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Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) is a familiar meadow herb, one of 250 species in the Leguminosae, or pea family. The Irish shamrock is another species in this family of plants. Red clover is a European native naturalized throughout North America and Canada. In England it was worn as a magic charm to protect against evil. The herb's value as a medicinal remedy was not well known until the herb made its way to North America. Native American herbalists soon found numerous medicinal uses for this common wayside beauty. Red clover was used as a cancer treatment; the blossoms, combined with other herbs, became commercially popular in the United States in the 1930s. Numerous so-called 'Trifolium Compounds' were marketed as blood purifiers, or alternatives, to help clear the body of metabolic toxins.
Red Clover has most often been used to treat such skin inflammations as psoriasis and eczema. It also acts as an expectorant and demulcent, and is helpful in the treatment of bronchitis and spasmodic coughs, particularly whooping cough. Red clover may stimulate the liver and gall bladder and has been used for constipation and sluggish appetite. The blossoms were smoked as a remedy for asthma. An infusion of red clover blossoms used as a skin wash, or a poultice prepared from fresh blossoms, may relieve the irritation of athlete's foot or insect bites. The infusion is also useful as an external skin wash in the treatment of persistent sores and ulcers, and may help speed healing. As an eyewash, red clover tincture diluted with fresh water may relieve conjunctivitis. An ointment prepared from red clover is helpful for lymphatic swellings, and a compress made with it may relieve the pain of arthritis and gout. More recently, red clover has been studied as an alternative remedy for hot flashes in menopausal women as well as hot flashes in men following surgery for prostate cancer.
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