Red Clover - Useful Herb for Skin Ailments

Red Clover

Trifolium pratense Leguminosae/Papilionaceae Also called Purple clover, Wild clover, Trefoil

A short-lived perennial that grows to a height of 40cm, red clover is common throughout Europe, particularly in sandy meadowland. It has long-stalked leaves along its hairy stems, usually made up if three, pointed, oval leaflets marked with a white crescent. Its fragrant, globular, pink-purple flowers appear in late spring and summer.

Parts used

  • Flowerheads
  • The flowerheads are picked as soon as they open, in late spring and early summer.
  • The flowerheads are dried and used to prepare infusions, liquid extracts, tinctures and ointments.


Red clover contains isoflavones that mimic the action of oestrogen. Anti-inflammatory salicylates and phenolic glycosides and saponins are also present. Another constituent is sitosterol. which research indicates may help to treat certain cancers.

Medicinal uses

Red clover is used both internally and externally for treating skin ailments, such as the inflammatory conditions eczema and psoriasis. The plant is also known to be helpful in relieving sore throats and mouth ulcers. Recent studies have shown that this anti-inflammatory action is partly due to the isoflavones, some of which are also reputed to help ease menopausal symptoms, because of their oestrogenic effect.

The plant's anti-inflammatory action, combined with its ability to act as a diuretic and so help the body to eliminate toxins, make it useful for treating gout. In addition, the saponins act as an expectorant and the plant is prescribed for soothing spasmodic coughs.The plant is also thought to stimulate the liver and gall bladder, helping to keep the digestive system in a healthy state


  • Red clover should be avoided by women trying to conceive, as research on livestock has shown that it can act as a contraceptive.
  • Red clover is not recommended for people with a history of tumours that are stimulated by the presence of the hormone oestrogen.
  • The plant should not be taken at the same time as drugs that thin or inhibit the clotting of the blood.
  • Avoid fermented clover, which can sometimes cause internal bleeding.


Red clover can be grown from seeds, sown in spring. Plant in moist welldrained soil in a sunny spot.


For internal use

TO TREAT skin ailments, gout, coughs, sluggish digestion INFUSION Infuse 2 teaspoons of flowerheads in 1 cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. Strain. Drink 3 cups a day.

LIQUID EXTRACT (1:1 in 25% alcohol) Take 1.5-3ml a day. TINCTURE (1:10 in 45% alcohol) Take Y2-1 teaspoon a day.

For external use

TO TREAT Skin ailments, gout COMPRESS Soak a clean cloth in the infusion (see above) and apply to affected areas.
TO TREAT Sore throats, mouth ulcers
MOUTHWASH, GARGLE Use the infusion (see above).



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