The leaves and flowers of the red clover plant are used medicinally to prevent and treat dozens of ailments, including high cholesterol, menopausal complaints, infertility and cancer. In low to moderate doses, red clover if very safe and associated with few side effects. Even in high doses, most people tolerate red clover with few or no discomforts.
However, there are a few red clover contraindications, which are circumstances that make it inadvisable or dangerous to take red clover supplements. If you fall into any of the following categories, you are at risk of having a serious adverse reaction to red clover.
In the amounts found in food, red clvoer is generally safe for pregnant women. However, pregnant women should not take red clover in medicinal doses. Red clover can affect levels of reproductive hormones such as progesterone and estrogen, leading to pregnancy complications such as miscarriage, preterm labor and possible hormone-related birth defects in the baby.
Because red clover contains phytoestrogens– plant-based compounds similar to the human hormone estrogen– it may disturb the hormonal balance involved in lactation. This could lead to reduced breast milk supply. Do not use red clover supplements while nursing a child.
People with Hormone-Sensitive Conditions
If you have a hormone-sensitive medical condition such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis or uterine fibroids, you should not use red clover or other herbs with estrogen-increasing effects. Because red clover may act like estrogen, it can worsen symptoms of these conditions. Hormone-sensitive cancers are a major red clover contraindication.
People who will Have Surgery
Medicinal compounds in red clover might hinder blood clotting, leading to an increased risk of hemorrhage, or excessive bleeding, during and after surgery. Do not take red clover within two weeks of a scheduled surgery.If you have to have an unscheduled surgery, be sure to tell your health care provider that you have taken red clover supplements.
There are some other risks associated with red clover use. Visit the National Institutes of Health for more information about red clover contraindications.