8 Ways Red Clover can benefit health and fertility
The Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) is harvested for consumption from its seeds and flower. It has always been believed that this perennial plant has medicinal and herbal properties essential for our well-being, health and even for fertility.
Its flowers blossom in areas across North America, Europe and Asia, but is perennial in nature. Bees also harvest its flowers to produce Clover Honey. Commonly, the flowers are used to brew in hot water as a flowery tea beverage. Otherwise, it may even be added into a salad much like a condiment. Additionally, the flowers and even the leaves can be dried for longer-term storage and distribution.
Also, the Red Clover can also be processed to an extract form, or even a creams or lotions, particularly for topical uses.
Why is Red Clover consumed? It is believed that this plant contains many natural health and fertility benefits, in addition to being able to heal certain skin conditions as well. Let’s take a look at some of its benefits:
1) Remedy for Menopausal Symptoms
Women approaching menopause may experience symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats. Red Clover is believed to contain phytoestrogens called isoflavones, which can be used to relieve these symptoms.
Scientific studies are being done on the Red Clover to possibly use it as an alternative to Estrogen Replacement Therapy (ERT). This is as recent studies on ERT usage seem to point to an increased risk for heart disease and cancers as a result of long-term use.
Apart from that, a clinical study published on Maturitas in July 2002 has shown that Red Clover helps to significantly reduce hot flushes by 44%.
2) Topical treatment for Psoriasis
Traditionally, Red Clover has been believed to contain elements that help speed up wound healing and also to treat specific skin conditions such as psoriasis. Typically, Red Clover extract is applied topically on the affected area. Furthermore, Red Clover has also been processed into a cream or lotion form and thus can be used in the same way.
3) Preventing bone loss from Osteoporosis
Another side effect of menopause is also the risk of osteoporosis or bone loss. Red Clover, with its phytoestrogens content, has been studied as a contributor towards a reduced bone density loss or even helping towards increasing bone density in menopausal women.
This was revealed in a study titled “The effects of phytoestrogen isoflavones on bone density in women: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial” published in the American Society for Clinical Nutrition in 2004.
4) Reducing Blood Cholesterol & Improving Arterial Compliance
Red Clover has been believed to help in reducing cholesterol. However, clinical studies thus far have not been conclusive. According to a Women’s Health Initiative study titled “The effect of red clover isoflavones on menopausal symptoms, lipids and vaginal cytology in menopausal women”, Red Clover was found to help significantly reduce triglyceride levels, as compared to the placebo group.
Another cardiovascular benefit of the Red Clover is in its impact in sustaining the elasticity of the large arteries like the aorta. As we age and with menopause, the elasticity of these arteries have been known to decrease. This study, “Isoflavones from Red Clover Improve Systemic Arterial Compliance But Not Plasma Lipids in Menopausal Women”, has indicated that arterial compliance increased by 23% after the test.
5) Assisting in weight loss
One of the effects of Red Clover consumption is its ability to stimulate the body to expel wastes in the form of urine. In addition to helping our bodies clear waste material from the kidney, this also helps in weight loss.
With water and waste more effectively eliminated from the body, this potentially helps lower blood pressure. This also assists in countering the water retention effects from pre-menstrual syndrome or menopause amongst women.
6) As a Chemoprotective
Currently, research is still being conducted on the Red Clover’s potential as a Chemoproective due to its isoflavones content. In fact, a recent observation on the effect of red clover in an in-vitro study, seemed to point to its ability to stop the activation of cancer cell cultures. However, this is still very preliminary and more studies will be conducted to further this finding.
Traditionally, in both Russian and Chinese medicines, Red Clover has also been used as an expectorant and even for bronchial asthma.
8) Remedy for Fertility arising from low estrogen conditions
The isoflavones content within Red Clover that’s thought of as a remedy for conditions involving low estrogen levels, is also believed to assist with fertility arising from low estrogen conditions. On the flip side however, women with health conditions arising from too much estrogen in their bodies such as fibroids or endometriosis, should avoid red clover.
Possible side effects of red clover consumption
While red clover has a long list of benefits, some level of precaution or avoidance should be taken for those with the following conditions:
a) Pregnant women should avoid taking Red Clover as studies on animals have shown that Red Clover has caused abnormalities in fetal development.
b) As Red Clover contains high levels of isoflavones, women who are experiencing conditions arising from high levels of estrogen, such as endometriosis, some fertility conditions as well as cancers relating to the female reproductive system, should avoid this herb.
c) People with blood-clotting defects should also avoid Red clover due to its anticoagulant properties. This means that red clover may potentially cause bleeding problems, and thus should also be avoided by those with low blood platelet counts. Thus, patients who are scheduled for surgery should also avoid red clover.