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red clover flower

© 2018 Steven Foster

A red clover monograph for the home

Latin Name: Trifolium pratense

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

This red clover monograph provides basic information about red clover—common names, usefulness and safety, and resources for more information.


Red Clover Basics

  • 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 a variety of conditions including asthma, whooping cough, cancer, and gout. Today, isoflavone extracts from red clover are most often used as dietary supplements for menopausal symptoms, high cholesterol, or osteoporosis.
  • The flowering tops of the red clover plant are used to prepare extracts available in tablets or capsules, as well as in teas and liquid forms.

Red Clover in Health Research

  • There have been several studies of red clover in people, but their results haven’t provided clear evidence of any beneficial effects.

Red Clover Research Summary

  • Red clover has not been clearly shown to be helpful for any health condition.
  • Most research indicates that taking red clover does not relieve menopause symptoms such as hot flashes.
  • The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) is supporting research to develop better methods of identifying active components in red clover and to evaluate possible interactions of red clover with medications.

Red Clover Safety

  • No serious side effects have been reported in studies that evaluated red clover for various health conditions for up to a year.
  • Because red clover contains estrogen-like compounds, there’s a possibility that long-term use would increase the risk of women developing cancer of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus). However, short-term studies of women who have taken red clover have not shown harmful changes in the uterine lining.
  • Red clover may not be safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, for children, or for women who have breast cancer or other hormone-sensitive cancers.

Red Clover References

  • Krause EC, Booth NL, Piersen CE, et al. Red clover. In: Coates PM, Betz JM, Blackman MR, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Informa Healthcare; 2010:665-679.
  • Lethaby A, Marjoribanks J, Kronenberg F, et al. Phytoestrogens for menopausal vasomotor symptoms. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2013;(12):CD001395. Accessed at is external) on April 21, 2015.
  • Red clover. Natural Medicines Web site. Accessed at on April 21, 2015. [Database subscription].

PubMed Articles About Trifolium pratense

Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)[Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US), National Center for Biotechnology Information; [1988] – [cited 2018 Apr 5]. Available from:

Kanadys, W., Baranska, A., Jedrych, M., Religioni, U., Janiszewska, M., (2020) Effects of red clover (Trifolium pratense) isoflavones on the lipid profile of perimenopausal and postmenopausal women-A systematic review and meta-analysis.

The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to clarify the effect of a specific standardised extract of red clover (Trifolium pratense) on the lipid profile of perimenopausal and postmenopausal women.

Myers, SP., Vigar, V., (2018) Effects of a standardised extract of Trifolium pratense (Promensil) at a dosage of 80mg in the treatment of menopausal hot flushes: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

To critically assess the evidence for a specific standardised extract of Trifolium pratense isoflavones (Promensil) at a dosage of 80mg/day in the treatment of menopausal hot flushes.

Shahmohammadi, A., Ramezanpour, N., Mahdavi Siuki, M., Dizavandi, F., Ghazanfarpour, M., Rahmani, Y., Tahajjodi, R., Babakhanian, M., (2020) The efficacy of herbal medicines on anxiety and depression in peri- and postmenopausal women: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

Lambert, MNT., Thybo, CB., Lykkeboe, S., Rasmussen, LM., Frette, X., Christensen, LP., Jeppesen, PB., (2018) Combined bioavailable isoflavones and probiotics improve bone status and estrogen metabolism in postmenopausal osteopenic women: a randomized controlled trial.

Female age-related estrogen deficiency increases the risk of osteoporosis, which can be effectively treated with the use of hormone replacement therapy. However, hormone replacement therapy is demonstrated to increase cancer risk. Bioavailable isoflavones with selective estrogen receptor affinity show potential to prevent and treat osteoporosis while minimizing or eliminating carcinogenic side effects. In this study, we sought to determine the beneficial effects of a bioavailable isoflavone and probiotic treatment against postmenopausal osteopenia. We used a novel red clover extract (RCE) rich in isoflavone aglycones and probiotics to concomitantly promote uptake and a favorable intestinal bacterial profile to enhance isoflavone bioavailability. This was a 12-mo, double-blind, parallel design, placebo-controlled, randomized controlled trial of 78 postmenopausal osteopenic women supplemented with calcium (1200 mg/d), magnesium (550 mg/d), and calcitriol (25 μg/d) given either RCE (60 mg isoflavone aglycones/d and probiotics) or a masked placebo [control (CON)]. RCE significantly attenuated bone mineral density (BMD) loss at the L2-L4 lumbar spine vertebra ( < 0.05), femoral neck ( < 0.01), and trochanter ( < 0.01) compared with CON (-0.99% and -2.2%; -1.04% and -3.05%; and -0.67% and -2.79, respectively). Plasma concentrations of collagen type 1 cross-linked C-telopeptide was significantly decreased in the RCE group ( < 0.05) compared with CON (-9.40% and -6.76%, respectively). RCE significantly elevated the plasma isoflavone concentration ( < 0.05), the urinary 2-hydroxyestrone (2-OH) to 16α-hydroxyestrone (16α-OH) ratio ( < 0.05), and equol-producer status ( < 0.05) compared with CON. RCE had no significant effect on other bone turnover biomarkers. Self-reported diet and physical activity were consistent and differences were nonsignificant between groups throughout the study. RCE was well tolerated with no adverse events. Twice daily RCE intake over 1 y potently attenuated BMD loss caused by estrogen deficiency, improved bone turnover, promoted a favorable estrogen metabolite profile (2-OH:16α-OH), and stimulated equol production in postmenopausal women with osteopenia. RCE intake combined with supplementation (calcium, magnesium, and calcitriol) was more effective than supplementation alone. This trial was registered at as NCT02174666.