Red clover, Trifolium pratense, is a really common side in meadows and grasslands in the summertime in the nothern hemisphere. The bees love it and can often be seen buzzing around, feeding on the delicious nectar.
My son and I love to stop and pick out the petals, trying to taste the nectar at the bottom. We don’t always manage but if you do – ah it is a moment of absolute bliss and a taste that cannot be recreated in any other way. It’s well worth all the discarded petals to find that nectar gold!
This is one of the first plants I ever harvested, while I was still a student and visiting my husband-to-be in Southern Germany. There was a field next to where he lived that was simply a carpet of red clover. I had never seen such an abundance before. I picked armfuls and didn’t even make a dent in the amount that was there (which is exactly as it should be if you harvest from the wild). I was so desperate to get the right amount to make my first tincture and I proudly displayed the filled kilner jars, topped up with vodka on the windowsill of his living room. Sitting on the wide front steps, in a summer breeze, sorting through the herb, and filling those jars is a very fond memory.
Many, many litres of tincture and 16 years in clinical practice later, I still get a thrill from finding a huge patch of red clover and starting the process all over again.
This clever plant has many uses but they can broadly be categorised into the realms of skin and hormonal health. Red clover is seen in many over-the-counter products for hormone balance because it contains phytoestrogens that our bodies can use if our own levels are a little low. This is useful to help regulate bleeding, support a normal cycle, and also during menopausal transition. I find that a woman’s body can use red clover at any age and that it’s particularly indicated where the period starts and stops and starts again, or trails on seemingly forever. It has an ability to neaten up the bleed and make it more efficient, starting and ending within a few days with less spotting at either end and no gap in the middle.
The other place where this is an invaluable ally is when you have hormonal acne. Deep, often sore spots that come up at the same time each month often coinciding with your period or ovulation (or both!). As a skin herb red clover is cooling, soothing, and promotes quicker healing, as a hormonal herb it soothes out the hormonal curve and certainly plays a central role in reducing (sometimes resolving) the hormonal acne altogether if taken, over time with other herbs that can work with it in synergy.