Galium Aparine

The Homœopathic Proving of

Cleavers or Goosegrass




Some Observations of the Proving


Time and dates


Classification of symptoms


by Misha Norland

Whenever we undertake a proving the question 'why do this substance?' arises. In the case of Galium Aparine the answer is obvious. It invades our space! – specifically, the 'space' of herbaceous borders, hedgerows and woodland paths. It survives by overwhelming an area. It sticks tenaciously onto other plants for support and it sticks to the passing traffic of humans and beasts for its seed distribution. When we acquired our first dog, then our garden became overrun and occupied by Cleavers.

The growth seems frail, yet when we grasp it, it clings to and cuts us, leaving the softer skin on backs of hands and arms lightly cut and wounded. Often a rash develops upon the site and lingers for some days. Yet cleavers is satisfying to weed out (provided gloves and long sleeves are worn) because it adheres to itself. While pulling at a piece, it will often pick up neighbouring stems and they too tug loose. But Cleavers' root system is fibrous and strong. Unless the ground is loosened by trowel the roots stay firm and growth starts up again. And it is rampant, climbing and clinging easily up to a couple of metres. As I write this in January, we still find mats of withered stems and viable seeds on shrubs and bushes. In summary, it invades and cannot be eliminated.

Therefore it seemed fair to speculate that the predominant miasm addressed by Cleavers would be cancer. Within this context, it interested me to observe the effect of Glyphosate weedkiller overspray upon hedgerow Cleavers. This is because it seemed to be electively sensitive to this substance. While other plants withstand these dilutions (of wind-born overspray) Cleavers' leaves become twisted and much growth shrivels. However, those seeds that have formed prior to spraying, go on to germinate the following year bearing twisted yet viable growth. In other words, next year's crop survives but in a mutated form. This ability to be effected by a noxious agent, to survive, yet to pass on the trait to future generations seemed similar to the Hahnemannian definition of a miasm. Given this observation plus the habit of Cleavers seemed reason enough to initiate a proving.


by Peter Fraser

Synonyms: Clivers, Barweed. Hedgeheriff. Hayriffe. Eriffe. Grip Grass. Hayruff. Catchweed. Scratweed. Mutton Chops. Robin-run-in-the-Grass. Love-man. Tongebledes. Goosebill. Everlasting Friendship.

Cleavers is an abundant hedgerow weed throughout Europe and North America, springing up luxuriantly about fields and waste places

It is of the natural order Rubiaceae, to which the Madder (Rubia tinctoria) and our common wild plants, the Clivers, the Bedstraws and Sweet Woodruff belong. The most economically important species of the family is Coffea Arabica. The valuable drug quinine is furnished by several species of Cinchona. Ipecacuanha is the powdered root of another member of this order, growing in the forests of Brazil. Many species growing in tropical climates are moreover noted for the beauty and fragrance of their flowers.

The British representatives are of a different character, being all herbaceous plants, with slender, angular stems, bearing leaves arranged in whorls, or rosettes and small flowers. From the star-like arrangement of their leaves, all these British species have been assigned to the tribe Stellatae.

The angles of its quadrangular stalks and leaves are covered with little hooked bristles, which attach themselves to passing objects, and by which it fastens itself in a ladder-like manner to adjacent shrubs, so as to push its way upwards through the dense vegetation of the hedgerows into daylight, its rough, weak stems then struggling over and through all the other wayside plants, often forming matted masses.

The narrow, lance-shaped leaves - about inch long and 1/4 inch broad - are arranged 1/2 in rosettes or whorls, six or eight together, and are rough all over, both margins and surface, the prickles pointing backwards. The flowers, two or three together, spring from the axils of the leaves and are small and star-like, either white or greenish-white. They are followed by little globular seed-vessels, about 1/8 inch in diameter, covered with hooked bristles and readily adhering, like the leaves, to whatever they touch. By clinging to the coat of any animal that touches them, the dispersal of the seeds is ensured.

Most of the plant's popular names are connected with the clinging nature of the herb. Some of its local names are of very old origin, being derived from the Anglo-Saxon 'hedge rife,' meaning a tax gatherer or robber, from its habit of plucking the sheep as they pass near a hedge.

The old Greeks gave it the name Philanthropon, from its habit of clinging, and Loveman is merely an Anglicized version of this.

Clite, Click, Clith-eren, Clithers are no doubt various forms of Cleavers. Its frequent name, Goosegrass, is a reference to the fact that geese are extremely fond of the herb. It is often collected for the purpose of giving it to poultry. Horses, cows and sheep will also eat it with relish.

The specific name of the plant, aparine, also refers to this habit, being derived from the Greek aparo (to seize). The genus name Galium is derived from gala, the Greek word for milk. Greek shepherds used the stems to strain milk, the stalks are still used thus in Sweden. The galiums, especially Our Lady's Bedstraw (Galium verum, so named because it was said to have lined Christ's manger) have the quality of curdling milk and have been used as a vegetable rennet. They also, like Madder, have roots that produce a red dye, which gave cheeses such as those from Gloucestershire their rich orange colour. Birds that eat them have their bones tinged slightly red.

