Gaia Herbs | plant intelligence



Cleavers (Galium aparine) is a delightful weed that is commonly found in fields across Europe and North America. It is a climbing weed, with whorled leaves and leggy stalks that are covered with hooked bristles that enable it to attach to other objects and passers-by, allowing ease of spread and seed dispersal. Cleavers is in the coffee family, and the mature seeds were roasted and used as a coffee substitute in rural Sweden. The young green tops were juiced and used as a cleansing spring tonic, providing fresh nutrients and chlorophyll after a long winter.* The tops were also used to make skin washes and poultices to support chapped and compromised skin.* It was also used for snake and spider bites, earaches, and to maintain a healthy weight.* 


Modern herbalists use Cleavers to support the lymphatic glands and the health of mucosal membranes of the urinary tract and skin.*

Uses of Cleavers


This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

Active Constituents

tannins, flavonoids, iridoids, fatty acids, sterols

Parts Used

  • aerial parts

Important precautions

Additional Resources

Bokhari J, Khan MR, Shabbir M, Rashid U, Jan S, Zai JA. Evaluation of diverse antioxidant activities of Galium aparine. Spectrochim Acta A Mol Biomol Spectrosc. 2013 Feb;102:24-9. Hoffman, David. (2003). Medical Herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press. Knott RP & McCutcheon RS. Phytochemical investigation of a rubiaceae, gallium triflorum. J Pharm Sci, Nov 1961; 50(11):963-965. Quinlan FJB. Br Med J. 1883 Jun 16; 1(1172): 1173–1174. Scudder, John. (1898). The American Eclectic Materia Medica and Therapeutics, 12th ed. Cincinnati, OH: The Scudder Brothers Company Tilgner, Sharol (1999). Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth. Pleasant Hill, Oregon: Wise Acres Publishing.

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