Red Clover: Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects (2024)

Some people use red clover as a traditional remedy for menopause, arthritis, and other health conditions. However, it may interact negatively with some medications, including blood thinners.

Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is a wild flowering plant belonging to the same family as peas and beans.

It’s widely used in traditional medicine as a remedy for menopause symptoms, asthma, whooping cough, arthritis, and even cancer.

However, health experts are wary of its purported benefits due to a lack of scientific evidence.

This article reviews red clover, its potential benefits, downsides, and uses.

Red Clover: Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects (1)Share on Pinterest

Red clover is a dark-pink herbaceous plant originating from Europe, Asia, and North Africa. Plus, it’s now popular throughout South America as a fodder crop to improve soil quality (1).

The flowering portion of red clover is used decoratively as an edible garnish or extract, and it can be extracted into essential oils (2).

Finally, it’s widely used as a traditional medicine to treat osteoporosis, heart disease, arthritis, skin disorders, cancer, respiratory problems like asthma, and women’s health issues, such as menstrual and menopausal symptoms.

However, little research supports these uses.


Red clover is a dark-pink flowering plant that’s used in traditional medicine to treat menopause symptoms, asthma, heart disease, skin disorders, and even cancer.

Despite limited scientific evidence, red clover is used to treat a variety of conditions.

Bone health

Osteoporosis is a condition in which your bones exhibit low bone mineral density (BMD) and have become weak (3).

As a woman reaches menopause, a decline in reproductive hormones — namely estrogen — can lead to increased bone turnover and a decrease in BMD (4, 5).

Red clover contains isoflavones, which are a type of phytoestrogen — a plant compound that can weakly mimic estrogen in the body. Some research has shown a connection between isoflavone intake and a decrease in osteoporosis risk (6, 7, 8).

A 2015 study in 60 premenopausal women found that taking 5 ounces (150 mL) of red clover extract containing 37 mg of isoflavones daily for 12 weeks led to less BMD loss in the lumbar spine and neck, compared with the placebo group (9).

Older studies have also shown improvements in BMD after taking red clover extract (10, 11).

However, a 2015 study in 147 postmenopausal women found that taking 50 mg of red clover daily for 1 year resulted in no improvements in BMD, compared with the placebo group (12).

Likewise, other studies have failed to find that red clover can help treat BMD (13, 14).

Due to the large number of conflicting studies, more research is needed.

Menopausal symptoms

Red clover’s high isoflavone content is believed to help lower menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats.

Two review studies found that 40–80 mg of red clover (Promensil) per day may help alleviate hot flashes in women with severe symptoms (5 or more per day) by 30–50%. Still, many studies were funded by supplement companies, which may lead to bias (14, 15).

Another study observed a 73% decrease in hot flashes within 3 months after taking a supplement containing numerous herbs, including red clover. Yet, due to the large number of ingredients, it’s unknown whether red clover played a role in these improvements (16).

Red clover has also shown mild improvements in other menopausal symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, and vagin*l dryness (14, 17, 18).

Yet, numerous studies have shown no improvements in menopausal symptoms after taking red clover, compared with a placebo (19, 20, 21, 22, 23).

Currently, there’s no clear evidence that supplementing with red clover will improve menopause symptoms. Higher quality, third-party research is needed (24).

Skin and hair health

Red clover extract has been used in traditional medicine to promote skin and hair health.

In a randomized study in 109 postmenopausal women, participants reported significant improvements in hair and skin texture, appearance, and overall quality after taking 80 mg of red clover extract for 90 days (25).

Another study in 30 men showed a 13% increase in the hair growth cycle (anagen) and a 29% decrease in the hair loss cycle (telogen) when a 5% red clover extract was applied to the scalp for 4 months, compared with the placebo group (26).

Though promising, more research is needed.

Heart health

Some preliminary research has shown red clover may improve heart health in postmenopausal women.

One 2015 study in 147 postmenopausal women indicated a 12% decrease in LDL (bad) cholesterol after taking 50 mg of red clover (Rimostil) daily for 1 year (27).

One review of studies in postmenopausal women taking red clover for 4–12 months showed a significant increase in HDL (good) cholesterol and a decrease in total and LDL (bad) cholesterol (28).

However, a 2020 review found red clover did not reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol or increase HDL (good) cholesterol (29).

