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.
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.
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.
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