Red Clover

Trifolium pratense

Herbs gallery - Red Clover

Common names

  • Clover
  • Cow Clover
  • Meadow Clover
  • Purple Clover
  • Red Clover

The plant called the red clover is a species of old world plant originally found native in parts of Europe, in some areas of northern Africa, as well as in some areas of central Asia. It is a familiar plant species in these parts. Nowadays, the red clover is also cultivated in the Americas and in Australia for pasturage and as a rotation crop.

The red clover is in a symbiotic relationship with bacteria present in the root nodules, thus the plant is capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen into the soil, and this enhances the quality of the soil in which it is grown - the primary reason for its use as a rotation crop. Traditionally, a rare four leaf red clover specimen is believed to bring good luck and children in America love hunting through a patch of red clover for such rare four leaf specimens of the plant. Folk and herbal medicine makes use of the dried red clover flowers in the treatment of different disorders. An expectorant action is attributed to the blossoms of the red clover; disorders such as bronchitis and asthma are treated using the dried flowers. A topical herbal remedy is also made using the red clover, this remedy is believed to speed up the process of healing in wounds and other external injuries, red clover is also used in the treatment of skin diseases such as psoriasis and other external conditions. The traditional use of the red clover in gaining relief from menopausal symptoms what is generating current interest in the plant. The red clover has high phytoestrogen content, and browsing animals such as cattle and sheep grazing exclusively or heavily on the red clover often tend to develop fertility problems of all kinds.

The total content of phyto-estrogens in the red clover herb is approximately 0.17 per cent of the dry weight per plant. Chemical compounds such as formononetin, the compound genistein, the compound daidzein, and biochanin A. are some of the major compounds present in the herb. A mild estrogen like effect is displayed by the compound formononetin, the compound biochanin A, the compound daidzein and the genistein compound - that is they tend to mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. Australian herbal marketers have commercially translated the perceived estrogen like effect of the plant and turned the red clover into an herbal estrogen supplement, thus a very widely advertised product, called the red clover blossom dietary supplement is now touted as the natural choice for maintaining estrogen in Australia. The phyto-estrogenic effects of the red clover need to be supported by thorough clinical studies of the plant in the laboratory, such tests are currently on the anvil. Red clover also contains a class of plant based compounds called isoflavones, these compounds are also present in familiar plant products like soy beans, the isoflavones are believed to be capable of changing the rate of hormone synthesis and are believed to be capable of influencing metabolism in the body, these compounds are also believed to affect intracellular enzymes, they are also known to effect the rate of cell differentiation and production, and may also be involved in the synthesis of biological growth factors in the body.

The possible benefit of using isoflavones in the process of chemoprevention, which is cancer prevention, is also being investigated by epidemiologist in many Asian countries where a lot of isoflavone rich soy products are consumed by the majority of the population. The potential need for further investigation and research is suggested by the results obtained from a recent in vitro study, where it was fond that the compound biochanin A sourced from red clover seem to inhibit the activation of carcinogenic cell cultures - further studies will doubtless shed a light on this phenomenon.

Methyl salicylate is one compound among the many other chemical compounds present in the volatile oil of the red clover blossoms. The blossoms have also been found to contain small amounts of coumarin derivatives and certain types of cyanogenic glycosides.

The supplementary use of red clover extract in the treatment of symptoms associated with menopausal women has found sudden prominence due to the release of an herbal supplement called Promensil from Australia - this new supplement is meant for the exclusive use of women in any stage of menopause. Each Promensil pill contains 40 mg of the isoflavones, set to a standardized ratio, Promensil was introduced in the US market in 1998. Australian researchers have been responsible for the majority of the research which supports the beneficial nature of red clover based isoflavones. Another red clover based supplement called Trinivin is marketed by the same Australian firm, this pill also contains 40 mg of the standardized isoflavones isolated from the herb, Trinivin is meant for men affected by disease free but enlarged prostates, this product is also sold in the United States.
Researches conducted by the company also indicate that the isoflavones present in red clover and Novogen are able to suppress the hot flashes which periodically affect peri-menopausal women without inducing proliferation in the uterine or endometrial tissue of the body. The ability of the isoflavones present in red clover to keep the blood vessels pliable was also demonstrated in a double blind and controlled trial published in March 1999 edition of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Parts used

Flower heads.


