Herb Information - Sweet Clover

Sweet Clover, Melilot, Melilotus Officinalis, herb

Melilotus officinalis Fabaceae Also called Melilot


  • Because dicoumarol may be present, people with blood-clotting disorders or on blood-thinning drugs should not ingest sweet clover.
  • Only take the plant in small doses. as the coumarin content. in large amounts, can cause liver damage.
  • Found throughout Europe and northern Asia, sweet clover thrives in dry, chalky areas in fields, on wasteland, and along embankments, An annual, or sometimes biennial, it is about 30-90cm tall. Its fluted, erect stems bear leaves made up of three oval leaflets with indented edges. In summer, small, yellow, sweetly scented flowers form in elongated clusters at the tops if the stems. These are succeeded by small, oval yellowy brown fruits.

Parts used

  • Stems, leaves and flowers
  • The aerial parts of the plant are harvested in July and then dried.
  • Dried sweet clover is used to prepare infusions, decoctions, powders, dry extracts and tinctures.
  • It is often combined with plants that help to strengthen the blood vessels, such as witch hazel, horse chestnut and bilberry.


Sweet clover contains the glucoside melilotoside. This is converted to coumarin, which gives the plant its scent. Flavonoids are also present. If contaminated by fungi sweet clover produces dicoumarol. a compound that prevents blood clotting.

Medicinal uses

Because of its melilotoside content, sweet clover can help to strengthen blood vessels, and is used for circulatory problems such as varicose veins and to relieve related conditions such as swelling due to fluid retention. A clinical trial by Italian scientists in 1999 found that sweet clover could reduce the upperarm swelling in women who had undergone breast cancer surgery.

The plant is also known to be anti-inflammatory - an ability now substantiated by animal studies. It is used on wounds, bruises, sprains, eye irritations and for rheumatism. The flavonoids act as diuretic and help to ease digestive problems.

Furthermore, the plant may have the potential to treat thrombosis, when the anticoagulant compound dicoumarol is present. This, however, should not be used as an alternative or adjunct to properly monitored anticoagulant medication.


For internal use

TO TREAT haemorrhoids. varicose veins. heavy (dead) legs, fluid retention. digestive problems
INFUSION Put 1 teaspoon of dried flowers into a cup of boiling water. Leave to infuse for 5 minutes, then strain. Drink 3-4 cups a day.
CAPSULES (SOmg powder) Take 1-2 capsules. three times a day with meals.
TINCTURE Put 35 drops into a glass of water. Take three times a day with meals.

For external use

TO TREAT sprains. bruises. eyelid irritation, bleeding COMPRESS Put 20g dried flowers into 100ml of water. Boil for 15 minutes. If using for sprains or bruises, soak a cloth in the liquid while warm. and apply to the affected area, two or three times a day. Allow liquid to cool before using for eyelid irritations or to stop bleeding.



Sweet clover can be grown from seed. which is planted in autumn or spring. The plant thrives in a welldrained. neutral to alkaline soil. exposed to plenty of sunlight.


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