Gathering Cleavers – Hedgerow Support for the Lymphatic System.

If you are gathering cleavers make sure you keep the stems orientated the same way in your basket to make trimming them easier.

It has been very wet this last couple of weeks and I am having trouble keeping up with my usual schedule of herb gathering.  Normally at this time of the year my dehydrators are whirring 24 hours a day.  As soon as one batch of herbs is dried another is put in.  Constant rain though is cramping my style.  I should explain that my aversion to gathering herbs in the rain is more than just wanting to keep dry myself.  Herbs gathered in the wet start to spoil very quickly and will not produce as high a quality product as those which are gathered dry and clean.  

Luckily there was a dry spell two days ago which meant that I could gather some cleavers.  Cleavers (Galium aparine), also known as ‘sticky willy’, ‘goose grass’, ‘catch weed’ and ‘beggar lice’, is a wonderful lymphatic tonic.  If you are suffering from swollen glands and repeated bouts of tonsillitis then you are probably suffering from an overloaded lymphatic system.  You will need to look to your diet and lifestyle to get to the root cause, for example cutting out dairy products and rich fatty foods, but cleavers is an excellent support to the lymphatic system whilst you make the necessary changes.

It makes sense then that in my clinic I tend to use cleavers in prescriptions for lymphadenitis, skin conditions and lymphoedema, but there is no hard and fast rule as every patient’s case is unique.

Cleavers grows along hedgerows.

Gathering the herb is best done at this time of the year when the foliage is fresh and it has grown above the accompanying nettles.  Cleavers grows along hedgerows which will provide it with support as it gets taller.  It has a great affinity with water and its roots are often in a wet ditch.  Like the lymphatic system, cleavers is a very efficient mover of fluids.  It is not uncommon to see cleavers stems reaching over 6 foot around here, happily lush to the tips.  

Later on in the year cleavers has little hard seeds which catch on clothing or animal hair in order to be dispersed.  As I remove them from my dog’s coat I have plenty of time to reflect that the hardness of the seeds mirrors the hardness of swollen glands in our lymphatic systems.   I have explained before how the Doctrine of Signatures helps me to tune in to the action of herbs that I use.

Cleavers cut and laid out onto the dehydrator trays.

I use cleavers in tincture and capsules, and need plenty to last me through the year until the next gathering season.  As ever I gather in small batches to ensure high quality.  When the herb which comes out of the dehydrator is a vibrant green and smells fresh I know I have done a good job.

To find out more about Myrobalan Clinic please visit


The herb retains its colour and vibrancy if it has been dried carefully.

About myrobalanclinic

I am a registered medical herbalist who uses a unique approach combining Tibetan Medicine with Western Herbal Medicine. I love my job - it is so rewarding seeing people taking control of their health and feeling healthier and more positive. I like to think that I help people get more out of life.
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7 Responses to Gathering Cleavers – Hedgerow Support for the Lymphatic System.

  1. Pingback: Honeycomb Tripe – Nose to Tail Fortnight Day 5 « offallygood

  2. Pingback: » Cleavers out there in the herb blogs Dandelion Revolution

  3. Titus2Homemaker says:

    I was wondering if you would mind sharing what temperature you dry your cleavers at, and for about how long. I have an overabundance of them in my yard and would like to dry them so they don’t go to waste.

    • You will have to experiment with your dehydrator and find what works best for you. I couldn’t say as my dehydrator doesn’t have a temp gauge and anyway the length of time needed varies from batch to batch and year to year. Good luck!

  4. Rodan says:

    I have swollen lymph nodes in my neck and I’m looking for a natural solution. What is the effective cleavers dosage for this? I have applied DMSO on my neck bumps, then apply a layer of cleavers. Is this more effective than drinking with water? Thanks for reading.

    • Hi Rodan – I’m sorry but I can’t diagnose or treat via my blog. I suggest that you see a herbalist local to you in order to find the most effective treatment for your swollen lymph nodes. If you want to drink cleavers tea in order to help support your lymphatic system in general then a dose of 3 cups a day is a good level to try. Best wishes Lucy

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