesses a number of therapeutic properties, for instance, it works as an outstanding facial wash owing to its ability to make the skin tighter. People who have normal wrinkles and droopiness on their face, which occurs as one ages, should consider using cleavers, as they might find it beneficial for their condition.
Boil a quart of water and add about three and-a-half tablespoonfuls of the dehydrated herb after removing the water from the heat. Cover the container and simmer it for about 40 minutes. Strain the liquid, allow it to cool down and then use it to rinse your face and neck regularly. In addition, you may soak packs comprising a little terrycloth towel or wash cloth in this herbal tea, wring it out gently and subsequently apply it to the total area of the face for a maximum period of 10 minutes a number of times daily with a view to facilitate in making your skin folds tighter. When you do this on a regular basis, you will be able to witness the results just within a fortnight. It is worth mentioning here that after two weeks you should mainly try to find the new kind of sensation in your life, which was earlier having an exhausted, worn down skin.
Cleavers is a very familiar weed growing naturally as a hedgerow in the region of its origin as well as where the herb has been naturalized over the years. It is an outstanding herb that works as a cleansing herbal medication, eliminating toxic as well as waste substances from the body, thereby, lessening inflammation and heat. In addition, cleavers also possesses diuretic properties which facilitate in getting rid of the waste products from the body and also work to augment the functioning of the lymphatic system. This, in turn, encourages the drainage of toxic as well as waste products from the lymphatic system via the urinary tract. All these functions of cleavers make the herb an outstanding medication that helps in fluid retention, curing skin disorders like acne, psoriasis, eczema, abscesses and boils. This herb is also effective in treating infections of the urinary system, kidney stones and gravel, in addition to gout and arthritis. It is worth mentioning here that cleavers may be employed to treat problems related to the lymph glands, for instance, obstruction of the breast, as well as obstruction of the lymph glands and distended lymph glands. This herb is also known to possess anti-tumour actions, especially when they occur in the skin, the lymphatic system and/ or breasts.
Cleavers possesses calming attributes that help in bringing down temperatures when one is suffering from fevers and also in treating eruptive contagions like chickenpox and measles. This herb helps to cool heat as well as inflammation within the body, which are generally witnesses in conditions like arthritis, cystitis, digestive disorders and inflammatory skin complaints. The astringent attributes of cleavers promote the functioning of the liver as well as improve the digestive process and also absorption of nutrients. Traditionally cleavers was used to prepare a calming drink that was given to people during each spring with a view to purify the blood.
Cleavers has a number of additional therapeutic uses. For example, the freshly obtained leaves of this herb may be directly applied onto wounds or cuts to stop haemorrhage as well as accelerate the healing process. The juice extracted from the herb or the infusion prepared from it may be employed to rinse varicose ulcers, while the freshly obtained leaves of cleavers may be used to prepare a poultice. It may be noted here that topical application of cleavers will actually alleviate as well as calm burn injuries, sunburns and inflammatory skin conditions like acne and eczema. In addition, it will also help to cleanse the blemishes on the skin.
For long, cleavers has been used as a common domestic herbal remedy for a number of conditions. In fact, this herb is being used by contemporary herbalists too. Besides being a very effective diuretic, cleavers is frequently taken internally to treat skin complaints like eczema, seborrhea and psoriasis. It is also a useful remedy for distended lymphatic glands and in the form of a common detoxifying agent in cases of severe ailments, for instance cancer. The entire cleavers plant, barring the root, possesses aperients, antiphlogistic, diuretic, alternative, astringent, diaphoretic, depurative, tonic, febrifuge and vulnerary attributes. Cleavers is used internally as well as externally for treating an assortment of diseases, for instance, in the form of a poultice to treat wounds, ulcers and various skin disorders. In addition, cleavers is used in the form of a decoction to cure sleeplessness (insomnia) and instances wherein administration of a potent diuretic is of use. It has also been established that cleavers is effective in the treatment of tonsillitis, glandular fever, cystitis, hepatitis, ME and several others.
Often, cleavers has been used in combination with different other herbs as an element of a spring stimulating drink. A tea brewed from the herb has been employed traditionally both externally and internally for treating the deadly disease cancer. However, a report says that using the juice of the herb instead of the tea is more useful. It may be noted here that the efficacy of cleavers as a remedy for cancer has neither been confirmed nor contradicted so far. Some species belonging to this genus enclose a substance asperuloside, which produces coumarin and when the herb dries up, it exudes a fragrance similar to just mown hay. It is possible to convert asperuloside into prostaglandins, compounds akin to hormones that invigorate the uterus as well as have an influence on the blood vessels. This particular attribute makes this genus very interesting for the pharmaceutical industry. Cleavers is also used to prepare a homeopathic medicine.
