The Red and the White of Clover

Red Clover {Trifolium pratense}

Family: Fabaceae

This all-around wellness herb and blood purifier is a key ingredient in herbal blends popularized during the early 1900s and used in cancer treatment, including Essiac, Dr. Christopher’s Red Clover Combination, and the Hoxsey formula. Red clover has been an Old World symbol for luck and abundance since ancient times. And when it arrived in America with the colonists, its use quickly spread among American Indian tribes.



This stout clover has deep pink – not red – plump, round flower heads that contain numerous, small, pea-type flowers above a three-leaved bract. The leaves are marked with a single pale chevron. The lax stems trail up to 2 feet, creating a soft green mass.

Preparations Infusion:

red-clover-tea-760x428Make a strong infusion or tincture of red clover tops, and drink 1/2 to 1 cup two or three times daily. Commercially available red clover preparations include tinctures and concentrated and often standardized extracts {containing consistent amounts of genistein} in capsules and tablets, as well as syrups and elixirs. Follow the package instructions.

Healing Properties:

Red clover flowering tops are a veritable pharmacy, containing many active compounds that reduce inflammation, activate your immune response, and improve liver function. According to traditional medicine, preparations of this herb are effective expectorants, regulate blood flow, and help your body heal skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis, acne, and dermatitis.

Red clover formulas are known as “blood purifiers,” which is likely due to their active chemicals – flavonoids and other compounds are known as phenolics – which act as antioxidants, have anti-inflammatory properties and mild estrogen-like activity, and are stimulating to the liver and bile. Blood purifiers are thought to slowly alter the function of cells and tissues to bring them closer to a normal, healthy function. They are also thought to help create a healthy inner environment for the wellness of your skin, your body’s largest organ. Red clover is a component of many formulas recommended by herbalists to help the body eliminate toxins and fight cancer.

Red clover contains isoflavonoids like genistein, which has been widely studied and is sold in dietary supplements as a natural estrogen alternative.


Red clover can be used regularly as a moderately strong tea infusion. Avoid taking it during pregnancy because of its alleged estrogenic effect. Theoretically, red clover preparations may potentiate, or strengthen, the effects of anticoagulant drugs. However, the coumarins in red clover are not like pharmaceutical anti-coagulants {such as dicoumarol or warfarin} but are much milder in their action.

In the Garden:

Sprout-Red-CloverRed clover grows wild in open meadows and pastures. {The species name, pratense, means “of the meadows,”}. It loves full sun and rich, fertile, well-drained soil – but it’s not picky. Water it regularly until the plants look big and healthy, and then let it go dry between waterings; this mild drought stress will bring on the flowers. Red clover is a short-lived perennial, but in most areas, you’ll sow it yearly. Treat the seed with inoculant or stratify it, and direct sow in the fall {if you don’t get a snowy winter where you live} or very early spring.

Harvesting Red Clover:

When the blossoms are open and vibrant, pick them by holding them gently and snapping them off with your thumbnail. You can include the triad of leaves just below the flower head. They will brown as they mature, but as long as the browning is less than one-third of the flower, they are still medicinally strong. Collect clover early in the day, when there is only light dew, to help preserve the color. Keep harvesting every 2 or 3 days to keep the flowers coming. They dry quickly, so keep a close eye on them to avoid over-drying them. Before you store them, press the centers of the flowers to make sure there’s no moisture left. Store in a cool, dark place to keep the color from fading.

Also, Known As:

  • Clover
  • Cow Clover
  • Meadow Clover
  • Purple Clover
  • Red Clover

Additional Information About Red Clover:

The red clover is in a symbiotic relationship with bacteria present in the root nodules, the plant is capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen into the soil, and this enhances the quality of the soil in which it is grown – the primary reason for its use as a rotation crop. Traditionally, a rare four-leaf red clover specimen is believed to bring good luck and children in America love hunting through a patch of red clover for such rare four-leaf specimens of the plant. Folk and herbal medicine make use of the dried red clover flowers in the treatment of different disorders. An expectorant action is attributed to the blossoms of the red clover; disorders such as bronchitis and asthma are treated using the dried flowers. A topical herbal remedy is also made using the red clover, this remedy is believed to speed up the process of healing wounds and other external injuries, red clover is also used in the treatment of skin diseases such as psoriasis and other external conditions. The traditional use of the red clover in gaining relief from menopausal symptoms what is generating current interest in the plant. The red clover has high phytoestrogen content, and browsing animals such as cattle and sheep grazing exclusively or heavily on the red clover often tend to develop fertility problems.

