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Like peas and beans, red clover belongs to the family of plants called legumes. Red clover contains phytoestrogens – compounds similar to the female hormone estrogen.
How is this product usually used?
The flowering tops of the red clover plant are used to prepare extractextractto get, separate, or isolate a desired active ingredients available in tablets and capsules, as well as in teas and liquid forms.
For prevention of loss of bone mineral density (BMD), hot flashes, and/or night sweats, 40 mg to 100 mg total aglycon isoflavone equivalents (AIE) is used per day.
If you are using red clover to prevent BMD loss, use it for at least 6 months to see beneficial effects. If you are using it to reduce hot flashes and/or night sweats, use it for several weeks.
What is this product used for?
Historically, red clover has been used for cancer and respiratory problems, such as whooping cough, asthma, and bronchitis.
Current uses of red clover are for menopausal symptoms, breast pain associated with menstrual cycles, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, and symptoms of prostate enlargement.
Your health care provider may have recommended this product for other conditions. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.
What else should I be aware of?
If you are a postmenopausal woman using 10 mg AIE per day or more, consult a health care practitioner if:
- you are using thyroid hormone replacement therapy
- you have a liver disorder or liver-related symptoms such as dark urine and jaundice
If you are a postmenopausal woman using 30 mg AIE per day or more, consult a health care practitioner if:
- you have a history of disease related to female hormone such as ovarian cancer, uterine fibroids or endometriosis
- you experience symptoms such as breast pain, soreness, tenderness, or uterine bleeding after starting red clover
- you are taking hormone replacement therapy
In addition, anytime when the symptoms worsen, you should consult a health care practitioner. You should not use products containing 30 mg AIE or more of red clover if you have had breast cancer or if you are at a high risk of having breast cancer.
Currently, the evidence is conflicting for the effect of red clover on menopausal and postmenopausal symptoms. There is not enough scientific evidence to determine whether red clover is effective for any other health conditions.
Red clover seems to be safe for most adults when used for short periods of time. No serious adverse effects have been reported.
Because red clover contains estrogen-like compounds, there is a possibility that its long-term use may increase the risk of women developing cancer of the lining of the uterus. However, studies to date have been too brief (less than 6 months) to evaluate whether red clover has estrogen-like effects on the uterus. Likewise, red clover may interfere with medications that use estrogen receptors such as oral contraceptive drugs and estrogen replacement therapy.
It is unclear whether red clover is safe for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, or who have breast cancer or other hormone-sensitive cancers.
Before taking any new medications, including natural health products, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Tell your health care provider about any natural health products you may be taking.
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Herbs at a Glance. Red Clover. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/redclover/. Accessed March 30 2014.
Health Canada. Drugs and Health Products. Red Clover Isoflavone Extract. http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/atReq.do?atid=rcie&lang=eng. Accessed 27 April 2016
Natural Medicines. Red Clover product monograph. https://naturalmedicines-therapeuticresearch-com.myaccess.library.utoronto.ca/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=308#interactionsWithDrugs. Accessed 27 April 2016
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