Botanical: Melilotus officinalis
Family: Fabaceae (pea) - Leguminosae (legume)
Other common names: Melilot, King's Clover, Sweet Lucerne, Yellow Melilot, Yellow Sweet Clover, Sweetclover, Hay Flowers, Hart's Tree, Plaster Clover, Wild Laburnum, Corn Melilot
Sweet Clover is considered a natural anticoagulant (its main active constituent is coumarin!) with blood thinning properties that may be very helpful as a venous tonic, improving the flow of blood through the veins to the heart and may thus help to relieve varicose veins and swollen legs. Sweet Clover also helps to clear congestion, reduce retained fluid and ease aching and painful joints.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Sweet Clover is a biennial or perennial herb with smooth, erect, multi-branched stems, bearing serrate leaflets and sweet-smelling light yellow or white flowers that grow in towering spikes to a height of five feet. The tender plant is a native of Europe and has been naturalized across North America, where it has been widely cultivated as a valuable feed crop for animals. Sweet Clover may be found on roadsides and in fields, waste places and chalky banks in well-drained-to-dry, neutral-to-alkaline soil in sun and is drought tolerant.
The species, Melilotus vulgaris, Melilotus alba (White Sweet Clover) and Melilotus officinalis (Yellow Sweet Clover) may be used interchangeably in herbal medicine. The plant's botanical genus, Melilotus, is derived from two Latin words, mel, meaning "honey" and lotus, meaning the "lotus flower," referring to the great sweetness of the plant and the fact that it is such a great favorite of bees. Sweet Clover has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians used it to treat intestinal worms and earache, and the second-century physician, Galen, prescribed it in poultices for the relief of inflammations and swollen joints. In Anglo-Saxon England, Sweet Clover was made into a salve for wounds and sores, a remedy that may still be found in rural British areas as "Melilot plasters." Horses, cattle and bees love the tender and aromatic Sweet Clover, and it is highly regarded as a fodder. Interestingly, however, in the 1920s, farmers began to store Sweet Clover as animal feed, but because it was not thoroughly dried, it fermented and produced a coumarin compound, which not only gives the plant its sweet vanilla taste, but also becomes a potent anticoagulant and blood-thinning agent (as evidenced by hemorrhaging in the herds, which was, subsequently, remedied by thorough drying of the clover). The whole plant has a sweet vanilla fragrance that intensifies as the plant is dried, and when not fermented, it is a valuable addition to animal diets and is now widely respected commercially for that purpose. Other commercial uses for Sweet Clover include its addition to
Gruyère cheese and a green Swiss cheese called Schabzieger. It is also used to flavor marinades and rabbit stews, and it makes a fine and refreshing tea that is not only pleasant to drink, but is also said to relieve flatulence and alleviate congestion of the lymph system. Sweet Clover's most important constituent is the chrystalline coumarin compound and its related compounds (hydrocoumaric and other acids) and lactone (a fragrant oil); and the flowers and aerial parts of the plant are used in herbal medicine.
Sweet Clover contains coumarins, and when the plant is fermented, it produces dicoumarol, a potent anticoagulant. It is said to be a good venous tonic that helps to increase blood flow through the veins to the heart and has been used in cases of painful, swollen veins of the legs that are associated with poor venous return or raised abdominal pressure (as in overweight, pregnancy or persistent constipation). It is believed to support venous health and ease varicose veins, blood clots, phlebitis and thrombotic conditions.
As a mild astringent, Sweet Clover has been used to clear congestion. When taken internally, it is said to relieve congestion of the lymph glands and painful congestive menstruation; and when used externally, it is said to ease hemorrhoids.
Sweet Clover is an aromatic herb that has been used as a soothing digestive aid and has been thought to be particularly effective in cases of flatulence. In supporting healthy digestion, it is said to relieve colic, indigestion and stomach problems.
As a diuretic, Sweet Clover promotes the flow of urine, and as such, it helps to relieve excess fluid retention and edema (the accumulation of fluid in tissues that results in swelling).
Sweet Clover is also believed to be a mildly sedative herb that relieves temporary palpitations, sleeplessness, anxiety, spasms and the pain of tension headaches, earaches and neuralgia.
As an expectorant, Sweet Clover helps to loosen and expel phlegm from the lungs, and it is said to be helpful in cases of bronchitis.
Used externally, Sweet Clover has been effective in poultices for inflammation and as a salve for wounds, particularly in delicate parts of the body, i.e., eyes. It is also said to have emollient and soothing properties that help to reduce inflammation and ease painful swollen joints, severe bruising, arthritis and rheumatic pain. It is also believed to be effective in drawing out toxins and is therefore useful for boils and other skin problems.
Pregnant and nursing women should not use Sweet Clover Herbal Supplement. People who use prescription blood thinners (warfarin, Coumadin, aspirin, etc.), or those with any blood-clotting problem should not use Sweet Clover. For those individuals who take prescription medications, it is wise to consult a health care provider before using this herb, as there may be interactions with other drugs. Overuse (many times the recommended dosage) may induce vomiting and other symptoms of poisoning.