Botanical name: Trifolium pratense.
This plant grows in
Europe and North America. The flowering tops are used in botanical medicine.
Another plant, white clover, grows in similar areas. Both have white
arrow-shaped patterns on their leaves.
Red clover has been used in
connection with cough, eczema, and menopause.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
and Western folk medicine used this plant as a diuretic, a cough expectorant
(an agent that promotes discharge of mucus from the respiratory passages), and
an alterative. Alterative plants were considered beneficial for chronic
conditions, particularly those afflicting the skin.
Red clover is known as an alterative agent (i.e., one that produces
gradual beneficial changes in the body, usually by improving nutrition; also
known as a blood cleanser). It is a traditional remedy for
psoriasis and eczema. However, the mechanism of action and constituents
responsible for red clovers purported benefit in skin conditions are
Modern research has revealed that red clover also contains
high amounts of isoflavones, such as genistein, which have weak estrogen-like
properties. This research has focused on a red clover extract high in
isoflavones as a possible treatment for symptoms associated with menopause and
cardiovascular health in menopausal women.
Compared to soy, red
clover has four isoflavones recognized for supporting both female and male
hormone levels, soy has two.
A double-blind trial found that red
clover improved cardiovascular function in menopausal women, but it has not
been shown to provide any benefits for symptoms of menopause (such as hot
flashes or vaginal irritation).
Various laboratory studies and one case
report of a man with prostate cancer suggest red clover isoflavones may help
In another case study, use of red clover by a man
with prostate cancer led to noticeable anticancer effects in his prostate after
the cancer was surgically removed.
Although the isoflavones in red
clover may help prevent certain forms of cancer (e.g., breast and prostate),
further studies are needed before red clover is recommended for cancer
Traditionally, red clover is
taken as a tea, by adding 1 cup (250 ml) of boiling water to 23 teaspoons
(1015 grams) of dried flowers and steeping, covered, for ten to fifteen
minutes. Three cups (750 ml) can be drunk each day. Red clover can also be used
in capsule or tablet form, equivalent to 24 grams of the dried flowers.
Also, 1/23/4 teaspoon (24 ml) of tincture three times per day may
be taken. Standardized extracts providing 40 mg isoflavones per day are
available as well.
Non-fermented red clover is
relatively safe. However, fermented red clover may cause bleeding and should be
Red clover supplements should be avoided by pregnant or
breast-feeding women and their safety has not been established in young
children and infants.
Certain medications may interact with
red clover. Refer to the drug interactions safety check for a list of those
medications. It may also have possible interactions with blood thinning agents
(asprin, Coumadin, Warfarin) due to the platelet anti-stickiness effects of the
phytoestrogens and flavonoids.
to Index of Herbs
Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook: Your Comprehensive Reference to the Best Herbs
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