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9 Reasons You Should Start Growing (Or Foraging For) Red Clover

9 Reasons You Should Start Growing (Or Foraging For) Red Clover

The health benefits of red clover are not a new discovery. This herb is renowned for its unusually high nutritional value and has been traditionally utilized throughout areas of Europe and Asia to treat a myriad of health conditions.

Typically consumed in the form of tea, this herb has many valuable nutrients, including vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, chromium, niacin, potassium, phosphorus, and thiamin, but it’s especially noted for its isoflavones, which are water-soluble compounds that act like estrogens. That makes red clover useful for addressing issues like hot flashes and PMS, as well as lowering the risk of osteoporosis, improving blood circulation, and much more.

Between its powerful antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and phytosterols, red clover is something that everyone should have on hand. Use the dried leaves to brew up a tasty, sweet tea to take advantage of its potent effects. You can find dried red clover flowers from any health food store or this page on Amazon – only add a tablespoon or two to a teapot and steep in 8 ounces of water that’s hot, but hasn’t reached its boiling point, for 20 to 30 minutes.

How to Grow Your Own Red Clover

With all of the health benefits, it makes sense to grow your own red clover so you’ll have easy access to it. The good news is that it’s a fast-growing plant that has the potential to be harvested for up to three times a year.

To do so, you’ll need fair to good soil drainage, and ideally the soil should be slightly acidic, with a pH level of 6.0 to 6.5, in order to produce the greatest yields – if you need to raise the acidity in the soil, you can add lime. Red clover also needs moderate levels of potassium and phosphorous in the soil. It’s best to plant in areas that will get sunlight, though red clover will grow in partial shade. Sow your seeds ¼” deep – be cautious s not to go too deep as the seeds may not be able to break through the surface of the soil. Gently pack the soil and then water well.

To maintain red clover, be sure to weed your beds regularly. Once it’s established it will grow with relative ease, with the ability to survive moderate sunlight and water, while being fairly tolerant of drought.

Foraging For Red Clover

Red clover is a wild plant, so you can also forage for it wherever it happens to grow. It’s believed to have originated in the United Kingdom, where it can be seen growing in abundance, but today, it can be found around the world in nearly every country – even in the Arctic Circle.

When you run across it, you can gather up the plant, from blossom to root. Many call it a “survival food,” not only because of its nutrition, because the blossoms truly have a pleasant taste. Don’t select brown blossoms, however, you want them to be young and fresh, whether red, pink or white, though many feel the white clovers are the very best when it comes to taste.

To use those blossoms for both food and medicine, simply break up the flower heads and sprinkle individual blossoms onto a salad. You can use the leaves by drying them and making a tea.

9 Remarkable Health Benefits of Red Clover

1. Red clover and menopause

Red clover has a particularly significant impact on hormones, in particular for women. As mentioned, its isoflavones mimic estrogen, which means that it can help women to balance hormonal shifts which in turn, reduces symptoms like breast pain, hot flashes, insomnia and mood swings. About two-thirds of menopausal and post-menopausal women experience frustrating symptoms like these, and most find little in the way of relief from traditional medical treatments.

Studies in recent years that have examined the effects of red clover in women like these have shown improvement in symptoms without the unwanted side effects that come with medications. A study conducted out of the University of Illinois’ Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, College of Medicine in Chicago, found that while the participants’ weights didn’t change on average over the 180-day period of the study. Taking red clover supplements was able to reduce many other menopausal symptoms, including total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.

Research has also found that menopausal and post-menopausal women taking red clover experienced a dramatic improvement in hair, scalp and skin health within 90 days of supplementation. The herb lowered signs of hair thinning, collagen loss and aging. And, compared to a placebo, it was found to have significant improvements to other standard estrogen loss symptoms, like mood, lowered libido, sleep, and fatigue.

2. Red clover and cholesterol

Red clover not only helps to improve cholesterol levels in menopausal women but in men and women of all ages. If you’re one of the many who faces an uphill battle when it comes to maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, that means your chances of having a heart attack or stroke significantly increases.

In addition to the study noted earlier, other research, conducted on men at the Baker Medical Research Institute Wynn Domain at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, found that LDL cholesterol levels could be decreased by regularly taking red clover.

3. Red clover and hypertension

As red clover contains anti-inflammatory compounds, it can reduce inflammation throughout the body and does a particularly good job at it in the cardiovascular system. Some studies have associated the use of drinking red clover tea with a significant reduction in the tension of blood vessels and arteries, which therefore helps to lower high blood pressure. Reducing hypertension and maintaining a healthy blood pressure level is known to help prevent coronary heart disease and all sorts of cardiovascular conditions.

