It was a long and wonderful week. It was my birthday week! I had a fabulous time finishing up my garden, planting flowers and harvesting weeds. I know some of you are probably thinking, “Did she just say weeds?” and the answer is yes, yes I did. Weeds, with their resilient and persistent personalities are some of our greatest natural medicine. This past week I harvested cleavers, catnip, lemon balm, and chickweed but for now let’s just talk about cleavers.
Cleavers also known as…
is one of my favorite weeds. I was first introduced to it while working on an herb farm in western New York (Healing Spirits Herb Farm) about 13 years ago and have loved it ever since. It is super clingy. And when I say clingy I mean clingy, but not like a burr. This is different. It’s like velcro.
I tell my oldest son, Grayson, to think of it’s clingyness when trying to remember what cleavers do for us. Internally they cleanse. They “cling” to the bad stuff and help us to get it out. They are a great lymphatic tonic, and safe diuretic. They have been used in cases of cystitis, skin conditions, PMS symptoms, swollen glands, tonsillitis, some tumors and more.
Now although most herbs/weeds can be harvested, dried and stored for quite a long time, cleavers are an exception. You can dry them but they loose a significant amount of their nutrients and medicinal properties, so using it fresh is the way to go. Fresh cleaver tea or a tincture made from the the top half of these plants is an excellent choice. You can also juice it or put the young tender greens of the plant into a salad.
Here is a link to some great photo’s for identification purposes. I most often find my cleavers growing close to catnip in the shade of my tall trees. It likes to live against fences, in hedgerows, and crop fields too. It is the leaves, flowers and seeds that are most often used, however, the roots are sometimes used for dying purposes.
So I leave you with this... next time you’re out there pulling all those wonderful weeds just remember that a weed is just “a wild plant growing where it is not wanted.” Some of those weeds might even keep you healthier than any prescription pill or vitamin. Power to the weeds!