Herb Basics: Red Clover Benefits

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Common names: Red clover, sweet clover, trefoil, meadow clover
Latin name: Trifolium pratense
Family: Fabaceae
Part used: Flowers
Medicinal uses: Red clover can help the body eliminate toxins and is also good for skin problems such as acne and eczema. The herb’s phytoestrogens may help menopausal women with symptoms such as hot flashes. Two of its phytoestrogens, genistein and daidzein, contain anti-tumor compounds, but red clover’s use in cancer treatment is extremely controversial.
Forms commonly used: Tea, tincture, tablets and capsules.
Dosage: For red clover tea, steep 1 tablespoon of flowers in 1 cup of hot water for 10 minutes; strain and drink up to 3 cups per day. As a tincture, take 15 to 30 drops up to four times daily. With capsules or tablets, take up to five 430-mg pills per day, or follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Side effects: Red clover is on the Food and Drug Administration’s “generally recognized as safe” list. However, the herb should not be used during pregnancy because of its estrogenlike effects. Similarly, women taking birth-control pills or hormone replacement therapy, or those with an estrogen-dependent type of cancer, should be cautious when using red clover.
Notes: According to The New Healing Herbs (Rodale, 2001) by Michael Castleman, red clover is one of the world’s oldest agricultural crops and has been cultivated as forage since prehistoric times. The herb was used by traditional Chinese practitioners are well as the nineteenth-century Eclectic physicians. Red clover is easy to grow; it thrives in sunny conditions.