Galium aparine

Common Names: Cleavers, Bedstraw, Goosegrass, Cleaverwort, Catchweed
Family: Rubiaceae
Part/s Used: Whole Plant 
Energetics: Cooling, moistening 
Taste: Sweet, salty, mildly bitter 
Actions: Diuretic, alterative, inflammation modulating, astringent, antineoplastic
Constituents: Glycoside asperuloside, gallotannic acid, citric acid
Element: Water
Planet: Moon

Medicinal Preparations:

Tincture: Fresh 1:2.5 or 1:3   
Drops: 30-60   Times a day: 4x

Acetum Extract: Fresh: 1:2 ACV  Drops: 30-90  Times a Day: up to 4x

Tea:  Hot/cold infusions  Ounces: 8-12   Times a day: 3x

Succus: Fresh juice with 10-20% ethanol. Juice can also be frozen
Dosage: 1/2 tsp-1 tsp    Times a day: 4x  


Cleavers is native to Europe but has widely naturalized throughout the temperate regions of the world. The rather fragile, short lived perennial herb grows in the early spring in light woodlands, open fields, wastelands, disturbed ground and cultivated gardens. The whorled leaves, medium to dark green and stalks contain hooked hairs that “cleave” onto passing creatures.  This is also how the dispersal of the seeds is ensured. The white star like flowers spring from the axils of the leaves

Medicinal Uses:

Cleavers is an old medicine and still loved by herbalists around the world today. Cleavers cools, moistens, filters, detoxifies the waterways of the body and is one of the best tonics for the lymphatic system.  At a very early date cleavers was used as a simple sieve to strain hair and dirt from milk. The sieve-like components are a signature to its filtering element and has an affinity to long vessels and passageways as seen in the lymphatic ducts, urethra and blood vessels. Cooling by nature, it removes heat and swelling stagnation in the lymphatics, useful for irritated heat conditions like bladder irritability and nephritis for example. The fresh pressed juice and tincture are stronger diuretics while the tea is more gentle, simple. 

Galium has an affinity to the tongue, throat and neck and one of the few safe herbs to use with infants and children that have swollen glands especially after taking antibiotics.

Cleavers is effective for women suffering from fibrocystic breasts from fluid stagnation. Treating internally with fresh pressed juice and topically with an ointment can be effective, with tumors and cancerous growths.  

Cleavers cleansing properties works through the imbalances of the lymphatic system as well as stimulating the kidneys to remove waste products.  It is excellent for chronic and acute skin conditions when used internally and externally. Especially for conditions like eczema, psoriasis, burns, wounds and various skin eruptions. Cleavers combines well with and yellow dock and burdock.

Cleavers has considerable action on the nervous system. A hot infusion has a soothing effect and induces quiet, restful sleep. 


Topical fomentation using juice, poultice, in salves for cuts, abrasions, rashes and hot eczema.  Reduces itching, scaring and combines well with miners lettuce for a topical anti-inflammatory. A fresh, strong decoction of the herb can be made and applied to the face with a soft cloth or sponge for sunburns. 


Gather the whole matted herb, in early spring through summer just when it is coming into flower. Cleavers loses a lot of its properties by drying so fresh is best.


The fresh wilted flowers can be infused in oil and used in salves. 


Do not use with chronic edema


Northwest School for Botanical Studies by Christa Sinadinos
Herbal Academy Monographs by The Herbal Academy 
A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve
The Earthwise Herbal by Matthew Wood
Evolutionary Herbalism by Sajah Popham
Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West by Michael Moore