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Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)

Parts used and where grown: This plant grows in Europe and North America. The flowering tops are used in botanical medicine. Another plant, white clover, grows in similar areas. Both have interesting white arrow-shaped patterns on their leaves.

  In what conditions might red clover be supportive?

cancer risk reduction, cough, eczema, blood purifier

Historical or traditional use: Traditional Chinese medicine and western folk medicine used this plant for similar purposes. It was well regarded as a diuretic, to stop coughing, and as an alterative.1 Alterative plants were considered beneficial for all manner of chronic conditions, particularly those afflicting the skin.

Active constituents: Red clover contains isoflavone compounds, such as genistein, which have weak estrogen properties.2 Various laboratory studies show that these isoflavones may help prevent cancer.3 Although the isoflavones in red clover may help prevent certain forms of cancer (e.g., breast and prostate), more clinical studies must be completed before red clover is recommended for cancer patients. The mechanism of action and responsible constituents for its purported benefit in skin conditions is unknown.

How much should I take? Usually red clover is taken as a tea, by adding 250 ml (1 cup) of boiling water to 2-3 U.S. teaspoons (10-15 grams) of dried flowers and steeping, covered, for ten to fifteen minutes. Three cups can be drunk each day. Red clover can also be used in capsule or tablet form in the amount of 2-4 grams of the dried flowers or 2-4 ml of tincture three times per day. Dried red clover tops are also available in capsules, tablets, and tinctures.

Are there any side effects or interactions?

Non-fermented red clover is relatively safe. However, fermented red clover should be avoided altogether.


1.Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 177-8. 2.Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 177-8. 3.Yanagihara K, Toge T, Numoto M, et al. Antiproliferative effects of isoflavones on human cancer cell lines established from the gastrointestinal tract. Cancer Res 53:5815-21.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

  Disclaimer: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

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