red clover large Red clover

Red clover| Trifolium pratense

general characteristics

general characteristics

Common names include red clover, pink clover, meadow clover, trefoil, bee clover.


This sparkling meadow and grassland perennial is a member of the bean and pea family, Fabaceae. It can be found growing throughout Europe, parts of Asia, North Africa, North & South America and Australia. The name 'trifolium' denotes its leaves occur in groups of 3. Pratense means 'pasture/meadow dwelling'.

It tends to prefer sunny open spots in open grassland and meadows. Being a member of the pea/bean family, its roots help to increase nitrogen levels in the soil in which it grows and it is a natural fertlliser plant. The blossoms are loved by all kinds of bees and insects due to their rich nectar supply.

Organic red clover dried herb and tincture are available to buy in our herbal shop.

harvesting and preparation

harvesting and preparation

Red clover produces flowers from Summer all the way through into Autumn so harvest time is long and plentiful. As you pick a flower, pull out one of the little florets, have a nibble and see if you can taste the slightly sweet tasting nectar at the base of each floret.


The whole fresh fower heads are picked when in full flower. Avoid faded or browning flowers and treat them gently as they can bruise easily. A few of the top leaves can also be included. Lay on a tray, spread out well and dry thoroughly before storing in an airtight jar in a cool dark place.

Organic red clover dried herb and tincture are available to buy in our herbal shop.

therapeutic actions and uses

therapeutic actions and uses

When I first learned about red clover it was introduced as an 'alterative', a plant able to make subtle but profound adjustments in the body that allow us to come back in to balanced good health. It was also known as a  good old fashioned and reliable 'blood purifier'. Herbs that purify the blood work on many levels to raise the health and functioning of the bodys' detoxification organs such as the liver, kidneys, skin, lymph and lungs. When the detox organs are able to function at their optimum, many causes of ill health are gradually removed and improved. Red clover is particularly good at reversing chronic long term ailments involving skin and/or the lungs.

Red clover tea has a  mildly sweet taste, it cools and moistens, clears heat and alleviates dryness. It is gentle but powerful when used regularly and makes a great addition to many formulas yet works perfectly well on its own. Red clover contains a wealth of nutrients such as amino acids/proteins, calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, vitamin C and tocopherol - a form of vitamin E.


The tea has definite mucilaginous and antispasmodic qualities to it which would explain why it is successful in relieving dry and irritable coughs and lung conditions.. It has been used for many centuries in coughs and lung complaints and can be valuable in formulas against bronchitis, whooping cough, asthma, diphtheria and even tuberculosis (it is antibacterial against the TB bacterium). Also useful allay to the throat in conditions such as laryngitis and pharyngitis.


Red clover flowers also protect the heart and cardiovascular system, reduce 'high cholesterol' (reduce low density lipids LDL and increase  high density lipids HDL, the ones we want more of), thins the blood and promote free and healthy blood circulation, eases angina, help prevent against thrombosis, aneurysm, blood clots and vessel plaque build up and improve the elasticity of blood vessels. I would include it in any formula to help both prevent and aid recovery from strokes.


Red clover flowers have gained much attention in recent years as a good source of therapeutic oestrogens. This has led to many women using red clover as a substitute for synthetic oestrogen replacements (HRT) such as 'Promensil' to alleviate menopausal symptoms (hot flushes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, frequent urinary infections, headaches, depression etc) related to naturally falling oestrogen levels as we age.

The phytoestrogens can also help to decrease bone loss and increase bone mass so are a benefit for those who have, or at risk of, osteoporosis, especially when fermented soya products like miso, tamari amd tempeh (soya beans are in the same family as red clover) are included in the diet.

However, the various hormonal like components (isoflavones) in red clover flowers have been shown to be both agonists and antagonists to oestrogen receptors in the body. This means red clover can both increase and decrease oestrogen levels in the body. Another example of an amphoteric ('thinking') herb? This article explains some of the mechanisms by which red clover flowers can be both.

