Red Clover (Trifolium pratense L)
Red clover is a member of the legume family. A biennial plant, it grows to a height of 30cm and is widespread in grasslands. Its palmate leaves have three ovate leaves with a whitish crescent near the base. The globular red to purple flowerheads comprise up to sixty florets. Although red clover is a native European plant, it was not until it became naturalised in North America and the Native Americans had discovered its medicinal properties that it was recognised as a medicine in Europe.
Red clover’s constituents include carbohydrates, phenolic glycosides, flavonoids, saponins and salicylates. It is primarily used by herbalists to treat chronic inflammatory and irritating skin conditions and for its phyto-oestrogenic effects.
This is an excellent remedy for children with skin problems and may be safely used in any case of childhood eczema, particularly beneficial in the treatment of children with eczema/asthma syndrome. It is also of value in other chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis.
The fresh, crushed flowers can be applied to bites and stings; the tincture in water may be used as an eyewash for conjunctivitis. An infusion of the flowers can be applied as a douche to relieve vaginal itching.
The expectorant and antispasmodic actions of red clover give it a role in the treatment of coughs and bronchitis, but particularly in whooping cough. A syrup made from the infusion relieves stubborn, dry coughs.
Red clover’s oestrogenic effects have been attributed to the isoflavone constituents. These are converted to phyto-oestrogens in the body. It is widely used in the treatment of menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, and helps tackle the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome such as breast tenderness.
Red clover is widely cultivated as animal fodder, and large quantities have been observed to have a contraceptive effect on sheep.
NB: The above information is for guidance only, and is not intended to take the place of diagnosis and treatment by a qualified practitioner. Some herbs may interact adversely with other medication, so make sure that your health professional is aware of everything you are taking.