Red clover is valued in agriculture because it fixes nitrogen in the soil without the use of toxic fertilizers. It also prevents erosion, provides food for livestock and is hearty enough to survive in colder climates.1 But this versatile plant has other applications as well.
Natural healers have long attributed a myriad of health benefits to a potent tea that can be extracted from red clover flowers.2 In recent years, this tea has grown in popularity because of its ability to balance hormones and ease menopause symptoms.3
Red clover, which is a legume in the bean family, was brought to North America by European immigrants in the 1500s. It is a versatile biennial or short-lived perennial. Red clover can adapt to a wide variety of soils and climates.4 It is often used as a cover crop with corn because of its ability to thrive in shady environments.5
Red clover grows from crowns and has hollow, hairy stems and branches. The stems can reach 30 inches, and there are four to six branches per stem. Red clover is topped by a pink flower, which is composed of hundreds of smaller legume flowers.6
Red clover tea, which is made from the flowering top, has been of particular interest to researchers and natural healers.7 Despite being derived from a plant so common that it may be growing in your backyard, red clover tea has a vibrant and complex flavor.
Unlike traditional teas, red clover tea is extracted from the flower rather than the leaves. It is sold in ready-to-use tea bags from online retailers, but an herbal tea infuser allows you to steep the unprocessed blossoms. Red clover tea has a delicate, sweet flavor profile.8
Red clover has long been used in traditional medicine as a treatment for cancer, whooping cough, various skin conditions and as a detoxifying diuretic.9 Here are some ways that red clover tea can benefit your health:
• Promotes female reproductive health — Red clover is specifically rich in isoflavones, which are similar to the female hormone estrogen. Many women use red clover tea to address hot flashes, breast pain or tenderness and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).10
However, isoflavones, which are phytoestrogens, have been linked to fertility issues in men and breast cancer in women.11 Due to these concerns, I recommend that men avoid phytoestrogens, especially in the form of unfermented soy. It should be noted, though, that the phytoestrogens in red clover are not operating in isolation. Red clover has a complex micronutrient profile and the isoflavones are only one component.
• May reduce risk of breast cancer — In 2013, a systemic review published in…
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