In spite of its new reputation as an oestrogen replacement (and the suggestion that it should be avoided during oestrogen dominant cancers such as breast, ovarian etc) red clover has a long held reputation for preventing 'hormone driven' cancers and recent research is appearing to validate this use.The flowers are showing distinct properties of protecting against breast and prostate cancers and have an anti-proliferative effect on breast cancer cells as shown here. Red clover phytoestrogens are capable of occupying oestrogen receptor sites, effectively blocking out bodily oestrogen (endogenous oestrogen). Here is an excellent explanation of how plant oestrogens work in the body.


Red clover flowers are included in many traditional herbal preparations aimed at treating cancer. These include Hoxsey formulas, some Essiac formulations to name but a few. Here is a great story borrowed from herbalist  Richard Whelans excellent website which puts the power of red clover into perspective....


"The following letter was written by Truman Woodford of West Hartford, Conneticut. It was re-published in the New York Evening Post and originally printed in the Phrenological Journal of December 1867.

When about fifty years of age there appeared near the outer corner of my left eye a small scab, which slowly enlarged and soon became painful, attended with a constant itching, or rather a twitching sensation. Feeling anxious about it I applied to a physician in Hartford who said it was a cancerous affection but advised me to let it alone and give it no medical treatment. As the affected place continued to enlarge and the irritation increased I applied to another physician who attempted to cure it by applying caustic, which treatment proved an injury instead of a benefit.

The sore increased in size, spreading over the temple, eating off both lids of the eye, discharging matter constantly, destroying the sight of the eye and causing almost insufferable pain. Thus matters stood at the end of 20 years affliction, and I had reached the age of 70. I had up to that time consulted 6 physicians, from none of whom did I receive any relief. The cancer now assailed the substance of the eyeball, eating it out entirely. The sore spread over the temple to the size of the palm of my hand and below the eye and three quarters of an inch.

I then applied to an eminent physician in New York (Dr. Blake) and remained under his treatment without any benefit, but rather grew worse. I now gave up all hope of recovery, ceased taking medicines, and merely washed the affected part often in cold water. During the summer of 1865 it had become so painful that I slept but little, was very weak and nervous, was confined to my bed most of the time, and expected soon to die; my friends thinking i could not live until the following spring.

In the month of August 1865 I heard of a remarkable cure of cancer by use of the tea made from common field red clover. Thinking it was at least harmless I used it as a common beverage, making it very strong, and also washed the eye with the same. In less than two months, to my utter astonishment, the pain entirely ceased, and the sore began to heal at the inner corner of my eye. The healing process went on rapidly until the eye socket healed over, forming a skin as smooth as that on my cheek, and the redness is now gone.

There is not over my eye even the semblance of a scar, and but a few scars remain on the temple. My sleep is now sweet, my appetite good, am more fleshy than ever before, my general health is never better and I think I have as few infirmities and am as hale and hearty as any man of my age, which is now 80 years."



The flowers are useful for an enlarged prostate (BPH)) and also prostate cancer.


Regular dose of red clover tea are often used to increase fertility, even in older women who are peri-menopausal. It helps to promote balanced hormones, increases follicle stimulation and egg production and release. It also thins the blood and mucous helping to promote blood flow and ease pelvic congestion. herbalist Susun Weed has this to say about red clover for fertility.....

To make a fertility-enhancing infusion, I take one ounce by weight of the dried blossoms (fresh won't work for this application) and put them in a quart size canning jar. I fill the jar with boiling water, screw on a tight lid, and let it steep at room temperature overnight (or for at least four hours). Dozens of women have told me that they had successful pregnancies after drinking a cup or more (up to four cups) a day of red clover infusion.

It is especially helpful if there is scaring of the fallopian tubes, irregular menses, abnormal cells in the reproductive tract, or "unexplained" infertility. It may take several months for the full effect of this herb to come on and pregnancy may not occurs until you have used it for a year or two.