All kinds of skin conditions and disorders are also treated using remedies made from the red clover, however, in treating such disorders, the herb is usually combined with other well known purifying herbs like the burdock - botanical name Arctium lappa and the yellow dock herb - botanical name Rumex crispus. The expectorant action of the red clover is also made use of in many herbal preparations, especially in the treatment of spasmodic coughs which are persistent. Certain menopause related disorders and problems can possibly be treated using the estrogenic effect believed to be possessed by the red clover herb.

Other medical uses

Habitat and cultivation

The red clover is an old world species, originally growing native only in parts of the European and Asian continents. These days, the plant has been naturalized in different areas as well and grows widely in North America as well as Australia. Because of its nitrogen fixation ability, the red clover is often used as a rotation crop and the red clover is also widely cultivated as animal feed in pastures. During summer, the floral heads of the red clover open out and the flower heads are collected for use in herbal preparations.


Red clover has been proven to bring about a contraceptive effect on grazing sheep; however, red clover's potentially beneficial medicinal actions have not been thoroughly researched till date.


Red clover contains phenolic glycosides, flavonoids, salicylates, coumarins, cyanogenic glycosides, mineral acids.

Usual dosage

An herbal red clover tea is the preferred form in which the herb is consumed. This herbal tea can be prepared by adding two to three teaspoons of the dried red clover flowers in 250 ml or a single cup of boiling water, the herb must be allowed to steep in the water by keeping it covered, for a period of 10 - 15 minutes at a time. Patients can drink three cups of this herbal tea every day for the treatment of different conditions. The capsule or tablet form of the red clover can also be used during treatment, these capsules and tablets contain about 2 to 4 grams of the dried flowers. Drinking 2 to 4 ml of the floral tincture thrice every day is also possible during treatment. The tincture, capsule and tablet form of the dried red clover tops are also available in many herbal stores and these can be used in the treatment of the patient as well.

Side effects and cautions

Fermented red clover must not be consumed or used in topical treatments. As the relative safety of such an herbal product is not well known and it may induce unpleasant side-effects.


FRESH - The flowers of the red clover can be used in the topical treatment of skin. Red clover flowers can be crushed and applied or rubbed into irritated skin caused by insect bites and stings, the floral poultice will alleviate the pain and speed up healing in the affected area.
TINCTURE - An herbal red clover floral tincture can be prepared from the flowers of the plant, this floral tincture can be consumed to treat cases of eczema and psoriasis in affected patients.
COMPRESS - An herbal floral compress can also be prepared from the flowers of the red clover, this can be applied to the affected parts of the body in the treatment of arthritic pains, the compress can also be used to alleviate the symptoms of gout by placing the herbal compress on the affected area.
OINTMENT - Red clover floral ointments can also be made for the treatment of lymphatic swellings. This floral ointment can be prepared by covering some fresh red clover flowers in some water and then simmering the water in a slow cooker for a period of forty eight hours at a stretch. The concoction can then be strained, and the residue evaporated to a semi-dry condition, this can then be combined in an equal amount of a good ointment base. The floral ointment made from red clover blossoms is for topical use only.
EYEWASH - The flowers of the red clover can be used in the preparing herbal eyewash from the diluted floral tincture, the dilution ratio can be 20 ml of water or a full eye cup to which 5 - 10 drops of the floral tincture or a well-strained floral infusion must be added. This floral eyewash can be used during disorders such as conjunctivitis and other conditions of the eye.
DOUCHE - The floral infusion of the red clover herb can be used to alleviate vaginal itching in the form of a douche.
SYRUP - The red clover floral infusion can be boiled down to herbal syrup, this herbal remedy can be used in the treatment of persistent or stubborn, dry coughs affecting the patient.

Indian tea or essiac

  • 3 oz (90 g) red clover flowers
  • 3 oz (90 g) wood sorrel flowers
  • 3 oz (90 g) common burdock root
  • 1 oz (30 g) kelp
  • 1 oz (30 g) slippery elm powder
  • 1 oz (30 g) Canada thistle head

Combine all the plants.
Boil 1 t (5 ml) of the mixture in 1 cup (250 ml) water for 5 minutes. Drink 3 cups (750 ml) per day for 1 to 3 months. This is the closest recipe to the original famous North American Indian tea used to fight cancer. It is also an excellent lymphatic and blood depurative.


From Carolyn - Mar-18-2011
I used the red clover eye wash for my son with very sore irritated eyes, and he found it to be very soothing. I also used it to treat conjunctivitis in our pet rabbit and it seemed to soothe and cure his conjunctivitis. Try it for sore irritated eyes, you won't be disappointed!
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