Cleavers is an amazing skin care herb that until recent years hasn’t received as much recognition as it deserves. Maybe it’s all in the name, Cleavers doesn’t sound very inviting. To me it brings to mind the scene in “Twister” when they run for cover in the dilapidated barn with the old school weed whackers and giant blades hanging from the ceiling, not cool! But for those lucky enough to grow up in the country it might bring back fond memories of throwing this abundant weed at their friends or parents, causing it to cling or “cleave” to their clothes. Bringing to light how this herb got its name, and why it's many geographically inclined nicknames include Stickyweed, Stickywilly, Velcro Plant, Catchweed, StickyJack, etc. It is also commonly referred to as Goosegrass since geese love to munch on it.
Cleavers can be used internally and externally to treat skin ailments. Internally it is a wonderful diuretic treating contact dermatitis, acne, boils, eczema and psoriasis. These ailments are often caused or worsened by poor diet and stress hormones. The diuretic and detoxifying qualities of Cleavers help rid the body of environmental toxins and excess hormones.
Externally the astringent quality of Cleavers tightens the skin, decreasing the appearance of wrinkles and shrinking enlarged pores. This herb detoxes and deeply cleanses your skin with the added benefit of antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties making it an ideal candidate for acne treatments. All of these attributes make it a great addition to shaving or waxing products, and treating/preventing ingrown hairs, razor bumps and post-waxing acne breakouts.
Cleavers has a long history of use, medicinal and practical. Due to its clinging nature it was used as far back as the 1st Century AD as a sieve for grains and liquids. Native Americans used it for many purposes including treating Gonorrhea. While some uses have fallen out of rotation it still remains a great herb for treating Poison Oak or Ivy rash. It helps cleanse the skin of the oils from the offending plants, and its anti-inflammatory healing properties provide relief from symptoms and speeds healing time.
Last but certainly not least is Cleavers detoxifying ability. It has long been used for stimulation of the Lymphatic System. Our bodies convert a compound in Cleavers into prostaglandins, which mimic hormones that stimulate flow of the Lymphatic System. Cleavers has started to attract so much attention for this use that pharmaceutical companies are now studying it. I assume they ultimately plan on making a man made version of the active compounds and profiting greatly off a plant that has been healing efficiently on its own for many centuries. Cleavers encourages lymphatic flow treating congestion and swollen lymph nodes; which can cause many negative health repercussions including allergies, cancer, heart disease, skin conditions, chronic fatigue, MS, high blood pressure, infections, low back pain, ear or balance problems, arthritis, headaches, cellulite, etc. It is said to be particularly effective at promoting breast health by cleansing the Lymph Nodes in the area around armpits and along the breastbone. Many experts cite this use and its overall detoxifying ability for Cleavers anti-tumor activity, especially in regards to skin, breast and the Lymphatic System.
To children Cleavers might be a toy, to big Pharma it’s another way to make big bucks copying nature, but to me this plant is a skin healing detoxifier that has deservingly earned a spot in a plethora of my products. Whether you drink it, make a face wash, add it to a soup or do an infused oil, you can’t do wrong with a little Cleavers in your life!