Bedstraw Plant

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Bedstraw, Vancouver Island, BC
Bedstraw, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo By Bud Logan

Stem, leaves, and flowers of the plant can be eaten raw. The plant is best when collected before fruiting. It is best when cooked and is a good source of vitamin C. Look for the Bedstraw Plant alongside low growing vegetation and disturbed soil sites.

The stems and leaves are covered with little hooked bristles, which attach to objects, in this way it fastens itself to adjacent shrubs, to climb its way upwards through dense undergrowth into daylight, often forming matted masses. Leaves are narrow, lance-shaped along the delicate stem which may grow to 2 or more meters in length.

The flowers are white, tiny, and star like growing in a stemmed bud rising from the leaf axils and arranged in clusters of 6 or 8 together. They bloom separately, 2 or 3 at a time, so flowers and seeds are always present together in each cluster. The seeds are little round vessels, covered with hooked bristles and readily clinging, to whatever they touch, ensuring dispersal of the seeds. Flowers bloom April thru September.

The Bedstraw Plant is also known as cleavers, goose grass, grip grass, catch weed and it is a very valuable plant, being perhaps the best tonic to the lymphatic system available. As a lymphatic tonic with alternative and diuretic action, bedstraw may be used safely in a wide range of problems where the lymphatic system is involved. These include swollen glands anywhere in the body, especially in tonsillitis and adenoid trouble.

The Bedstraw Plant is helpful in skin conditions, especially the dry kind such as psoriasis. It is helpful in the treatment of cystitis and other urinary conditions where there is pain and may be combined with urinary demulcents for this purpose. There is also a long tradition for the use of Bedstraw in the effective treatment of ulcers and tumors. This may have its basis in the lymphatic drainage, which helps detoxify tissue.

Bedstraw has a long history of use as alternative medicine and is still used widely by modern herbalists. It is used both internally and externally in the treatment of a wide range of ailments. The dried or fresh herb is alliterative, anti-inflammatory, astringent. It is often taken to treat skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis, it is used as a detoxifying agent in serious illnesses such as cancer.

Bedstraw, Vancouver Island, BC
Bedstraw, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo By Bud Logan

The plant contains organic acids, falconoid, tannins, fatty acids, glycoside asperuloside, Gallo tannic acid, and citric acid. It has a mild laxative effect and stimulates the lymphatic system and has shown benefit in skin related problems. The fresh plant or juice is used as a medicinal poultice for wounds, ulcers and many other skin problems. An infusion of the herb has shown of benefit in the treatment of glandular fever, tonsillitis, hepatitis, and cystitis. The infusion is also used to treat liver, bladder and urinary problems. Bedstraw acts directly on the kidneys. Its specific action on acute inflammation or irritation of the urinary tract is stronger than most other treatments.

Used as a hair tonic, said to be good for the hair, making it grow long. A thick mat of the stems, when used as a sieve for filtering milk, is said to give healing properties to the milk and is still used in Sweden for that purpose.

This is a plant that most would think of as a weed that needs to pulled but when you learn how this plant can heal, you will think differently about it.

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