This time of the year, along country roads, and out in meadows grows a little purple flower, a very delicious, nutritious purple flower!
Red clover is a perennial, growing up to 16 inches high, with 3-4 oval leaflets each marked with a white crescent. It blooms freely from May – September, along roadsides, and in meadows and pastures. Be sure to gather where there are no pesticides, or exhaust fumes from traffic. The best time to gather is in the morning after the dew has dried. This is when the medicinal qualities are at their highest. If you want to save the clover for winter use, you must dry it on a screen, or in a brown paper bag for a few days until all moisture is gone. Then it can be stored in an airtight bag or jar, for a little taste of summer and boost of nutrition in those long winter months.
Native to Europe, colonists brought it over seas for their own medicinal use. In Ireland it was an old remedy for colds, by making and drinking the tea. In the 1917 herbal book ” Health From Field and Forest” red clover is listed as the best blood purifier there is.
It is said to help cleanse the liver, increase bile production, stimulate digestive fluids helping with elimination. This is excellent for clearer skin, less toxins in the system equals less acne and other skin irritations. It may aid in loosening phlegm, and mucous, probably why the Irish used it for colds. It’s a diuretic, aiding in flushing uric acid through the kidneys and bladder.
It contains isoflavones. Isoflavones are water soluable chemicals which are in a class of phyto estrogens (plant derived) estrogens, perhaps helpful with hot flashes, PMS, and those types of women’s issues. It also may be helpful for improving blood circulation, containing small amounts of coumarins, which keep blood from becoming thick or gummy, hence, better blood circulation. Don’t take with blood thinners due to the natural thinning properties of the herb. Also women who have had breast cancer should not take red clover due to the estrogen content.
In medieval times it was said to ward off evil, and especially if you found one with four leaves! Two leaf clovers were said to give maidens the power to see future husbands. Hmmm, well, I’m not sure about all that, but I do know this…
This little herb is rich in calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C.
Freshly crushed flowers may be used to ease the discomfort of insect bites and stings,balms and ointments made from red clover oil are soothing to irritated skin.
To make a good red clover oil, you need almond oil, a clean jar, and some dried red clover blossoms, enough to fill a jar halfway up. Pour the almond oil over the blossoms and leave in a sunny window for around 8 weeks. This is ample time for the medicinal properties of the herbs to be absorbed into the oil. At the end of 8 weeks, strain, and use your oil for balms and salves, or just as it is.
Red clover can be steeped in honey in the same way, adding it’s nutritional content and sweet flavor.
One of my favorite ways to use it is to make tea. I use a little dried orange peel, and a few blossoms to pack my mesh tea ball, and steep in hot water for 8 minutes or so. Then sweeten with honey.
Red clover tea is delicious and easy to make, easy to harvest and store for winter. It’s the perfect warm up on a cool winter day or any time for that matter, and good for you as well, always a plus!
Until next time, God Bless!