The total content of phytoestrogens in the red clover herb is approximately 0.17 percent of the dry weight per plant. Chemical compounds such as formononetin, the compound genistein, the compound daidzein, and biochanin A. are some of the major compounds present in the herb. A mild estrogen-like effect is displayed by the compound formononetin, the compound biochanin A, the compound daidzein and the genistein compound – that are they tend to mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. Australian herbal marketers have commercially translated the perceived estrogen-like the effect of the plant and turned the red clover into an herbal estrogen supplement, thus, a very widely advertised product called the red clover blossom dietary supplement is now touted as the natural choice for maintaining estrogen in Australia. The phytoestrogen effects of the red clover need to be supported by thorough clinical studies of the plant in the laboratory, such tests are currently on the anvil. Red clover also contains a class of plant-based compounds called isoflavones, these compounds are also present in familiar plant products like soybeans, the isoflavones are believed to be capable of changing the rate of hormone synthesis and are believed to be capable of influencing metabolism in the body, these compounds are also believed to affect intracellular enzymes, they are also known to affect the rate of cell differentiation and production, and may also be involved in the synthesis of biological growth factors in the body.

The possible benefit of using isoflavones in the process of chemoprevention, which is cancer prevention, is also being investigated by an epidemiologist in many Asian countries where a lot of isoflavone-rich soy products are consumed by the majority of the population. The potential need for further investigation and research is suggested by the results obtained from a recent in vitro study, where it was found that the compound biochanin A sourced from red clover seems to inhibit the activation of carcinogenic cell cultures – further studies will doubtless shed a light on this phenomenon.

Methyl salicylate is one compound among the many other chemical compounds present in the volatile oil of the red clover blossoms. The blossoms have also been found to contain small amounts of coumarin derivatives and certain types of cyanogenic glycosides.

The supplementary use of red clover extract in the treatment of symptoms associated with menopausal women has found sudden prominence due to the release of an herbal supplement called Promensil from Australia – this new supplement is meant for the exclusive use of women in any stage of menopause. Each Promensil pill contains 40 mg of the isoflavones, set to a standardized ratio, Promensil was introduced in the US market in 1998. Australian researchers have been responsible for the majority of the research which supports the beneficial nature of red clover based isoflavones. Another red clover based supplement called Trinivin is marketed by the same Australian firm, this pill also contains 40 mg of the standardized isoflavones isolated from the herb, Trinivin is meant for men affected by disease free but enlarged prostates, this product is also sold in the United States.
Researchers conducted by the company also indicated that the isoflavones present in red clover and Novogen are able to suppress the hot flashes which periodically affect peri-menopausal women without inducing proliferation in the uterine or endometrial tissue of the body. The ability of the isoflavones present in red clover to keep the blood vessels pliable was also demonstrated in a double-blind and controlled trial published in March 1999 edition of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.


 FRESH – The flowers of the red clover can be used in the topical treatment of skin. Red clover flowers can be crushed and applied or rubbed into irritated skin caused by insect bites and stings, the floral poultice will alleviate the pain and speed up healing in the affected area.
TINCTURE – An herbal red clover floral tincture can be prepared from the flowers of the plant, this floral tincture can be consumed to treat cases of eczema and psoriasis.
COMPRESS – An herbal floral compress can also be prepared from the flowers of the red clover, this can be applied to the affected parts of the body in the treatment of arthritic pains, the compress can also be used to alleviate the symptoms of gout by placing the herbal compress on the affected area.
OINTMENT – Red clover floral ointments can also be made for the treatment of lymphatic swellings. This floral ointment can be prepared by covering some fresh red clover flowers in some water and then simmering the water in a slow cooker for a period of forty-eight hours at a stretch. The concoction can then be strained, and the residue evaporated to a semi-dry condition, this can then be combined with an equal amount of a good ointment base. The floral ointment made from red clover blossoms is for topical use only.
EYEWASH – The flowers of the red clover can be used in the preparing herbal eyewash from the diluted floral tincture, the dilution ratio can be 20 ml of water or a full eyecup to which 5 – 10 drops of the floral tincture or a well-strained floral infusion must be added. This floral eyewash can be used during disorders such as conjunctivitis and other conditions of the eye.
DOUCHE – The floral infusion of the red clover herb can be used to alleviate vaginal itching in the form of a douche.
SYRUP – The red clover floral infusion can be boiled down to herbal syrup, this herbal remedy can be used in the treatment of persistent or stubborn, dry coughs.

