Bedstraw – Not Just For Sleeping On!

Image: Galium verum (Bedstraw)

Galium verum, commonly known as bedstraw, is a native of Western Europe and can be found on dry banks, in pastures and meadows, and near the sea. In olden times, bedstraw was used by women for disorders of the uterus and it was laid in the bed to ease childbirth, hence the name! 

In herbal medicine, bedstraw is beneficial as a blood purifier and diuretic, and can be recommended for kidney disorders, thyroid gland complaints and for the lymphatic system. Our body relies on the lymphatic system to drain away toxins and drinking bedstraw tea will eliminate these through the urine. As a lymphatic tonic, a tea is taken daily for swollen glands anywhere in the body, especially tonsillitis and adenoidal problems.

Arthritis and many skin complaints, such as eczema and psoriasis, can often be relieved through blood cleansing herbs and the following recipe is recommended: 

  • 20 g Bedstraw
  • 20 g Speedwell
  • 15 g Burdock root
  • 15 g Calendula
  • 15 g Red clover

Directions: Place the above herbs in an airtight container, mix and shake well, and store the mixture in a dark place. 

Infuse one heaped tsp of herbs with one cup of boiling water for approximately three to five minutes and strain. Drink 3 cups throughout the day, adding 5 mL of Swedish Bitters to your morning and evening cup.

Renowned Austrian herbalist Maria Treben writes: “The tea rids the liver, kidney, pancreas and spleen of toxic wastes. Used externally the tea is of benefit in many skin disorders, wounds, boils and blackheads. It makes an excellent wash for the face as it tightens the skin.”

Dr Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654) writes: “It is a good remedy in the spring, eaten (being first chopped small and boiled) in water gruel, to cleanse the blood and strengthen the liver, thereby to keep the body in health, and fitting it for that change of season that is coming.”

According to Swiss scientist and herbalist Abbé Kuenzle, bedstraw is a reliable remedy for serious kidney disorders, especially if it is mixed with golden rod and dead nettle. 

The noted botanist Richard Willford, in his book “Health Through Medicinal Herbs”, writes that “rinsing with and drinking bedstraw tea is an excellent remedy for cancer of the tongue”, due to its anti-tumour properties.

Bedstraw is a very versatile plant and has been used for centuries for a wide range of problems. Not only can you drink it as a tea, the fresh leaves and tips can be boiled and eaten like spinach, and an infusion can be applied externally to help clear the complexion or even as a hair rinse, for dandruff. 


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