Red clover is considered to be one of the richest sources of isoflavones (water-soluble chemicals that act like estrogens and are found in many plants). It is used for hot flashes/flushes, PMS, lowering cholesterol, breast enhancement and breast health, improving urine production and improving circulation of the blood. It is also used to help prevent osteoporosis, reduce the possibility of blood clots and arterial plaques and limiting the development of benign prostate hyperplasia.
Red clover is a source of many valuable nutrients including calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C. Red clover is also considered to be one of the richest sources of isoflavones (water-soluble chemicals that act like estrogens and are found in many plants).
Several studies of a proprietary extract of red clover isoflavones suggest that it may significantly reduce hot flashes in menopausal women. Also, menopause increases a woman’s risk for developing osteoporosis (significant bone loss) and some studies suggest that a proprietary extract of red clover isoflavones may slow bone loss and even boost bone mineral density in pre and peri-menopausal women. The estrogen-like effect of red clover isoflavones may be involved, and red clover also may have a direct effect by preventing the breakdown of existing bone.
Because it contains chemicals called isoflavones, which belong to a larger class of plant chemicals known as phyto (plant-derived) estrogens, red clover is often taken to relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Isoflavones are similar in shape to the female hormone, estrogen. Therefore, they may attach to estrogen receptors throughout the body particularly in the bladder, blood vessels, bones, and heart.
For women with normal estrogen levels, red clover isoflavones may displace some natural estrogens, possibly preventing or relieving estrogen-related symptoms, such as breast pain, that are associated with PMS. This effect may also reduce the possibility of developing estrogen-dependent cancer of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus). In addition, results from a review of nearly 1000 women suggest that red clover may interfere with an enzyme known to promote the progression of endometrial cancer.
It is believed that red clover may help to prevent heart disease in several ways..Some human studies show that taking red clover may lower the levels of ‘bad’ low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) and raise the levels of ‘good’ high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in the body. In addition, red clover may also promote an increase in the secretion of bile acid. Because cholesterol is a major component of bile acid, increased bile acid production usually means that more cholesterol is used and less cholesterol circulates in the body. Additionally, red clover contains small amounts of chemicals known as coumarins, which may help keep the blood from becoming thick and gummy. Therefore, the possibility of forming blood clots and arterial plaques may be reduced. Plaques are accumulations of blood cells, fats, and other substances that may build up in blood vessels, possibly reducing or blocking blood flow. Red clover may also help the arteries remain strong and flexible (a quality often called ‘arterial compliance’), which may also help to prevent some of the plaque deposits that may lead to a heart attack or a stroke.
It has been found to be helpful in quitting smoking.
Red clover’s constituents are thought to stimulate the immune system. (It has been a traditional ingredient in many formulas for cancer.) Red clover has also been used to treat coughs and respiratory system congestion, because it also contains resin. Resinous substances in plants have expectorating, warming, and antimicrobial action.
Red clover contains significant levels of isoflavones. There has been much research on compounds related to isoflavones of late, and much of red clover’s hormonal effects are attributed to these compounds.
Here’s why: When a hormone molecule is released from various organs, it travels through the bloodstream until it binds to a cell membrane, called a hormone receptor, which is able to receive it. If a compound in a plant is close enough to the shape of the body’s natural hormone molecule, it may also bind to the receptor on a cell membrane.
What this means is that some substances in plants produce the same effects in humans as some hormones. Isoflavones in red clover are able to bind to estrogen and possibly other — receptors. They appear to have moderate hormonal effects.