To some, red clover is considered a pesky garden weed. To others, it has become a plant of great medicinal value. From the early uses by Native Americans, to a popular herbal supplement today, the uses of red clover have become widespread.
Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is a biennial or, in some states, a perennial spreading plant that can grow up to 3 feet tall. It has hairy stems that contain groups of three oval-shaped leaves. The flowers are light to dark pink. It is the flowers themselves that contain red clover's medicinal properties. Originally from Europe, red clover has spread throughout North America.
Early Native American Indians used red clover to soothe sore eyes, burns and coughs. Because red clover is a relative of the pea family, the Indians also ate the leaves as a vegetable in springtime.
During the 19th century, red clover was often used as a cold remedy.
Red clover contains a variety of nutrients such as calcium, vitamin C, magnesium, chromium, phosphorous, potassium and thiamine. However, the source of red clover's importance comes from its supply of isoflavones, which are phytoestrogens, essentially substances that occur in the plant world containing chemical properties very similar to estrogen.
Hence, red clover has been used to treat a variety of women's health issues, especially the side effects associated with menopause---hot flashes, mood swings, breast tenderness. Red clover is also useful for PMS symptoms, breast health, and reducing bone loss due to osteoporosis.
Other Medicinal Uses
Red clover is also being used to treat men with benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), as it improves urine production. It can also be beneficial in reducing poor blood circulation and prevent heart disease. It has also been studied to treat high cholesterol. As a cold remedy, red clover is helpful in loosening phlegm and opening up bronchial airways.
Red clover is the state flower of Vermont. It is sometimes used to help people quit smoking. Red clover is also used in spiritual and magical practices for cleansing, purifying the home, maintaining fidelity between couples and to consecrate or bless the user's magical tools.
How to Take Red Clover
Red clover can be found in a variety of forms, from dried herbs, teas, capsules, liquid extracts and topical ointments.
For red clover tea add 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried flowers to 8 ounces of boiled water; let steep for half an hour; drink 2 to 3 cups per day.
In capsule/tablet form, adults can take 40 to 160 mg per day.
For treating skin irritations, topical ointments are available to be applied as needed.
Children and pregnant women should not take red clover. Always consult your physician before beginning any herbal treatment, as some may interact with other medications.