The seeds of Cleavers form one of the best substitutes for coffee; they require simply to be dried and slightly roasted over a fire, and so prepared, have much the flavour of coffee. They have been so used in Sweden. The whole plant gives a decoction equal to tea and it is usually in such a form that it is used herbally.

The principle phytochemicals are citric acid (hence its popular use in scurvy), rubichloric acid, galitanic acid, iridoids and coumarins.

In old Herbals it is extolled for its powers, and it is still employed in country districts, both in England and elsewhere, as a purifier of the blood, the tops being used as an ingredient in rural 'spring drinks.'

Modern herbalists consider it may be given to advantage in scurvy, scrofula, psoriasis and skin diseases and eruptions generally. As it is a rather powerful diuretic, care should be taken that it is not given where a tendency to diabetes is manifested. Its use, however, is recommended in dropsical complaints, as it operates with considerable power upon the urinary secretion and the urinary organs. It is given in obstructions of these organs, acting as a solvent of stone in the bladder.

The infusion, drunk as a tea, has a most soothing effect in cases of insomnia, and induces quiet, restful sleep.

Clivers was also used as an ointment for scalds and burns in the fourteenth century, under the name of Heyryt, Cosgres, Clive and Tongebledes (Tonguebleed), the latter doubtless from its roughness due to the in-curved hooks all over the plant. It is interesting that the most notable homeopathic use of Galium aparine has been in cancer of the tongue.

A wash made from Cleavers is said to be useful for sunburn and freckles.

The herb has a special curative reputation with reference to cancerous growths and allied tumours, an ointment being made from the leaves and stems wherewith to dress the ulcerated parts.

It has been used for colds, swellings, etc., and has been of service in some bleedings, as well as in diarrhoea. Cleavers tea is still a rural remedy for colds in the head.

The crushed herb is applied in France as a poultice to sores and blisters.

Gerard writes of Cleavers as a marvellous remedy for the bites of snakes, spiders and all venomous creatures, and quoting Pliny, says: 'A pottage made of Cleavers, a little mutton and oatmeal is good to cause lankness and keepe from fatnesse.'

Culpepper recommends Cleavers for earache.

It is a soothing herb used in bladder and kidney problems. Cleavers has been shown to reduce stones and fibrocystic tissue. It can also be used for enuresis in children, benign prostatic hypertrophy and eczema.

In TCM Cleavers clears Wet Heat, drains Wetness, regulates Qi Stagnation and is used for swollen glands, tonsilitis, tumors, cysts, cystitis, eczema, psoriasis.

Homœopathically it has not had a previous proving but has been used occcaisionally on herbal and clinical indications.

Boericke says:

Galium acts on the urinary organs, is a diuretic and of use in dropsies, gravel and calculi.
Dysuria and cystitis.
Has power of suspending or modifying cancerous action.
Has clinical confirmation of its use in cancerous ulcers and nodulated tumors of the tongue.
Inveterate skin affections and scurvy.
Favors healthy granulations on ulcerated surfaces.

And Clarke has:
Bladder, irritability of. - Calculus. - Cancer. - Gravel. - Psoriasis. - Ulcers.
Gallium has had no proving, but it is a popular remedy for cancer given internally and used externally; and also for scrofulous swellings and ulcers.
It is further used as a diuretic and as a solvent for gravel and stone.
It has cured a case of nodulated tumour of the tongue diagnosed to be cancer (see Hale); and a case of psoriasis of the hand (left) has been reported cured.

Miasmatically it is clearly of the Cancer Miasm. Its primary clinical use has been in cancerous affections and the provers' dreams of cancer and of imposed responsibility quickly confirmed this.

The following rubrics have been used:


BLADDER - URGING to urinate - constant
URINE - SEDIMENT - sand - gravel
SKIN - ERUPTIONS - psoriasis
SKIN - ULCERS - cancerous
GENERALS - DROPSY - internal dropsy
Breasts - CANCER, breast
Breasts - CRACKS, nipples
Breasts - ULCERATION, of - ulceration, nipples
Diseases - SCURVY, scorbutus
Mind - MISTAKES, general - calculating, in
Mind - MISTAKES, general - writing, in
Mind - OPTIMISTIC - weakness, in spite of the


In Re-exploring Our Magnificent Plants Desai gives detailed information about the Family Rubiaceae.

Main remedies: Coffea, China, Ipecacuhana.

Irritation and excitement of the nervous system.

Congestion of the head and lungs due to irritation of the brain or bronchi.

Irritation and inflammation of the eyes.

Extreme sensitivity to noise, touch, odour, etc.

Sleeplessness due to excitable state.