Despite some promising results, the authors argued that many studies were small in sample size and lacked proper blinding. Therefore, higher quality research is needed (29).

Moreover, these studies were performed in older, menopausal women. Thus, it’s unknown whether these effects apply to the general population.

Other claims

Many proponents of red clover claim it can help with weight loss, cancer, asthma, whooping cough, arthritis, and other conditions.

However, limited evidence shows that red clover helps with any of these illnesses.


Red clover may help decrease menopausal hot flashes, though more research is needed. There’s not enough research showing it can improve cholesterol levels, strengthen bones, promote weight loss, or treat cancer, asthma, or other conditions.

Red clover is generally recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and most studies have found it to be well tolerated. Nevertheless, you should be aware of its side effects, drug interactions, and risks for certain populations.

Side effects

Though rare, potential side effects include vagin*l spotting, prolonged menstruation, skin irritation, nausea, and headache. Additionally, there have been a few case reports of rare but dangerous side effects of red clover (20).

A 2007 report noted a 53-year-old woman had a subarachnoid hemorrhage — a type of stroke — after taking a supplement containing 250 mg of red clover, as well as eight other herbs, to treat hot flashes. That said, the hemorrhage could not be directly linked to red clover (30).

A 52-year-old woman reported severe stomach pain and vomiting after taking 430 mg of red clover for 3 days. The doctors believe red clover interfered with a psoriasis medication known as methotrexate. After stopping the red clover, she made a full recovery (31).

At-risk populations

Those with hormone-sensitive conditions, such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or endometriosis, should speak to their healthcare provider before taking red clover due to its estrogenic activity (32).

Still, a 3-year, double-blind study found taking 40 mg of red clover daily to be safe for women with a family history of breast cancer. Compared with the placebo group, there was not an increased risk of breast cancer, endometrial thickness, or hormonal changes (33).

Despite this study, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider before taking red clover to ensure that it’s safe and right for you.

Additionally, no safety data on red clover among children or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding is available. Therefore, it should be avoided (34).

Finally, red clover may slow blood clotting and should be avoided by those with bleeding disorders. Further, always be sure to tell your healthcare provider about any medications or herbal remedies you’re taking if you’re going to have surgery (35).

Drug interactions

Many natural herbs can interfere with the effectiveness of medications.

In particular, red clover may interact with oral contraceptives, methotrexate, hormone replacement therapy medications, tamoxifen, blood thinners like aspirin or Plavix, among others (31, 36).

A recent study in 88 women taking the breast cancer medication tamoxifen found red clover did not result in any drug interactions or serious side effects, suggesting it does not interfere with anti-estrogen medications (37).

Despite this, great caution should be used when taking red clover and tamoxifen until there’s more clinical safety data available (38).

Due to the wide range of potential drug interactions with red clover and limited data on the subject, always speak with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplements.


Though generally recognized as safe, red clover has minor estrogenic properties and should be avoided by those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as well as people with bleeding disorders or who take hormone replacement therapy or other medications.

Red clover is usually found as a supplement or tea using dried flower tops. They’re also available in tinctures and extracts. You can buy them in most health food stores or online.

Most red clover supplements are found in 40–80-mg doses based on clinical research and safety data. Therefore, be sure to follow the recommended dose on the package.

To make red clover tea, add 4 grams of dried flower tops (or red clover tea bags) to 1 cup (250 mL) of boiling water and steep for 5–10 minutes. Due to reports of side effects with 5 cups (1.2 liters) per day, it’s best to limit your daily intake to 1–3 cups (240–720 mL) (35).

Though many people enjoy red clover tea, no data shows it has the same potential health effects as concentrated forms of red clover, such as supplements and extracts.


Red clover can be taken as a supplement, extract, or tea. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label and speak with a healthcare professional before trying red clover.

Red clover is an herb used in traditional medicine to treat a wide range of health issues, such as hot flashes, osteoporosis, arthritis, and skin and hair disorders.

Some research has found taking 40–80 mg of red clover daily may help reduce severe menopausal hot flashes. However, beyond this, little evidence supports using red clover to treat other health conditions.

Though it has a good safety profile, some side effects include nausea, vomiting, headache, and vagin*l spotting.

Furthermore, due to its minor estrogenic properties, those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as well as people with hormone-sensitive conditions or bleeding disorders, should avoid its use.

To protect your health, always speak to your healthcare provider before taking red clover.

