as:Meadow Clover, Trifolium, Wild Clover.
Scientific name:Trifolium pratense.
Parts used: Flowering tops.
Red clover is used for for its alterative action. It is
anti-spasmodic, expectorant, sedative and acts on skin disorders.
It is used for menopausal symptoms and hot flashes, cyclic breast
pain or tenderness, premenstrual syndrome and for promotion of
Red clover is used as a flavoring ingredient In drinks and
No concerns regarding safety when used orally in food amounts.
Red clover has Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) status for use
in foods in the US.1.2.3
There are no concerns regarding safety when used in traditional
medicinal amounts. There is no evidence for any concerns when Red
clover extracts have been used for up to one year .
Pregnancy: Refer to a medical herbalist.
Breastfeeding: Refer to a medical herbalist.
Isoflavones; afrormosan, biochanin A, daidzein, formononetin,
genistein, pratensein, calyconin, pseudobaptigin, orobol.irilone,
and trifoside, and their glycoside conjugates.
Other flavonoids, including pectolinarin and trifolin.
Coumarins;coumestrol,medicagol and coumarin.
Miscellaneous; clovamides, L-dopa-caffeic acid conjugates,
minerals, vitamins and phytoalexins.
Breast Pain. Preliminary evidence suggests that
red clover might relieve menstrual cycle breast pain. Red clover
isoflavones 40-80 mg daily seem to reduce breast pain and
tenderness in about 45% of patients.10
Menopausal symptoms. There is conflicting
evidence about the effects of red clover on menopausal symptoms.
Mechanism of action.
The flowering tops contain more than 100 different chemicals. Red
clover contains phytoestrogens (plant estrogens), which are
structurally similar to estrogens. 4,16,17,18 The
health effects of methylated isoflavones have not been
Similar to isoflavones from soy, red clover isoflavones might act
as selective estrogen-receptor modulators.16,20 In
premenopausal women with normal endogenous estrogen levels,
isoflavones may have an anti-estrogen effect. In postmenopausal
women with low endogenous estrogens, isoflavones are likely to
act as weak estrogens. 21,22,23,24,25,26 It is
suggested that red clover might have anti-anxiety effects due to
its beta estrogen receptor agonist activity.9
Red clover is thought to be beneficial for preventing
osteoporosis due to its weak estrogenic effects .
5,16,26. The isoflavones also appears to directly
inhibit the breakdown of bone.19
Red clover isoflavones don't seem to lower cholesterol.
4,7,8 Some researchers still think that red clover
might play a role in improving cardiovascular health by
increasing bile acid excretion, up-regulating low-density
lipoprotein (LDL) receptors, and lowering resistance in the
systemic arterial blood vessels. 19,26,27,28,29.
Red clover is generally well tolerated. 6,7,8,9 It can
rarely cause rash-like reactions, muscle pain, headache, nausea,
and vaginal spotting.30
There is some concern that red clover might increase the risk of
endometrial hyperplasia due to its potential estrogenic effects.
However, the ingestion of phytoestrogens in dietary amounts, 1-3
mg isoflavones per day, does not seem to increase the risk of
endometrial cancer.3 Preliminary evidence also
suggests that taking red clover isoflavones 50 mg daily does not
have any significant effect on endometrial growth in women age
45-53 when taken for 3 months.18
Interactions with herbs and
Interactions with drugs:
Tamoxifen (breast cancer treatment): Always
consult an Herbal Medicine Physician.
Interactions with foods:
Interactions with laboratory tests:
Interactions with diseases or conditions:
Breast Cancer: Refer to an Herbal Medicine Physician.
Recommended dose: 4-15mls per day 1:5 tincture 30% alcohol.
1. FDA. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition,
Office of Premarket Approval, EAFUS: A food additive database.
Available at: vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/eafus.html. [Accessed
2. Nelsen J, Barrette E, Tsouronix C, et al. Red clover
(Trifolium pratense) monograph: A clinical decision support tool.
J Herb Pharmacother. 2002;2:49-72.
3. Horn-Ross PL, John EM, Canchola AJ, et al. Phytoestrogen
intake and endometrial cancer risk. J Natl Cancer Inst
4. Howes JB, Sullivan D, Lai N, et al. The effects of
dietary supplementation with isoflavones from red clover on the
lipoprotein profiles of postmenopausal women with mild to
moderate hypercholesterolemia. Atherosclerosis 2000;152:143-7.
5. Atkinson C, Compston JE, Day NE, et al. The effects of
phytoestrogen isoflavones on bone density in women: a
double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Am J Clin
6. van de Weijer P, Barentsen R. Isoflavones from red
clover (Promensil) significantly reduce menopausal hot flush
symptoms compared with placebo. Maturitas 2002;42:187-93.
