Introduction of Red Clover:meadow clover, pink clover, or purple clover.
✵The article gives records of the herb Red Clover, its English name, Latin name, common names, property and flavor, its botanical source one plant species, ①.Trifolium pratense L., with a detailed introduction to the botanical features of this plant species, the growth characteristics, and ecological environment of this plant species, the features of the herb Red Clover, its pharmacological actions, medicinal efficacy, and administration guide.
English Name: Red Clover.
Latin Name: Trifolium pratense L.
Common Names: Cow clover, meadow clover, pink clover, purple clover, sweet clover, trefoil, wild clover.
Property and flavor: slight cold in nature, tastes sweet, bitter.
Brief introduction: Red clover is the fragrant round flower heads of Trifolium pratense, it is used medicinally after drying. The rose or pink flower heads are composed of miniature florets that develop on piliferous upright stems along with oval leaflets that grow in groups of three and bear a pale crescent marking.
Botanical source: Common herbal classics defined the herb Red clover as the flower heads of the species (1).Trifolium pratense L. It is a plant species of the Trifolium genus, the Leguminosae family (Fabaceae, Papilionaceae, legume, pea family). The flower heads are used medicinally. This commonly used species is introduced:
(1).Trifolium pratense L.
Botanical description: Trifolium pratense is a perennial herb, it grows up to 30~60 cm tall. Stems are upright or obliquely ascending, much branched, and sparsely covered by white pubescent. Three-leaf compound leaves; leaflets 3, sessile; leaf blade is elliptic-ovate to broadly elliptic, 2.5~4 cm long, 1~2 cm wide, the apex is obtusely rounded, the base is rounded wedge-shaped, veins extending to the leaf margin, slightly protruding into conspicuously dentate, with long hairs on the back; stipules are ovate, the apex is sharp, adnate to petioles, the base is clasping.
Inflorescences are capitate, axillary, with large involucre, oval, with transverse veins; the calyx is tube-like, calyx teeth 5, linear-lanceolate, the lowermost calyx tooth is longer, 1 times longer than other teeth; Corolla is butterfly-shaped, purple or lavender, vexilla are narrowly rhombic, wing petals are oblong, base with ears and claws, keel petals are slightly shorter than wing petals; the ovary is oval, style is filiform, slender.
The pods are small, obovate, about 2 mm long, encapsulated in the persistent calyx, pericarp is membranous, with longitudinal veins. 1 seed, kidney-shaped, yellow-brown. Its flower and fruit period is from May to September.
Ecological environment: The plant is native to Europe, Central Asia, and Northern Africa, and naturalized in many other parts of the world. The largest cultivated area in USA (the United States of America).
Growth characteristics: Trifolium pratense likes a cool, humid climate, and is best grown in areas that are not too hot in summer and not very cold in winter. Growth is inhibited when the temperature exceeds 35 °C (Celsius, or 95 degrees Fahrenheit), yellowing or death occurs when the temperature exceeds 40 °C (Celsius, or 104 degrees Fahrenheit), and it is difficult to survive summer in a high temperature and dry years. It is difficult to survive the winter when the minimum temperature in winter reaches -15 °C (Celsius, or 5 degrees Fahrenheit). Red clover has good moisture tolerance, but poor drought tolerance. It grows best in clay loam soils with a pH (pH scale:acidity-basicity) of 6~7, well-drained, and fertile soil.
History and story of Red Clover: Red Clover is also known by the names Meadow Trefoil, Cleaver Grass, Marl Grass, Sweet Clover, Wild Clover, Cow Clover, and Purple Clover. Red clover is an ancient agricultural crop, it is rich in historical and religious symbolism, and its likeness even appears on the club's suit in playing cards. Ancients called it Triphyllon, meaning "three leaves". This term also relates to the common name, Clover, which stems from "clava", meaning "three-leaved". The three-lobed leaves were associated with the Holy Trinity by medieval Christians. The three leaves were said to correspond to the triad goddesses of Mythology, and later to the Trinity in Christianity. According to the Doctrine of Signatures, the white crescentic markings on the leaflets of red clover were seen as a sign that the plant could be of benefit in the treatment of cataracts. In Europe, Red Clover is widely cultivated and used as a tonic and a salad herb. Red Clover is used by honey makers to add a mild, sweet taste to their honey. It serves as common fodder for domestic animals. Herbalists have long prized this herb for its traditional use as a blood purifier, expelling toxins from the bloodstream.
