The charms of red clover are considered to be unequaled. Greeks, pre-Christian celts, and ancient Romans were so impressed by the healing properties of red clover that they worshipped it. Red clover is considered one of the world’s oldest crops – having been cultivated since prehistoric times.
What Is Red Clover?
Trifolium pretense which is the scientific name for red clover is an herbaceous and perennial plant. It grows 19cm (7.5 inches) in length and has alternating leaves. The dense and dome-shaped pink flowers make it easily recognizable. It belongs to the pea family and plays an important role in nitrogen-fixing.
How Is Red Clover Used?
In the past red clover was used to loosen phlegm and relieve throat spasms. People also used it to treat whooping cough. Its flowers are used as a garnish and can also be used to extract essential oils. Some people use it to relieve effects of menopause like night sweats and hot flashes. It is also used to treat skin conditions.
Red clover contains isoflavones which are converted into phytoestrogens once they enter the body. These phytoestrogens are very similar to estrogens and are used for the treatment of menstrual irregularities. In traditional medicine, it is also used to treat asthma, osteoporosis, heart conditions, and arthritis.
What Are The Health Benefits of Red Clover?
Scientific studies carried out in 2015 showed that women who took small amounts of red clover extract daily had less bone mineral density loss and improved bone health. Red clover also has skin and hair health benefits. One study on postmenopausal women indicated that taking red clover improved their skin texture, appearance, and overall quality. Another study carried out on men showed a decrease in hair loss when red clover extract was applied to the scalp.
What Makes Red Clover An Anticancer Food?
Red clover is one of the oldest herbal remedies for treating cancer. One study showed that 33 cultures use red clover to treat cancer. However, it cannot be used for every cancer type and cancer patient. One study was carried out to find the potential anticancer effects of red clover in breast cancer. The results of this study showed that red clover had synergistic anti-tumor effects with other chemotherapeutic agents. The phenolic compound present in red clover delayed the formation of tumors and increased apoptosis.
Due to its use to treat cancer in many cultures, scientists started investigating the role of isoflavones in treating cancer. Initial studies proved that isoflavones did kill the cancer cells and stopped them from growing in the test tube. Based on these results scientists believed that red clover could be used to treat prostate and endometrial cancer. But red clover also has estrogen-like effects which are believed to feed cancer instead of curing it.
The studies on the anti-cancer properties of red clover are still very new and still in their early stages. Nothing can be said about the anti-cancer properties of red clover because all the studies are in preliminary stages and extensive research is still needed to prove its role in cancer treatment. Until further research is done it cannot be scientifically recommended to treat breast cancer in women.