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The Healing Flower Under Foot

Red clover photo copyright Michelle Schoffro Cook

Photo & text © Michelle Schoffro Cook

I admit that I’ve been feeling a bit lethargic lately but decided to go for a brisk walk on my forest trails to combat my lacklustre mood. The forest had begun to paint itself in cherry red, burnt orange, and golden hues, which was the perfect antidote for the weariness that had crept into my body. A hint of purple poked out from the grasses and shrubs along the edges of the trail, a reminder that summer was not completely gone. I reached down to pluck the red clover flowers that were more of a lilac colour than their name would suggest. It seemed like Nature was nudging me to add the floral remedy best known for its blood purification properties, and that made sense given the sluggishness I had been feeling. So, I plucked a bunch, leaving several for some bees who also seemed to be enjoying the lovely flowers we so often overlook.

Red clover is found on lawns almost everywhere. It might surprise you that this humble flower is used by many cultures worldwide as a cancer treatment. And, a growing body of research confirms that it contains multiple antitumor compounds. Other studies show it improves the elasticity of arteries and helps to regulate cholesterol levels. If you’re among the many women who experience hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms, or are at a risk of osteoporosis, the flower may be helpful to address these concerns as well.

While the leaves can be added to salads or made into teas, I prefer an infusion made from the flowers. That’s a fancy term herbalists use for teas that are made from flowers, stems, or leaves of a plant. I normally wash the flowers and lay them out to dry on a clean cloth. Once completely dried, I store them in a glass jar, using a couple of flowers to a cup of boiled water. That’s about a teaspoon of the dried herb if you purchase it in a health food store. Most herbalists recommend one to three cups daily to support blood cleansing or to help in an overall plan to address the above-mentioned concerns. Of course, if you're foraging for the herb, consult an herbalist to ensure you have the correct flower and check with your doctor before using this herb.

Check out my book, Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty, and Cooking to learn more about red clover and over thirty other herbs.

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