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Red Clover

Red clover flower
© Steven Foster

Common Names:  red clover, cow clover, meadow clover, wild clover

Latin Names: Trifolium pratense

Background

  • Like peas and beans, red clover belongs to the family of plants called legumes. Red clover contains substances called isoflavones. Isoflavones are phytoestrogens—compounds similar to the female hormone estrogen.
  • Historically, red clover was used for asthma, whooping cough, cancer, and gout. Today, extracts from red clover are most often promoted for menopause symptoms, high cholesterol levels, or osteoporosis.

How Much Do We Know?

  • Red clover has been studied in people, but the research hasn’t shown clear benefits for any health condition.

What Have We Learned?

  • Studies on the effects of red clover on menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and on blood levels of cholesterol and other lipids have had inconsistent results.
  • Only a small amount of research has been done on the effects of red clover on bone density in menopausal women, and the results have been inconsistent.

What Do We Know About Safety?

  • Red clover extracts have been used in clinical studies for as long as 3 years with apparent safety.
  • Women should not take red clover supplements during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

Keep in Mind

  • Take charge of your health—talk with your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Together, you can make shared, well-informed decisions.

For More Information

NCCIH Clearinghouse

The NCCIH Clearinghouse provides information on NCCIH and complementary and integrative health approaches, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.

Toll-free in the U.S.: 1-888-644-6226

tty (for deaf and hard-of-hearing callers):

1-866-464-3615

Website: https://nccih.nih.gov/

Email: info@nccih.nih.gov (link sends e-mail)

PubMed®

A service of the National Library of Medicine, PubMed® contains publication information and (in most cases) brief summaries of articles from scientific and medical journals. For guidance from NCCIH on using PubMed, see How To Find Information About Complementary Health Approaches on PubMed.

Website: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/

Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), National Institutes of Health (NIH)

ODS seeks to strengthen knowledge and understanding of dietary supplements by evaluating scientific information, supporting research, sharing research results, and educating the public. Its resources include publications (such as Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know), fact sheets on a variety of specific supplement ingredients and products (such as vitamin D and multivitamin/mineral supplements), and the PubMed Dietary Supplement Subset.

Website: https://ods.od.nih.gov/

Email: ods@nih.gov (link sends e-mail)

Key References

This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.

NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider(s). We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCIH.

Last Updated: October 2020