Red clover, a wild plant used as grazing food for cattle and other livestock, has also been used medicinally to treat a wide array of conditions. These have included cancer, mastitis (inflammation of the breast), joint disorders, jaundice, bronchitis, spasmodic coughing, asthma, and skin inflammations, such as psoriasis and eczema. Red clover is thought to "purify" the blood by promoting urine and mucous production, improving circulation, and stimulating the secretion of bile. Recently, specific chemicals in red clover -- known as isoflavones -- have been isolated and tested for their effectiveness in treating a variety of conditions. Although isolated isoflavone products are very different from the whole herb, they have shown promise in the treatment of a number of conditions associated with menopause, such as hot flashes, cardiovascular health, and the bone loss associated with osteoporosis.
Red clover flowers contain a number of substances believed to facilitate healing, including a volatile oil and isoflavones. In traditional Chinese medicine, red clover is believed to help clean the blood, clear heat and remove toxins. Internally, red clover is used as an alternative medicine for hot flashes that occur during menopause; skin complaints such as eczema and psoriasis; chronic degenerative diseases; gout; whooping cough; and dry coughs.
Because it contains chemicals called isoflavones, which belong to a larger class of plant chemicals known as phyto (plant-derived) estrogens, red clover is often taken to relieve symptoms of menopause and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Isoflavones are similar in shape to the female hormone, estrogen. Therefore, they may attach to estrogen receptors throughout the body -- particularly in the bladder, blood vessels, bones, and heart. For women with normal estrogen levels, red clover isoflavones may displace some of the natural estrogens, possibly preventing or relieving estrogen-related symptoms such as breast pain that are associated with PMS. This effect may also reduce the possibility of developing estrogen-dependent cancer of the endometrium. In addition, results from a review of nearly 1000 women suggest that red clover may interfere with an enzyme known to promote the progression of endometrial cancer. Red clover may also block enzymes thought to contribute to prostate cancer in men. In post-menopausal women, who have generally low blood levels of estrogen, red clover may act as hormone replacement, thereby relieving some of the symptoms associated with low estrogen levels. Clinical studies have been inconclusive, however, in determining whether or not red clover isoflavones are effective at relieving hot flashes associated with menopause. Some study participants experienced various degrees of relief from hot flashes, while others observed no change. In addition, red clover isoflavones may actually accelerate the growth of existing breast tumors. Before red clover can be recommended for use, more studies are needed to determine whether it has any effects on cancer or the symptoms of menopause and PMS.
Primary chemical constituents of Red Clover include phenolic glycosides (salicylic acid), essential oil (methyl salicylate), sitosterol, genistiene, flavonoids, salicylates, coumarins, cyanogenic glycosides, silica, choline, and lecithin. Red Clover also contains vitamin A, vitamin C, B-complex, calcium, chromium, iron, and magnesium. Researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) have found anti-cancer properties in this herb. Red Clover is one of the most useful remedies for children with skin problems. Because it is mild, it makes an excellent nutritional supplement for children. The expectorant and anti-spasmodic action give this remedy a role in the treatment of coughs and bronchitis, but especially in whooping cough, dry cough and colds. Red Clover also increases the production of mucus and urine flow helping relieve irritation and inflammation of the urinary tract. As a digestive aid, Red Clover stimulates the production of digestive fluids and bile. It also relieves constipation and helps soothe inflammation of the bowel, stomach and intestines. Red Clover contains easily absorbed calcium & magnesium which tones and relaxes the nervous system, relieving tension due to stress and the associated headaches which are further relieved by the silicic acid content. Clinical evidence shows that there is a basis for it's long standing tradition in treating cancer and it's anti-microbial properties have been proven effective against tuberculosis. For women, Red Clover is quite special. It contains stilbene which stimulates eostrogenic activity, thus increasing fertility, and reduces "hot flashes" experienced by women during menopause. It also supports the uterus with it's vitamin content, and the high protein content nourishes the whole body. There is also an alkalizing effect which improves the vaginal and uterine acid/alkaline balance.
Red clover is a legume rich in isoflavonoid phytoestrogens including: genistein, daidzein, formononetin and biochanin-A, compounds that are now recognized for supporting critical hormone levels within the body in both men and women, without having any negative side effects. Controlled clinical trials show that phytoestrogens from red clover help to maintain proper bone density in menopausal women, as well as relieving hot flushes and night sweats. Red clover has been a valued medicine since ancient times and was particularly valued for treating respiratory problems, colds, flues and infections in the 19th century. Red clover is recognized as a detoxification herb or "blood cleanser". The tea, like that of licorice root, is also said to be effective for treating gastrointestinal problems and can be used externally as a hydrocortisone cream replacement for alleviating skin inflammations and psoriasis. Historically, the blossom tea was also used as an antispasmodic and mild sedative. Research is showing that phytoestrogens, including and especially those from red clover, are beneficial for preventing and treating many of the major degenerative diseases plaguing our society today. Phytoestrogens support good health in many ways such as: 1) they bind at estrogen receptors and prevent the body from over-producing estradiol; 2) they dilute xenoestrogen-type toxins by binding at receptor sites and function as anti-estrogens; 3) they boost progesterone expression and help to normalize the body's important estrogen to progesterone ratio; 4) they reduce cholesterol and support the liver in its critical role of detoxifying the blood and converting excess estradiol into the more benign form of estriol; 6) they are powerful antioxidants; 7) they prevent the formation of new blood vessels that feed abnormal cells; 8) they inhibit abnormal cell growth, and 9) they boost several beneficial enzymes within the body that prevent DNA adducts and reduce cellular damage and aging. Red clover herb and blossoms contain: Phytoestrogens including genistein, daidzein, formononetin and biochanin-A. The phytoestrogen content varies from 1.0% to 2.5% of dry matter. Red clover also contains many other flavonoid-type antioxidants and is rich in protein.