It is worth mentioning here that the juice extracted from the whole cleavers plant as well as the infusion prepared from it are also used internally for treating kidney stones as well as various other problems related to the urinary tract.
Besides being used for medicinal purpose, cleavers is also employed in cooking. Tips of the plant's delicate immature shoots can be consumed raw or after cooking in the form of a pot-herb. In fact, cleavers has a somewhat astringent taste which is unpleasant for several people. Spring is the best time to use the tender shoots for consumption. The tender shoots also form a valuable ingredient for soups. It is believed that consuming cleavers in the form of a vegetable helps in losing weight. The seed of this herb is roasted and used as a substitute for coffee. In fact, it forms an excellent substitute for coffee - you just need to dry the seeds and roast them gently to get the essence which is very similar to coffee. On the other hand, a decoction prepared from the entire dehydrated plant serves just like tea.
Habitat and cultivation
Cleavers is native to North America and Europe where it is found growing copiously. One may also find cleavers in different regions of the world having temperate climatic conditions, counting Australia. This plant grows in abundance in gardens as well as waste lands like roadsides and is collected in the later part of spring when it is just on the verge of flowering.
Cleavers has a preference for a slack damp luxuriant soil and a locale with partial shade. Although this herb has the aptitude to endure parched soils, when grown under direct sunlight, it soon becomes singed, as they do not have the capacity to succeed in hot climatic conditions. According to a different report, cleavers thrives well in damp soils when grown in complete sunlight as well as deep shade. Cleavers is a crawling or climbing plant whose stem as well as the leaves are coated with tiny curved bristles that enable this plant to hold on to nearby plants and climb on them. It is an excellent plant variety for growing in any natural garden. It may be noted that this herb is a food source for several species of butterflies.
The plant species is propagated by its seeds and it is best to sow them directly in their permanent position of growth outdoors when they are mature during the end of the summer. Alternately, the seeds may also be sown during spring, however, seeds sown during this time of the year take a long time to germinate. When the plants are well established, they actually do not require any assistance to reproduce themselves.
A study conducted by French researches in 1947 has shown that an extract obtained from cleavers seems to bring down high blood pressure.
Chemical analysis of cleavers has revealed that the plant encloses chemicals, such as tannins, flavonoids, polyphenolic acids, iridoids (counting asperuloside) and alkanes. The roots of this herb contain anthraquinones. It may be noted here that asperuloside contained by cleavers possesses a gentle purgative action.
It said that drinking the juice extracted from the whole cleavers plant is an excellent remedy for tumours and engorgements. To prepare the juice, wash the freshly obtained herb meticulously and put it in a blender or food processor along with some water to turn the plant into a pulp. Subsequently, extract and filter the juice along with the water and drink it in the measure of a wineglass daily. You may also freeze the juice in ice trays in the refrigerator, defrost and drink it as and when needed. An infusion prepared from cleavers may also be taken internally in dosage of one cup (8 fl oz) thrice every day. Cleavers has also been applied topically in the form of a salve or cream for treating ulcers and lumps. When the infusion is cooled, it may also be employed in the form of a wash or a poultice to treat inflamed skin.
Side effects and cautions
People using cleavers for medical or culinary purposes ought to be aware of the potential side effects of this plant and take necessary precautions. For instance, the sap of cleavers has the potential to result in dermatitis is susceptible people. It may even result in serious irritation of the skin.
How it works in the body
The primary action of cleavers is in the form of a diuretic. It works in a manner which facilitates in getting rid of the toxic as well as waste substances from the body through the urinary tract. In addition, cleavers is also employed to treat kidney stones as well as various disorders related to the urinary system, for instance, cystitis. The aptitude of this herb to eliminate toxic substances also denotes that it is useful for treating skin complaints like psoriasis and eczema. It is believed that cleavers is a useful cleanser of the lymphatic system and is commonly employed to treat distended lymphatic glands. Perhaps, the combination of such detoxifying attributes of cleavers has encouraged the use of this herb in treating various types of cancers and also comparable ailments. One iridoid enclosed by cleavers functions in the form of a gentle purgative. A number of studies concerning the therapeutic properties of cleavers have shown that it helps in bringing down high blood pressure. It is also reported that cleavers has also been employed in sleeplessness or insomnia.
Collection and harvesting
Cleavers is generally harvested in May and June as it comes into flower and can be used fresh or dried for later use.