Tag Archives: Galium aparine

Cleavers Juice (Galium aparine, NL:Kleefkruid)

I while ago I posted about the benefits of Cleavers and how to use the herb, including how to extract the juice using a cloth.  Here’s a slightly high tech (and faster) method which I used this afternoon…

Firstly, please remember the foraging/picking rules and only harvest and use if you are 100% confident you have correctly identified the plant. Beware of similar plants such as Woodruff (Galium odoratum), it is another herb with different uses and some unpleasant side effects, if taken in quantity.

  • Wash and drain a good handful of freshly picked cleavers
  • Remove any unhealthy looking stems, rooty/yellowy ends, grass, other material etc.
  • If the cleavers seem very wet from washing perhaps blot dry with a clean tea towel.
  • Roughly chop the stems.
  • Add a little clean water to the blender, perhaps enough to half cover the blades.  This is just to prevent clogging. Then add the cleavers.
  • Blend use the chopping setting, or pulse on full power, until it seems to be nicely pulverised.
  • Strain through a jelly bag, muslin or clean tea towel, into your collection jar.  I also used a funnel to make collection easier but this is optional.
  • The juice should run out quickly.
  • Finally wring out any remaining juice through the jelly bag/muslin/tea towel.
  • Compost or return to the earth, the remaining pulp. This afternoon I used it to help mulch a balcony herb pot.
  • Store the juice refrigerated in an air tight, sterile container. Remember to label the jar and lid clearly.  It should keep in a fridge for a few days but if you notice anything unusual, such as discoloration, changed smell or taste then pour it onto soil and start again.
  • Please read the post about benefits and directions for using cleavers.
  • Generally the dose for cleavers juice is 1tsp up to three times daily as a tonic.
  • Start with a very small amount when you try something new and if you notice any negative reaction then stop using and water your plants with it. That said, this is generally thought of as a safe, nourishing and cleansing tonic which has been used in many countries, as a folk remedy for many many years.
  • A handful of cleavers yielded about 200ml of juice today.  I plant to freeze some in an ice cube tray this evening as 200ml is more than enough for me to use as a tonic over the coming days.

Cleavers (Galium aparine, NL:Kleefkruid)

Cleavers (Galium aparine)
I remember having a lot of fun with cleavers or “sticky weed” as a child.  This is a wonderful sticky, prostate annual plant which often grows wild and prolifically against fences, in hedgerows, crop fields and beneath trees.  I know I was not the only child who delighted every time I found a patch of sticky weed, throwing it at my friends to see it stick to their clothes and hair.  If I had known then about how useful it is as a cleansing herb, I may have been more careful with it – or maybe not!

The leaves of Galium aparine grow in whorls of 4 – 8 around its stem, which can grow to 2 metres long.  The plant’s sticky nature comes from tiny hooked hairs growing out from the leaves and ridges of the stems.  It produces tiny greenish white flowers from May to October.  Seeds are set in small sticky hairy burrs and can remain viable in soil for up to 7 years.  The sticky hairs enable Galium aparine to grow upwards by clinging to other plants and fences. They also assist in seed dispersal.

Cleavers are held in high esteem as a spring tonic.  The herb is said to promotes lymphatic flow, to be cooling, soothing and cleansing. It is best harvested when young and prolific from early February.  It can be added to salads, though the hairs give an interesting effect, or cooked in a little water as a leaf vegetable.

Sometimes confused with…
As ever, when harvesting from the wild you should use a good field guide, be aware of look-a-like plants and follow the picking rules which I have mentioned previously.  I think the most likely plant to be confused with Cleavers (Galium aparine)  is Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum).  Sweet Woodruff is also a useful herb but unlike Cleavers it contains substances which can be poisonous in very large doses. Sweet Woodruff is darker green and has sticky hairs on its seeds, but the leaves tend to be smooth.  Sweet Woodruff is a perennial whereas Cleavers is an annual.

Cleavers juice – This is said to be the most potent way to consume cleavers. To make it all you need to do is to clean your harvested cleavers, chop it roughly and then squeeze out the juice through a jelly bag or clean tea towel.  The recommended dose is 1 teaspoon, 2 – 3 times daily as a tonic.

Cleavers tea – Again, clean your harvested cleavers then chop it.  Add 1-2 tsp of this per cup of boiled water.

Cleavers tincture – Harvest the top two thirds of plant when in flower or setting seed. Tincture in 100 proof vodka.  Dosage is 0.5ml – 1ml in water a few times daily when called for.

Cleavers has a folk reputation as a remover of lumps and bumps.  So enthusiastic were many claims that there has been some clinical research, in the hope that it could help reduce certain cancerous lumps.  However the results were not supportive of the traditional claims.

Cleavers is often used by herbalists for cystitis, swollen glands, swollen breasts, PMS, mild lymphedema, prostatitis and as a diuretic for a general spring clean.  Susun weed reports that it can also be helpful in reducing allergic reactions.  Due to it’s gentle diuretic cleansing action, Galium aparine often also helps to ease some skin disorders such as psoriasis and eczema and gout.