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Red Clover

Red clover has most often been used to treat such skin inflammations as psoriasis and eczema. It also acts as an expectorant and demulcent, and is helpful in the treatment of bronchitis and spasmodic coughs, particularly whooping cough. Red clover may stimulate the liver and gall bladder and has been used for constipation and sluggish appetite. The blossoms were smoked as a remedy for asthma. An infusion of red clover blossoms used as a skin wash, or as a poultice prepared from fresh blossoms, may relieve the irritation of athlete's foot or insect bites. The infusion is also useful as an external skin wash in the treatment of persistent sores and ulcers, and may help speed healing. As an eyewash, red clover tincture diluted with fresh water may relieve conjunctivitis. An ointment prepared from red clover is helpful for lymphatic swellings, and a compress made with it may relieve the pain of arthritis and gout. More recently, red clover has been studied as an alternative remedy for hot flushes in menopausal women and in men following surgery for prostate cancer.

Many of the chemical constituents present in red clover have been identified, including volatile oil, isoflavonoids, coumarin derivatives and cyanogenic glycosides. Few scientific studies have confirmed the folk use of red clover remedies. The genistein found in red clover has been found to contribute to the shrinking of cancerous tumours in vitro by preventing growth of the new blood vessels that feed the tumours. One of the first studies using purified extract of red clover, published in 1999, concluded that use of red clover in standardised extracts which include specific quantities of the four isoflavones - genistein, daidzein, biochanin and formononetin - resulted in improved heart health in post-menopausal women. Red clover is considered by some herbalists to be a phytoestrogenic herb, useful in restoring oestrogen balance in women. The chemical formononetin, found in red clover, acts on the body in a similar way as oestrogen.


Red clover is a safe and mild remedy. No adverse effects have been reported in humans when taking therapeutic doses of the herb. Allergic reactions to red clover are rare but possible. Numerous reports of toxicity, even death, have been reported in cattle who overgraze in fields of clover.

Side Effects

No side effects in humans have been reported for unfermented red clover. Fermented extracts of red clover may cause bleeding.


No interactions have been reported between red clover and other herbs. It has, however, been reported to have adverse interactions with certain allopathic medications, particularly heparin, ticlopidine, and warfarin. Red clover also reduces the body's absorption of combined oestrogens.

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