Red clover has become popular as a complementary remedy to alleviate the symptoms of some diseases. What does the evidence say? What are its contraindications? Find out!
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The benefits of red clover have been exploited in traditional medicine since ancient times. Due to its active compounds, it is considered an adjunct to prevent and improve the symptoms of some diseases. However, the evidence regarding its properties is still limited and its use should be prudent.
Also known as wild clover (Trifolium pratense) , it is a plant with dark pink flowers, in the shape of a bell, which are used in some cultures medicinally. As detailed in an article published in Scientific Reports , it tends to grow in soils in Europe, Asia, North Africa and South America. What is it for? We will detail it below.
Characteristics and properties of red clover
The red clover is characterized by its rapid growth, since in a short time it reaches between 20 and 80 centimeters high. Its popular name is due to its particular trifoliate green leaves, which have a diameter between 2 and 4 centimeters, and on which the flower rests.
Due to its interesting nutritional composition, the plant has been used in natural medicine as a supplement to reduce the risk of diseases and improve certain symptoms. And while it should not be a first-line treatment, its effects have been interesting.
An article published in the journal Molecules highlights that the oils extracted from the flower of the plant have antioxidant, antiseptic, bactericidal, virucidal and fungicidal properties. In addition, it also has compounds with anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and immunomodulating activity.
Red clover extracts stand out for their content of antioxidant compounds and isoflavones.
Read this article: Medicinal plants for good bone health
Red clover benefits
Many of the benefits of red clover have yet to be substantiated by research. Studies that have been done on the plant are limited and inconclusive. For this reason, the plant should be used with caution, only as an adjunct and not as a sole treatment for diseases.
In fact, if you have a serious illness, it is best to consult your doctor before using these types of options. It should not be ignored that it is contraindicated for some people and that it can interact with other medications . After making this clear, let’s see what its applications are.
- Helps in the treatment of skin pigmentation disorders
The color of the skin is produced by melanin. An increase or decrease in this substance generates pigmentation disorders such as vitiligo or psoriasis. Biocanin A, one of the active ingredients that is extracted from red clover and that can be used in ointments, has shown interesting effects against these problems.
In particular, it seems that it contributes to significantly inhibit the increase of melanin in some cells, which favors the treatment of pigmentary diseases. In turn, the plant is used to calm pain and reduce inflammation in case of superficial wounds on the skin .
- It favors the control of the symptoms of menopause
During menopause, women experience a decrease in the concentration of female hormones such as estrogens. As a result, uncomfortable symptoms are generated, characterized by sudden hot flashes, body aches and mood swings.
Due to its isoflavone content , red clover extracts are useful to promote the relief of this symptomatology. These substances have a behavior similar to human estrogens in the body, so they counteract their decrease at this stage.
A recent study also shows that red clover-based medicines have positive effects on the anxiety and depression experienced by women in the transition from menopause to postmenopause.
- Take care of heart health
Another of the prominent benefits of red clover is its ability to promote heart health. This is possible due to the phytoestrogens in the plant, which are related to a decrease in total cholesterol and LDL or “bad cholesterol.”
It is also believed that it can reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions due to the effects of its antioxidants. In any case, the evidence is still limited and controversial. In a recent study , researchers concluded that red clover did not improve the lipid profile.
- Supports bone health
The isoflavones contained in red clover extracts are also linked to a lower risk of diseases such as osteoporosis. The reason? These substances help to reduce the negative effects of the decrease in estrogens in menopause , which is related to the loss of bone density.
In research published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine , women who took a red clover extract supplement showed less loss of bone density in the lumbar spine and neck compared to the placebo group. However, more studies are needed.
- It is useful to treat respiratory problems
In popular literature, red clover has been a supplement to treat the symptoms of asthma, bronchitis and other diseases of the respiratory tract. However, to date there is insufficient evidence on these effects. Still, there are those who suggest that it favors the relief of sore throats , congestion and other symptoms of these conditions.
Although in folk medicine red clover has been used for respiratory problems, there is still no evidence to support its effects for these diseases.
How is red clover prepared?
Red clover extracts are available through ointments, creams, and lozenges. If you choose these options, their use should be done according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. On the other hand, it is possible to prepare an infusion from the plant, to take it sporadically.
- 3 teaspoons of red clover flowers (20 g)
- 1 cup of water (250 ml)
- Dip the eye clover flowers in a cup of boiling water.
- Then, cover the container and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
- After this time, the infusion is strained.
- It can be ingested twice a day.
Read this article: Infusions to control blood sugar
Red clover contraindications
It is always advisable to consult your doctor before taking red clover to identify possible contraindications . Each organism is different and can react in different ways to the components of this plant. Some contraindications are the following:
- Due to the phytoestrogens in clover, its consumption is counterproductivefor people with hormone-sensitive cancers.
- Red clover has anticoagulant properties, so its consumption should be avoided if taking medications that slow down clot formation.
- It is not recommended for pregnant and lactating women.
- It can cause harmful effects by reactingwith some contraceptive drugs and drugs for the treatment of cancer, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Red clover should be used with caution
Despite the popularity it has gained as a natural remedy, red clover is a plant that must be used with care. While there are studies to support some of its positive health effects, the evidence is still limited for now. Thus, it should never be used as a substitute for medical treatments.
In most healthy adults, the plant does not cause unwanted reactions when used sparingly. However, it is advisable to consult your doctor before taking it on a regular basis. Keep that in mind!