PDR Health

Red Clover

What is red clover?

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) is a herbaceous, short-lived perennial legume native to Europe, Asia and northwest Africa. It has been introduced to North and South America as well as Australia and New Zealand. The plant is used as forage for livestock, as a green manure crop and as a source of nectar for bees. It has also been used medicinally.

Red Clover is a member of the bean family Fabaceae. The plant gets its name from the fact that the leaves are trifoliate (3-lobed) and have a reddish coloration on the tips of the leaflets. The flowers are small and borne in dense, spherical heads. The flowers are pink, turning to purple as they age.

Red Clover is a very common plant in pasture and hay meadows throughout Europe, Asia and northwest Africa. It has also been introduced to North and South America as well as Australia and New Zealand. The plant thrives in sunny locations with well-drained soils. It is often one of the first plants to colonize disturbed sites such as road cuts and logged areas.

The leaves of red clover are used as forage for livestock. The protein content of the leaves is relatively high, making it a valuable source of nutrition for cattle, horses and sheep. The dried leaves can also be used as hay.

Red Clover is sometimes grown as a green manure crop. When plowed under, it adds nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil. This can be beneficial for subsequent crops.

Red Clover is a major source of nectar for bees. The flowers are rich in pollen and attract a wide variety of bees. The honey produced from red clover is light-colored and has a mild, sweet flavor.

Red Clover has a long history of use in traditional medicine. It was used to treat a wide variety of conditions, including coughs, colds, skin problems and even cancer. Red Clover is still used today as an herbal remedy, although there is little scientific evidence to support its efficacy.

Red Clover is generally considered to be safe. However, some people may experience allergic reactions, such as skin rashes, when coming into contact with the plant. It is also important to note that red clover contains estrogen-like compounds. These compounds can interact with certain medications and may not be suitable for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Side Effects & Safety

When taken by mouth: Red clover is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken in food amounts. It can also be used safely as a medicine short-term.

Red clover contains a chemical that acts like the hormone estrogen. Because of this, there is some concern that red clover might increase the risk of cancer of the uterus. There is also concern that red clover might act like estrogen in other ways, such as affecting fertility or promoting the growth of breast tissue (gynecomastia). However, there is not enough evidence to know if these concerns are real. Until more is known, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid using red clover. People with hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, endometriosis, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, or other conditions should also avoid using red clover.

When applied to the skin: Red clover is LIKELY SAFE when applied to the skin. There is some concern that red clover might cause skin irritation and rashes in some people.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Red clover is LIKELY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in medicinal amounts during pregnancy. It might act like the hormone estrogen. Estrogen can cause problems for the developing baby. Do not take red clover if you are pregnant.


Red clover compounds are rapidly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and widely distributed throughout the body. The metabolites of red clover are excreted primarily in the urine.


The appropriate dose of red clover depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for red clover. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.


Red clover might increase the breakdown of some medications by the liver. Taking red clover along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can decrease the effectiveness of these medications. Before taking red clover, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are processed by the liver.

Some of these medications include:

-Alfuzosin (Uroxatral)

-Amiodarone (Cordarone)

-Bicalutamide (Casodex)

-Bosentan (Tracleer)

-Carbamazepine (Tegretol)


-Felodipine (Plendil)

-Fentanyl (Duragesic)

-Lovastatin (Mevacor)

-Midazolam (Versed)


-Omeprazole (Prilosec)

-Orlistat (Xenical)

-Pravastatin (Pravachol)


-Rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane)

Sedatives such as diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), and phenobarbital

Simvastatin (Zocor)

Tacrolimus (Prograf)


Warfarin (Coumadin)