Menopause is a stressful time for many women. Hot flashes and more are part of everyday life, because the hormones are out of balance. However, not many women decide to take hormone replacement therapy. The side effects are simply too severe. Phytoestrogens from medicinal plants like red clover are an alternative. Find out more about red clover, menopause and phytoestrogens.
What is red clover?
Purple-red flowers adorn many a meadow in this country. If you look closely, you will see that it is red clover, also called meadow clover. This type of clover is not only related to white clover, but also to soybean. The plants are in the same botanical family of legumes.
There are many myths and legends about clover. Eve is said to have taken clover with her from paradise. The Celts used clover as a talisman and to this day clover is a national symbol in Ireland, and not without reason.
The plant has long been an integral part of agriculture. On the one hand, it is used for green manure and as a protein-rich fodder crop, on the other hand, it is an important flower for bees and thus also for beekeepers. In addition, red clover is an alternative to maize in biogas facilities.
But clover can do even more: you may even have eaten a blossom. Because traditionally red clover is also part of our diet. The blossoms taste slightly sweet and are a visual eye-catcher in salads. Occasionally, the dried flowers are also included in tea blends. In spring, you can use the young leaves of the clover for herb cream cheese or in a salad. They taste similar to lamb's lettuce.
Red clover in naturopathy
The German nun and herbalist Hildegard von Bingen already reported on the healing effects of red clover. Since then, meadow clover has been used to treat sore throats, bleeding gums, indisposition, bronchitis and gynaecological disorders. Today we know that the plant contains useful ingredients:
- Vitamins (vitamin B1, vitamin B3, vitamin C)
- Minerals (magnesium, calcium, potassium)
- Flavonoids like isoflavones
- Essential oils
Red clover: menopause
It's probably Farmers who are responsible for today's research on red clover in relation to hormones and menopause. They noticed fertility problems in animals that ate a lot of red clover. As a result, phytoestrogens were discovered in the plant and studied more closely. You probably know the word phytoestrogens in connection with soy, because the legume also contains many of these plant substances. This is where the family relationship between red clover and other legumes such as soy becomes interesting. And indeed, some of these substances are contained in both plants, but in different proportions. In red clover, the main phytoestrogens are formononetin, biochanin A, daidzein and genistein.
By the way, a healthy diet also helps your body to get through menopause well. Pay attention to vitamins and minerals and avoid large amounts of alcohol. Find out more about the menopause and how to support your body in this magazine article:
What phytoestrogens do during menopause
Menopausal symptoms are caused by a hormonal change in the body. Gradually, less estrogen and progesterone is produced. Phytoestrogens are supposed to compensate for this imbalance.
Phytoestrogens are a variety of secondary plant substances such as isoflavones. They have a similar structure to oestrogen. So they can also bind to the same receptors as the hormone. However, their effect is a little weaker. Compared to hormone replacement therapy, there are supposed to be fewer side effects due to the weaker binding of phytoestrogens to the receptors.
Scientific studies on red clover and menopause
Through scientific research, not only are the ingredients of red clover known, but their effects are also being researched. For example, a research team from Iran looked at several studies on red clover extract in relation to hot flushes as a symptom of menopause. The result: red clover was able to reduce hot flushes, especially when the symptoms were severe. Other menopausal symptoms were also alleviated. For the consumer advice centre, however, the data on red clover and menopause is not yet sufficient to make a recommendation. However, this does not necessarily mean that red clover extract does not work, but that the data so far do not confirm an effect with certainty. Therefore, research on the medicinal plant is continuing and more and more knowledge is becoming known.
What to look for in red clover capsules
If you want to use red clover, capsules with red clover extract are the easiest to use. We recommend that you consult a doctor if you have menopausal symptoms. Together you can discuss the advantages and disadvantages of hormone therapy and the use of herbal remedies like red clover. After all, phytoestrogens are not without side effects and interactions. For your health, medical advice makes sense in any case. Every woman and every body is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Red clover is usually well tolerated if the dosage of 43.5 mg isoflavones per day specified by the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) is not exceeded. However, this dosage should be taken for a maximum of three months. Beyond that, the data situation is unclear.
There are also some life circumstances where you should not take red clover. These include:
- Tumour diseases, especially hormone-dependent (breast) cancer.
- Thyroid diseases
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding
- Desire to have children
For an optimal effect of red clover capsules, you should also make sure that the capsules are of good quality. Red clover extract can be combined with other medicinal plants such as monk's pepper and minerals. Fillers and additives, on the other hand, do not belong in them. Also look for laboratory-tested quality.
Conclusion: Red clover, effect & menopause
Red clover is a native plant that is used in various areas. For women, its use for menopausal symptoms is particularly interesting. This is because hormone therapy is associated with many side effects. Red clover is believed to have a similar effect but fewer side effects due to the phytoestrogens it contains. However, the red clover effect is not completely free of risks. So you should discuss its use with your doctor.