Clover: Are There Health Benefits?

If you’ve ever gone hunting for four-leaf clovers, then you’re already familiar with the clover plant, which grows in abundance all over the world. What you might not know about this so-called “lucky plant,” though, is that in addition to being a common ground covering, clover is commonly used as a medicinal herb.

While wild clover is considered poisonous to humans in large quantities, in small quantities, clover is both edible and potentially beneficial to your health.  

Nutrition Information

The Food and Drug Administration currently classifies clover along with animal feeds and medicines. The department doesn’t provide standardized information on red clover past that. 

There is no standardized serving size for clover. Although the National Institute of Health supports research into the composition of clover, specific nutritional data is currently not available.

Potential Health Benefits of Clover

Anecdotally, clover has been used to treat everything from menstrual cramps to asthma. However, scientists are only beginning to research these common uses of clover. Although some claims about clover haven’t yet been backed by scientific data, others have, including:

Improved bone health. Osteoporosis is a thinning of the bones that usually occurs later in life. One factor that can cause osteoporosis in women is menopause. Isoflavones, which are a compound found in clover, have been proven to improve bone mineral density during menopause.

Reduced risk of prostate cancer. If prostate cancer runs in your family, it may be a good idea to add clover to your diet. Red clover has been shown to lower odds of prostate cancer in men. Keep in mind, however, that red clover can interact negatively with certain medicines used to treat cancer. If you already have prostate cancer, be sure to ask your doctor before you start to eat clover. 

Better blood flow. Research suggests that clover can improve blood flow during menopause. Although further studies are needed to know if clover can improve blood flow in general, for women going through menopause, the herb can be a big help. 

Potential Risks of Clover

Clover isn’t FDA-approved, and studies have not clearly shown it to be helpful for many health conditions. Be careful to avoid clover if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on December 13, 2020

Sources

SOURCES: 

Climacteric: “Effects of phytoestrogens on bone mineral density during the menopause transition: a systematic review of randomized, controlled trials.”

Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism: “Isoflavones from Red Clover Improve Systemic Arterial Compliance But Not Plasma Lipids in Menopausal Women.”

Menopause International: “Red clover causing symptoms suggestive of methotrexate toxicity in a patient on high-dose methotrexate.”

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: "Red Clover."

North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox: “Oxalis.” 

U.S. Food and Drug Administration: “CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21.”

Urology: "Effects of one-year treatment with isoflavone extract from red clover on prostate, liver function, sexual function, and quality of life in men with elevated PSA levels and negative prostate biopsy findings."

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