The leaves of the cleavers plant ( Galium aparine) have small hooked hairs that cause it to “cleave” to the fingers when touched, hence the name. The whole leaf has been used as a flavoring in soups and stews. Roasted seeds are used as a coffee substitute. The leaves and flowers are used medicinally. Cleavers is primarily used for urinary problems and fluid retention, on the basis of its apparent diuretic (urine-stimulating) effects. It has also been recommended for enlarged lymph nodes, tonsillitis, hepatitis, and snake bites.

Cleavers is often included in herbal mixtures offered for the treatment of kidney and bladder problems, including bladder infections, kidney stones, and prostatitis. It is also said to help “cleanse” the lymph system. However, there has not been any meaningful scientific evaluation of the herb. Evenanimal and test-tube studies are essentially lacking.