Home Menu Cart Search
Home Menu Cart Search
Herb: Red Clover

Herb: Red Clover

Red Clover Trifolium pratense

Recognisable red clover
Red clover is a three-leafed biennial or perennial plant reaching a height of up to 60cm. The small, reddish-purple, ball-shaped flower heads are used medicinally and have been cultivated as forage since prehistoric times.

Promising future for folk tonic
Red clover grows widespread in grassy areas throughout the world and thrives in the more humid upland places. It is a native European plant and became naturalised in North America where the Native Americans discovered its therapeutic properties; in turn reviving its popularity as a medicine in Europe. The three-lobed red clover leaves were associated with the Holy Trinity by medieval Christians and were considered a charm against witchcraft. Traditional Chinese physicians had long used red clover for bronchial problems and prescribed it as a tonic to be taken in the spring to promote good health and peace of mind, as it also helps to soothe the nerves. The herb was a popular anti-cancer remedy with the 19th Century Eclectic physicians and 33 cultures around the world used red clover to treat cancer. According to the Doctrine of Signatures, the white markings on the leaflets of red clover were seen as a sign that the plant could be of benefit in the treatment of cataracts.

Women’s herbal hormonal help
Red clover has generous amounts of vitamins such as niacin, thiamine and vitamin C as well as proteins and minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, silicon, as well as vitamins A, B12, E and K. Red clover contains the minerals needed by bodily glands, thus frequent use can assist in bringing about hormonal balance. It is considered to be one of the richest sources of isoflavones (water-soluble chemicals that act like estrogen and are found in many plants), which is why it is so useful to for women going through menopause. It is effective to ease all of those challenging hormonal issues like hot flushes and mood swings while enhancing breast health and efforts to prevent osteoporosis.

So how can a herb do all this you might ask? Well some substances in plants produce the same effects in humans as certain hormones. The isoflavones in red clover are able to bind to estrogen and possibly other receptors (they can attach to estrogen receptors throughout the body particularly in the bladder, blood vessels, bones and heart.) and thereby exert moderate hormonal effects. For menstruating women with normal estrogen levels, red clover isoflavones may displace some natural estrogen, possibly preventing or relieving estrogen-related symptoms, such as breast pain, that are associated with PMS.

Infertility tonic
Red clover has long been a traditional therapy for infertility and chronic miscarriage, both of which can be due to insufficient estrogen. Its dense array of plant actives is balancing for the uterus in establishing fertility and its high protein content benefits the whole body. Red clover’s high calcium and magnesium relaxes the nervous system, doing much to promote fertility.
Interestingly, there is historical evidence of male sheep that graze on large quantities of red clover eventually developing a diminished sperm count. There is however no evidence that red clover causes low sperm counts in human males; a man could not eat enough clover to affect his sperm counts.

Help for lungs, skin, immune, digestion and liver
Red clover is used to treat coughs and respiratory system congestion because it has the ability to loosen phlegm and calm bronchial spasms. This is due to its resinous substance that is expectorating, warming and antimicrobial in action. This herb is an excellent remedy for children with skin problems and may be safely used in any case of childhood eczema, especially for those children with eczema/asthma syndrome. It is also of value in other chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis and should be combined with other blood purifying herbs for a herbal regime. Red clover does a lot to help preserve youthful skin texture and prevent premature ageing. The isoflavones in red clover improve the skin in numerous ways, including by stimulating the skin's natural collagen production, maintaining a healthy level of keratinisation, increasing the skin's thickness and improving its moisture levels.

Red clover is also known as an alterative herb or blood purifier and lymphatic cleanser that clears congestion and improves the overall health of the liver. It may also act as a digestive aid, stimulating of digestive fluids and bile production.
Red clover's constituents help to stimulate the immune system. It has been a traditional ingredient in many formulas for cancer as it contains anti-tumour compounds and antioxidants and for those with non-estrogen-dependent cancer tumours, red clover may hold some promise.

The heart benefits too
It is believed that red clover may help to prevent heart disease in several ways. It contains the blood-thinning substance coumarin. Coumarin is not unique to red clover; it is found in many other plants, including common grass. In fact, the pleasant sweet smell of freshly cut grass is due to the coumarin compounds.

Taking red clover can also lower the levels of 'bad' low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) and raise the levels of 'good' high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in the body. In addition, red clover may also promote an increase in the secretion of bile acid of which cholesterol is a major component, increased bile acid production usually means that more cholesterol is used; thus less circulates in the body. Red clover helps the arteries remain strong and elastic (a quality often called 'arterial compliance'), which may also help to prevent some of the plaque deposits that may lead to a heart attack or a stroke.

Males find healing in red clover
If prostate cancer runs in your family, it may be a good idea to include red clover in your diet. Red clover can promote general prostate health; it reduces the risk of prostate cancer as it blocks enzymes thought to contribute to this cancer in men. It has shown a definite limiting effect, however, in the development of benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), which is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland. Red clover restores normal urinary tract function; an enlarged prostate can cause men to experience a weak or interrupted urine stream, dribbling after urinating or the urge to urinate even after voiding. For most men, BPH is a normal part of ageing but could be helped by using red clover.

Red Clover’s minerals like magnesium and calcium, which are important for the health of the nervous system, work to calm down nerve activity, which in turn helps the body to release tension, nervousness, stress, anxiety and worry. All these factors help promote a restful sleep. Studies revealed that subscales of depression and nervousness are significantly improved by taking red clover. Red clover derived isoflavones are effective in reducing depressive and anxiety symptoms among postmenopausal women.

Other attributes:
  • Red clover has been found to be helpful in quitting smoking.
  • One sleep study compared the effect of red clover against a placebo; after 90 days the red clover group showed improved sleep
  • Red clover extract may even increase hair growth for those experiencing hair loss due to alopecia.
  • Red clover tea has also been linked to weight loss. One study found that individuals who drank red clover tea twice a day for 6 weeks lost more body fat than those who did not drink the tea. The researchers believe this effect is due to the presence of polyphenols in red clover.
Therapeutic properties: Alterative, antispasmodic, diuretic, expectorant, estrogenic activity, sedative
Uses: Treats acne, asthma, bronchitis, colds, coughs, including whooping cough. Lowers cholesterol, improves digestion by stimulating digestive enzymes and bile, clears skin eruptions, eczema, relieves flatulence, infections, helps improve fertility, lymphatic swelling, promotes prostate health, eases sore throats, menopausal health and as an adjuvant cancer treatment.
Precautions: Those with non-estrogen-dependent cancer should avoid red clover. An animal study showed that red clover’s estrogen-like chemicals caused abnormal foetal development, so even though it was not on humans, if you are pregnant, do use the precautionary principle and refrain from taking red clover.
People on blood thinning medication should refrain from using this herb in concentrated extract form as the blood may become too thin.

Back to News