Cleavers Tea

Lymph Tea

Over the many years that I have been involved with healing, especially of people with cancer, I have tried not only to figure out what is needed and what will benefit the most people but how the body can best utilize the gifts herbs have to offer: teas, tinctures, tablets, capsules, or syrups.


Many patients have low output of gastric secretions and hence poor digestion and assimilation of nutrients, especially at times of stress. Taking 180 tablets a day of various supplements is tedious and sometimes gagging. Moreover, some people eliminate whole capsules or tablets—absolutely undigested—showing that their digestive processes are not strong enough to break down the gel caps or moist enough to separate the needed ingredients from the binders.

Because digestion begins with anticipation and this is enhanced by aroma and taste, I have tried to develop products that are interesting enough to titillate the senses. Moreover, providing patients remedies in a variety of forms—liquids, foods, and pills—relieves at least some of the monotony as well as failire of pill popping.

Most patients who are fighting cancer are using protocols that result in die off. This is true whether one is on chemotherapy or some holistic modality, anything from hyperbaric oxygen to Essiac tea. If the method is capable of destroying malignancy, there is a need for the body to carry off the debris. This debris is toxic. The side effects are basically a necessary evil attending a successful cancer treatment program, but the die off poses a burden on the patient's lymphatic system and eliminatory organs, sometimes causing something as extreme as what is known as the Herxheimer effect. Because of the toxicity and the irritability caused by the toxicity, it is difficult for persons undergoing these phenomena to remain poised throughout the course of cure.

The strongest argument for the use of external treatments, whether surgery or salves, is that these reduce the pressure on the internal organs. Assuming however that th treatment includes measures that act systemically, I want, for the moment, to focus on the lymphatic system. Lymph fluids tend to become thick when there is die off. If the lymphatic channels become congested, there can be swelling and soreness as well as an increased risk of damage to the channels themselves. Many regard the lumps as metastases. There are differing opinions on this, but with the right therapies and protocols, many of the masses tend to disappear.

Nearly all herbalists produce lymphatic tinctures, usually containing echinacea, stillingia, red root, and so on. Though I, too, make such a formula, Indigo Drops, many patients dislike the alcohol-based formulas, saying that they burn. Moreover, they often do not like the taste of the bitter herbs used in these lymph decongesting formulas.

Some manual lymphatic drainage (Vodder) specialists use cleavers tea in conjunction with their massage work. Cleavers taste like something left over after mowing the lawn. A plain tea made only with cleavers does not inspire very high compliance. I took on the challenge of developing a palatable tea that could be used in conjunction with other cancer protocols, including the lymph tinctures and ointments. My goal was to promote greater lymphatic movement as well as better digestion and elimination.

The lymphatic system benefits from alkalization of the diet and improved digestion. My tea is pH balanced. Repeated tests show that regardless of the water used, the pH is a perfect 7.0. Obviously, I recommend using really pure water, but the herbs produce a pH balanced tea.

Gastric secretions are stimulated by spices, particularly the volatile oils that produce the aroma characteristic of good quality spices. My teas have black peppercorns and cloves.

Carminative herbs relieve the gases in the gastrointestinal tract that cause bloating and distention. These herbs are aromatic because of their essential oils. My tea has orange peels, ginger, galangal, green cardamom, and star anise. These herbs also tend to reduce tension because gas plays havoc on the nervous system. To prevent allergic reactions and improve the flavor, the tea has Chinese licorice, and to perform the task of lymphatic decongestion, there are cleavers as well as either sarsaparilla or violets. The tea tastes good, is stimulating to the lymph and digestion, and is gradually cleansing. The tea is not quite up there with Tazo, but some like it as much; I just haven't called myself a tea shaman yet. I also don't claim the tea is made to the mutterings of mantras, more likely opera, some bel canto diva pining for her unfaithful lover or whatever. Actually, since writing this some years ago, production has moved to a laboratory where I seriously doubt they play opera for the herbs.

At this time, there are just the two variations of the formula, the one published in my book as well as another with violets. The original one is made with cleavers and sarsaparilla; the variation, intended as much for variety as for those who want to use violets because of interest in Hildegard of Bingen's work is made with cleavers and blue violets (instead of sarsaparilla). All have the same aromatic herbs to help with fermentation, gases, and nerves: star anise, cardamom, ginger, galangal, orange peels, and cloves.

Occasionally, we make a batch without black pepper because some people are allergic to black pepper. In Ayurveda, black pepper has a very fine reputation for balancing all the doshas, but it rarely gets such good press in the West where spices are usually irradiated and sometimes too dry to have the same properties. Once in a while, cinnamon is substituted for black pepper or star anise (when there was a problem with one of the sources of star anise.) The tea has licorice to prevent allergic responses, aid sleep, and ground people who are anxious.

The tea is not the begin all and end all. If there is infection, the lymphatic system may need more than my tea, not to mention that metastases to the lymph need more yet, but the tea is an aid to the lymphatic system, and it's painless.

Finally, in response to Wendy's question about sleep, I might add that it is the air element that causes insomnia. The air element is aggravated by worry and pacified by trust. However, until mastering faith, the air element can be brought under control through the use of carminative herbs and spices. It is worth noting that, for most people, especially air types, stress is relieved better by nervines than the warm milk and honey our mothers gave us as children.

Ingredients: cleavers, ginger, sarsaparilla or violets, Chinese licorice, galangal, star anise, cardamom, galangal, orange peel, peppercorns, and cloves.



Use a stainless steel or glass pot and pure water. When the water boils, turn off the heat and add the bulk tea to taste. To prevent the important volatile oils from escaping, cover the pot immediately with a lid and allow to sit for 10-20 minutes. The tea should be pleasant tasting, neither too bland nor too pungent. The tea should be consumed while warm, not refrigerated. If making a large amount, use a stainless steel or glass thermos to hold what is going to be consumed later.

Do not reheat the tea once it has been made as this affects the volatile oils that are so valuable for proper internal hygiene and peristalsis. The recipe is in my book!

For best results, drink a quart or more per day for several months to relieve the body of accumulations that obstruct proper movement of the lymph. During this time, avoid tight fitting apparel and under garments as well as strain to the areas that are most congested. For example, women with breast cancer should not carry grocery bags with the arm on the side of the body that has the malignancy. Expect the urine to have a strong odor until the die off has been removed and the pH of the body has been normalized. One person was about to call the Animal Control to search for a dead animal in her house when she realized it was her own water. You have been warned.