Cleavers make an excellent cleansing tonic that purifies the lymphatic system and urinary tract. Cleavers help remove toxins from the blood and intestines. They also make a cooling drink when treating feverish conditions. Cleaver tea is often used as a wash for burns, scrapes, abrasions, ulcers, dandruff, itchy scalp, and other skin problems. The tea is also good for relieving stress, tonsillitis, and prostate disorders.
When treating kidney and bladder problems, cleavers should be mixed with Uva-Ursi and Marshmallow root for best results. Often, cleavers are used as a remedy for asthma and other breathing problems. Use with Echinacea or calendula for added strength. Cleavers may also be used as a gentle laxative.
Cleavers make an excellent facial toner that helps clear the complexion. Use in tea form and splash on after washing, apply with a cotton ball, or apply with spray bottle.
Cleavers are best used fresh and can be found growing abundantly in the North Georgia area. They can be cooked as a vegetable (like spinach), used in tea, or preserved in tincture form. Young sprouts may be used in salads. Fresh cleavers may be pulverized in a food processor and taken as a nourishing green drink.
Cleavers are a vigorously growing plant that many gardeners consider a weed. It twines through hedges and flower borders producing long sticky stems that may be four feet long. Like chickweed, cleavers are one of the first things to start growing in the spring. Cleavers have tiny bristles which cover the stem and narrow leaves. The leaves grow in whorls of six or eight. The flowers are inconspicuous, growing in small, stalked clusters from the axils of the leaves. They develop into fruits that look like little round pill-balls and are dispersed by hooked bristles that catch on to animals and clothing.
The little clinging burrs of cleavers make a fair substitute for coffee in emergency situations. It is a tedious process, but if one is desperate for coffee and has plenty of time, a pleasant, strong coffee flavored beverage can be made using these seedpods. Use three heaping tablespoons of roasted and ground cleaver seeds for two cups of coffee.
To prepare cleaver seeds for a coffee substitute, put them in a bowl and wash in cold water. Drain water off the bare black seeds and spread them in a shallow pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes until completely dried and slightly roasted. Cool and grind. Pour on boiling water, steep ten minutes, and enjoy.
Cleavers can also be made into an effective deodorant. Make a strong tea with a large handful of cleaver stalks, leaves, and a pint of water. Gently simmer for fifteen minutes, strain, and bottle. Keep in a cool place, out of direct sunlight, and apply to armpits with a cotton ball as needed. This “cleavers deodorant” will keep for about a week.
* Always consult with a healthcare professional before using any herbal remedy especially if pregnant, nursing, or taking other medications.
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