Red clover (Trifolium pretense) has long been known as a blood and lymphatic cleanser, making it a great herbal remedy for lymphatic congestion, skin conditions and slow liver clearance.
TRADITIONAL USES, FOLKLORE, AND SYMBOLISM
Red clover was listed in the National Formulary as a skin remedy until 1946. Energetically, it has been said red clover has an affinity for the liver, heart and lungs. Red clover is especially well-known as an effective remedy for children.
The Cherokee and Aboriginal communities used red clover to remove blood impurities and for fevers. Various Native American cultures ate the leaves, used preparations of red clover to soothe irritated skin, to support women’s health through stages of menopause and for a healthy respiratory response. The Druids believed that red clover could ward off evil spells. Medieval Christians believed that the three leaves represented the holy trinity and the four-leaved varieties represented the cross.
Doctrine of Signatures
Many cultures around the world observe the properties of a particular plant (color, shape, size, scent, where and how it grows, etc.) and derive meaning from this information about how to use the plant. This is called the Doctrine of Signatures. When thinking about red clover, the red color of the flowers represents, for many cultures, its ability to purify the blood, and it was often used in this way.
It might also be said that the color red symbolizes its ability to support a healthy inflammatory response (inflammation = heat = fire = red), to support healthy respiratory function, joint function, and improve liver and skin health.
Blood Cleanser, Lymph Mover, and Skin Remedy
Today, red clover is widely used for skin conditions such as acne, eczema and psoriasis, and other skin conditions that result from impurities in the blood and lymph. Red clover supports a healthy detoxification process, helping to remove metabolic waste from the body, by assisting in the purification of the blood and lymph. Red clover, nettles and yellow dock can be blended and made into a tea for skin conditions.
Red clover is an effective remedy to support healthy respiratory function. A syrup made with red clover and honey is often used as a respiratory remedy.
Women’s Health: Menopause & Fertility
Due to its phytoestrogenic properties, red clover is said to be an effective remedy for menopause and fertility. There is a bit of debate over whether or not red clover is an effective remedy for hot flashes associated with menopause. Some studies say yes, others say no. Historical usage and anecdotal evidence suggests that there is some validity to its effectiveness. Studies have confirmed that when red clover is taken by menopausal women, it supports healthy strengthening and flexibility of the arteries.
It is also reported that red clover can increase fertility by thickening the uterine lining to aid in implantation. When used for this purpose, it’s said that red clover should be taken from day one of the menstrual cycle until ovulation occurs.
Red clover contains calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine and vitamin C. The flowers and leaves can be eaten in salads, made into jelly or tea, or added to soups. Red clover is also valued as a grazing crop for livestock due to its high nutrient content.
Regenerative Agriculture & Organic Farming
Red clover is a popular cover crop because of its nitrogen-fixing ability, which increases soil fertility. It’s an important plant for soil conservation and crop rotation.
Harvesting and Drying
Red clover, a perennial member of the pea family, is in bloom from May through October. Red clover blossoms are ready to be harvested one to two weeks after they appear. The best time to harvest red clover is in the morning, when the blossoms are holding the most moisture. If you harvest when it’s dry, the blossoms will turn brown. Never take all of the flowers in a particular area; it is important to leave some for wildlife and pollinators. Harvest in areas where there is the least likelihood of chemical or environmental contamination. Dry in a basket or drying rack in a dark, warm, ventilated area with the blossoms evenly spaced apart. You can expect the clover to dry in one to two weeks.
THE MANY WAYS TO ENJOY RED CLOVER
Red clover can be taken internally as a tea, tincture, capsule or syrup. Red clover can also be eaten raw in salads, added to soups and stews and made into jelly.
WishGarden includes this versatile herb in many of its tea formulas, including: Detox Cleanse Tea, Fertility Tea, Pregnancy Tea and Everybody’s Tea. Red clover is also in several of WishGarden’s liquid extract formulas, including Daily Immune, Daily Immune for Kids, Respiratory Strength and Zit Zap.
Red clover can be applied topically to skin irritations and wounds as a tea, fresh plant poultice or salve.
The Herbal Academy
Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health, Dr. Aviva Romm
National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health
Penn State Hershey Medical Center
Wikipedia – Trifolium pratense
American Botanical Council – herbalgram.org
Amy Timmons Malek, CCN, CCH, INHC is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Certified Clinical Herbalist, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Flower Essence Practitioner. She discovered her love for plants in the Sonoran Desert while living in Tucson, AZ. She has been studying plants of the Mountain West and Southwest for 10 years. Her many teachers include Paul Bergner, Rosemary Gladstar, Dr. Aviva Romm, Lisa Ganora, Kat MacKinnon, Erin Smith, John Slattery and Charles Kane. Her career is divided between Holistic Health, Graphic/Web Design and Marketing/Social Media Consulting. She is currently WishGarden’s Social Media Coordinator. She lives in Boulder County, CO. She enjoys wildcrafting and growing her own medicinal plants and making a variety herbal remedies. You can learn more about her practice on her website, www.wholeheart-wellness.com.