Red clover, trefoil, purple clover, pink clover, meadow clover, cow clover
Upper leaves and flowering tops
Red clover is native to most regions of Europe and about half of Asia (the western portion) along with the northernmost parts of the African continent
Red clover is a versatile herb that can be harvested when its blossoms are in full bloom, which typically occurs from late spring to midsummer. To harvest, simply remove the blossoms while leaving the rest of the plant intact. You can harvest up to two or three times a week, so be sure to check daily for new blooms. For a superior-quality harvest, water your red clover patch before it flowers. If you plan to dry the blossoms for later use, use gentle heat to dry quickly and turn them frequently to avoid mold or discoloration. Slow drying can lead to fermentation and the production of toxic coumarins, so be sure to store your dried red clover in a dark, cool place. (1)
Red clover may seem like a simple plant, but it plays an important role in the ecosystem. Its vibrant pink hues add a pop of color to the landscape, and it has the ability to restore nutrients to soil that has been disturbed. This plant acts like a lifeline for other plants, enriching the soil with nitrogen and helping to support the growth of the entire plant kingdom. Just like red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body, red clover carries vital nutrients throughout the soil. (2)
Red clover is a highly nutritious herb that is packed with protein and all the essential amino acids required for protein synthesis. In addition to this, it is also a rich source of vitamin C, beta-carotene (which is converted into vitamin A by the body), and several B vitamins. Red clover is also a good source of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, copper, selenium, zinc, tin, and manganese. (3)
Red clover is a versatile herb that can be used for a variety of purposes. It is often combined with oat for nervousness, poor appetite, and weakness. Additionally, red clover tea can be consumed for its blood-building and skin-improving properties. Eclectics believed that red clover had a specific action on nourishing the brain, making it a good choice for those who are overworked or experiencing mental fatigue. It can also be helpful for those experiencing memory loss or confusion of ideas due to functional causes. (5)
Red clover has a long history of medicinal use, dating back to at least the 16th century when it was mentioned in one of the earliest European herbals. German physician Leonhart Fuchs recommended it for topical use to promote the discharge of pus from growths and boils. Today, modern herbalists still use red clover both internally and externally to address skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, due to its alterative action. The plant's alterative powers are also noted by the Eclectic doctor Harvey Wickes Felter, who stated that it should be given where a general deobstruent effect is desired in chronic skin conditions. (6)
Red clover is a powerful herb that is known for its ability to promote fluid movement and prevent stagnation in the body. It is classified as an alterative and lymphatic herb, which means that it helps to keep fluids moving through the lymphatic system. This makes it an effective remedy for issues related to lymphatic congestion, such as swollen lymph glands and cystic lumps in the breasts. According to herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, red clover tea or tincture can be particularly helpful for those dealing with growths on the body, such as cysts, tumors, and fibroids.(7)
Red clover has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for various health conditions. It is known to aid in liver detoxification and is particularly helpful for conditions that result from toxin buildup in the body, such as infections, swollen glands, and skin eruptions. Herbalists often refer to red clover as an "alterative," which means it gradually improves chronic conditions throughout the body by helping the body assimilate nutrients and remove waste products. To boost its alterative actions, red clover is often combined with blue flag and burdock, although blue flag should be used with caution due to its potential for causing gastrointestinal distress. It's always best to consult with an experienced herbalist before using any herbal remedies. (8)
Red clover has been known to have numerous health benefits, including improving blood quality and circulation. It is especially effective in cases where there is poor circulation in the feet or weakness in the lower extremities, according to research conducted by Ellingwood and Lloyd in 1919. (9)
Red clover is a natural remedy for hormonal imbalances. This herb contains isoflavones, a type of phytoestrogen that can bind to estrogen receptor sites and block the effects of xenoestrogens, which are synthetic estrogens found in our environment. Because phytoestrogens have a weaker estrogenic effect than endogenous estrogens and xenoestrogens, red clover is often used to treat reproductive disorders related to estrogen excess. During menopause, when the body produces less estrogen, phytoestrogens can have a net estrogenic effect on the body. As a result, red clover is commonly used to balance hormones and alleviate menstrual, reproductive, and menopausal symptoms. (10)
Adult Dose (11)
Infusion: 4-8 fl oz (made with 1 oz dried herb per 32 fl oz water) 3x/day
Tea: 1 cup (1-2 tsp dried blossoms in 8 fl oz water) 1-3x/day
Tincture: 2-4 mL (1:5, 40%) 3x/day
While red clover has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties, it is important to note that it may not be safe for everyone. Individuals with hemophilia, heavy menstrual bleeding, or those taking blood thinners should avoid regular use of red clover as it can exacerbate these conditions. Additionally, pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid red clover due to its potential effects on hormones. It is also important to note that red clover may alter the effectiveness of hormonal contraceptives and increase their side effects. As with any supplement or medication, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider before use.(12)
(1)Moore, M. (1990). Herbal repertory in clinical practice: A manual of differential therapeutics for the health care professional (3rd ed.). Southwest School of Botanical Medicine.
(2) Bebeau, G.D. (2013). Red clover. Friends of the Wildflower Garden. https://www.friendsofthewildflowergarden.org/pages/plants/redclover.html
(3) Pedersen, M. (1998). Nutritional herbology: A reference guide to herbs. Wendell W. Whitman Company.
(4) Moore, M. (1997). Specific indications for herbs in general use (3rd ed.). Southwest School of Botanical Medicine.
(5) Thomas, R.L. (1907). The Eclectic practice of medicine (2nd ed.). The Scudder Brothers Company.
(6) Felter, H.W. (1922). The Eclectic materia medica, pharmacology and therapeutics. John K. Scudder.
(7) Bennett, R.R. (2014). The gift of healing herbs. North Atlantic Books.
(8) Gardner, Z., & McGuffin, M. (Eds.). (2013). American Herbal Products Association’s botanical safety handbook (2nd ed.). CRC Press.
(9) Ellingwood, F., & Lloyd, J.U. (1919). American materia medica, therapeutics and pharmacognosy. Ellingwood's Therapeutist. https://www.swsbm.com/Ellingwoods/Ellingwoods_plants_only.pdf
(10)Blankesoor, J. (2013, November 1). The ecology of estrogen in the body. Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine. https://chestnutherbs.com/the-ecology-of-estrogen-in-the-female-human-body/
(11) Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine. Healing Arts Press.
(12) Abebe, W. (2019). Review of herbal medications with the potential to cause bleeding: Dental implications, and risk prediction and prevention avenues. The EPMA Journal, 10(1), 51-64. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13167-018-0158-2
Modest protective effects of isoflavones from a red clover-derived dietary supplement on cardiovascular disease risk factors in perimenopausal women, and evidence of an interaction with ApoE genotype in 49-65 year-old women.