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A Brief Guide to Red Clover for Women's Health|Red Clover for Women's Health|woman getting heart checked for Women's Health|red clover essential oil for Women's Health|vibrant diffusers Red Clover Women's health

Health & Wellness

Using Red Clover for Women’s Health

There are many supplements that get marketed towards women that promise to improve health or wellbeing in some way. It's true that a woman goes through several stages in her life, and that puberty, pregnancy and the menopause all present different challenges. Women face a number of health risks that are unique to their sex, some of which we discussed in our guide to women's health , and while the basic 'good' health advice that is given to both genders is indeed important, women may benefit from specific supplements, most notably Red Clover. 1

Red Clover

What is Red Clover?

Red clover is a plant, and the flowers from it are sometimes used in the making of medicines, which are used for a range of issues. Those who believe in traditional medicine believe that red clover can help with everything from breast pain and tenderness through to PMS and hot flashes in the menopause, although so far there have only been limited clinical trials done on these issues. 2

How Does Red Clover Work?

The 'active ingredient' in red clover is isoflavones. These are estrogen-like compounds, and it is thought that supplementing isoflavones can help to make up for the drop in estrogen production that comes with the menopause. Indeed, studies show that red clover isoflavones can help to improve a number of menopause-related symptoms. 3

There have been a number of trials conducted on the use of red clover for mature women and women who are going through the menopause, which show that it can help with everything from bone density to cardiovascular health. 4 There is less evidence for the use of red clover for treating premenstrual syndrome, and more research is needed into that particular use of the plant, however initial studies and literature reviews suggest that there is some promise for this. 5

woman getting heart checked

Improving Cardiovascular Health

While a lot of the popularity of red clover focuses on its use for reproductive health, there is evidence to suggest that red clover can help to stave off the effects of aging, including improving your lipid profiles, and even potentially offering cognitive improvements as well. 6

Is Red Clover Safe?

The use of isoflavones is something that has been rather controversial. While the estrogenic activity of them is thought to be beneficial for women under certain circumstances, there are other areas where they could be problematic. There are some doctors who fear that the estrogenic activity of red clover could increase the risk of breast cancer. Fortunately, it appears that these fears are overblown and that if there is such a risk, it would be only for exceptionally high doss. One recent literature review concluded that evidence, either way, is limited, but that red clover likely does not possess any breast-cancer promoting effect. 7

For most people, red clover is well tolerated, although there may be some risk of side-effects, including headaches, swollen glands, breast tenderness, acne, and reduced blood clot formation. Because of the risk of these side effects, it is not a good idea to take red clover if you have a blood clotting disorder or are taking prescription medications (especially blood pressure medications or blood thinners). It is a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting taking red clover, even if the only medication you are taking is birth control pills or over-the-counter painkillers. 8

red clover essential oil

Using Red Clover for Health

You can buy red clover in capsule form, as tea bags, or in flower form. It can be used as a herbal tea, a dietary supplement, or even made into topical ointments which are useful for treating skin conditions. When it is used in moderation, red clover can be helpful for many health issues. Indeed, the plant has been used for treating pertussis, asthma, gout, and many other conditions. 9 The important thing to remember is that it is best used in small quantities, and for short periods, because of the potential for side effects from large doses of phytoestrogens.

If you are going to use a tincture, then a small dose (2-5 ml) is sufficient for most purposes. Speak to someone who is experienced in the use of herbal remedies before self-medicating. Avoid the use of herbal remedies if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.

Women's Health and Aging

The use of red clover is just one option for women who are struggling with PMS, period pains, or menopause. There are many other options for reducing the symptoms associated with the hormone swings that occur during the monthly cycle and as women go through changes in the phases of their life.

It is important that you get enough sleep (seven to eight hours is ideal), and that you try to manage your stress levels. Yoga, meditation, gentle exercise and aromatherapy can all help women to cope with the challenges of their bodies changing. Eating a healthy diet is also important. 10 During PMS, in particular, you may crave foods that are less than ideal, but if you can manage those cravings and stick to a healthy diet you will be much better off.

There are limits to what can be achieved without pharmaceutical intervention, but for many women simply understanding what is happening to their bodies can help them to cope with the feelings and symptoms that they are having. PMS typically lasts only a few days (and can be predicted, helping to make mood swings easier to cope with), and the menopause will eventually pass as well, and with it the symptoms that are associated with it. This knowledge makes self-care possible and can help women to feel more in control.

vibrant diffusers

Herbal supplements such as red clover may be useful if you do not want to try using contraceptive pills to manage PMS. Using herbal tinctures could help with acne and other skin conditions. If your symptoms are very severe, however, then you should consult a doctor to rule out the possibility of more serious underlying medical conditions.

Photo credits: Photopen/, interstid/, kazmulka/

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