(NaturalNews) Red clover, that versatile flower little girls use to decorate their hair and string into necklaces, has been shown to be very good for big girls too. Women have a history of using red clover to alleviate the symptoms of estrogen insufficiency and help restore hormonal balance. Red clover has long been a staple of natural healers as one of their evidence based therapies. New studies are now documenting and quantifying the many benefits of red clover for women and also for men.
Recent studies show red clover provides a wealth of benefits to women in hormonal decline
Hormone replacement with synthetic or conjugated estrogen drugs has fallen out of fashion. These drugs don't really even offer a replacement to estrogen at all. They offer only an alternative to estrogen. Because these drugs do not replicate the natural estrogen made in the body, they have a long list of side effects associated with them. Since they are foreign substances that are not recognizable by the body, they produce a response from the immune system, taking the immune system away from the job it was meant to do. They need to be detoxified in the liver, and they prompt the body to mount resistance to them.
As reported in the November edition of the journal Gynecology Endocrinology, researchers looking for alternatives to estrogen drugs studied red clover to determine its effect on the lipid (another word for fat) profile of postmenopausal women with increased body mass index. Sixty postmenopausal women aged 40 and older who were not users of hormone therapy were randomly assigned to one of two groups. Group one took capsules containing 80mg. of red clover isoflavones daily for a 90 day period. Group two took a placebo. After a seven day period to allow the isoflavones to clear from the bodies of group one participants, the groups were switched so that at the end of the study both groups had taken the isoflavones.
The study results showed that the isoflavone supplementation had a positive effect on the lipid profile of the women with increased body mass index, evidenced by significant decrease in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and lipoprotein A levels. The researchers concluded that red clover isoflavones are an attractive therapeutic alternative to hormone drugs.
In the second study, reported in the October issue of the journal Fertility and Sterility, researchers evaluated the effectiveness of phytoestrogens as treatment for symptoms of hormonal decline in rabbits with surgically induced menopause. Twenty-four menopausal rabbits and six non-menopausal rabbits were divided into three groups. Group one was given a synthetic estrogen drug. Group two was given diadzein, and group three was given red clover isoflavones. The fourth group served as a control. Hormone levels, uterine weight, vaginal blood flow, femoral density, and clitoral structure were assessed. The researchers found that supplementing with red clover isoflavones leads to significant improvements in bone density, tissue integrity, and vaginal blood flow with minimal effect on uterine weight. They concluded that red clover isoflavones is a viable alternative to conventional treatments using synthetic estrogen drugs.
Red clover is good for what ails men too
A study published earlier this year in Urology assessed the effect of red clover isoflavone extract on the prostate, liver function, quality of life, and sexual function in men with elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein produced by the cells of the prostate gland that is viewed as a biological tumor marker. Twenty men were treated with a daily dose of 60 mgs. isoflavone extract for a period of one year.
Results indicated that the average PSA level was reduced by 33% over the study period. Sexual hormone levels did not change throughout the study, and sexual function was not influenced by the treatment. Another positive finding involved liver health. All three liver enzymes studied showed significant increases.
Red Clover offers nutrients galore
Red clover is a perennial herb that grows wild throughout North America, Europe and Asia. The red flowers contain the therapeutic isoflavones. In addition to its phytoestrogens, red clover is a valuable source of calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C.
Isoflavones are related to the flavonoid group and retain many of the group's characteristics. They fight infection, suppress appetite, and are cleansing of the blood. They have expectorant, antispasmodic, and relaxing affects, and can be used for inflammatory bowel disease, kidney problems, liver disease, skin disorders, and weakened immune system.
Red Clover fits into estrogen receptors
The isoflavones from red clover are water soluble compounds with a molecular structure close to that of estrogen. This structure allows isoflavones to mimic the actions of estrogen in the body by fitting into estrogen receptors.
Red clover has a history of use for cancer treatment due to its ability to stimulate the immune system. Other recent research has found evidence that it may prevent the growth of cancer cells or kill cancer cells in test tubes. It is often use in alternative cancer treatment for cancer of the breast and other hormone related cancers. Since it is able to fit into estrogen receptors it can block some of the action of more potent estrogens that often exist in the body of women with breast cancer. These more potent estrogens are the result of hormonal imbalance resulting from the body's continuing production of estrogen after progesterone and testosterone levels have declined.
Earlier studies have also suggested that red clover isoflavones can slow bone loss and boost bone mineral density in pre and perimenopausal women.
Red clover may protect against heart disease through its ability to increase 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 have blood thinning properties that help prevent blood clots.
"Red Clover", University of Maryland Medical Center.
H.J. Teede, et al., "Isoflavones Reduce Arterial Stiffness: A Placebo Controlled Study in Men and Postmenopausal Women", Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, June, 2003.
T. Powles, "Isoflavones and Women's Health", Breast Cancer Research, 2004.
About the author
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.