4. Red clover and cancer

Red clover is also useful for both men and women when it comes to reducing the risk of cancer, but it may be even more important for men as it’s known to mitigate the possibility of prostate cancer. This is one of the most dangerous forms of cancer for males, but red clover offers properties that are scientifically known to block certain enzymes that can cause the prostate to enlarge. While some types of prostate enlargement are benign, reducing prostate size is essential for a man’s health over the long term.

Researchers have discovered that it’s the isoflavones in red clover that appear to help stop cancer cells from multiplying or growing. They may also be able to induce apoptosis or the self-destruction of cancer cells. The types of cancer most likely to be impacted by taking red clover, tend to be those conditions which are related to hormonal changes, like prostate cancer, as well as endometrial and breast cancer. Despite that, those who have a history of, or a high risk of developing breast cancer, are advised by experts not to use red clover until more research is conducted as there are still some unknowns when it comes to the effects of estrogen on the disease.

5. Red clover and bone strength

Red clover may also help prevent one of the most common diseases that affect some 200 million women around the world today: osteoporosis. By the age of 70, one out of five women will have been diagnosed with the condition, and by the age of 90, two-thirds of women will have developed osteoporosis.

Studies have found that the most common form of the disease is bone loss that’s linked to ovarian hormone deficiency at menopause, which is likely why a diet that includes a high level of phytoestrogenic isoflavones is connected with a lower incidence of osteoporosis. Research on rats has revealed that supplementing the animals’ diets with isoflavones was able to significantly improve bone turnover, bone mineral content, bone loss and weakness, femoral weight, and density, and to prevent serum alkaline phosphatase levels from rising.

Evidence has strongly suggested that taking red clover not only lessens the risk of osteoporosis, particularly in post-menopausal women, but it helps bones to heal.

6. Red clover and the liver

The liver is a vital organ, filtering toxins from the blood and producing bile to digest fat. When liver function is compromised, it’s unable to remove toxins from the body effectively, and it also holds onto fat, which eventually overwhelms the body and can lead to diseases like fatty liver. If your liver is compromised, red clover can assist its functioning as it’s considered to be a diaphoretic, helping to clear the system of toxins.

Another red clover health benefit is that it stimulates sweating, to aid in toxin removal through the skin, and it’s even been used for treating conditions like eczema, acne, and psoriasis. The herb is also known to help stimulate bile production to help the liver process fats, which may also offer an additional benefit – boosting weight loss. Also, its powerful anti-inflammatory properties aid in reducing inflammation in the liver.

Research conducted out of the Department of Urology and Andrology, Landesklinikum Thermenregion in Baden, Austria back in 2008, confirmed red clover’s positive effects on liver function.conducted out of the Department of Urology and Andrology, Landesklinikum Thermenregion in Baden, Austria back in 2008, confirmed red clover’s positive effects on liver function.

7. Red clover and respiratory infections

In China and Russia, red clover has long been used to treat respiratory infections and congestion, as well as to cure a cough, speed the healing of wounds and relieve water retention. While not scientifically proven, it has been utilized to prevent and treat a host of respiratory conditions, including bronchitis, colds, whooping cough and asthma. Its natural cleansing effects, as mentioned, helps to clear out toxins, and can also help to loosen phlegm and reduce discomfort during illness. Thanks to its expectorant properties, when used as a tea, it’s ideal for treating a cough and clearing up congestion.

As it tends to ease bronchial spasms, sipping red clover tea before bed when suffering from a respiratory illness can help you get a better night’s sleep, as well as flush out all of that extra mucus from the respiratory system.

8. Red clover and anxiety

Sipping red clover tea can also provide emotional benefits, including the relief of stress, particularly in women who suffer from symptoms caused by menopause, as found in a study from the Division of Obstetrics and Gynecology, General Teaching Hospital in Korneuburg, Austria. The research that was published in 2009 separated 109 women into two groups – one of which was treated with red clover supplements, and the other, which received a placebo for 90 days. Women who took the red clover experienced almost an 80% reduction in anxiety, a result that was dramatically greater than the 22% reduction experienced by the placebo group.

9. Red clover and smoking

If you’re trying to quit smoking, red clover may help you achieve success by chewing on its flowers whenever you have the urge to reach for a cigarette. You can also add them to a salad if you’d rather not chew on them directly. Not only does it give you a healthier habit to turn to, while satisfying your oral need for a cigarette, but its soothing, anti-anxiety effects may help calm those jittery nerves.