Red Clover Side Effects

Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is widely valued and consumed as an herbal remedy. It is commonly available on the market in the form of an extract, herbal tea and nutritional supplement. Although it is a natural product, red clover may have a number of side effects that need to be taken into consideration prior to consumption. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies this herb as safe for dietary purposes, this does not mean that red clover is safe for medicinal use, which requires much higher dosages. Outlined below are a number of side effects of taking this herb.

  1. Estrogenic

    • Red clover has harmful side effects for anyone who has a condition that prohibits them from taking estrogen supplements or estrogen hormonal therapy. This is because the herb is rich in phyto-estrogenic compounds called isoflavones, which mimic the action of estrogen in the body. This estrogen-like effect aggravates health conditions such as uterine fibroids, which are vulnerable to increased levels of the estrogen hormone.

    Endometrial Hyperplasia

    • Aetna Intelihealth highlights the fact that preliminary, albeit theoretical, studies indicate that taking red clover over the long term may trigger abnormal growth of the endometrium (the uterine lining). This in turn results in a condition called endometrial hyperplasia. One of the most common symptoms of this female condition is vaginal bleeding. Endometrial hyperplasia is not a concern for women who have had a hysterectomy to remove their uterus.


    • Red clover contains high levels of active compounds called coumarins, which have a blood-thinning effect in the circulatory system. For this reason, it should not be taken by any person who suffers from a blood clotting disorder, which may be exacerbated by this herb. The herb's anticoagulant properties may also cause harmful effects on in people who have a history of heart stroke and heart disease, and should only be taken with a doctor's approval.


    • Femhealth points out that red clover may interact negatively with a number of medications when taken at the same time, such as birth control pills. Other such medications include Warfarin, Coumadin, Jantoven and aspirin. The negative drug interaction between the herb and medications reduces the effectiveness of the drugs, while increasing the risk of health complications such as bleeding. Anyone taking prescription medications or any other herbal remedy should consult with their doctor or other licensed health care practitioner.


    • According to eMedTV, there are a number of potential side effects that should immediately be reported to your doctor or other licensed health care provider (See Resources below). Some of these include inexplicable vaginal bleeding as well as symptoms of liver damage such as dark-colored urine, jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes) and stomach pain in the upper right abdomen. Symptoms of an allergic reaction should also be reported, which include skin rash and itching, wheezing, difficulty breathing or swelling of the mouth.

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