Seeing red clover on a patch of grassland looks really pretty because of their beautiful dark pink colouring. While foraging a little from different patches I was feeling excited about how to use it.
Red Clover can also be found in fields, lawns and on roadsides. I’m careful to avoid the roadside clover due to the toxic emissions from passing traffic. Red clover prefers to grow in deep, rich, dry or moist soils.
If your new to foraging take a look at my “Foraging Tips for Beginners” post;
Red clover flowers between May and October and the bees love them! It also has agricultural uses which include;
- Fodder crop for livestock.
- Crop rotation because of its ability to enrich soils due to it being nitrogen-fixing.
Preparing the Red Clover
For foraging purposes I just pick the flower heads. When I get home I put them outside to allow any insects still lurking inside to escape. Next I wash them and place them onto sheets of kitchen roll to dry out for a week or two. I like to cover mine with further kitchen roll to avoid them getting dusty.
After drying I store some of them for tea and use the rest to make a tincture. I store the dry flower heads in a glass jar with a lid and label the jar with the herb’s name, expiry date, uses and instructions on how to prepare the tea. Then I place the jar in a cupboard away from direct sunlight so that the red clover does not lose its potency. The expiry date for the dry flowers is one year from the date of storing.
Making Red Clover Tea
I make a tea with the dried red clover heads as follows;
- Boil 650mls of bottled water. I prefer bottled water to avoid the chemicals in tap water.
- Put 25g of dried flower heads into a teapot and pour over the boiling water.
- Place the lid on the teapot and leave to infuse for 15 minutes.
- Sieve and drink a cupful.
For just one cup half the ingredients. This tea can also be taken by children for whooping cough and bronchitis.
3-4 cups per day.
Red Clover Tincture
How to make red clover tincture;
- Using an electronic scale, because it is very accurate, I measure some of the flower heads in ounces.
- Place the flower heads into a clean jar with a lid.
- Also weigh the vodka in ounces to the amount of five times the weight of the flower heads.
- Cover the flower heads with the vodka and screw on the lid.
- Label with name, ingredients and preparation date.
- Place in a dark cupboard to macerate (soften in liquid) for 8 days.
- After 8 days strain the liquid into a clean jar using a sieve.
- Label with name, expiry date, ingredients, dosages and uses.
- Store in a dark cupboard until required.
5-10 ml or 30-60 drops of tincture daily.
Alcohol tinctures can last a long time but I like to put on an expiry date which is 2 years from when I prepare them.
Uses of Red Clover Tea and Tincture
Both the tea and the tincture may be able to support the body in many ways including the following;
- Bad coughs including whooping cough and bronchitis.
- Skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis and even acne.
- Scrofula which is a lymphadenopathy of the neck and is usually as a result of an infection in the lymph nodes called lymphadenitis.
- Some even say that it is widely known to support the reduction of tumours and hard swellings, particularly of the ovaries and breast. This is because they say that it acts like a natural oestrogen. It increases oestrogen levels in the body because it is rich in isoflavones and in particular genistein.
- Traditional uses include drinking to cleanse the lymphatic vessels.
- Chronic constipation
- As an emetic to cause vomiting and forceful emptying of the stomach.
- Ease menopausal symptoms including hot flushes.
- Due to its oestrogenic properties avoid use during pregnancy or breast-feeding.
- Red clover may have blood thinning properties and therefore its best not to use in any quantity if you are taking blood-thinning medication.
Magical Clover and Folklore
Folk names for clover include;
- Honeystalks because bees seek clover out for their nectar.
- Three-leaved grass perhaps because they are regularly seen growing on lawns. Maybe also because their nitrogen fixing properties help the soil and as a result they can often appear greener than the grass itself.
- Trefoil because this comes from the latin word trifolium meaning three-leaved plant.
Of course we all know about finding a four leaf clover to bring us luck. This is because its a traditional superstition that we are made aware of as children.
There are also magical uses for clover which include;
- Protection and this is done by carrying a three leaf clover around with you.
- Repelling snakes by growing clover in your garden because this keeps snakes away from your home. The magical saying is “snakes will not go where clover grows”.
- Preventing madness by carrying around a four leafed clover.
- To avoid military service in the past because men carried around a four leafed clover as a good luck charm to avoid this.
Be aware that you never know if you’re intolerant to something new until you try it for the first time. Therefore only try a tiny amount first and wait a day or two to check that there is no adverse reaction.
If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking any medications, always check with your doctor to ensure that using any of these suggestions don’t contradict them.
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