Coffea produces marked excitement - pulse, hypertension, heartbeat.

China, etc. produce capillary weakness and relaxation of cardiac muscle. Leading to irregular heart beats, profuse haemorrhages, and dropsy verging on the collapsed state.

Nervous diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, etc. Profuse discharges, weak digestion and distension of abdomen.

Severe inflammation of affected parts leading to either collapse or gangrene.

Intermittently spiking fevers and general periodicity.

< exertion, < long travelling, < overexcitment, < discharges.

Low vitality. Extreme exhaustion, debility, prostration, insomnia.

Easy exhilaration and excitement leading to exalted fancies, making verses, everything looks beautiful.

Easily angered with desire to vex and hurt others.

Complete apathy, dislike for everything, beside oneself, inconsolable.

Irritation, excitement and oversensitivity soon followed by debility, exhaustion of vital powers. Eventually leading to a totally collapsed state.

Though there is so much of timidity, cowardice, want of self confidence they tend to cover it up by either being haughty, jealous, malicious, or calling oneself unfortunate, being contemptuous, hurting or vexing others or by rejecting consolation and sympathy.

Probably fear of being pitied explains the amount of false egotism required by these remedies to cover up their weak, exhausted, cowardly side.

The basic vitality of the very self, physically and mentally, is weak and prone to insults of various sorts and therefore reacts violently to the slightest external stimulus. It reacts intermittently, or in short paroxysms, because the feeble and tired self cannot afford to be continuously agitated. Even this intermittent reaction leads to eventual exhaustion and enfeeblement.

Some Observations of the Proving

The key sensation of the remedy would seem to be one of being overwhelmed. This would be in keeping with the signature of the substance as a fast growing weed that soon overwhelms the area in which it grows and with the clinical evidence of its efficacy in treating cancers, which would place it in a cancerous miasm. The sensation of being overwhelmed was found clearly in the mental and emotional pictures, in dreams, particularly of overwhelming responsibility, and in the way that physical symptoms became cumulatively overwhelming.

This was often externalised as a feeling of being harassed or plagued both internally by the symptoms and externally, although it could be a less specific reaction of irritability. It could be even more generalized in a feeling of suspicion, of being followed or that people are calling your name and talking about you and in feelings of being alone and vulnerable.

There was a sense of anxiety, particularly an anxiety that something was about to happen. Part of this anxiety was found in visions of death and violence.

One reaction to this state is to struggle against it which was expressed as fighting with the remedy.

Another reaction was one of clearing out, of making some space.

The remedy is a sexual one and the power of sexuality and love could become overwhelming.

Another important area was an unusual degree of confusion and forgetfulness. This was physically expressed as clumsiness but was most noticeable as a confusion of size or direction and especially of distance. There could be a polarity in clarity and alertness.

Some of the other areas which appeared in the proving were the importance of water. Given the nature of the plant a sense of hairiness might be expected.

There was a sense of calm, even lethargy or tiredness, but also a restlessness and agitation.

Symptoms and mood were often changeable, unstable or contradictory.

The most important physical symptom would seem to be one of pricking. This ranged from itchiness through pinpricks to sharp needle like pains. The pricking was similar to insect bites and bees and wasps were found in the dreams.

The itchiness was often accompanied by numbness, particularly in the face where several provers also experienced a dragging down feeling.

Sciatica was found in the proving and eruptions tended to be herpetic.

There were disturbances of appetite and often a feeling of fullness.


A sample of a tincture of Galium aparine was obtained from the Helios Homœopathic Pharmacy. It was run up into the 30th potency by the proving class in the Korsakovian manner. It is available from Helios at but will be found at most good homœopathic pharmacies.

Time and dates

Times given are the actual time of day, not time from taking the remedy. XX.XX indicates no specific time was noted.

Days are numbered from 1, the day the remedy was taken. Day 0 indicates a symptom that was general and not tied to a particular date.

Day XX indicates the symptom was transcribed from a video recording of one of the group discussions about the effects of the remedy. This might be because the prover did not submit a diary or did not include this symptom in their written diary. They did not know what the substance was at the time of the recording.


Prover Sex Dose Potency
01P Female 1 30c
02P Female 1 30c
03P Female 1 30c
04P Female 1 30c
05P Female 1 30c
06P Female 1 30c
07P Male 1 30c
08P Female 1 30c
09P Female 1 30c
10P Female 1 30c
11P Male 1 30c
12P Female 1 30c
13P Female 1 30c

Classification of symptoms

NS A new symptom never before experienced.

OS An old symptom previously experienced, but not in the preceding year.

RS A recent symptom experienced within the last year.

AS An altered symptom, one previously experienced but with at least one quality changed.

CS A cured symptom, a symptom that was removed during the proving.

IOS An old symptom that is felt with significantly greater intensity than before.



Proving Copyright The School of Homœopathy 2004

Introduction Copyright Peter Fraser 2004

All rights reserved