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Cleavers (Galium aparine)

Cleavers (Galium aparine) Image
Synonyms / Common Names / Related Terms
Acumin, amor-de-hortelã (Portuguese - Brazil), amor de hortelano (Spanish), anthraquinon, aparine (Italian, Portuguese - Brazil), asperuloside, asperulosidic acid, attacca mano (Italian), attacca veste (Italian), aucubin, barweed, bed-straw, bedstraw, Burre-Snerre (Danish), bur-weed, caffeic acid, caglio asprello (Italian), campestrol, catchweed, chlorogenic acid, citric acid, coachweed, cleever, clivers, coumarin, eriffe, erva-pegavosa (Portuguese - Brazil), everlasting friendship, flavonoid, gaillet (French), gaillet gratteron (French), gallotannic acid, Galium aparine, Gewöhnliches Kletten-Labkraut (German), gia mara, glucosides, goosebill, goosegrass, grateron, Grepagras (Norwegian), grip grass, harmine, hashishat al af'a (Arabic), hayriffe, hayruff, hedge clivers, hedgeheriff, iridoid glucosides, iridoidasperulosidic acid, Kaz Yogurtotu (Turkish), Kierumatara (Finnish), Kleber (German), Klebkraut (German), Klebriges Labkraut (German), Kleefkruid (Dutch), Klenge (Norwegian), Klengemaure (Norwegian), Klengjemaure (Norwegian), Kletten-Labkraut (German), Kletternde Labktaut (German), Klifurmaðra (Icelandic), Klimmendes Labkraut (German), Krókamaðra (Icelandic), Krøkin steinbrá (Faroese), loveman, mutton chops, p-coumaric acid, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, pega-pega (Portuguese - Brazil), philanthropon (Greek), Przytulia czepna (Polish), Præstelus (Danish), protopine, Ragadós galaj (Hungarian), Robin-run-in-the-grass, Roomav madar (Estonian), rough bedstraw, Rubiaceae (family), rubichloric acid, saponins, scratweed, silicic acid, sitosterol, Snärjmåra (Swedish), Snärmåra (Swedish), stickyweed, sticky-willy, stickywilly, stigmasterol, Svízel přítula (Czech), tannins, Tene (Norwegian), Tirmanici yogurtotu (Turkish), Vitblommig snärjmåra (Swedish), zhu yang yang (Chinese).

Note: Other Galium species, such as Galium spurium L. (False cleavers), will not be discussed in this monograph.

Mechanism of Action


  • Constituents: Monotropein, asperuloside, acumin, aucubin, protopine, harmine, (±)-vasicinone, (-)-l -hydroxydeoxypeganine, (-)-8-hydroxy-2,3-dehydrodeoxypeganine, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, chlorogenic acid, silicic acid, caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid, flavonoid, anthraquinon, cholesterol, campestrol, stigmasterol, sitos-terol, DELTA[5]-avenasterol, DELTA[7]-stigmasterol, DELTA[7]-avenasterol, asperulosidic acid, and 10-deacetylasperulosidic acid have all been isolated from the aerial parts of Galium aparine.1,4,5 Other constituents isolated from the aerial parts of cleavers (Galium aparine) include anthraquinon, iridoid glucosides, saponins, citric acid, coumarin, rubichloric acid, gallotannic acid, galiosin, and tannins.
  • Anti-gout effects: According to secondary sources, cleavers (Galium aparine) may have antigout effects.
  • Anti-inflammatory effects: Secondary sources cite that cleavers may have anti-inflammatory effects. Cleavers has also been used to treat mastitis in animals.3
  • Antineoplastic effects: According to secondary sources, cleavers may have antineoplastic effects.2
  • Diuretic effects: Cleavers has been traditionally used to eliminate retained water.
  • Gastrointestinal effects: Secondary sources suggest that cleavers may have a laxative effect.
  • Hormonal effects: According to secondary sources, cleavers may have hormonal effects, due to its constituent, asperuloside, which may be converted into prostaglandins.


  • Insufficient available evidence.


  1. Deliorman, D., Çaliþ, Ý., and Ergun, F. Iridoids from Galium aparine. Pharmaceutical Biology 2001;39(3):234-235.
  2. Tierra, M. American Herb Association Quarterly Newsletter 1990;7(2):10.
  3. Lans, C., Turner, N., Khan, T., Brauer, G., and Boepple, W. Ethnoveterinary medicines used for ruminants in British Columbia, Canada. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed  2007;3:11. 17324258
  4. Sener, B. and Ergun, F. Isolation and structural studies on the alkaloids of Galium aparine L. GUEDE J Fac Pharm Gazi 1988;5:33-40.
  5. Tzakou, O., Couladi, M. M., and Philianos, S. Fatty acids and sterols in spring and winter samples of Galium aparine. Fitoterapia 1990;61:93.

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