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Austrian herbalist Maria Treben (1980) favored cleavers tea as a drink and gargle to treat cancers of the tongue and throat. It is good too for other problems of the tongue, throat, and neck, and is used by herbalists for goitre, other thyroid issues, and swollen glands.

Because it promotes the flow of urine, and is cooling and soothing, cleavers is used to reduce heat and irritation of the urinary tract. It relieves the scalding pain on urination associated with cystitis, and is a remedy for chronic recurrent bouts of urethritis, for kidney inflammation, irritable bladder, and prostatitis.

It is also effective in clearing grit, gravel or calcium deposits in the urinary tract. As a bonus, because cleavers is so good at cleaning the body internally, it also helps clear and nourish the skin.

Cleavers combines well with other familiar "weeds" - curly dock, nettle, dandelion, and burdock - as in our "garden weed tincture" recipe. This tincture is an effective cleansing tonic for the whole body.

Cleavers loses some of its effectiveness when dried, and works best fresh. Picking your own in the spring and using it daily while in season is a great way to give yourself a gentle annual spring-cleanse. Try chopping a little young cleavers to mix in with salads or add to soups. The juice can be blended with fruit smoothies.

Cleavers poultice

The fresh, bruised plant is an excellent poultice for nettle rash, sores, blisters, burns, or any hot inflammation of the skin. Just pick a handful of cleavers, crush it with a mortar and pestle, and apply to the skin.

Cleavers juice

Taking the fresh juice is the best way to use cleavers from early spring until summer. If you don't have a juicer, don't worry - just chop up a handful of fresh cleavers, put it in a jelly bag, and squeeze out the juice. Dose: Take 1 teaspoonful two or three times a day.

Cleavers succus

If you want to preserve your cleavers juice for use in the autumn and winter, the best way is to mix it with glycerine or honey to make a simple preparation called a succus. This is done as follows:

Measure your fresh cleavers juice, and add an equal amount of vegetable glycerine or runny honey. Mix well, then bottle and label. It tastes just like the smell of fresh-mown grass.

Dose: Take 1 to 2 teaspoonfuls two or three times a day.

Cleavers ointment

Stir the fresh juice into anhydrous lanolin until it is soft and a pale green color. Use a fork for this. It's hard work at first, but gets easier as the lanolin starts to absorb the juice. This is a particularly good application for dry, cracked, or chapped skin.

Garden weed tincture

Here's a great way to turn a morning's weeding into something really useful-a whole-body tonic to improve your health generally. Weed out and wash:

Cleavers - best collected before they set seed Dandelion plants - root, leaves, and all Nettle tops (before they flower) and nettle root Curled dock roots Burdock roots

Chop the herbs and put them in a large, wide-mouthed jar, packing them in fairly tightly. Pour on enough vodka to cover them, and leave for a month, shaking occasionally. Strain off. If you have a fruit press, use it to get the maximum liquid out of the roots; otherwise just use muscle power to squeeze it out using a jelly bag. Bottle and label.

Dose: 1 teaspoonful twice a day.

Cleavers in salads

Cleavers poultice

Cleavers juice

• swollen glands

• fluid retention

tonsillitis

• bladder irritation

• burning urine

Cleavers succus

• swollen glands

• fluid retention

• tonsillitis

• bladder irritation

• burning urine

Cleavers ointment

• dry chapped skin

Garden weed tincture

skin problems

• weak digestion

Coltsfoot

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