Red Clover Tops
Red clover is used for cancer prevention, indigestion, high cholesterol, whooping cough, cough, asthma, bronchitis, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Some women use red clover for symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes; for breast pain or tenderness (mastalgia); and for premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Making Red Clover Tea
You can also make tea from dried flower heads. Some proponents claim that to get the full benefit of red clover you need to use the whole flower, and not commercial red clover isoflavones, which many studies use.
To make a tea, use one to three teaspoons of dried red clover flowers for every cup of simmering (not boiling) water. Let steep for 15 minutes. Drink up to three cups of tea a day.
Possible Side Effects
Although red clover appears to be safe for short-term use, long-term or regular use may be linked to increased risk of cancer of the lining of the uterus.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, along with anyone with hormone-sensitive cancer, which may be accelerated by phytoestrogens, should avoid red clover.
Red clover has blood-thinning abilities and can increase the effects of anticoagulant and antiplatelet drugs. Avoid taking it with blood thinners like Coumadin (warfarin) and stop taking it at least two weeks prior to surgery.
The herb may also interact with birth control pills due to the hormone-like actions of its isoflavones.
Red clover causes toxic effects when taken with methotrexate, a drug used to treat certain types of cancer and to control severe psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis.
If you're considering using red clover, make sure to consult your physician first to avoid problematic drug-herb interactions.