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A red dye is obtained from a decoction of the root[4, 7, 168]. When ingested it can dye the bones red. The dried plant is used as a tinder. The plant can be rubbed on the hands to remove pitch (tar). The stems are placed in a layer 8cm or more thick and then used as a sieve for filtering liquids[4, 115, 172].
The tender young shoot tips - raw or cooked as a pot-herb[5, 7, 53, 55, 62, 172, 183]. A rather bitter flavour that some people find unpalatable, they are best used in the spring. They make a useful addition to vegetable soups[7, 244]. It is said that using this plant as a vegetable has a slimming effect on the body. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute[2, 53, 62]. One of the best substitutes, it merely needs to be dried and lightly roasted and has much the flavour of coffee[4, 115, 183]. A decoction of the whole dried plant gives a drink equal to tea[2, 4].
Cleavers is edible and medicinal, it has been used for centuries as an alternative medicine by indigenous peoples on many continents. It is edible raw though said to be unpalatable, mainly used as a pot-herb or as an addition to soups. Using the plant as a vegetable has a slimming effect on the body. Cleavers seed is one of the best coffee substitutes, it merely needs to be dried and lightly roasted and has much the same flavor as coffee. Cleavers has a long history of use as an 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 alterative, anti-inflammatory, antiphlogistic, aperient, astringent, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, tonic and vulnerary. A valuable diuretic, it is often taken to treat skin problems such as seborrhoea, eczema and psoriasis, and as a general detoxifying agent in serious illnesses such as cancer. The plant contains organic acids, flavonoids, tannins, fatty acids, glycoside asperuloside, gallotannic 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, tonsilitis, hepatitis and cystitis. The infusion is also used to treat liver, bladder and urinary problems. The plant contains the valuable constituent asperuloside, a substance that is converted into prostaglandins by the body. Prostaglandins are hormone-like compounds that stimulate the uterus and affect blood vessels. Much more scientific research is being done on the plant it is of great interest to the pharmaceutical industry.