The melilot, Melilotus officinalis of the Leguminosae family , is an annual or biennial herbaceous plant that grows as a bush and reaches a height of 1.5 m.The local names attributed are: Cavalin in Piedmont, Trifoglio cavallino in Lombardy, Spain salvadega in Veneto, Vetturina grass in Tuscany, Trifoglio melato in Puglia, Vetarina grass in the Marche.
The stems are simple or more often branched with the hollow interior. The leaves are trifoliate (divided into 3 small leaflets) while the flowersgather in clusters composed of 30/70 yellow flowers. The fruit is a black-brown legume, while the seeds are ovoid and greenish-yellow in color.
It grows in Europe and in Western Asia, from the sea to the submontana region of the whole of Italy, in the fields, in uncultivated and sunny places, along the roads.
The drug, that is the part of phytotherapic interest, is represented by the flowering tops.
The flowering tops are harvested between June and August by cutting only the flexible branches, not the hardened ones and when the weather is dry. The plant must be dried very well because moisture can develop a mold that turns coumarins into dicumarol, a toxic substance used as a rat poison and which interferes with coagulation. The sweet clover does not act directly on blood coagulation.
The harvest does not cause damage to the species, but it is important that the plant is not torn up and that some floral clusters are always left intact.
It is considered a forage plant that sometimes has an infesting character.
The tops, gathered in bunches, are dried in the shade and kept in paper or canvas bags.
Active principles and contents
The plant contains coumarins and coumarin derivatives that have anti-edematous and cicatrizant activity which make it useful in case of venous insufficiency and lymphatic stasis.
The main coumarin present is melitoside with vasoprotective activity, an activity similar to escine contained in the horse chestnut.
Contains flavonoids that possess antiseptic and diuretic properties. There are tannins, essential oil, resins and starch.
12 benefits of the Melilotus
The sweet clover is an officinal plant that thanks to its vasotonic effect proves useful in cases of venous and lymphatic stasis: edema, swelling of the legs, cellulite, water retention and hemorrhoids. Beyond these benefits it is also effective in treating insomnia due to anxiety and stomach cramps due to nervousness.
- The flowering tops contain coumarin derivatives that give the melilot a pleasant hay smell and, thanks to the properties of the coumarins, have a vasotoniceffect .
- It is useful in venous and lymphatic stasis.
- It fluidizes the blood and is indicated in itching, in the swellings and in the cramps of the lower limbs due to poor circulation.
- It has a tonic, anti-edema function (which prevents the formation of oedemas), anti-inflammatory in venous diseases and is able to perform a lymphatic drainage: it is used in venous insufficiency, in edema and in swelling of the legs, in phlebitis, in hemorrhoids, in water retention and cellulite.
- In the eye-drops it has a inflammatory and decongestant action of the sclera.
- The melilot is also useful in cases of insomnia due to anxiety or excitability, but also excessive tiredness, in fact the coumarins act on the central nervous system and help to calm the states of overexcitation. An herbal tea before going to sleep induces calm and promotes sleep.
- The antispasmodic action makes the melilot an excellent sedative in case of stomach crampsdue to nervousness or hyper-excitation.
- It is a sedative of neuralgia, cough and urinary tract spasms.
- A studyconducted on rats (Department of Neurology in Shandong, China) evaluated the protective effect of the extract of Melilotus Officinalis on brain tissues in acute cerebral ischemia and concluded that the extract of Melilotus improves apoptosis (programmed cell death ) in ischemic rats, decreasing cerebral thrombosis, oxidative stress and inflammatory mediators ( 1 ).
- Also this study, conducted on rats and therefore to be considered as the beginning for further experimental investigations, evaluates the antioxidant and chelating effect against iron. Excess iron generates free radicals causing damage to organs. The content in flavonoids and phenolic compounds that possess chelating properties, of Melilotus, demonstrates how the Melilotus extract has a possible action, as an iron chelator, increasing the excretion of iron in urine and faeces ( 2).
- The extract of Meliloto is used in the tradition of Traditional Chinese Medicine(MTC) as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and inhibitor of capillary permeability ( 3 ).
- Popular tradition attributes a mild sedative action similar to chamomile to melilot, and is also used as a diuretic and as a balsamic expectorant in cough.
The uses of the sweet clover
It is found as a mother tincture , already prepared in herbalist’s shops, obtained by macerating the whole plant, leaves, roots and flowering tops in a mixture of food alcohol and water for about three weeks.
- As an herbal tea it is prepared by pouring 100 ml of boiling water over 2 g of flowering tops. It is left to rest for 10 minutes and is filtered. For digestive disorders, neuralgia and migraine.
- The infusion for external use is obtained by infusing 40 g of plant in a liter of boiling water. Leave to infuse until a brownish liquid is obtained. It is used: in tablets on the varicose veins or also on the eyelids, to wash small abrasions, for eruptions and for rinses in case of inflammation of the mouth and throat.
- The infusions of Meliloto have been used above all for the decongestant treatment of the eyelids and the areas around the eyes, the mouth, the nose, the throat and to wash, in case of need, small wounds, abrasions, pimples, pustules. Preparations of Melilot should be used with caution and without abuse.
- The University Federico II of Naples ( 4 ) has long-termed the administration of Centella and Meliloto flavonoids in diabetic patients, type 2 diabetics, with macular edema (CME without macular thickening), concluding that the combination provided sensitivity preservation retinal during 36 months of follow-up compared to untreated patients.
Supplement based on melilot
Euvenol Forte is a supplement characterized by plant extracts and vitamins, including the sweet clover, which can promote the functionality of the microcirculation. The presence of vitamin C also stimulated the natural formation of collagen in the body.