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Red clover, a common perennial herb that grows wild in meadows through much of the world, is in the legume family, just as beans, peas and peanuts are. Its Latin name, Trifolium pretense, means “three leaves, found in the meadow”. Red clover is well-known by organic farmers as a cover crop, ideal for fixing nitrogen to increase soil fertility. Some of its other common names are purple clover, cow clover, meadow clover and wild clover.

There are hundreds of species, and many are grown for feeding livestock, but red clover is believed to be of great medicinal value. The flowering tops, on the one day when they are at the peak of perfection, are harvested for use in tinctures, teas, capsules and body care products. Because red clover, once dried, easily loses its medicinal value, it is important to choose products carefully so that we may enjoy their numerous benefits.

Red clover is a powerful herb for a broad variety of ailments. It is considered an alterative, meaning that it’s a remedy that restores overall good health. Well known for its ability to cleanse and purify the blood, red clover is believed to help prevent some of the plaque deposits that can lead to heart attacks or stroke, improving circulation and overall cardiovascular health.

Assisting the liver with the detoxification process, red clover has been reputed as a safe and useful remedy for a variety of health complaints associated with the liver or ‘dirty blood’. Over the last several centuries, one of red clover’s primary uses has been for dermal inflammations, including childhood and adult eczema, psoriasis, dandruff and various rashes. Red clover would often be added to the tea pot for daily consumption and detoxification when symptoms arose. Ointments or salves containing red clover would be applied topically to the affected area. More recently, red clover has been useful for teen, cystic or hormonally-activated acne.

Red clover is considered to be an excellent antispasmodic, meaning that it helps to relieve mild cramping or muscle spasm and it works as an expectorant, helping clear lungs of phlegm and toxins. Traditional health practitioners have used it as part of a program to calm bronchial spasms and coughs associated with the common cold, as well as some serious respiratory problems, including whooping cough, bronchitis, asthma and pneumonia.

Red clover is high in numerous nutrients, including the B vitamins, niacin (B3) and thiamine (B1); vitamin C; and several minerals, including calcium, chromium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Nutritionally, red clover is most well known as a very rich source of isoflavones, a group of compounds found in many plants. These phyto-chemicals, also found in soy, look similar to the female hormone estrogen.

Red clover is often used in herbal formulations to help girls and young women with cramping, moodiness and breast tenderness associated with PMS. Red clover has become popular for helping women with menopause and peri-menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings. It is used by women of all ages to help protect the breasts and improve hormonal health.

There is a lot of confusion in the media and on health websites about how phyto-estrogens, such as isoflavones, work. When plant-based chemical compounds are naturally occurring in an herb such as red clover, these hormone-balancing little gems simply fill some of the estrogen receptors within the body. When isoflavones have been chemically isolated away from the complexity of the plant, they lose the checks and balances of the whole, natural, full-spectrum herb. They can then act more like hormone-replacement medications, providing potential results but with greater possibility for side-effects. Red clover in its whole form such as herbal tea or tincture has not been associated with any side effects.

Red clover has been used for cysts, cancerous tumors, and other growths in Europe, Asia and the Americas for centuries. Early test tube research shows that it may stop cancer cell growth or kill cancer cells altogether. Human research shows promising evidence that red clover interferes with the progression of endometrial cancer (the lining of the uterus) and may block enzymes believed to contribute to prostate cancer in men. Another study showed that red clover also may slow the development of benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), the non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland.

Red clover has been a key ingredient in traditional remedies used by Ojibway and other native tribal healers. It has been an important part of several detoxifying herbal preparations in the past hundred years, as well. Rene Caisse, a nurse in the 1920’s in Canada, opened a cancer clinic using a formulation containing red clover. A portion of her formula is now marketed as Essiac, and for decades these herbs have been used to help people and their pets  with various types and stages of cancer and other blood disorders.

Also in the early 1900’s, the Hoxsey formula was used in 17 cancer clinics throughout Texas and the US. An excellent book called “When Healing Becomes a Crime” was written by Kenny Ausubel about Harry Hoxsey and his experiences with herbal and alternative cancer protocols.

The Eclectic doctors in the 1800’s used red clover often. A fomentation (hot, moist herbal compress), salve, liniment, infused oil, or poultice made with red clover and other cleansing herbs was applied topically to help reduce growths.

You’ll find several excellent red clover products available in the Wellness department and the tea aisle of your local co-op or health food store. Look for Herb Pharm’s tincture of red clover, as well as their wonderful detoxification formula, Red Clover – Stillingia Compound, for a daily or occassional blood purifying effect. And at least twice a year, we should all participate in a more therapeutic cleansing program, which might include one of my other favorite red clover products, such as:

  • the detoxification formula called Flor-Essence Herbal Tea Blend, which is based on the original Ojibway formula passed along to Rene Caisse, offered in liquid or dry herb tea,
  • Eclectic Institute’s Blood Support, which combines freeze-dried burdock with red clover, yellow dock, nettles and dandelion root to support liver and blood detoxification,
  • Eclectic Institute also has a straight-up freeze-dried red clover. I prefer the combinations above, but this is an excellent choice for those who are looking for a high quality red clover capsule.

Happy cleansing on your path to wellness.

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2 Responses to “Cleanse and Purify with Red Clover”

  1. on 23 Mar 2010 at 4:28 am Paula

    Indeed, a plant with many benefits.
    In my mind, when I hear about red clover, I’m thinking of fertility.

  2. on 26 Mar 2010 at 4:21 am SleepBarn

    this site is really inspiring and made me smile.


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