Red Clover Flower

Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is an herb that belongs to the legume family, which also includes peas and beans. In herbal medicine, red clover is typically used to treat respiratory issues (such as asthma, whooping cough, and bronchitis), skin disorders (such as eczema and psoriasis), inflammatory conditions like arthritis, and women's health problems1 (such as menopausal and menstrual symptoms).

Red clover's brightly colored flowers contain many nutrients including calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C. They're also a rich source of isoflavones. These are compounds that act as phytoestrogens—plant chemicals similar to the female hormone estrogen. Isoflavone extracts are touted as dietary supplements for high cholesterol and osteoporosis in addition to menopausal symptoms.

Health Benefits
In alternative medicine, red clover is said to help with the following conditions. Note, however, that research hasn't shown that the herb is conclusively effective for these or any other health concerns.

Menopausal Symptoms
A number of small studies have been done to see if red clover may help relieve the discomforts of menopause, especially hot flashes. Though you may hear some anecdotal support for this, there has been no conclusive evidence to back it up.

In fact, a research review conducted in 2013 notes that phytoestrogen treatments (including red clover) are not proven to effectively alleviate menopausal symptoms.2

Ways to Relieve Menopausal Hot Flashes
Bone Loss
Research is ongoing as to whether isoflavones lower the loss of bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. Red clover is one source of supplements used in some studies.

A review done in 2016 concluded there may be some beneficial effects on bone health,3 while a 2017 review found that different formulations of red clover may be effective or ineffective.2

Preliminary research suggests that red clover may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer. In a 2009 study of prostate cancer cells, scientists found that treatment with red clover led to a decrease in the prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein found at elevated levels in men with prostate cancer.4

However, because of the estrogen-like effects of red clover, it could promote the growth of cancers that are boosted by estrogen, such as breast cancer and endometrial cancer.

Heart Disease
A few clinical trials have looked at the effects of red clover on the development of risk factors for heart disease in postmenopausal women, with no strong evidence that it helps, reports Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Keep in mind that, due to the lack of long-term studies, it's too soon to recommend red clover for any condition. It's also important to note that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.