Cultures around the world use herbs for the natural treatment of menopause. Black cohosh, chaste tree berry (vitex) and red clover are a few of the most common herbs for this purpose. Red clover contains four plant-based estrogens, called phytoestrogens. These bind to estrogen receptors in the body and help control symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes. The major benefit of these weak plant estrogens is that they do not cause the same side effects as estrogen replacement.
Red clover has been the subject of several studies to see if it can help reduce the risk factors for cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. At the Baker Medical Research Institute in Australia, researchers wanted to see if red clover could reduce cardiovascular risk for postmenopausal women. In this four-month study, 27 women were given between 40 and 80 mg of red clover daily and then measured for arterial compliance (elasticity of large arteries), a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The women showed a 23 per cent increase in arterial compliance. Researchers report that red clover is a potential “new” therapeutic approach for improved cardiovascular function after menopause.
At the Royal North Shore Hospital in Australia, 46 postmenopausal women were given red clover for a six-month period to see what, if any, effect it may have on cholesterol and bone density. At the end of the six months, results showed that red clover was associated with an increase in high-density lipoproteins (good cholesterol) and a significant increase in bone density.
Sources: J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1999 Mar;84(3):895-8; Menopause 2001 Jul-Aug;8(4):259-63