RED CLOVER - Know your HERBS -

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RED CLOVER - Know your HERBS -

Post  Admin on Tue Mar 12, 2013 5:08 am

The botanical name for Red Clover is Trifolium pratense

This perennial plant is ½–2' tall, branching occasionally. The hairy stems are sprawling or erect. The alternate compound leaves are trifoliate. The lower compound leaves have long hairy petioles, while the upper leaves have short petioles or they are sessile. The leaflets are up to 2" long and ¾" across. They are oval-ovate or slightly obovate; sometimes they are a little broader below the middle. Their margins are smooth and ciliate and their tips are blunt. Toward the middle of the upper surface of each leaflet, there is usually a chevron that is white or light green. The leaflets are sessile and lack petioles of their own. At the base of each compound leaf, there is a pair of ovate stipules up to ½" long. The upper stems terminate in flowerheads that are spheroid or ovoid. Usually there are 1-3 leaflets immediately beneath each flowerhead, as well as several green bracts with tips that abruptly taper to a slender tip. Each flowerhead is about 1" across and consists of numerous flowers. These flowers are sessile, tubular-shaped, and spread outward in different directions. Each flower has 5 narrow petals that are pink or purplish pink, becoming light pink or white toward the base of the flowerhead; a rare form of this species with white petals also exists. The upper petal is slightly longer than the lower petals. The light green calyx of each flower has 5 slender teeth and it is usually hairy.

The parts of the rose used, are: flowering tops

Health Benefits of Red Clover

Red clover is a source of many valuable nutrients including calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C. Red clover is also considered to be one of the richest sources of isoflavones (water-soluble chemicals that act like estrogens and are found in many plants).

Several studies of a proprietary extract of red clover isoflavones suggest that it may significantly reduce hot flashes in menopausal women. Also, menopause increases a woman's risk for developing osteoporosis (significant bone loss) and some studies suggest that a proprietary extract of red clover isoflavones may slow bone loss and even boost bone mineral density in pre and peri-menopausal women. The estrogen-like effect of red clover isoflavones may be involved, and red clover also may have a direct effect by preventing the breakdown of existing bone.

However, this possible bone-strengthening effect has not been seen in men and post-menopausal women.

Because it contains chemicals called isoflavones, which belong to a larger class of plant chemicals known as phyto (plant-derived) estrogens, red clover is often taken to relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Isoflavones are similar in shape to the female hormone, estrogen. Therefore, they may attach to estrogen receptors throughout the body particularly in the bladder, blood vessels, bones, and heart.

For women with normal estrogen levels, red clover isoflavones may displace some natural estrogens, possibly preventing or relieving estrogen-related symptoms, such as breast pain, that are associated with PMS. This effect may also reduce the possibility of developing estrogen-dependent cancer of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus). In addition, results from a review of nearly 1000 women suggest that red clover may interfere with an enzyme known to promote the progression of endometrial cancer.

Red clover may also block enzymes thought to contribute to prostate cancer in men. It has shown a definite limiting effect, however, in the development of benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), which is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland. An enlarged prostate may cause men to experience a weak or interrupted urine stream, dribbling after urinating, or the urge to urinate even after voiding. For most men, BPH is a normal part of aging.

It is believed that red clover may help to prevent heart disease in several ways. Although results from human studies are not definite, some show that taking red clover may lower the levels of 'bad' low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) and raise the levels of 'good' high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in the body. In addition, red clover may also promote an increase in the secretion of bile acid. Because cholesterol is a major component of bile acid, increased bile acid production usually means that more cholesterol is used and less cholesterol circulates in the body. Additionally, red clover contains small amounts of chemicals known as coumarins, which may help keep the blood from becoming thick and gummy. Therefore, the possibility of forming blood clots and arterial plaques may be reduced. Plaques are accumulations of blood cells, fats, and other substances that may build up in blood vessels, possibly reducing or blocking blood flow. Red clover may also help the arteries remain strong and flexible (a quality often called 'arterial compliance'), which may also help to prevent some of the plaque deposits that may lead to a heart attack or a stroke.

It has been found to be helpful in quitting smoking.

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