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Red Clover and Isoflavones

Sep 12, 2008
American children (myself included) traditionally love hunting in a patch of red clover for a rare four-leaf stalk known to bring good luck, but it is the dried flowers that are used in herbal medicine. Red Clover (trifolium pratense) is a red-blossomed herb that contains compounds called isoflavones. Isoflavones act as a mild form of estrogen.

Cancer Fighting Properties

Current studies are showing that isoflavones like those in red clover, may aid in prevention of cancer cells forming and may even kill cancer cells in laboratory tests. But red clover has estrogen-like effects that could aid in the expansion of certain estrogen hungry cancers in the same way that human estrogen can.

Phytoestrogens are the estrogen-like compounds contained in red clover. Estrogen can overstimulate the body and cause certain cancers like uterine cancer that develops in the lining of the uterus. Long term use of herbs with phytoestrogens then could contribute to cancer, but there is also contrary evidence to this. People who consume a mostly plant-based diet, like vegetarians or vegans, have a greater absence of notable cancers. Researchers believe that phytoestrogen links with certain cells in the body thus preventing human estrogen from combing with those cells and stimulating the production of cancerous cells.

Red clover may alter the effects of any drugs containing hormones or derivatives of hormones like birth control pills for hormone replacement therapy, as well as the levels of natural hormones in the body.

It is unclear whether red clover is safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or who have breast cancer or other hormone-sensitive cancers. Studies looking at the extract's effectiveness against prostate enlargement and prostate cancer have begun.

Red clover is currently being used to combat symptoms of early and peri-menopause, menstrual pain, prostate enlargement, osteoporosis and high cholesterol. The pink flowers of red clover are processed for extracts that can be put into capsule or tablet form. There are also recipes for red clover tea or liquid tinctures.

Osteoporosis, Menopause and Isoflavones

Isoflavones have shown potential in the treatment of a number of conditions associated with menopause, such as hot flashes, cardiovascular health, and osteoporosis.

There is not enough reliable scientific evidence to recommend red clover for osteoporosis. Menopause increases a woman's risk for developing osteoporosis (significant bone loss). Taking red clover has been shown to help delay osteoporosis in women who have not hit that stage of life.

Red clover is a source of many valuable nutrients including calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C. Red clover is available in a variety of preparations, including teas, tinctures, tablets, capsules, liquid extract, and extracts standardized to specific isoflavone contents. Also called cow clover, bee-bread, and purple clover, red clover can be included as part of an alternative treatment of early cervical dysplasia.
About the Author
Alternatively-Healthier is your doorway to the haven of alternative medicine, herbal remedies and natural alternatives. To learn more about the benefits of Red Clover, see Alternatively-Healthier, and start creating a healthier you.
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