Indian Tea or Essiac:

  • 3 oz (90 g) red clover flowers
  • 3 oz (90 g) wood sorrel flowers
  • 3 oz (90 g) common burdock root
  • 1 oz (30 g) kelp
  • 1 oz (30 g) slippery elm powder
  • 1 oz (30 g) Canada thistle head

Combine all the plants.
Boil 1 t (5 ml) of the mixture in 1 cup (250 ml) water for 5 minutes. Drink 3 cups (750 ml) per day for 1 to 3 months. This is the closest recipe to the original famous North American Indian tea used to fight cancer. It is also an excellent lymphatic and blood depurative.

Looking for Red Clover Tincture? Anne’s Backyard Herbal LLC has just what you are looking for; from Red Clover Tincture to other wonderful, healthy glycerites, lip balms, and so much more.

white clover1

White Clover {Trifolium repens}

Also, Known As:

  • Dutch Clover
  • White Clover

White clover (botanical name Trifolium repens) is a clover species that is indigenous to Europe, West Asia and Northern regions of Africa. Extensively introduced across the globe, this species is cultivated in the form of a pasture crop and is currently even common in the grassland regions of North America as well as New Zealand. White clover is also known as Dutch clover, as this species was cultivated in Holland for the first time.

White clover is a herbaceous (herb-like) perennially growing small plant. It grows close to the ground and produces small whitish flower heads, which usually have a pink or creamy tinge, which may occur as the plant matures. Usually, the flower heads measure anything between 1.5 cm and 2.0 cm (0.6 inches and 0.8 inches) wide and appear at the end of the flower stalks or peduncles measuring about 7 cm or 2.8 inches.

The leaves of white clover naturally appear in the shape of a symbol called Shamrock. The leaves are smooth, trifoliate (having three-lobed leaves), and having elongated petioles and they may be elliptical to oval or egg-shaped. The stems of this herb perform the function of stolons and, hence, often white clover forms mats on the ground – their stems crawling about 18 cm (7.1 inches) in just one year. Like other stolons, the stems of white clover develop roots at their nodes. The flowers of this herb are loaded with honey, which is easily accessible to the common honey bee. Hence, beekeepers value this herb greatly.

This species is a very well-known weed that has been naturalized in nearly all places across the globe having temperate climatic conditions. It is a herbaceous plant having expansive stems, much akin to the stolons. The plant produces numerous whitish or pink-hued blossoms in the flower heads. A perennially growing species, white clover is pollinated by insects and are necessarily an outcrosser. The species also propagates vegetatively by means of its stolons, which develop roots at the nodes. Similar to other plants belonging to the legume family or Fabaceae, white clover also hosts microbes in its root system. These microbes possess nitrogen fixing abilities, whereby nitrogen present in the atmosphere is converted into a form that can be used by the plants for their nutrition.

Sometimes, white clover plant produces a leaf having four (or even more) leaflets and, hence, is also known as a “four-leafed clover”. There are a few myths attached to this herbaceous plant. One such story goes like this – sorceresses collected Trifolium repens during a full moon night and blended it with vervain, in addition to other things, while young girls in pursuit of a symbol of ideal bliss, searched for the white clover during the day.

white clover

White clover is found growing naturally in grassy lands, crops and various other types of landscapes. In addition, this species is also found a confined variety of dissimilar field type locations. This clover species has the ability to endure close mowing and can thrive in several different types of soils and pH levels. However, it has a preference for heavy or clay soil. It is believed that white clover is a beneficial constituent of organic or neutral lawn care, as it possesses the aptitude to fix nitrogen as well as grows vigorously to prevail over other lawn weeds. It is worth mentioning here that natural nitrogen fixing is known to lessen leaching (trickling) from the soils. In addition, it also helps to prevent the occurrence of a number of lawn diseases, especially those that are increased due to the use of synthetic or chemical fertilizers.

Plant Parts Used:

Leaves, flowers.

Health Benefits Of White Clover:

White clover plants offer a number of health benefits too. The “Peterson Field Guide to Eastern/ Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs” states that the native Indians in North America used the leaves of this herb to prepare an herbal tea that was consumed to treat fevers, common colds, coughs, and even leucorrhea. European folk medicine employed the flower of this herbaceous plant to prepare a tea that was used to treat conditions like gout and rheumatism. Similar to red clover and perhaps like most other clover species, white clover also encloses a natural chemical known as the estrogenic isoflavone genistein, which possesses several different types of activities, including preventing the development of cancer and antioxidant actions.


