Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) - Side Effects and Benefits

Botanical Name of Red Clover: Trifolium pratense L.

Other Common Names: Beebread, cow clover, meadow clover, purple clover, trefoil, wild clover.

Habitat: Red clover is a perennial herb that grows commonly in the wild throughout Europe, Asia and Africa and has been naturalised to North America. It is used as a grazing food for cattle and as a green manure as is a nitrogen–rich crop.

Description: Red clover is a member of the Leguminosae family. It can grow to approximately 1-2 feet and has purple-pink tubular flowers. Its name is derived from Latin: tres for three and folium for leaf and pratense for growing in meadows.

Plant Parts Used: Flower heads. Red clover is generally taken as a standardised extract in tablet form. Red clover leaves are eaten as a salad and the flowers are dried for use in teas.

Therapeutic Uses, Benefits and Claims of Red Clover

* Red clover has a long history of traditional use in China, Europe and Russia for a variety of medical conditions including bronchial asthma, liver and digestive ailments, sore eyes and burns.
* It was thought to purify the blood by promoting urine, mucus and bile production and improve circulation.
* Traditionally red clover ointments have been applied to the skin to treat conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
* There is a history of use of red clover as a short-term cough medicine for children.
* Red clover is a rich source of the isoflavones; formonnectin, biochanin A, daidzin and genistein which are natural hormones
* Red clover supplements are promoted worldwide for the treatment of menopausal symptoms and the maintenance of health and welfare after the menopause.
* Clinical trials show that red clover extracts may provides some benefit for hot flushes associated with the menopause.
* It is also suggested that Red Clover may be of use for women experiencing breast pain.
* There is promising evidence for a positive role for red clover in the development of osteoporosis.
* Red clover extracts have been shown to have a positive effect on high blood pressure.
* Clinical studies have shown red clover to have no detrimental effect on the womb or breast tissue.
* In addition it’s natural hormonal components; Red clover contains many essential vitamins and minerals like calcium, chromium, niacin, phosphorous, potassium, thiamine, magnesium, and vitamin C.
* Red clover can be found in herbal combinations thought to be useful for women’s health.

Potential Side Effects of Red Clover

Side effects with red clover are generally mild and rare. They include breast tenderness, menstruation changes and weight gain. Red clover extracts have theoretically been associated with interactions with blood thinning agents e.g. warfarin and hormonal therapies but this has not been confirmed with actual case reports. Although there is no evidence for concern, it is advised that red clover extracts should be avoided in women with a history of breast cancer. Pregnant and breast feeding women should not take red clover.

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About The Author, Subodh Jain