Monday, April 09, 2018

Red Clover – Herb of Good Fortune

July/August 2010 Essential Herbal Magazine

Have you ever taken a sip of nectar from a red clover blossom? As a child I would sit in our neighbor’s field, pull the flowering tops off red clover plants and sip the nectar from the base of the flower. I loved the sweet flavor of this summer treat, unaware that this tasty herbaceous plant had healing properties!

Red clover, Trifolium pratense, (Trifolium means ‘three-leaved’ and pratense means ‘pasture land’) is also known as purple clover, trefoil, cow grass, beebread, sweet clover, and cow clover. Red clover is a perennial herb, used for cattle grazing and is said to be one of the first agricultural crops. It has a Celtic origin and grows wild in meadowlands throughout Europe and Asia. The herb was introduced into North America during the eighteenth century where it is now commonly found in sunny grasslands and along roadsides. The purple-pink, globe-shaped flowers at the end of branched stems can be dried for therapeutic use.

Red clover is associated with good fortune. The phrase “living in clover” refers to living a carefree life of ease, comfort, and prosperity. The familiar three-lobed leaves of the herb were associated by medieval Christians with the Trinity. Fairy lore states that unicorns particularly like to lie in fields of red clover. Washing the eyelids with red clover water was believed to promote seeing the fairies and unicorns

Red clover has been used to treat a variety of conditions, including whooping cough, bronchitis and skin inflammations. Traditionally, red clover ointments and lotions have been applied to the skin to treat psoriasis, eczema, abscesses, rashes, cysts, tumors and wounds. It can be used in many forms: capsule, tea, tincture, salve, ointment, wash, poultice, infused oil and lotion.

Red clover is considered a "blood purifier" by acting as a diuretic and expectorant, improving circulation, and helping cleanse the liver. It is a source of many nutrients including calcium, chromium, magnesium, iron, niacin, phosphorus, vitamin C, potassium, and thiamine. Nutritionally, red clover is most well known as a very rich source of isoflavones; compounds that act like estrogens and are found in many plants. These phyto-chemicals, also found in soy, look similar to the hormone, estrogen. Many case studies are currently ongoing regarding the effects of red clover as a supplement for women’s health issues.  

Gather red clover in summer when in it is in full, open bloom. Take time to rinse the flowers and check them for insects. Be sure the place you harvested your blooms was not sprayed with chemicals. Pull the petals from the fresh flower head and add them to salads or prepare a refreshing red clover iced tea. To use at a later date, rinse the flowers and lay the blooms in the shade on a screen or paper towels to dry. Store the flowers in air tight containers, in a cool dark place.
Red Clover Iced Tea
For one large glass of iced tea you will need:
One to two teaspoons dried red clover flowers or ½ cup fresh red clover blossoms and eight ounces of good water

Bring water to a rolling boil, pour the boiling water over the red clover flowers and steep for 7 – 12 minutes. Strain and add local honey (red clover honey would be a good choice) to sweeten if desired. Allow to cool before pouring your brew into a large glass filled with ice cubes. Garnish with lemon balm or lemon verbena leaves. Enjoy!!! (You can certainly make a ‘pitcher’ of iced tea – just increase the ingredients to proportions).
Interactions and Precautions:Research shows red clover may interfere with the body's ability to process some drugs that are broken down by liver enzymes. For that reason, you should check with your health provider before using red clover. Red clover may enhance the effect of anti-coagulant drugs, increasing the risk of bleeding, so do not take red clover before having surgery. Studies have shown that red clover may increase the effect of estrogens if you are taking hormone replacement therapy, or birth control pills. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use red clover. 

The information provided in this article is intended solely to inform the reader. Please be certain to ‘know your herb’ before consuming it.
“Walk Gently on this Earth!”

Submitted by:
Mary Hammond – Herbal Practitioner


SurrenderElla said...

What about the larger crimson red clover I see blooming?

Tina Sams said...

Hi Jill,
My neighbor grew that a few years ago and offered me as much as I wanted. Looking it up, it seemed to be about the same.