Admiring the Abundance of Red Clover

To be “in clover” still means to have abundance.

I sometimes forget my manners when given plenty of something. I am more careless with how I use a resource when there is more of it. What’s more, my appreciation for whatever it is I’ve been given is lacking when there is more than enough. A common human trait, it makes me feel better knowing I’m not alone in this. It takes conscious effort to identify the ways we have been blessed in a society that consistently tells us we are not enough and we do not have enough.

Recently I noticed that I haven’t said ‘thank you’ for the good fortune of having Red Clover growing freely here. She arrives each year singing the sweet song of summer as she takes over wherever she is planted. Red Clover (and white, too) signifies the successful continuation of the common ‘weed,’ notoriously sought out to be banished from today’s lawns. The very best way to appreciate something or someone is to give them some of my time and undivided attention. That isn’t difficult to spare for a loyal friend like Red Clover.

Nutrient Dense

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) contains many nutrients that the body needs replenished regularly. This is one reason I enjoy Red Clover as a nourishing herbal infusion. More than adequate amounts of beta-carotene, vitamin C, several B vitamins, and calcium all reside within Red Clover. Even some essential trace elements (magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, and selenium) rest within the flower head and leaves. Pretty impressive to think of all of that being packed inside this floral powerhouse.

Cleansing Herb

Throughout it’s history as an herbal remedy, Red Clover has gained popularity as a detoxifying herb. It primarily cleans up the blood and lymphatic system by eliminating toxins from the body. Red Clover (taken internally) encourages an increase in urine and bile production. It also helps clear mucus from the lungs while acting as a soothing expectorant.

Anti-Cancer Potential

The potential to cure major illnesses and diseases using nature’s medicine is uplifting. It just makes sense. Even though Red Clover hasn’t cured cancer, it has some properties that make it rather beneficial. According to the National Cancer Institute, Red Clover contains four significant anti-tumor compounds. In 2008, Matthew Wood commented that “fairly reliably [Red Clover] will cause a membrane to grow around a tumor and contain it, which is helpful, especially if followed by surgery. This has especially been observed in breast cancer.” This is my favorite example of how modern and alternative medicine might work together for a common goal.

Skin Helper

Herbs with skin healing properties are a favorite topic of mine. I’ve suffered from extremely dry skin and eczema most of my life. Red Clover’s ability to stimulate the liver and cleanse the body means it is helpful in treating skin complaints that typically appear due to poorly treated, stagnant bodily systems. Red Clover will assist the body in clearing these complaints away when taken as tea or tincture consistently over longer periods of time. It also makes for a great salve or skin wash.

Menopause Symptoms Reliever

Many woman have turned to hormone replacement therapy during menopause. And many of them report having uncomfortable side effects of the treatment. Fortunately, Red Clover contains plant hormones (phytoestrogens) and compounds (isoflavones) that can ease the irritating and uncomfortable symptoms of menopause (hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, etc.). Taken internally or as a tea on a regular basis, Red Clover may provide the relief needed during this time in a woman’s life without the negative side effects.

Red Clover is NOT a Blood Thinner

Red Clover contains the compound courmarin. This compound can change to a synthetic agent called dicoumarol, which is a blood thinner. This happens when a Red Clover harvest ferments during the drying process. When dried properly, this isn’t a problem. Yet, anyone taking blood thinners would be best advised to stay away from Red Clover.

Drying Red Clover

If you are like me, and lucky enough to have red clover growing around you, then you can easily dry your own for tea or tincture. To do so, find a dry spot out of the sunlight to lay your clover heads out. Either on a screen or brown paper spread them so they are not piled on top of each other. Give them ample room to breathe in order to dry more quickly.

When dried they should retain much of their color and be crumbly. If they turned brown it’s best to compost them and try again. Otherwise you can purchase dried Red Clover at Mountain Rose Herbs.

All in all, Red Clover reminds me to appreciate how good I have it. Because I really do. This life is full of many wonderful gifts, and they are easy to overlook in all of the hustle and bustle. Slowing down and learning to see how important these small but abundant gifts truly are is what makes life worth living. What a perfect meditation to contemplate over a mug of Red Clover tea!

***The quotes used in this post come from the book Backyard Medicine by Julie Burton-Seal and Matthew Seal. (To be “in clover” still means to have abundance; quote from Matthew Wood)