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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

aka Beebread, Cleaver Grass, Cow Clover, Meadow Clover, Purple clover, Sweet Clover, Trefoil, Wild Clover
(Trifolium pratense)
image 1 image 2

• Not taken with ANTICOAGULANTS (ie Warfarin).

FYI A short-lived perennial herb growing from 1 to 2 feet in height and well known to those always in search of a 4-leaf clover. Native to Europe, central Asia and northern Africa, but naturalized throughout the world. LEAFLETS are elliptic to obovate and from 1/2 to 1½ inches long on petioles upto 8 inches long. Terminal FLOWERHEADS are globular, up to 1½ inches in diameter, being of a light red-purplish color, and subtended by a pair of trifoliate sessile leaves. Can be found in grassy places in a moist, sunny location through the United States.

Clover is the national flower of Ireland (although some say the true 'shamrock' is actually oxalis acetosella) and the state flower of Vermont.

The leaves of a four-leaf clover represent Fame, Wealth, Faithful lover, and Good health. A 5-leaf clover is said to be unlucky, but I have found a large number of 4-leaf and one 5-leaf in my lifetime and neither does what it is reputed to do (luckily for me in the case of the 5-leaf). They look great pressed between the pages of a book though.

Astrologically ruled by Venus. Used as an aid to study the Fives of the Tarot §

CONTAINS: Phenolic glycosides, phytosteroids, flavonoids, isoflavone compounds, coumarins, cyanogenic glycosides, salicylates, mineral acids.

PROPAGATION By SEED in spring or fall.
PART USED Dried flowerheads
HARVEST FLOWERHEADS in perfect bloom early in season. Do not pick late in season as they often carry a mold, especially if summer if very humid or rainy.
FORM Infusion, tincture, ointment, solid extract, syrup, compress, eyewash, douche. NOTE: Solid extracts are purchased from commercial sources as they cannot be made at home without special distillation equipment.
RELATED SPECIES SWEET WHITE CLOVER (Melilotus alba): Considered expectorant, diuretic, emollient. The dried plant is used to repel moths.
WHITE CLOVER (Trifolium repens): The white flower is considered depurative, detergent, and a blood purifier. A strong infusion has been used externally for sores.


Blood cleanser, diuretic, nervine, tonic, expectorant, demulcent, alterative, mildly laxative, mildly antispasmodic (application to chest constriction); blood circulation. Has a mild estrogenic effect.
The infusion has been used to improve hemoglobin levels, relieve flatulence, relieve menopausal symptoms, for lack of appetite, for constipation, to treat skin diseases and treat toxic conditions; also for acne and boils.
Has also been used for bronchitis, colds, coughs, measles (cough), and whooping cough; also a syrup made from the infusion has been used.
Has been used externally as a poultice or salve for: ulcers, open sores, chapped and cracked body parts, and cancerous growths. The tincture has been used for eczema and psoriasis. The ointment has been used to treat lyphatic swellings and ulcerations. The syrup extract has been used externally as a treatment for persistent sores. The solid extract has been used for indolent ulcers.
A compress of the flowers has been used for arthritis and gout. A poultice has been used to soften hard milk glands and for athlete's foot and skin problems.
The infusion has been used as a douche for vaginal itching.
Clover flowers contain the isoflavone genistein, which might give the immune system a better shot at destroying cancer cells (Science News, May 12, 1990). Has been used as an adjunct to cancer treatment (in large doses) especially for breast cancer, ovarian cancer, lymphatic cancer. Has also been used as a cancer preventative.
Taken as a diuretic over a long period of time, it stimulates the liver and bladder.
The presence of sodium is reputed to reduce acidity and help body assimilate iron.
The fresh crushed flowers have been applied to insect bites and stings to relieve pain and itching.
Has been used as an eyewash for conjunctivitis (5 to 10 drops of tincture in 5 tsp (25 ml) of sterile water.

