Red Clover - Trifolium

Trifolium pratense

Photo by Tony Wills

[CC-BY-2.5 or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Description

Red clover is a leguminous plant that has been used for centuries to treat skin conditions and coughs, and possibly even cancer and gout. However, when modern researchers discovered that the plant contains isoflavones – plant oestrogens that mimic the effects of the human hormone oestrogen – they suggested its suitability as a hormone replacement therapy. Red clover is also prescribed to treat high cholesterol or to prevent osteoporosis.

Parts used

The flowers.

Constituents

Red clover contains flavonoids (which act as anti-oxidants), salicylic acid (which eases pain and reduces fevers), isoflavones (plant oestrogens), minerals and vitamin C.

Medicinal uses

Red clover is used with success in certain cases of menopause and osteoporosis, and a UK study showed that red clover helped prevent bone loss. A 2006 Italian study also suggested that red clover isoflavones are effective in reducing bone loss. However, at this time, further research is needed to confirm the use of red clover for any medical condition.

Red clover is prescribed to:

  • Slow bone loss and boost bone mineral density in pre- and perimenopausal women.
  • Help menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes.
  • Improve blood flow.
  • May help protect against heart disease by increasing ‘good’ HDL cholesterol in pre- and postmenopausal women.
  • May help in cancer prevention and treatment. Preliminary evidence suggests isoflavones in red clover may stop cancer cells from growing or even kill them.
  • Apply in ointment form to the skin to treat psoriasis, eczema and other rashes.
  • May soothe coughs.
  • Recent investigations suggest that women using red clover may experience psychological benefits.

CAUTION

Talk to your medical practitioner before taking any herbal supplements.
Red clover has a positive safety profile. The side effects reported are mild and include headache, myalgia and nausea. Do not use with pharmaceutical blood thinners or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. As always, it is recommended that you consult your medical practitioner before embarking on a course of natural remedies.

Flora Force Products containing Turmeric

  • Red Clover Tincture

Domestic & culinary uses

Red clover can be used raw in salads and, some say, cooked as a vegetable. Use the young and tender shoots and leaves as the older ones can get tough. To make red clover tea, pour freshly boiled water on 1 to 3 teaspoons of dried red clover flowers. Steep for 15 minutes and drink 3 times a day.

Cultivation

Widely distributed in the temperate zones of the world, red clover is generally regarded by gardeners as a weed but by farmers as a rich fodder crop for cattle, especially milk cows. In South Africa, sow the seeds in rich, well-composed soil in full sun. This quick-growing annual with pretty pink pompom blooms needs regular watering.

Acknowledgements & References:

Compiled for Flora Force by Judy Beyer

References

  • Geller, S.E. and Studee, L. Botanical and Dietary Supplements for Menopausal Symptoms: What Works, What Doesn’t. J. Womens Health(Larchmt). Sept 2005; 14(7):634–649. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1764641/
  • Nestel, P,J., Pomeroy, S., Kay, S. et al. Isoflavones from red clover improve systemic arterial compliance but not plasma lipids in menopausal women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1999;84:895–898. [PubMed]
  • Nachtigall, L.E., Nachtigall, L.B. The effects of isoflavone derived from red clover on vasomotor symptoms and endometrial thickness. Paper presented at 9th World Congress on Menopause; Yokohama, Japan. 2000. 

  • Occhiuto, F. et al. Effects of phytoestrogenic isoflavones from red clover (Trifolium pretense L.) on experimental osteoporosis. 2006. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17117453
Information in our herb library is intended only as a general reference for further exploration. It is not a replacement for professional health advice and does not provide complete dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription medicines. Accordingly, this information should only be used under the direct supervision of a suitably qualified health practitioner such as a registered homeopath, naturopath or phytotherapist.