Characters of herbs: Red clover is the dried and the fresh flower heads of Trifolium pratense, the flower heads are collected and used medicinally. The capitulum is oblate or irregular spherical, 2~3 cm in diameter, nearly without common pedicles. There are large involucres, involucre oval, with longitudinal veins. The calyx is campanulate, and calyx teeth are linear-lanceolate, with long hairs. Petals are dark purple and clawed. Sometimes inflorescence with branches and leaves, trifoliate; stipules are ovate, base is clasping. The leaflets are 3, many curled or fallen off, the complete ones are oval or oblong when flattened, 2.5~4 cm long, 1~2 cm wide, with light-colored markings on the leaf surface. The herb has a slight odor, tasteless.
Estrogen-like effects: Red clover has some estrogen-like effects, studies identified this effect and attributed it to its isoflavones, and trace amounts of an estrogenic coumarin, coumestrol, etc.
Anti-cancer effect: Red clover contains daidzein and genistein, these components are thought to have cancer-fighting properties. Studies by Cassady found that its component biochanin A can inhibit carcinogen benzo(a)pyrene activation in cell cultures.
Expectorant: Red clover contains some components, and they have mildly antispasmodic and expectorant effects, explaining its traditional use for congestion for spasmodic coughs.
Antiseptic and anti-inflammatory: Red clover volatile oil contains methyl salicylate and benzyl alcohol, which explains its mild antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Cardioprotective effects: studies by Nestel found that red clover isoflavones significantly improved arterial compliance in 17 menopausal women.
But some of its traditional declared uses, such as its use for venereal disease, and its healing effects for skin disorders such as psoriasis, eczema, and rashes, are still lacking evidence support.
Medicinal efficacy: Red clover has been used as a tumor and cancer remedy for breast cancer particularly, for skin disorders, as an expectorant to clear chest congestion caused by coughs, colds, and bronchitis. In the early 20th century, red clover preparations were used by Americans for venereal diseases such as syphilis, skin diseases, and tuberculosis of the lymph nodes. It was used in Harry Hoxey's highly controversial herbal anti-cancer formula in the 1940s. Its infusion and other internal preparations are recommended by herbalists for calming coughs, clearing chest congestion, and other respiratory conditions, particularly whooping cough, relieving menopausal symptoms, and improving overall health as a generalized tonic, it is still used in some herbal blends for cancer. External preparations are used for rashes, psoriasis, eczema, and other skin disorders. Isoflavone extracts of red clover are often used to treat menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes. TCM works recorded the herb function clear heat and relieve cough, eliminating stagnation and reduce the swelling, indicated for cold, cough and dyspnea, hard swollen, fire burn.
Administration of Red Clover (trefoil):
Administration Guide of Red Clover (trefoil)
Herbal classic books and TCM books:
Dosage: An infusion is prepared using 1 to 3 teaspoons of dried flower tops per cup of water. The infusion is drunk up to three times per day, or 2.5 to 10 ml of the liquid flower extract is taken. Liquid extract 1:1 can be prepared in 25% ethanol. TCM works recommend the herb internally use as water decoction, 15~30 grams, externally proper amount, mashed and apply a coating, or prepare to ointment and apply smear.
Contraindications, Precautions and Adverse Reactions: The FDA places red clover on its list of herbs "Generally Recognized As Safe"(GRAS) for food use. There is caution if you are taking birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy, have heart disease, are at risk for blood clots, or suffer from estrogen-dependent cancer or estrogen receptor-positive neoplasias, as the herb has estrogen-like effects. It should be avoided if you are pregnant or are taking blood-thinning medicines, or during breastfeeding. Reduced fertility may result from the excessive use of red clover.
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1.Introduction of Red Clover:meadow clover, pink clover, or purple clover.