Trifolium is a genus of about 300 species in the legume family Fabaceae. The plants are small annual, biennial or short-lived perennial herbaceous plants. The leaves are trifoliate, and the stems are hairy and upright with heads of dense spikes composed of small red, purple, white or yellow flowers. The most widely cultivated clover is White Clover (Trifolium repens) and Red Clover (Trifolium pratense). There are plants with four, five, six and very rarely more leaves. Likes dry meadow lands, open forests, field borders, and paths.
Red clover blossoms are ready to be plucked one to two weeks after first bloom, and can be harvested up to three times in the flowering season. Simply pop the blossom off, leaving the rest of the plant undisturbed. If in use by an insect, wait politely or move along to another plant! Be mindful of the location of harvest to avoid pesticides and pollution from cars.
Pluck the blossoms in the morning when there is still dew so as to retain the lovely purple colour. If you pluck them when dry (as normally recommended for other flowering herbs) the flower heads will turn brown.
I put my red clover in the dehydrator to speed the drying process as red clover are susceptible to mold.
Red clover contains coumarins, isoflavones (genistein, pratensein), vitamin E, flavonoids, phenolic glycosides, salicylates, cyanogenic glycosides.
According to White Rabbit Institute of Healing:
“Helps prevent osteoporosis, menopausal hot flashes, PMS, promotes breast health, lowers cholesterol, reduces blood clotting, and arterial plaques. It also increases urination and blood circulation. Aids enlargement of the prostate and has been used to help quit smoking. Applied to skin to treat skin cancer, burns, sores, eczema and psoriasis. Used internally to remedy fibroids, headaches, hormonal imbalances and prevent strokes.
The name “trifolium” derives from the Latin words tres (“three”) and folium (“leaf”). Red clover is considered one of the richest sources of isoflavones, which are water-soluble chemicals that act like oestrogens. It is therefore high on the list for treating menopausal hot flashes, PMS, breast health, lowering cholesterol, and increasing urination and blood circulation. While early studies are encouraging, it is still inconclusive if, and to what degree, Red Clovers healing properties do in fact impact menopausal hot flashes, blood clotting, cardio conditions and cancer.”
According to Herbal Academy:
“Like other alteratives, red clover is used to assist the body in removing metabolic waste products. These blood-purifying properties are used for skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and other skin irritations that crack and ooze. A red clover tea is generally mixed with yellow dock and nettles to handle these conditions. More directly as a poultice, chopped red clover with a little water can be applied to skin lesions.
As an expectorant and antispasmodic, red clover is used to counteract fevers, inflamed lungs, and bronchitis. Red clover contains a mild sedative property, which complements its antispasmodic effects for cough. The flower is also used for inflammatory conditions associated with arthritis and gout.
Compounds in red clover include phytoestrogenic isoflavones such as genistein, diadzen, formononetin and biochanin A. Studies of individual components of red clover show some cancer fighting action in vitro. For example, in one 2012 study, formononetin induced cancer cell apoptosis (cell death) in estrogen receptor- positive breast cancer cells (Chen et al, 2012).
For gynecological support, red clover is often suggested to ease symptoms during menopause. In 2005, a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study looked at the effects of red clover isoflavones on 60 postmenopausal women, concluding that supplementation “significantly decreased menopausal symptoms and had a positive effect on vaginal cytology and triglyceride levels” (Hidalgo, et al 2005). In 2009, red clover isoflavones were “effective in reducing depressive and anxiety symptoms among postmenopausal women” (Lipovac, 2009). However, other studies have demonstrated mixed results and the largest study to date showed no improvements with hot flashes. (Note that these studies investigated commercial red clover isoflavones and not the whole flower and therefore do not accurately reflect how the whole herb will act.)”
Tea: Infuse 2 teaspoons of flower heads in 1 cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. Strain. Drink 3 cups a day.
Salve: Use externally as needed.
Tincture: 1-2 ml of tincture 3 times per day, at 1:10 strength
Compress: Soak a clean cloth in the infusion (see above) and apply to affected areas, 3 times per day.
Avoid in pregnancy or if you have a known hormone-sensitive condition.
Do not use with pharmaceutical blood thinners or with the herb melilot (Melilotus officinalis). The coumarin derivatives in red clover may increase the chance of bleeding. Because red clover side effects may include slow blood clotting, stop taking it at least two weeks prior to surgery, and avoid if you have Protein S deficiency or any other type of coagulation disorder.
I think of that as a soil amendment cover crop, not as a medicinal herb.