Not so long ago, the hitherto unknown effect of red clover (also known as meadow clover or trifolium pratense) was discovered. As children, we looked for the lucky four-leaf clover, but what is the health effect of red clover? In recent years, red clover capsules and red clover tea have received increasing attention because red clover has been touted as a herbal alternative to hormone replacement therapy in menopausal women. Since the female body produces less hormones from about the age of 50, many menopausal women suffer from hormonal changes.
Red clover as capsules or tea
To alleviate the typical symptoms of menopause, doctors prescribed hormone supplements since the 60s, but more and more came into disrepute: The side effects were higher than the benefit.
Red clover, as well as soy, contains the phytochemicals isoflavones (also called isoflavonoids), which have a great structural similarity to the chemical composition of estrogen. As estrogen production is steadily reduced during menopause, many women resorted to high-concentration red clover capsules or often drank red clover tea.
Menopause: red clover in estrogen deficiency
Red clover is easier to tolerate than soy, most scientists agree on that. But why? Did not soy be an insider tip during menopause? Did not numerous studies show that Japanese women suffered much less from sweats, hot flashes, depressive moods and sleep disorders than Europeans or Americans? However, soy must be taken in large quantities and with protein to achieve the desired effect.
The isoflavones in red clover, however, are bound to glucose, which makes red clover much easier to digest. In addition, red clover contains four of the five isoflavones that have a hormone-like effect, while in soy only two of these isoflavones are found. In addition, red clover has been shown to have a positive effect on the liver, cardiovascular system and bones.
But that's not all: The skin density should also benefit from red clover, so that the cells are protected against radiation, aging and wrinkles. The effect of red clover would not only have worked well during menopause; The popular in the vernacular also known as honey clover or carrot butterflies plant would actually have the potential to advance to anti-aging all-rounder without side effects. But is it really like that?
Red clover: controversial side effects
Since isoflavones are natural substances, red clover was considered to be free of side effects. But gradually more and more voices are heard among the researchers. Experts now advise caution when taking red clover, even during menopause: In this phase of life increases the risk of breast cancer.
But is not the positive effect of red clover on breast cancer cells propagated over and over again? Yes, but studies at the University of Karlsruhe have shown that isoflavone genistein, which is present in highly concentrated form in soy, interferes with cell division and possibly causes cancer or promotes breast cancer.
However, the isoflavone genistein is present in red clover only in very small form, here the isoflavones biochanin A and formononetin are much more concentrated. Although warnings are usually directed against phytochemicals in general or soy in particular, the exact effects and side effects of red clover have not been researched enough to draw a definitive conclusion.
Red clover: effect and concentration
For the time being, the Federal Office for Risk Assessment does not recommend taking it in a highly concentrated form, such as red clover capsules, because research is not yet sufficient. Is red clover tea safer? At least the concentration of the active ingredients is usually lower, which also reduces the positive effect on the symptoms of menopause.
It should be noted that preparations such as red clover tea or red clover capsules are not drugs in the true sense and are therefore subject to less stringent control rules. Also, some of the side effects of red clover capsules or red clover tea can be allergic reactions. Those who suffer from very severe complaints during menopause, will not achieve sufficient relief with the intake of red clover capsules.
If the menopause is only a minor inconvenience, it is possible to tackle it with red clover. However, the side effects of all red clover preparations should always be considered and best discussed with the doctor. The next few years will bring further insights thanks to research.