White clover has a number of culinary uses. The leaves, flower heads, seedpods and even the roots of the plant are consumed by humans while it is excellent fodder for livestock.

The leaves of white clover are consumed raw or after cooking in the form of a potherb. The tender leaves of the plant are collected before they are in bloom and used in soups, salads, and other items. In addition, the young leaves can also be used in the form of a leafy green vegetable, consumed after cooking in the same way as spinach. The dried out leaves of white clover pass on a vanilla flavor to cakes and other foods.

The flowers as well as seedpods of white clover are dried out and pounded into a powder and used in the form of flour or peppered on cooked foods like boiled rice. They are both healthy as well as nourishing. The young blooms of this herb can also be employed in salads. The dehydrated flower heads are often used as an alternate for tea.

While humans find it difficult to digest the flower heads and leaves raw, it is easy to overcome this problem – you may boil the plants for about 5 to 10 minutes after harvesting for easy digestion. You can dry out flower heads as well as the seedpods to produce a nutritious flour and also blend the powdered form with different other foods. Alternatively, you may infuse the flower heads in hot water to prepare a healthy and refreshing herbal tea.

If you intend to use the young white clover leaves in soup, you should ideally harvest them before the plants come into bloom. The roots of this plant are also edible. However, usually, they are cooked directly for consumption.

For several centuries, people have used the white clover in the form of an additive in salads as well as other meals comprising leafy vegetables.

In addition to being an outstanding grazing crop for farm animals, white clovers are also considered to be an important survival food for humans. This herb encloses elevated levels of proteins and is found extensively and in copious amount.

Habitat Of White Clover:

Trifolium repens is native to nearly the entire Europe, Siberia, south-western Asia and the northern regions of Africa. Now, although it is also being claimed that white clover is native to the United States as well as Canada, this does not seem to be realistic.

White clover thrives in a damp, circum-neutral soil having a proper drainage system. This species has a preference to grow in total sunlight and likes a sweet calcareous muddy or clay soil. However, white clover also grows well in poor or infertile soils. It is a vital food plant for caterpillars of several different butterflies as well as moth species. In addition, as the flowers of this species are loaded with honey, white clover is also an excellent bee plant and many beekeepers rely on this plant. When grown in a lawn, white clover is an excellent lawn plant and can endure close mowing as well as trampling, but loathes growing together with henbane or any other plant belonging to the buttercup family.

It has been found that white clover plants grow excellently in an apple orchard. In fact, if the apple orchard has a ground cover of white clover, the fruits of the trees will be tastier and can be stored better. However, you should be careful not to grow this species together with gooseberries or camellias, as white clover hosts a mite that may cause the gooseberry fruits to drop prematurely and lead to early budding in camellias. White clover is polymorphic in nature, as it has several sub-species as well as different varieties. Often gardeners select from among a number of white clover varieties for using them in lawn mixes.

Moreover, white clover shares a symbiotic relationship with particular soil bacteria, especially those that develop into nodules on the roots of the plant and aid in nitrogen fixing. While a portion of this nitrogen is used by the plant itself for its growth, the remaining amount can also be used by neighboring plants. However, buttercups growing in the close vicinity of white clover usually retard the development of the bacteria that help in nitrogen-fixing, through a root exudation.

White clover is generally propagated by its seeds, which are soaked in warm water for about 12 hours and subsequently sown in situ during the spring. In case you do not have enough seeds, it is a good idea to sow the white clover seeds in small containers and place them in a cold frame. When the seedlings have grown sufficiently large for handling, you may pick them out carefully and plant them into separate containers. Ideally, the young white clover plants should be planted outdoors during the end of the spring. This species can also be propagated by means of root division, preferably undertaken in spring.

Possible Side Effects and Precautions:

White clover is known to cause certain adverse effects and, hence, it is advisable that you use it with caution. For instance, this plant is said to cause some troubles for grazing animals. These problems may be related to the climatic conditions where the plant is growing. White clover is a polymorphic species (having a number of varieties and sub-species) for cyanogenic glycosides. In fact, the leaves, as well as the flowers of specific cyanogenic phenotypes, enclose a type of glycosides that give off cyanide when they come in contact with an enzyme called linamarase.

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