!All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
♦ Fermented preparations are not used medicinally.
GRAINS = 30 to 60
INFUSION = Add twice as much water as blooms by volume (flowerheads are bulky and measurement is approximately 2 to 3 tsp per cup); steep 10 minutes; 1 to 1½ cups taken daily over the course of the day; can be taken a mouthful at a time. Taken in small quantities over 12 weeks for chronic or long term waste removal and larger quantities over a short period (3 days) for actue infection.
TINCTURE = 1/2 to 1 tsp (2 to 5 ml, or 5 to 30 drops) 3 times daily.
OINTMENT = Cover fresh flowers with water in a crockpot and heat for 48 hours on LOW setting. Strain, then evaporate the residue to semi-dryness, then combine in equal portions with an ointment base.
SYRUP = To 1 pint of a simple sugar syrup add 1 oz of flowers (fresh or dried); boil for 3 to 5 minutes, then strain; taken 3 times daily in tablespoon doses.
POULTICE = bruise the fresh flowers and steep in a little hot water for 3 hours.
COMPOUND ALTERATIVE FORMULA = 1 oz each of Red clover, Burdock, Yellow perilla, plus 1/2 oz of mullein. Simmer in 2 quarts of water down to 1 quart; strain; taken a mouthful at a time 3 or 4 times daily
TONIC TEA = Combine 1 C. dry red clover blossoms, 1/3 C. Blue violet leaf, 1/3 C. Dandelion leaf, 1/4 C. Chickweed, 1/4 C. Plantain, 1 Tbsp Mullein flowers (optional), 1½ Tbsp. Mint. For nervous condition 1 Tbsp. of oatstraw is added. When there is a need for a more potent blood cleanser, 1/4 cup of burdock root is added. For respiratory problems 1 Tbsp. elecampane and 1 Tbsp. horehound is added. (Some people are allergic to horehound. Withhold until this is established.) For arthritis ginger and rosehips are added as follows: 1 part red clover, 1 part rose hips, 1/2 part chickweed, 1 part dandelion, 1/6 part ginger. A DOSE for medicinal purposes uses 1 Tbsp. of any of these mixtures steeped in 1 C. boiling water for 10 minutes. (Entire recipe may be made in advance and single doses placed in heat sealable tea bags for convenience.)

Used as part of a larger treament plan for breast tumors in dogs. For more information see The Complete Herbal Handbook for Dogs and Cats by Juliette de Baïracli Levy.
Plant is considered sedative and has been used for nervous twitches, wasting bodies, and coughs in Livestock. Also as a tonic for debility, weak nerves, throat problems, and infertility. It is given as a raw vegetable for cancer of the stomach and throat and for tumors, a dose being 2 handfuls given 2 times daily. A strong infusion is used as a lotion/wash for external problems.
COMMENT: A CAUTION is needed. The presence of estrogenic compounds leads to problems with grazing sheep and cattle. Pregnancy is difficult to attain and keeping to term nearly impossible with stock which has grazed on clover. Pregnant woman would do best to avoid. Too much clover is known to cause bloating in both cattle and humans. Moldy hay from sweet clovers forms coumarin, which breaks down into dicoumarin, which causes severe hemorrhaging. Discovery of coumarin in sweet clover mold led to development of warfarin, used in rodent poisons, and an anti-coagulant used medically to treat blood clots.

PARTS USED = dried and fresh blossoms, young leaves, sprouted seeds and roots.
Whole flower heads, dried and pulverized, have been used by some peoples to replace flour in bread.
Asians powder leaves and flower heads and sprinkle them onto rice.
Whole flower heads are dried and used for tea.
Other uses include in fritters, soups, cooked greens, and as a syrup.
BEVERAGE TEA = 1 heaping tsp dried flower heads, 1 C. hot water, honey and mint to taste, if desired. Steep five minutes.
VINEGAR = Fill a pint jar with clover blossoms. Combine 1¾ Cup red or white wine vinegar and 3 Tbsp. clover honey and heat to boiling point. Pour into jar of blossoms. Cover and shake gently. Place in cupboard for 4-5 days; strain and bottle.
WINE = 1 gallon red clover blossoms, 10 lbs sugar, 1 dozen lemons (cut up), 1 box raisins, 5 gallons boiling water, 5 cakes (or packages) active dry yeast. Combine blossoms, sugar, lemons and raisins in large stoneware jar. Pour in the boiling water and stir enough to dissolve the sugar. Cool to lukewarm. Mix the yeast with a small amount of the lukewarm liquid and add to the jar. Mix well; cover jar with a cloth, tie it down around the top, and let stand for 5 days at room temperature; stir occasionally. Strain through a double thickness of cheesecloth and pour into glass jugs. Cover tops (balloons are good for this purpose) but do not seal until the wine stops bubbling and is still. (Also see Wine Making.)

Makes golden tan with alum, tin or chrome mordants.

Best of the green manures, converting atmospheric nitrogen into nitrates that plants can use. Planted to regenerate depleted soil, usually mixed with birdsfoot trefoil, vetch, and rye grass. Once the clover is established it followed by a planting of alfalfa. Improvement should be noticed after a few years.
Good in compost pile. While decomposing, contributes lots of potassium, calcium and phosphorus.

Used as a forage crop for livestock. (See Veterinary/Comment/Caution above).
Its leaves have been used as a charm against witches and evil.
Used by practitioners of Earth religions to consecrate tools of copper and ritual pentacles. Used in Tarot as an aid to study the Fives.

©2000 & 2006 by Ernestina Parziale, CH