Thursday, September 06, 2018

Roll me over, in the clover...

Essential Herbal July/August 2015
Cathy Walker
Red Clover (Trifolium Pratense) is a legume, that is in the bean family.  An edible short-lived perennial that lasts 2 to 4 years,  self seeding and can prosper on it's own.  Some flower in early spring, while others flower during summer, but a large enough patch, will flower from spring to summer.  Pretty much thought of as an irritating weed, it often gets mowed over, and thrown in the garbage, but it actually is one of the most amazing medicines you'll find on your property.

Red clover, has a spherical head ranging from light pink to purple in colour, with up to one hundred and twenty five tubular florets, that when sucked on, release a tender sweetness inside. Mostly it grows low to the ground, about ten or so inches, but can grow up to 30 inches in height and has a hairy, hollow stem.  Most are adorned with 3 lobed leaves with a white arrow type water mark design on each one. 
 Red clover is one of the richest sources of Biochanin A.  Biochanin A is an O- methylated isoflavin, which is a water-soluble chemical that mimics estrogen. The o-methylated chemical is a chemical reaction that when oxidization meets the methane derivative of carbon dioxide, it releases Nitrogen into the soil.  It is for this reason that farmers use it to produce better soil and better feed for their animals.

As well as being rich in isoflavones, red clover as a food source is full of calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C. It is also a good source of protein at 20%. Since it is one of the highest in isoflavones, it is highly recommended for estrogen-related health conditions in women because it mimics estrogen. Studies show it has been reliable in premenstrual symptoms.   relieving breast tenderness, regulating menstrual flow, PMS, and also used in fertility treatments.  It can also be taken as preventive measures of estrogen-dependent cancers including uterine and cervical.  Studies have shown , that red clover has stopped cancerous growth from continuing and there is evidence that show cancer tumors have shrunk to a precancerous state, showing no sign of cancer at all.
Being high also in magnesium, and a source of calcium, it can also be taken as preventive measures for osteoarthritis.  Red clover has been known to slow both bone loss and bone mineral density and pre and peri - menopausal women and may have a direct effect of preventing the breakdown of existing bone. Although it seems to be great in preventative care both before and during menopause, it shows no signs of improvements after menopause or for men.

However in recent studies the American menopausal society over an 8 month period, showed significant reduction in hot flashes for menopausal women. At 10 months, at 50 milligram doses daily, raised High Density Lipoprotein, (HDL) which is the good kind of cholesterol by 28%,which means better heart protection. Another trial showed 80 milligrams taken daily, improved elasticity of arteries by 23%.
In males, red clover has been found to shrink benign prostate growths,  that otherwise would press against the bladder making urination impossible.  Once the benign tumor has shrunk, it no longer presses against the bladder and allows the kidneys and bladder to return to normal function.

Since it has niacin it would be a good plant for the circulatory system, and can be used with other herbs such as burdock root and dandelion root, to clean the blood stream. This can be done as a decoction, gathering the roots in the spring or fall when is not in bloom and all the energy is in the root systems. 

As a first aid remedy, red clover flowers , can be steeped and drunk as a tea, to calm someone who is anxious.  As a tea, can be strained and cooled then soak a cotton ball and put it on inflamed skin conditions.  Can be used topically or internally for eczema but best of all red clover is wonderful for chest complaints and can be used on its own ....

Clover works well with mullein, licorice, peppermint and marshmallow root, as a strong decoction for lung/chest issues, or use flower heads as a light herbal tea for preventative measures.
Personally my favorite use for red clover, is topical for skin creams and medicinal balms, for all kinds of skin conditions ranging from cuts, and rashes to eczema. I like to gather the flower heads on a nice sunny morning after the dew has dried, so that they are fresh and dry. I place them in a mason jar almost to the rim, and then pour a stable oil like olive oil over them. I cap the jar then give it a few good shakes to make sure the oil has gone through all the flowers and release all air bubbles , then sit in a cool dry place for 3 to 6 weeks shaking daily.  You will have a nice green sweet smelling oil that you can use neat, that is directly on skin. You can use in a face serum or as I mentioned before, in a medicinal balm for cuts and swelling.

1 cup of red clover head infused oil.
2-4 ounces of wax, your choice depending on how soft or hard you want it. 

You can play with the oils and make a multi infusion of lavender heads, calendula flowers, plantain, and chickweed if you wish to strengthen the medicinal qualities, but sometimes simplicity can be just as good.

You can also add essential oils once it cools so as not to burn off the medicinal qualities of the oils.  Essential oils like lavender,chamomile, tea tree, would be good for anti-microbial purposes.

If you wish to make a face oil, I would suggest straining the infusion, then adding essential oils like Rose, Bergamot, Geranium, to aid with skin, keeping away from eyes as only certain oils can be used in that area only.  If you are going to use it specifically for an eye serum, then use it with no essential oils at all.  You could even add either infused oils to enrich a face oil or vitamin e, Rosa Mosquita would be nice with this oil at no more than a 2-5% dilution. 

Remember, essential oils should be used at approximately 20 drops for 15 milliliter's of carrier oil, so experiment, and most of all have fun.

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