One of the most exciting parts of learning about natural remedies for me has been the discovery of new, unexpected plants and herbs in the wild.
In recent years, I began foraging wild plants for the first time, and one of my favorites is one that is often overlooked because of its diminutive size and relative lack of distinguishing features.
This plant is sometimes used in tinctures, balms, and teas, and is well known among herbalists for its ability to support a healthy lymph system and kidneys.
The herb in question is the cleaver, a relatively tiny and leafy green plant that packs a healing punch for its unique medicinal properties.
Foraging for Cleavers
Cleavers are best found in the springtime, when the snow and ice begin to thaw and the bright green hues of the landscape start to show for the first time.
A few years back, I began foraging for morel mushrooms here in Michigan, and found plenty of these tiny green, leafy herbs instead.
Some pictures of the cleaver are shown below.
They can be hard to find to the untrained eye. Cleavers are identified by clusters of four to eight whorls (leaf arrangements) at the end of each stem.
The plants are also covered in hooked hairs, which allow them to climb up other plants and solid structures along the forest floor, including rocks, trees, and similar items.
Stems can reach up to three feet high.
The cleavers I found four or five years ago for the first time looked like tiny clovers on the ground.
After foraging about a half-pound of cleavers that day, I later made them into a tea.
Cleavers can be turned into the following concoctions once harvested:
-A cold infusion (see recipe here)
-Preserved cleaver juice (recipe here)
-Cleaver soup (see recipe here)
-Cleaver essential oil (more info here)
-A Coffee substitute (see here)
They are also known by the following names:
Cleavers are also great for the following purposes:
-Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
-Used by Native American tribes as a remedy for gonorrhea
Cleavers have diuretic (increased production of urine) properties, and are traditionally used in Chinese medicine to reduce or eliminate stagnation within the human body.
Watch a video recipe for a healing, detoxifying and cleansing cleavers soup in the player below:
Other Herbs for Lymph System Health
Aside from cleavers, there are several other herbs that can be foraged or purchased online or at the health food store to cleanse the body and improve lymph health.
-Cat’s Claw Herb (learn more here)
-Stinging Nettle leaf (best taken in a tea like this one)
-Butcher’s Broom (for cardiovascular and circulatory health; also helps with lymphedema)
-Dandelion root (liver cleansing and mineral-rich; excellent in salads)