Several studies of a proprietary extract of red clover isoflavones suggest that it may significantly reduce hot flashes in menopausal women. Also, menopause increases a woman's risk for developing osteoporosis (significant bone loss) and some studies suggest that a proprietary extract of red clover isoflavones may slow bone loss and even boost bone mineral density in pre and peri-menopausal women. The estrogen-like effect of red clover isoflavones may be involved, and red clover also may have a direct effect by preventing the breakdown of existing bone. However, this possible bone-strengthening effect has not been seen in men and post-menopausal women.
Because it contains chemicals called isoflavones, which belong to a larger class of plant chemicals known as phyto (plant-derived) estrogens, red clover is often taken to relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Isoflavones are similar in shape to the female hormone, estrogen. Therefore, they may attach to estrogen receptors throughout the body particularly in the bladder, blood vessels, bones, and heart. This effect may also reduce the possibility of developing estrogen-dependent cancer of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus). In addition, results from a review of nearly 1000 women suggest that red clover may interfere with an enzyme known to promote the progression of endometrial cancer.
Benign prostate hyperplasia
Red clover may also block enzymes thought to contribute to prostate cancer in men. It has shown a definite limiting effect, however, in the development of benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), which is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland. An enlarged prostate may cause men to experience a weak or interrupted urine stream, dribbling after urinating, or the urge to urinate even after voiding. For most men, BPH is a normal part of aging.
It is believed that red clover may help to prevent heart disease in several ways. Although results from human studies are not definite, some show that taking red clover may lower the levels of 'bad' low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) and raise the levels of 'good' high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in the body. In addition, red clover may also promote an increase in the secretion of bile acid. Because cholesterol is a major component of bile acid, increased bile acid production usually means that more cholesterol is used and less cholesterol circulates in the body. Additionally, red clover contains small amounts of chemicals known as coumarins, which may help keep the blood from becoming thick and gummy. Therefore, the possibility of forming blood clots and arterial plaques may be reduced. Plaques are accumulations of blood cells, fats, and other substances that may build up in blood vessels, possibly reducing or blocking blood flow. Red clover may also help the arteries remain strong and flexible (a quality often called 'arterial compliance'), which may also help to prevent some of the plaque deposits that may lead to a heart attack or a stroke.
It has been found to be helpful in quitting smoking.