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Red clover mimics the body's estrogen and is taken to help efforts to get pregnant. The estrogen-like compounds are isoflavones. They are consumed in extracts, teas, and tinctures.
Effect of Red Clover on Infertility
Red Clover is believed to have compounds that are help promote hormonal balancing, thereby increasing the chance for fertility. Much of red clover's effect on the female reproductive system is attributed to its compounds called isoflavones and phystoestrogens. Phytogen works by binding to the estrogen receptors in your body to produce a physiological response. Isoflavones help in regulating the levels of estrogen in the body, and this promotes hormonal balancing, thereby increasing the chance for fertility.
The isoflavones found in Red Clover are also believed to have the strongest effect on menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats.
Read more details about Red Clover.
Research Evidence on Red Clover
Studies on plants with known concentrations of isoflavones or chemically pure isoflavones suggest that these compounds both have positive and negative effects on disease progression and fertility. In some countries, phytoestrogenic plants have been long used the treatment of menstrual problems menopausal symptoms and for fertility problems. Isoflavones are said to work in an adaptogenic way, this means that when estrogen levels decline, isoflavones mimic some of the effects of estrogen.
The use of red clover have been tested in humans or animals, however, its safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Results from clinical studies on use of red clover isoflavones in menopause have been mixed. However, the North American Menopause Society recommends that red clover may be considered as an option for the treatment of menopausal symptoms because it has a low incidence of adverse effects.
How to Use Red Clover
Dosing depends on the indication and the source of product. Use red clover extract as directed by your health care professional. Red clover is now used mainly as a source of isoflavones. The usual dose is 40 to 80 mg/day of standardized isoflavones.
Red clover is on the Food and Drug Adminstration's Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list and is included in many beverage teas. However, detailed safety studies have not been performed.
Because of its blood-thinning and estrogen-like constituents, red clover should not be used by pregnant or nursing women, or women who have had breast or uterine cancer. A study investigating the safety of red clover in women with a family history of breast cancer found no changes in breast density or thickness of the uterine lining over a three-year period, which is somewhat reassuring. 1 However, the study was much too short to determine red clover's long-term effect on cancer risk. Safety in young children or those with severe liver or kidney disease has also not been established.
Based on their constituents, red clover extracts may conceivably interfere with hormone treatments and anticoagulant drugs (see the next section for specific drugs).
One double-blind study of post-menopausal women found the use of red clover isoflavones at a dose of 80 mg daily for 90 days resulted in increased levels of testosterone. 2 The potential significance of this is unclear. The same study found that red clover isoflavones reduced the thickness of the uterine lining, a finding that suggests low possibility for endometrial cancer.
For other potential risks due to the isoflavones in red clover (especially in concentrated isoflavone-rich extracts of red clover), see the full article on Isoflavones .
Interactions You Should Know About
- If you are taking hormones or blood-thinning drugs—such as warfarin (Coumadin) , heparin , clopidogrel (Plavix), ticlopidine (Ticlid), pentoxifylline (Trental) , or even aspirin : Red clover should be used only under a physician's supervision.
- Powles TJ, Howell A, Evans DG, McCloskey EV, Ashley S, Greenhalgh R, Affen J, Flook LA, Tidy A. Red clover isoflavones are safe and well tolerated in women with a family history of breast cancer. Menopause Int. 14(1):6-12.
- Imhof M, Gocan A, Reithmayr F, Lipovac M, Schimitzek C, Chedraui P, Huber J. Effects of a red clover extract (MF11RCE) on endometrium and sex hormones in postmenopausal women. Maturitas. 55(1):76-81.
- Dietland (2006). Chemical Ecology of Vertebrates. Cambridge University Press. p. 287. ISBN 978-0521363778.
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