Red Clover: Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects (2024)


What are the side effects of taking red clover? ›

No serious side effects have been reported in people taking red clover for up to 1 year. General side effects may include headache, nausea, and rash. However, animals that graze on large amounts of red clover have become infertile.

Who cannot take red clover? ›

Red clover might act like estrogen, which could affect hormone balances during pregnancy or breast-feeding. Don't use it. Hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Red clover might act like estrogen.

What does red clover do for the body? ›

Red clover supplements have been promoted for menopause symptoms and osteoporosis. Historically, red clover was used for asthma, whooping cough, cancer, and gout. Today, extracts from red clover are most often promoted for menopause symptoms, high cholesterol levels, or osteoporosis.

How long does it take for red clover to work? ›

How long does it take for Red Clover to work? This may depend on what you are taking Red Clover for. Some studies have had effective results in as little as 4 weeks, others went on for 12 weeks.

Does red clover effect blood pressure? ›

Lowers blood pressure: Red clover has special benefits that include lowering inflammation across the body, especially in the cardiovascular system. According to numerous studies, red clover tea can greatly decrease the tension in the arteries and blood vessels, which helps lower blood pressure.

Does red clover affect the kidneys? ›

Its anti-inflammatory properties may help reduce inflammation in the kidneys which can improve overall kidney function. Additionally, red clover tea's high antioxidant content may also help protect the kidneys from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.

Does red clover cause weight gain? ›

Does red clover cause weight loss? Since isoflavones can influence estradiol levels, they could cause weight gain. However, a human study of 93 post-menopausal women did not report any weight gain while taking red clover5.

Is red clover hard on the liver? ›

ConclusionRed clover isoflavones has protective effect on liver function and could reduce inflammatory response of liver in rats with non-alcoholic fatty liver.

What is the toxicity of red clover? ›

Clover toxicity is caused by ingestion of alsike clover (Trifolium hybridum) or red clover (Trifolium pratense), resulting in signs of photosensitivity and liver failure.

Which is better, black cohosh or red clover? ›

Herbal remedies such as red clover contain plant hormones that can act in a similar way to oestrogen, while black cohosh is believed to balance oestrogen and progestogen levels. These may help with some menopause symptoms but this is not supported by scientific evidence.

What does red clover do for hair? ›

A scientifically proven hair-friendly extract, it is very effective in maintaining normal hair growth. The regular application of red clover extract ensures growth of hair follicles, reduces hair fall and strengthens its liveliness.

Does red clover help with sleep? ›

How can red clover help relieve symptoms of menopause? Isoflavones can have positive effects in reducing symptoms related to estrogen loss — such as hot flashes, night sweats, trouble sleeping, weight gain, bone loss, bone fractures or osteoporosis, cardiovascular problems, and inflammation of the joints.

Does red clover lower cholesterol? ›

Heart health

One review of studies in postmenopausal women taking red clover for 4–12 months showed a significant increase in HDL (good) cholesterol and a decrease in total and LDL (bad) cholesterol ( 28 ).

Is red clover good for anxiety? ›

Red clover showed varying effects ranging from significant to non-significant on depression and anxiety. Moreover, kava was found to have a significant beneficial effect on depression and anxiety at dose of 200 mg/days.

Is red clover good for diabetics? ›

Diabetes drugs -- Red clover may lower blood sugar and alter the effects of drugs taken to control diabetes.

How long does red clover last? ›

Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is a short-lived perennial herbage legume that typically persists for two-to-four years. In contrast to white clover, it has an upright growth form and a strong deep tap root from which finer roots arise.

Is red clover safe for kidneys? ›

Because red clover has such nice high mineral content, it's able to feed the kidneys, and also save them on work: a big part of the job your kidneys do is check the mineral content of your blood and if it's low, they carefully recycle minerals to keep you going.

Is red clover an anti inflammatory? ›

This indicates that the anti-inflammatory effects of anthocyanins of red clover may be mediated by regulating the NF-κB signaling pathway.

Is red clover high in iron? ›

magnesium, iron, and vitamin C making it useful as a. bone building tea.

Does red clover increase testosterone? ›

Consumption of red clover by menopausal women could increase the level of luteinizing hormone, decrease the level of sex-hormone-binding globulin, increase the level of testosterone and also increase the level of blood estradiol; although it has no effect on the thickness of endometrium, it could decrease the severity ...

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