7. Schult TM, Ensrud KE, Blackwell T, et al. Effect of
isoflavones on lipids and bone turnover markers in menopausal
women. Maturitas 2004;48:209-18.
8. Atkinson C, Oosthuizen W, Scollen S, et al. Modest
protective effects of isoflavones from a red clover-derived
dietary supplement on cardiovascular disease risk factors in
perimenopausal women, and evidence of an interaction with ApoE
genotype in 49-65 year-old women. J Nutr 2004;134:1759-64.
9. Geller SE, Shulman LP, van Breemen RB, et al. Safety and
efficacy of black cohosh and red clover for the management of
vasomotor symptoms: a randomized controlled trial. Menopause
10. Ingram DM, Hickling C, West L, et al. A double-blind
randomized controlled trial of isoflavones in the treatment of
cyclical mastalgia. The Breast 2002;11:170-4.
11. Baber RJ, Templeman C, Morton T, et al. Randomized
placebo-controlled trial of an isoflavone supplement and
menopausal symptoms in women. Climacteric 1999;2:85-92.
12. Knight DC, Howes JB, Eden JA. The effect of Promensil,
an isoflavone extract, on menopausal symptoms. Climacteric
13. Nelson HD, Vesco KK, Haney E, et al. Nonhormonal
therapies for menopausal hot flashes: systematic review and
meta-analysis. JAMA 2006;295:2057-71.
14. Krebs EE, Ensrud KE, MacDonald R, Wilt TJ.
Phytoestrogens for treatment of menopausal symptoms: a systematic
review. Obstet Gynecol 2004;104:824-36.
15. Lipovac M, Chedraui P, Gruenhut C, et al. Improvement
of postmenopausal depressive and anxiety symptoms after treatment
with isoflavones derived from red clover extracts. Maturitas
16. Umland EM, Cauffield JS, Kirk JK, et al. Phytoestrogens
as therapeutic alternatives to traditional hormone replacement in
postmenopausal women. Pharmacotherapy 2000;20:981-90.
17. Roberts DW, Doerge DR, Churchwell MI, et al. Inhibition
of extrahepatic human cytochromes P450 1A1 and 1B1 by metabolism
of isoflavones found in Trifolium pratense (red clover). J Agric
Food Chem 2004;52:6623-32.
18. Hale GE, Hughes CL, Robboy SJ, et al. A doubleblind
randomized study on the effects of red clover isoflavones on the
endometrium. Menopause 2001;8:338-46.
19. Anon. The role of isoflavones in menopausal health:
consensus opinion of the North American Menopause Society.
20. This P, De La Rochefordiere A, Clough K, et al.
Phytoestrogens after breast cancer. Endocr Relat Cancer
21. Zand RS, Jenkins DJ, Diamandis EP. Steroid hormone
activity of flavonoids and related compounds. Breast Cancer Res
22. Baird DD, Umbach DM, Lansdell L, et al. Dietary
intervention study to assess estrogenicity of dietary soy among
postmenopausal women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1995;80:1685-90.
23. Duncan AM, Underhill KE, Xu X, et al. Modest hormonal
effects of soy isoflavones in postmenopausal women. J Clin
Endocrinol Metab 1999;84:3479-84.
24. Ginsburg J, Prelevic GM. Lack of significant hormonal
effects and controlled trials of phyto-oestrogens. Lancet
25. Hargreaves DF, Potten CS, Harding C, et al. Two-week
dietary soy supplementation has an estrogenic effect on normal
premenopausal breast. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1999;84:4017-24.
26. Setchell KD, Cassidy A. Dietary isoflavones: biological
effects and relevance to human health. J Nutr 1999;129:758S-67S.
27. Nestel PJ, Pomeroy S, Kay S, et al. Isoflavones from
red clover improve systemic arterial compliance but not plasma
lipids in menopausal women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab
28. Lissin LW, Cooke JP. Phytoestrogens and cardiovascular
health. J Am Coll Cardiol 2000;35:1403-10.
29. Hodgson JM, Puddey IB, Beilin LJ, et al.
Supplementation with isoflavonoid phytoestrogens does not alter
serum lipid concentrations: a randomized controlled trial in
humans. J Nutr 1998;128:728-32.
30. Tice J, Cummings SR, Ettinger B, et al. Few adverse
effects of two red clover extracts rich in phytoestrogens: a
multicenter, placebo-controlled trial. Alt Ther 2001;7:S33.