Scientific name: Trifolium pratense
Common name: Red Clover, Purple Clover, Trefoil, Wild Clover
Natural order: Leguminosae
Habitat: The plant is indigenous to Europe, central Asia, northern Africa and is naturalized in many other parts of the world.
Flower and Fruit: One to 4 globular, ovate flower heads form on the tip of the stem. The calyx is tubular-campami-late. The petals are light carmine to fleshy red, occasionally yellowish-white or pure white. The fruit is a pod, which is ovate, 1-seeded and thin-skinned. The seed is oblong-ovate, yellow to brownish or violet.
Leaves, Stem and Root: The plant is a perennial herb, 15 to 40 cm high with a bushy rhizome and a basal leaf rosette. An erect, angular stem grows from the rhizome. The rhizome is covered in alternate, trifoliate, elliptical or ovate leaves, which have a characteristic arrow-shaped white spot on the upper surface. The leaflets are short-petioled, almost entire-margined, appressed, softly pubescent on both surfaces or only on the upper surface.
Actions and Pharmacology
Volatile oil: including among others, benzyl alcohol, 2-phenyl ethanol, their formates and acetates, methyl salicylate, methyl anthranilate (likely only in the fresh blossoms)
Isoflavonoids: including among others, biochanin A
Cyanogenic glycosides: presumably lotaustralin, linamarin
The medicinal parts are the dried and the fresh flower heads.
The therapeutic actions of red clover include alterative, deobstruent, sedative and nutrient. Red Clover has antispasmodic and expectorant effects and also promotes the skin’s healing process.
Uses of Red Clover
Wasting diseases (particularly rickets), spasmodic affections, whooping cough, etc.
Precautions and Adverse Reactions
No health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages.
Some general dosage considerations are noted below.
Mode of Administration: Red Clover is used internally and externally as a liquid extract and in medicinal preparations.
Preparation: Liquid extract 1:1 can be prepared in 25% ethanol.
Daily Dosage: The daily dosage is 4 gm of drug, taken as an infusion, up to 3 times a day. Alternately, 1.5 to 3 ml of the liquid extract can be taken 3 times daily.
Red Clover Herbal Formulas
Infusion of Red Clover Tops
1 ounce Red Clover tops (dried)
1 1/4 pints distilled water
1. Boil the water, and while boiling pour over the herbs.
2. Cover and allow to steep in a hot place for 15 minutes.
3. Strain, sweeten with honey, bottle and keep in a cold place.
Dose: 1 wineglassful to a 1⁄2 teacupful 3 or 4 times a day, between meals. Children, less according to age.
Purpose for this formula: This is a valuable formula for delicate children, who do not thrive normally. Also for coughs (particularly whooping cough), weak chest, wheezing, bronchitis, and for lack of vitality and nervous energy. It is also used for St. Vitus’ Dance and other spasmodic affections. Since this herb is non-poisonous, in any strength, the dose may be increased, or the infusion may be doubled in strength and the same dosage given.
Red Clover Herbal Combinations
Otitis Externa – Combine equal parts: Nettles, Clivers, Red Clover. 1-2 teaspoons to each cup boiling water; infuse 5-15 minutes. 1 cup 3 times daily.
Myeloma – Combine, equal parts, Red Clover, Gotu Kola, Clivers, Plantain. 1 heaped teaspoon to each cup boiling water; infuse 15 minutes. 1 cup 3 or more times daily.
Leukaemia – 2 parts Red Clover; 1 part Yellow Dock; 1 part Dandelion root; 1/4 Thuja; 1/4 Poke root; 1/4 Ginger. Dose: Liquid Extract: 1 teaspoon. Tinctures: 1-2 teaspoons. Powders: 500mg (two 00 capsules or one-third teaspoon). Dose – 3 times daily.
Jaundice, Haemolytic – Caused by disease toxins that kill off red blood cells, or autoimmune disease. Treatment: emphasis is on new red cell production. Dosage would be according to individual tolerance. Tea – mix equal parts: Agrimony, Clivers, Red Clover flowers. 2 teaspoons to each cup boiling water; infuse 5-15 minutes; one cup every 3 hours.
Intertrigo – An irritative ‘hot and humid’ skin eruption which occurs when two opposing moist surfaces touch and interferes with evaporation of sweat; i.e. under the breasts or between the thighs. Tea formula – Equal parts: Meadowsweet, Mullein, Red Clover. 1 heaped teaspoon to each cup boiling water; infuse 15 minutes; 1 cup 3 times daily.
Hyperparathyroidism – Formula. Equal parts: Gotu Kola, Red Clover, Goat’s Rue, Bladderwrack. Tea: 1 heaped teaspoon to each cup boiling water; infuse 15 minutes; dose, 1 cup.
Hodgkin’s Disease – Formula. Equal parts: Nettles, Gotu Kola, Red Clover. 1 heaped teaspoon to each cup boiling water; infuse 15 minutes. 1 cup 3 or more times daily.
Haemolytic-Uraemia Syndrome (HUS) – Tea. Combine herbs: Red Clover (to increase platelets) 3; Yarrow (kidneys) 2; Hops (cerebrospinal supportive) 1. 1-2 teaspoons to each cup boiling water; infuse 15 minutes. Half-1 cup freely. Formula: Combine, Tinctures. Red Clover 2; Fringe Tree 1; Hops half. Dose: one 5ml teaspoon. Babies: 2 drops in feed; infants 3-5 years 10 drops in water and honey 3 times daily.
Gynaecomastia – Excessive enlargement of the breasts in male or female. In the male it is sometimes associated with atrophy of the testicles. Causes: failure of the liver to detoxicate oestrogens in the blood, pituitary tumour, drug therapy, Cimetidine (an ulcer-healing drug). Combine, equal parts: Gotu Kola, Red Clover, Dandelion. 1-2 teaspoons to each cup boiling water; infuse 15 minutes. 1 cup 3 times daily.
To help restore lymphocyte count and relieve depression/anxiety – Combine equal parts Red Clover (blood): Valerian (nerves) and Motherwort (heart). Tea: 1-2 teaspoons to each cup boiling water; infuse 15 minutes; half-1 cup 2-3 times daily.
Swollen gland – Combine equal parts: Clivers, Red Clover, Gotu Kola. 2 teaspoons to each cup boiling water; infuse 15 minutes. Dose: half-1 cup 3 times daily.
PDR for Herbal Medicines
Elementary Treatise in Herbology by Dr Edward E. Shook
Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine by Thomas Bartram