As a child, I remember wandering through the open pasture on our country property picking fresh red clover flowers, inspecting each one for bugs, and then devouring the sweet little petals one by one. Red clover (Trifolium pratense) can be found in fields, farmlands and roadsides throughout North America. The beautiful pink and purple flowers are at their peak in mid-June (though they're available for most of the summer) and perfect for harvesting. Red clover’s gift goes beyond its ability to turn whole fields a gorgeous purple hue–they have incredible medicinal qualities too!
Red clover is a gentle detoxifier that works well in combination with other herbs to clear out old waste in the body, stimulate lymphatic movement, and reduce inflammation, while at the same time supporting and nourishing the body with its high mineral content. It’s a great addition to any formula treating skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne. Red clover helps to cool heat and inflammation and at the same time treat the underlying issue. It’s an excellent and safe option for children with skin issues; and it’s tasty too- always a plus when working with young children.
Red clover can be taken on an ongoing basis as a tonic for gentle cleansing, or it can be used as part of a healing protocol for nasal congestion or for swollen glands that come with a cold or the flu. Red clover helps to gently dry and expel phlegm and move out the waste accumulation that comes with a sickness.
Keep your eyes out for a clean, chemical-free zone where you can harvest red clover–it’s best not to harvest herbs near roads or residential areas. These next few weeks are the best time for harvesting. Get a medium-sized basket, a pair of scissors, and a guidebook if you’re not 100% sure what red clover looks like. Choose the most vibrant flowers that are in the peak of their bloom or just about to peak. The green leaves of red clover are good too, and it’s perfectly fine to gather a few of those also. Sound like too much? Head for your nearest herb shop–they are sure to have red clover in bulk.
Cool Off with Red Clover Ice Tea
I love the taste of red clover tea and dry my flowers so they last me through the winter and spring. If you’re going to dry your flowers, spread them on a baking sheet out of the sun in a warm, dry spot. Toss them around once or twice to make sure they are totally dry before putting them away in your apothecary. When making tea, use 4 tablespoons of red clover flowers per quart of hot water–let cool, strain and drink throughout the day. Red clover makes a delicious summer ice tea that will offer you a gentle detox–a great ally in the season of weddings, backyard barbecues and indulgent summer celebrations. To your health!
(Remember: Always check with your physician before beginning a new regimen, especially if you're on medication.)