The beauty industry has long been gripped by an obsession for natural and plant-based ingredients. This is to cater to people who want natural beauty products on the one hand. On the other hand, the beauty industry is always in search of the holy grail, an ingredient that really delivers what it promises. As a consequence, you see more and more products pop up that contain ingredients such as mushrooms, seaweed, or bamboo; and now, red clover.

Although red clover is not yet as well-known or used in countless products as an ingredient, it has a slew of amazing properties that make it sound almost like the holy grail in beauty.

Red clover, photo by Joseph Vary

Only a common weed?

Who would have thought that the clover that fairy tales and legends say it brings luck or grants wishes, makes such a splash in the beauty industry?

Red clover is a perennial plant that you can find on almost every meadow from May to September in Europe and Asia. Its scientific name is Trifolium pratense, which means trefoil of a meadow, coming from the Latin tres = three, folium = leaf, and pratum = meadow. It’s also known as cleaver grass, cow grass, marl grass, meadow trefoil, and purple clover. It belongs to the same family as peas and beans.

As one of its names suggests, red clover is one of the most important fodder plants for the agricultural industry. It can be cut several times a year and grows back so that it provides a continuous supply of high-quality forage for cattle.

Perhaps less known to many of us, it was also traditionally used in many parts of Europe and Asia for treating many ailments. Red clover benefits are so manifold, it is priced by herbalists for a long time.

Why is it good for your health?

Traditionally, red clover was appreciated as a blood purifier and it was used to remove toxins from the bloodstream.

Red clover also had its uses in traditional Asian Medicine: It was valued as a treatment for chronic conditions – especially those affecting the skin and as a diuretic, cough suppressant.

General nutritional value

The reason why red clover is mainly known as high-quality fodder for animals is that it contains many essential nutrients, including chromium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, thiamine (vitamin B1), niacin (vitamin B3), and vitamin C. We’ll clarify why these nutrients are so important for your long-term health in a moment.

Your body needs the essential trace mineral chromium so that it can go through proper protein, carbohydrate, and fat metabolism. It also improves insulin sensitivity and so helps to avoid diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

For your bone health, not only are calcium and magnesium indispensable, but also phosphorus. Phosphorus is important for bone and teeth formation.

Vitamin B1, thiamine, is essential for all metabolic reactions in the body. For general food health, you need enough vitamin B3 or niacin. Vitamin C is known to boost your immune system, helps iron absorption, improves wound healing, and also benefits cardiovascular health.

You may have heard of isoflavones. These are chemicals that act like oestrogens. These phytoest­rogens are similar to the female hormone oestrogen. There’s ongoing research on how isoflavones can help women in menopause, decreases the osteoporosis risk. Isoflavones are also powerful antioxidants, which leads to the next health benefit.

Soothing irritation and fighting inflammation

Red clover is sown to alleviate all kinds of inflammation. It can reduce inflammation of the mucous membranes and in the cardiovascular system.

Skin health

In traditional Chinese medicine, red clover has long since being used to treat irritating skin conditions eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, and annoying itchy or burning rashes.

Remember that isoflavones are plant oestrogen? oestrogens have a profound influence on our skin. When we go into menopause, the levels of ooestrogen in our bodies drop. But with lower levels, the skin gets thinner and is less able to hold moisture. When you find a product containing isoflavones, it may help boost collagen formation, increase the skin’s thickness, and improve its moisture levels. Thus it can delay the process of skin ageing due to its oestrogen-like effects, helping you maintain youthful and vibrant skin.

In short, red clover helps promote your skin health:

  • It’s anti-ageing in that it regenerates and stimulates the cellular metabolism of your skin
  • It’s soothing so that you can apply it on irritated or acne-prone skin
  • It’s an antioxidant and helps your skin fight the effects of oxidative stress
  • It speeds up the healing process of minor wounds such as a razor cut
  • It’s astringent and can minimise the appearance of pores
  • It improves circulation so that your skin gets more nutrients, improving the look and health of your skin.

Even if it sounds like red clover is particularly beneficial for dry and mature skin, it is safe for all ages, and can also be used by men. You get the skin benefits of plant oestrogen but without the “hormone replacement” side effect.

How to use it?

You can make an infusion of red clover, add it as a decorative and edible garnish, or take it as a supplement. You can also look for beauty products containing red clover.

If you like DYI, you can prepare your own red clover oil infusion, salve, or toner. Tell us in the comments, if you want to have the recipes.

When not to use it?

Generally, red clover is considered to be safe and doesn’t have major side effects. As it’s a phytooestrogen, it’s not suitable for

  • People with hormonal diseases such as breast cancer.
  • People on blood thinners.
  • Those with liver problems.
  • Those taking birth control pills.
  • It’s also not recommended for children.
  • People who are allergic to peanuts should avoid red clover, as both plants are related.

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