Red clover is a wild plant that can be harvested to make a tea. The leaves, stem, root and blossom of the plant are all edible, although the blossoms are most commonly used for tea. Red clover has a long history of medicinal use and can be safely be consumed, although the University of Maryland Medical Center notes that more long-term study is needed. Red clover tea is more typically made from dried rather than fresh blossoms.
Red clover is rich in isoflavones, which may help with lowering overall blood cholesterol levels. A study on red clover and cholesterol was conducted on 40 post-menopausal women and was published in a 2009 issue of the “Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecological Research.” Researchers found that consuming red clover isoflavones over four months led to lower total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein and triglyceride levels. High-density lipoproteins, which protect your body from plaque buildup in your arteries, was raised with the red clover supplement. Because red clover has no side effects, it was considered a potentially safe way to lower blood cholesterol levels.
Might Improve Skin Health
According to T. K. Lim, author of “Edible Medicinal and Non-Medicinal Plants,” red clover has traditionally been used to treat skin conditions. A 2006 issue of “Phytotherapy Research” included a study in which consuming a red clover extract led to higher collagen content, increased moisture, increased elasticity and increased skin thickness in rats who had undergone estrogen deprivation. Researchers concluded that red clover could be beneficial in treating skin health, especially for those experiencing lower estrogen levels, such as during menopause.
Consumption and Brewing
While red clover is considered generally safe for consumption, the University of Maryland Medical Center states that it should not be consumed for more than three to six months because the isoflavone content may cause complications. Red clover tea can be made by combining 1 to 2 teaspoons of the dried blossoms with 8 ounces of boiling water. Allow the tea to steep for half an hour before drinking. The medical center recommends drinking 2 to 3 cups per day.
While no serious side effects have been reported, the University of Maryland Medical Center states that some cases of headaches, nausea and rash have occurred after drinking red clover tea. The tea is not recommended for pregnant or breast-feeding women and may affect the efficacy of certain drugs. In particular, it may increase the effect of estrogen supplements, hormone therapy replacement drugs and birth control pills. Red clover may also increase the effects of blood-thinning medication, increasing the risk of bleeding. Talk to your doctor before taking red clover tea to minimize your risk of side effects.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Red Clover
- Edible Medicinal and Non-Medicinal Plants: Volume 7, Flowers; T. K. Lim
- Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecological Research: Influence of Red Clover-Derived Isoflavones on Serum Lipid Profile in Postmenopausal Women
- The Book of Herbal Teas; Sara Perry and Christopher Irion
- Phytotherapy Research: Effects of Isoflavones From Red Clover (Trifolium Pratense) on Skin Changes Induced by Ovariectomy in Rats
- Photo Credit michael koehl/iStock/Getty Images