Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Clever Cleavers

Yesterday I talked about the structure and function of the lymphatic system and how dry skin brushing can help to stimulate and cleanse this system. Today, I’d like to discuss one herb that can also assist with issues of the lymphatic system, cleavers.

Cleavers (Galium aparine) is, in my opinion, one of the best and most effective lymphatic tonics. It has a slightly bitter, sweet and salty taste and is cold and dry. Cleavers’ hairy stems have downward pointing hooks that cling to neighboring plants and/or people or animals that my pass by. The above ground plant can help to promote detoxification by resolving damp and dissolving deposits. This action takes place through the body’s waterways.

Cleavers is a wonderful lymphatic tonic and cleanser. By reducing lymphatic congestion, cleavers can be safe and effective for swollen lymphatic glands especially the tonsils and adenoids. Cleavers also has an affect on the urinary tract, acting as a diuretic. This action makes cleavers a well rounded herb in the detoxification process because it cleanses the lymphatic system, which helps the body collect toxins from the tissue, and then releases the toxins through the urinary system. Its action on the kidneys also makes it a wonderful herb for water retention and edema, stones, gravel, burning urination and kidney inflammation.

This herb is also helpful for heat toxins of the skin, including boils, sores, ulcers and acne, and its high mineral content makes it great for hair growth and tooth decay.

Cleavers is often found growing next to chickweed. This is nature’s way of telling us they should be used together because these two herbs complement each other in formulas. Together they are both mild diuretics that are helpful for kidney and urinary irritation.

As far as a dosage goes, Hoffmann suggests 4-8 ml three times a day (1:5 in 25% alcohol). An infusion can be made of 8-16 grams of herb or 2 tablespoons of the fresh juice can be added to pineapple juice for a tasty beverage. The fresh greens can also be added to salads and eaten like spinach. This herb is most effective for chronic conditions when it is taken over a long period of time, at least 6 weeks to 3 months. Cleavers do not store well once they are dried, so if you would like to save it for future use it is best to tincture the herb fresh. There have also been no side effects or drug interactions reported.

I find cleavers to be the most efficient herb for the lymphatic system. Its actions on the kidneys, as well as the lymphatic system, help the body to effectively collect and excrete toxins and foreign debris from our bodies.


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Gladstar, R. (2001). Rosemary Gladstar's family herbal: a guide to living life with energy, health, and vitality. North Adams, Mass.: Storey Books.

Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: the science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, Vt.: Healing Arts Press.

Holmes, P. (2007). The energetics of Western herbs: a materia medica integrating
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Mars, B. (2007). The desktop guide to herbal medicine. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications.

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