Red Clover Safety

If you are thinking about taking red clover, safety precautions of the supplement should be reviewed with your healthcare provider. For example, you may not be able to use red clover if you have a blood clotting disorder, cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids. Red clover may have estrogen-like effects, which can make certain conditions that are sensitive to estrogen worse. Red clover warnings and precautions also extend to people with certain allergies.

Is Red Clover Safe?

Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is a supplement often used for natural menopause relief, although it is sometimes used for other purposes. You may not be able to take red clover safely if you have:
  • A blood clotting disorder
  • Cancer (or a history of cancer)
  • Endometriosis
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Any allergies, including allergies to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about any other medication you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Red Clover Warnings and Precautions

Some of the warnings and precautions to be aware of concerning the safety of red clover include the following:
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies red clover as "generally recognized as safe" for use in food. However, this does not mean that it is safe for medicinal purposes (which is usually at much higher doses than when it is used in food).
  • There is some concern that red clover could increase the risk of blood clots, particularly in people who already have a clotting disorder. If you have a clotting disorder (or have ever had a blood clot), check with your healthcare provider before taking red clover.
  • Red clover may have estrogen-like effects and, theoretically, could stimulate some cancers (especially estrogen-sensitive cancers, such as breast cancer). However, it is not clear if this risk applies to phytoestrogens (like red clover), or just to regular estrogens. If you have cancer (or have ever had cancer) do not take red clover without first checking with your healthcare provider.
  • Because red clover may have estrogen-like effects, there is some concern that it can worsen certain conditions that are sensitive to estrogen (such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids). Make sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking red clover if you have one of these conditions, as you may need to be monitored more closely.
  • Red clover supplements may interact with some medications (see Red Clover Drug Interactions for more information).
  • It is not known if red clover is safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women (see Red Clover and Pregnancy or Red Clover and Breastfeeding).
  • If you decide to use supplements, what you see on the label may not reflect what is in the bottle. For example, some herbal supplements have been found to be contaminated with heavy metals or prescription drugs, and some have been found to have much more or much less of the featured ingredient than their label states. Therefore, make sure the manufacturer of your red clover product is a trusted and reputable manufacturer. It is a good sign if a manufacturer abides by the rules of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for drugs. Your pharmacist is a good resource for information about which manufacturers are the most reputable.
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