Red Clover

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red clover flower
red clover blossom

Botanical: Trifolium pratense

Family: Fabaceae

parts used: flowering tops (leaf and flower)

actions: alterative, anodye, anti-catarrhal, antispasmodic, expectorant, lymphatic, sedative

common names: Bee-bread, Cow Clover, Meadow Clover, Purple Clover, Red Clover, Trefoil, Wild Clover

I love red clover season. It begins in early spring and lasts until frost. I guess I just love that time when things grow and grow…and grow. Red clover is a plant that just keeps on giving. It is full of protective anti-infammatory and antioxidant compounds. And of all the herb teas you can drink, the most pleasant. It has very solid roots in traditional herbalism.

Red clover is in the same family that beans and peas are in. Notice the family name above, Fabaceae.

Red Clover is considered a good source of many nutrients including, calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C

It is believed that red clover may help to prevent heart disease in several ways. Although results from human studies are not definite, some show that taking red clover may 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. Because cholesterol is a major component of bile acid, increased bile acid production usually means that more cholesterol is used and less
cholesterol circulates in the body.

Additionally, red clover contains small amounts of chemicals known as coumarins, which may help keep
the blood from becoming thick and gummy. Therefore, the possibility of forming blood clots and arterial plaques may be reduced. Plaques are accumulations of blood cells, fats, and other substances that may build up in blood vessels, possibly reducing or blocking blood flow. Red clover may also help the arteries remain strong and flexible (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.

Red clover maintains a strong following among traditional herbalists as a blood purifying depurative that has been used safely and effectively for hundreds, if not thousands of years in clinical practice. Red clover has been used traditionally to treat respiratory and skin problems such as cases of childhood eczema, and can be effective for other chronic skin conditions as well.

The flowers with the first three leaves (which is what we harvest for you here at OurHerbFarm) contain calcium and magnesium in a synergystic state easily absorbed by the body. It tones and relaxes the nervous system, minimizing stress and headaches associated with the hectic lifestyle we all live. The reduction of stress symptoms is also helped by the silic acid content of the flowers.

Last year red clover made the news again…

Red clover has long been used as a “blood purifier”, specifically for the potential treatment of cancer. The flower is a mainstay ingredient in traditional herbal formulas, including Essiac Tea, Jason Winters Tea, and the Hoxsey Therapy. In the best selling herbal classic Back to Eden, author Jethro Kloss declares red clover as a life-saving anti-cancer remedy. Proponents of these therapies claim a multitude of successes, while various health agencies including the FDA and the American Cancer Society declare these same formulas to be of no value.[1]

Imagine that. (emphasis, mine)

Red clover maintains a strong following among traditional herbalists as a blood purifying depurative that has been used safely and effectively for hundreds, if not thousands of years in clinical practice. Red clover has been used traditionally to treat respiratory and skin problems such as cases of childhood eczema, and can be effective for other chronic skin conditions as well.

5 Ways to Use Red Clover

Dawn Combs wrote the best list for getting red clover into your diet. Aside from the excellent tea made from red clover you may also like to know that it can be used in the following ways:

  1. In tea – The flowers have long been used as a blood cleanser, fertility tonic, and for liver and gall bladder support. The flowers are very helpful for inflammatory situations like arthritis and gout. They also make a good addition to cold and cough formulas, or as a support for those with asthma.
  2. As a flour additive – You can dry the flowers and grind them into a powder. Mixing them into your flour as you bake adds a chewy texture and slight sweetness.
  3. Added to salads – The leaves and the flowers can both be added to salads for their nutrition, flavor, and color.
  4. Added to soups – The leaves are high in protein and can be added to the liquid of your broths and stocks.
  5. As a vitamin supplement – You can also pull the individual flowers from the flower heads (like when you were a child) and add them to rice dishes and casseroles. Red clover is high in both vitamins and minerals so they make a perfect vitamin supplement.

Using Red Clover for Wellness

In natural/herbal medicine, there is a history of using red clover with the following conditions:

bunches of red clover
red clover – loving the sun!
  • Acne
  • Allergies
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Bone and Joint Health
  • Canker Sores
  • Cleansing
  • Detoxifying
  • Digestive Disorders
  • Eczema
  • Endometriosis
  • Fibroids
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Gastrointestinal Disorders
  • Headaches
  • Hormone Imbalances
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Joint Pain
  • Menopausal Problems
  • Migraines
  • Osteoporosis
  • Poultice
  • PMS
  • Psoriasis
  • Senility/Aging Conditions
  • Skin Disorders
  • Vascular Disorders
  • Red clover is a blood thinner due to the concentration of coumarin found in the blossoms.

    • For cases of thrombosis and other conditions in which thick blood obstructs vessels, red clover tea may be of benefit.

    Dose:  1-2 teaspoon of dried flowering tops in 8 ounces of hot water, steep for half an hour to overnight (the longer you steep, the more minerals will be extracted) and drink 2-3 cups/day; 3-5 mL of a 1:5 tincture 3x/day

    However…

    Safety

    • If you currently taking blood-thinning medications, don’t mix them with red clover blossoms.
    • Prior to surgery, drinking red clover is not recommended, as doing so may exacerbate surgical bleeding.

    Video! Herbalists Matthew Wood and Phyllis Light teach about the many benefits of red clover.

    “Red clover I discover
    By the garden gate,
    And the bees about her hover,
    But the robins wait.
    Sing, robins, sing,
    Sing a roundelay,
    ‘Tis the latest flower of Spring
    Coming with the May!”
    ~ Dora Read Goodale – Red Clover.

    References:

    • Red Clover Benefits & Information (Trifolium Pratense. Retrieved November 09, 2016, from http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-red-clover.html
    • Kilham, Chris. “Red clover: A Powerful Herb With Strong Healing Properties” | Medicine Hunter. January, 2013, from http://www.medicinehunter.com/red-clover
    • Back to Eden, Jethro Kloss
    • Dawn Combs “Heal Local, 20 Essential Herbs for Do-it-Yourself Home Healthcare” (New Society, 2015)