Perennial - Leguminosae
Common names: Red Clover, Trefoil, Wild Clover, Purple clover Beebread, Cow Clover, Cow Grass
Range: Native to Europe, Asia and northern Africa. Naturalized in other parts of the world.
History: Clover enjoys sandy hillsides and makes for a prolific and attractive groundcover. Bees enjoy its nectar, but seem to have a preference for white clover.
Traditionally, clover is used internally (as an infusion) to treat cough, especially whooping cough. Externally, red clover can be prepared as a wash to treat various skin conditions, including acne, psoriasis and eczema.
Research indicates that compounds in red clover called isoflavones behave like phytoestrogens, plant chemicals that demonstrate estrogenic activity. There is clinical evidence that red clover may reduce unpleasant symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and night sweats. However, some studies show that red clover extracts may stimulate an increased production of cells in breast tissue, which may increase the risk of breast cancer. On the other hand, one particular isoflavone called Biochinin A appears to counter this risk by regulating aromatase expression and activity. Other studies suggest that red clover compounds inhibit cell growth in the prostate, but also increase resistance to radiation. Obviously, more research in these applications is needed. At this point in time, it would be prudent to avoid red clover formulations if you have a history of or are undergoing treatment for a hormone-driven disease, such as breast or prostate cancer.
Constituents: volatile oil, isoflavonoids, coumarin derivatives, cyanogenic glycodises