Benefits of Red Clover
Although red clover is primarily used for treating the symptoms of menopause, it may also be beneficial for treating other conditions (such as high cholesterol, infertility, and osteoporosis). However, there is insufficient scientific proof that red clover is effective. Also, even though red clover is an herb, it can cause dangerous side effects, such as blood clots. Red clover is not recommended for use in children.
What Is Red Clover Used For?Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is an herbal supplement most often used to treat menopausal symptoms. In addition to this use, red clover is sometimes claimed to be beneficial for the following conditions:
- High cholesterol
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Breast pain related to the menstrual cycle.
Some people also claim that red clover may help prevent cancer.
However, there is not enough scientific evidence to recommend the supplement for any of these uses (see Does Red Clover Work? for more information). As with many supplements, claims for the benefits of red clover are sometimes exaggerated, and these claims must be evaluated critically.
Most importantly, it is essential to remember that natural products should not be used carelessly, as many of these products can be dangerous (for instance, many poisons are natural products). Remember, red clover seems to have estrogen-like effects, and estrogen has several dangerous side effects (such as blood clots and worsening of some cancers).
How Does Red Clover Work?Red clover contains phytoestrogens, plant-based compounds that are similar to estrogen. Phytoestrogens (also known as isoflavones) are chemically similar to estrogen, which is probably why they have estrogen-like effects. In women with low estrogen levels (such as postmenopausal women), phytoestrogens act like weak estrogens. This is why, theoretically, red clover may work to relieve the symptoms of menopause or to treat osteoporosis (as estrogen helps maintain bone density).
In women with normal estrogen levels (most premenopausal women), phytoestrogens may have anti-estrogenic effects (as they can bind to estrogen receptors, but are weaker than regular estrogens).