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Red clover (Trifolium pratense)

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • Ackerklee (German), apigenin, beebread, biochanin A, biokain A, clovamides, clover Trifolium spp., coumarin, coumestrol, cow clover, daidzein, equol, Estro-Logic®, Fabaceae (family), flavonoids, formononetin, genistein, glycitein, isoflavone, isoflavone clover extract (ICE), Lipolysar Long Action®, luteolin, meadow clover, Menoflavon®, MF11RCE, O-desmethylangolensin, O-DMA, P-07, P081, phenolic acids, phytoestrogen, Promensil®, purple clover, raloxifene, Rimostil®, Rotklee (German), saponins, trèfle des prés (French), trefoil, Trifolium pratense, Trinovin®, wild clover.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Red clover is a legume, which, like soy, contains phytoestrogens (plant-based compounds structurally similar to estradiol, capable of binding to estrogen receptors as agonists or antagonists). Red clover was traditionally used to treat asthma, pertussis, cancer, and gout. In modern times, isoflavone extracts of red clover are most often used to treat menopausal symptoms, as an alternative hormone replacement therapy; to treat hyperlipidemia; or to prevent osteoporosis.
  • With the exception of mastalgia (breast pain), there is a lack of available high-quality human research supporting the efficacy of red clover for most indications (1). Additional research is needed, including for mastalgia, for which more supporting evidence would be beneficial. Soy protein, another source of isoflavones, has been reported to significantly reduce serum lipid levels, but this benefit has not been demonstrated for red clover and may be due to the presence of other constituents in soy (e.g., saponins, pectins, essential fatty acids). Although red clover has been commonly indicated for the treatment of menopausal symptoms and in spite of some positive findings, available human data overall have generally been unsupportive regarding the use of red clover isoflavones for vasomotor symptom reduction (2;3;4;5;6). Methodologically strong randomized controlled trials have also suggested that red clover isoflavones lack beneficial cognitive effects in postmenopausal women (7;8), although the generalizability of findings to other populations is unclear.

Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.