Red clover is one of the oldest medicines of the native American that can be found in five contingents. The scientific name of red clover is Trifolium pratense; it is native to Europe, Western Asia, Northwest Africa, and North America. The seeds were introduced to Australia, New Zealand, and South America and the plants are well developed to improve the soil fertility with the seeds sowing rates 1 – 4 kg per hectare.
From the name Trifolium, the leaves are alternate with three leaflets, green color with a characteristic pale crescent on the outer half of the leaf. The flowers are dark pink or magenta-hued blossoms comprise numerous florets with a paler base. Red clover flowers are mostly visited and pollinated by bumblebees. The plant is herbaceous, short-lived perennial plant. It is widely grown as fodder crop to feed domesticated livestock and valued for its nitrogen fixation to increase the soil fertility. For these reasons red clovers are used as “a green manure crop”.
As the member of Leguminosae or pea family or Fabaceae with the total number of about 250 species plants, red clover grows best in slightly acidic to neutral soils that are rich in calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. The plants are drought tolerant and suited to high rainfall. Although red clovers are strong against the harsh climate, the plant is subject to fungal, bacterial, and virus diseases. The common names for this sweet herb include wild clover, meadow trefoil, bee bread, cow grass and three-leafed grass.
In traditional medicine, red clover blossom tea is used for muscle relaxation, sedative or antidepressant, and expectorant. In alternative medicine, red clover is promoted as a treatment for hormonal imbalance including symptoms of menopause. Red clover blossom contains isoflavones, plant-based chemicals that produce estrogen-like effects in the body. Recently, red clover has been studied as an alternative remedy for hot flashes in menopausal women as well as hot flashes in men following surgery for prostate cancer.
Red clover contains coumestrol, a phytoestrogen and coumarin, an anticoagulant as blood thinner. Scientific tests have shown that red clover has potential in improving cardiovascular health and reducing osteoporosis.
Preparing the infusion or red clover tea. Bring fresh non chlorinated water to the boiling point and add to the dried red clover blossoms in the teapot. Five to eight dried blossoms can be used to make tea. Second or third brewing can be done using the same batch. Drink while warm or cold. Please consult your physician if you have an allergic reaction with herbs, taking the blood-thinning medicine and estrogen treatment.
Although no side effects in humans have been reported for non-fermented red clover, it may cause bleeding and have adverse interaction with certain blood thinners, particularly heparin, ticlopidine, and warfarin. Red clover also reduces the body’s absorption of combined estrogens.