Cleavers is found worldwide. It is common in Australia, Britain, China, Europe, France, Iraq, Mexico, Spain, Turkey, and the United States. The origin is unknown. It’s a highly adaptable plant and can be found growing nearly anywhere including in between cultivated crops, compost pits or waste piles, in the edges of the woods, and even around buildings and houses. If there is something that the plant can use as a means of support, you’ll likely see cleavers.
Cleavers is considered as one of the primary blood and lymph system cleansing herbs. It is also used to treat skin problems such as seborrhea, eczema, and psoriasis. The dried herb can be made into an infusion, decoction or tincture.
Cleavers is also known as a cooling and detoxifying agent in serious illnesses such as cancer (consult your doctor before using). It does have a slight laxative effect and will stimulate the lymphatic system. Cleavers is said to be good for the hair, making it grow long when an infusion is used as a rinse.
Cleavers have historically been known as a medicinal plant although it is food too. The leaves and stems can be used as leafy vegetable although it is very sticky so it will not blend well in a salad. It can be used on bread, in sandwiches and sautéed. Fruits of the cleavers can be collected and dried, then roasted for use as a coffee substitute. Leaves and stems can be dried and used for tea or tinctures.