Prevention in a Blossom
One of my fondest childhood memories is long walks down our country road with my mother, picking Queen Anne’s lace and red clover. We would bring the Queen Anne home to put in a vase and eat the delicate sweet petals of the red clover as we strolled lazily home. I remember showing my friends how sweet the flower was and fun to eat. Little did I know, the pinkish purple beauty abundant along the cornfields, was a known cancer preventive herb.
Red clover (Trifolium pratense) blooms in early- to mid-summer throughout North America and is viewed as a weed by many farmers and homeowners. In the nineteenth century, red clover became popular among herbalists as an “alterative” or “blood purifier”. With the ancient belief that toxins in the blood are the root cause of many illnesses, including cancer, the herb became a favorite for the prevention of this chronic disease. Some studies have suggested that the isoflavonses in red clover inhibit cancer cell growth and/or interfere with a tumor’s ability to establish a blood supply.
In addition, healers and physicians over the centuries have used this herb for treating whooping cough, bronchitis, asthma, menopausal symptoms, premenstrual syndrome, high cholesterol and osteoporosis.
Today, as pesticides and herbicides are readily used to grow our food and raise the animals that we eat, much of our soil is being depleted of minerals and nutrients, as the chemicals sprayed kill the delicate ecosystem teaming with life in the soil. Depleted soil yields depleted food which means what we consume is deficient of the minerals we need for a healthy and robust immune system.
Wild herbs like red clover tap into the mineral-rich soil deep below the topsoil as their root systems go much deeper than conventionally grown veggies and plants. The wild nature of the plant makes it strong, allowing it to grow even during times of severe drought. When we take in the help from herbs like red clover, we take in their strength and vitality… we are what we eat.
My favorite way to enjoy the benefits of red clover is to drink red clover infusion. I learned this from my time apprenticing with Herbalist Susan Weed in Woodstock, New York. Simply add one ounce of dried red clover into a quart glass jar. Fill it with boiling water and cover with the lid. Allow to sit four to eight hours on the counter. Then strain and keep refrigerated for up to five days. I like to drink at least a quart of herbal infusion a day.
You can also simply enjoy the blossoms on a summer’s eve walk.