This common field plant, Trifolium pratense, is a member of the legume (Fabaceae) family and grows wild and weedy in meadows and roadsides throughout the U.S., where it has been naturalized from mid-to-northern Europe and Asia. I remember as a child going out in our sheep and cow pastures to collect the purple-pink-reddish blossoms throughout the summer months. My mother would dry them on cloths/towels in the shade and then bag them up when fully dried for use in teas and infusions.
For the soil, this plant fixes nitrogen into the soil, a common benefit of the legume plants. Medicinally, we use red clover tops (6-8″ of the upper plant including the leaves while in blossom) and the blossoms with only their base leaves. I tend to use the red clover upper parts (tops) in blends where I desire the mineral content of the leaves along with the benefits of the flowers which I go into next.
The red clover blossoms are considered the most medicinally-active part of the plant and are used to help move stagnant lymphatic fluid and act as an alterative or blood purifier. Red clover blossoms are commonly used to address chronic skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne. In addition, this plant is used as a lung expectorant and antispasmodic, helping break up and move congestion while calming a spastic cough. I often utilize red clover in heart formulations as well, as it is a mild blood thinner. Red clover plant also contains isoflavones that can help balance hormones in menstruating and menopausal women, specifically helping when estrogen levels are low.
Many herbalist consider red clover to be a “tonic herb,” meaning it can help balance the health of the body over time through its gentle detoxification actions, its isoflavone content, and its blood-thinning properties. It is also considered nutritious and can help to restore mineral balance in the body, especially when prepared from the upper parts of the plant including the leaves and blossoms and steeped in hot water as a long-infusion (generally 4-8 hours or all day or night). It can then be chilled and consumed at 1-3 cups/day.
The tincture is also beneficial and is a stronger extract when addressing respiratory issues and perhaps certain hormonal imbalances. It can also be combined with immune herbs when there is lymph node swelling or congestion along with a cold, flu, or bronchitis.
At Herban Wellness, you will find red clover in our Healthy Skin Tea, Healthy Skin Drops, Healthy Heart Tea, and Mineralizing Tea.
You may also have seen red clover seeds sold for sprouting! A nutritious and tasty sprouted plant to add to salads and sandwiches, this plant is versatile for humans, good for the soil, and for animal health, as it also is used in certain animal feeds.