(NaturalNews) Red clover has long been a staple of natural healers due to its broad spectrum of uses and benefits. In the past, interest and application has centered on women due to the high levels of phytoestrogens in red clover. Now a new study confirms that red clover offers many benefits for men as well.
Study and results
The study, published in the February 2008 edition of Urology, was done at the Department of Urology and Andrology, Landesklinikum Thermenregion Baden, Austria. Its objective was to assess the effect of an isoflavonoid extract from red clover on the prostate, liver function, quality of life, and sexual function in men with an initial elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level and with negative biopsy findings.
A total of 20 men with a mean age of 65 years, were treated with a daily 60 milligram dose of an isoflavone extract for a period of one year.
Liver function, sexual hormone levels (total testosterone, estrogen, luteotropic hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate [DHEA-S] ), ultrasound of the prostate, PSA level, International Prostate Symptom Score, and International Index of Erectile Function score, were recorded at the beginning of the study and every 3 months throughout the year.
Results indicate that the average PSA level was reduced by a statistically significant 33% after the 12 months. The mean prostate volume showed a decrease from 49.3 cm3 to 44.3 cm3 after the twelve months. The sexual hormone levels did not change throughout the study. A significant increase in all three liver transaminases was revealed after 3 months. The International Prostate Symptom Score showed a mean value of 7.9 at baseline and 6.68 after 12 months. Sexual function was not influenced by the treatment.
Researchers concluded that daily oral administration of 60 milligrams of the isoflavone extract was well tolerated and caused no side effects. The significant increase in liver transaminases and the significant decrease in total PSA levels by >30% indicates that patients, general practitioners, and urologists should be informed about these potential effects of red clover extracts and possible other phytoestrogens on liver transaminases and elevated total PSA levels.
What is red clover?
Red clover is a wild perennial herb that grows in meadows throughout Europe and Asia, and is now naturalized in North America. It's a close relative of the clover you find in your front yard that children string together to make necklaces.
The red flowers offer the therapeutic potential and are dried for use. They are sweet to eat and make a grand presentation floating in summer iced tea or pressed into the frosting on a summer birthday cake.
Red clover is a valuable source of nutrients including calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C. Its isoflavones are a rich source of phytoestrogens, water soluble chemicals that act like estrogens in the body because of their ability to fit into estrogen receptors.
Isoflavones are a class of organic compounds and biomolecules related to the flavonoids. They have strong antioxidant properties. Isoflavones are produced from a branch of the general phenylpropanoid pathway which produces all flavonoid compounds in higher order plants.
According to Phyllis and James Balch in their widely read book Prescription for Nutritional Healing, the isoflavonoids in red clover fight infection, suppress appetite, and purify the blood. They have expectorant, antispasmodic, and relaxing effects, and are good for bacterial infections, and inflamed lungs. They are also beneficial for inflammatory bowel disorders, kidney problems, liver disease, skin disorders, and a weakened immune system.
Red clover has been a traditional herbal treatment for cancer due to its ability to stimulate the immune system. Recent research has found preliminary evidence that it may prevent the growth of cancer cells or kill cancer cells in test tubes.
Some studies have also suggested that the red clover isoflavones may slow bone loss and even boost bone mineral density in pre and perimenopausal women.
Red clover may also protect against heart disease in several ways. It has been associated with an increase in HDL cholesterol in pre and postmenopausal women. One study found that menopausal women who took red clover supplements had more flexible and stronger arteries. Red clover may also have blood thinning properties which help prevent blood clots. It also appears to improve blood flow.
When applied to the skin, red clover ointments have treated psoriasis, eczema, and rashes.
Taking red clover
No serious side effects from red clover have been reported in humans. Infertility has been noted in grazing animals that consume large amounts.
Red clover is available as teas, tinctures, tablets, capsules, liquid extract, and extracts standardized to specific isoflavone contents. It may also be prepared as an ointment.
Red clover may alter the effects of drugs.
If you choose to supplement with red clover, be aware that the Austrian study reviewed above reflects results when red clover extract was used. Whole herb supplements are generally considered to be a more conservative way to supplement.
"Trifolium pretense", Wikipedia
University of Maryland Medical Center, (www.umm.edu) , "Red Clover"
Barbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.