Many people find red clover helpful in treating breast lumps and cysts and also for ovarian cysts.


Endometriosis and uterine fibroids may also be helped with red clover tea as the phytoestrogens can occupy oestrogen receptor sites and effectively reduce the impact of the bodys own oestrogen. Conventional medicine advises that phytoestrogenic herbs like red clover be avoided in 'oestrogen driven' conditions like endometriosis yet experience of many herbalists and endo sufferers say otherwise. Here is a link to a research study on how phytoestrogens showed no negative impact on encouraging the growth of endometrial tissue. An extract from the research paper states.....

Despite endometriosis being an oestrogen-dependent disease, we found no evidence that urinary phytoestrogens were associated with a higher risk of an endometriosis diagnosis in either a sample of premenopausal women or in an operative sample.


Red clover flowers are particularly good in all kinds of skin problems, especially when of a dry and scaly nature such as dry eczema and psoriasis. Skin breakouts of  acne and episodes of frequent spots and pimples can also be cleared and improved as can toxic accumulations in the skin such as cysts and abscess..


Red clover tea is a great drink for childhood eczema and asthma. It can also be useful in childhood illnesses such as measles to soothe skin, alleviate coughs and congestion and to help the skin.


Clears the lymphatic vessels and nodes, removes congestion and encourages free lymph fluid movement throughout the body, thereby helping to improve overall immunity and waste management. Red clover is an old remedy for scrofula, a form of tuberculosis involving swelling and congestion of the lymph nodes. Also make s soothing wash for mouth soreness and for opening up and healing the salivary glands.


Can be included in formulas for arthritis and other joint conditions where it eases inflammation, soothes and nourishes the joints, cleans and clears the blood and lymph and eases the mental and physical tension associated with chronic discomfort.


Red clover tea is a mild sedative and nutrient nerve tonic that can also help in mild cases of depression, especially when mixed with anxiety and nervous exhaustion. It is soothing yet energising to the nerves and can also help with insomnia.


The flowers help to support the liver to decongest and help it detoxify during chronic illness or when health is poor generally.


Very nourishing for those convalescing from a long or arduous illness. The tea can nourish the body and mind, even when the appetite has failed or is weak.


Here is a collection of some of the laboratory investigations into red clover constituents and their applications.

Another list of scientific studies at the bottom of this article.





dosage and cautions

dosage and cautions.

* Red clover is a safe and well tolerated herb that is fine to use for longer periods, some women use it daily for years (during and after the menopause for example) with only positive results. Personally I would only go for 1 cup daily for longer term use of several months or years.

* Can interact with other medications such as hormonal treatments (including contraceptives), blood thinners, anti-platelet and anti-coagulants. Avoid red clover if taking any of these drugs - always. use caution when combining red clover with prescribed medicines.

* Many orthodox medicine sources (non herbal) advise caution for those with a history of oestrogen driven disorders (ovarian or breast cancer, endometriosis etc) although there is little evidence to support this, especially given its proven ability to lower as well as raise oestrogen levels.

* Avoid during pregnancy and breast feeding.

* Avoid if you are a haemophiliac or have another bleeding disorder due to red clovers blood thinning actions.



Dried herb in tea form: 2 teaspoons of flower heads infused in boiling water, drink up to 3 cups daily at this dose. many herbalists confidently state that up to 4 teaspoons of herb can be used per cup but advise to build up to this dose only when needed.

Tincture: 20 drops (around 2 mls)  up to 3 times daily.

* The fresh or dried flowers can be made into a paste or poultice and applied to skin cancers, ulcers, burns and similar.

* The seeds of red clover can also be sprouted and added in small amounts to food .



Add 12 to the child’s age. Divide the child’s age by the total.
E.g. dosage for a 4 year old...... 4 {age} divided by 16 {age + 12} = . 25  or 1/4 of the adult dosage.




Child watering plants




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