This is the seed of the flax plant, which is believed to have originated in Egypt. It was cultivated in Babylon as early as 3000 BC. In the 8th century, King Charlemagne believed so strongly in the health benefits of flax seed that he passed laws requiring his subjects to consume it. Flax seed oil comes from cold pressed flax seeds. The most common folk or traditional use is as a laxative; it is also used for hot flashes and breast pain.
Flax seed oil has different folk or traditional uses, including arthritis. Both the seed and seed oil have been used for high cholesterol levels and in an effort to prevent cancer. Whole or crushed flax seed can be mixed with water or juice and taken by mouth. The oil is available in liquid and capsule forms. The seed contains lignans (phytoestrogens, or plant estrogens), while flax seed oil preparations lack lignans.
Benefits of Consuming Flax
Flax seed contains soluble fiber, like that found in oat bran, and may have a laxative effect. Omega-3 essential fatty acids, “good” fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s.
Lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Flax contains 75 to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods.
Several studies have suggested that diets rich in flax seed omega-3s help prevent hardening of the arteries and keep plaque from being deposited in the arteries partly by keeping white blood cells from sticking to the blood vessels’ inner linings. Lignans in it have been shown to reduce atherosclerotic plaque buildup by up to 75%.
Because plant omega-3s may also play a role in maintaining the heart’s natural rhythm, they may be useful in treating arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and heart failure. More research is needed on this.
Eating these daily may also help your cholesterol levels. The level of LDL or “bad” cholesterol in the bloodstream has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. A study of menopausal women showed a decrease in LDL level after the women ate 4 tablespoons each day for a year. Fitzpatrick says the cholesterol-lowering effects of it are the result of the combined benefits of the omega-3 ALA, fiber, and lignans.
Preliminary research also suggests that daily intake of the lignans in may modestly improve blood sugar (as measured by hemoglobin A1c blood tests in adults with type 2 diabetes).
Some studies suggest that alpha-linolenic acid may benefit people with heart disease
Flax seed, like any supplemental fiber source, should be taken with plenty of water; otherwise, it could worsen constipation or, in rare cases, even cause intestinal blockage.
The fiber may lower the body’s ability to absorb medications that are taken by mouth. It should not be taken at the same time as any conventional oral medications or other dietary supplements.
Red clover is a low growing perennial, native to northwest Africa, Asia, and Europe. It has since been naturalized and cultivated in many parts of the world, including North America. The flower heads are collected in full bloom, during the summer months.
Druids believed that it could ward off evil spells and witches, while Medieval Christians believed that the three lobbed leaves were associated with the trinity and the four lobbed leaves as a symbol of the cross.
Trifolium pratense is used in traditional medicine of India as Deobstruent, Alterative, Antipsoriatic, Antiscrophulatic, Antispasmodic, Aperient, Cancer, Detergent, Diuretic, Expectorant, Sedative, Skin Tonic, Expectorant, Anti-inflammatory and Antidermatosis agent.
Edible parts: Although leaves can be tossed into a salad or used in a tea, the preferable part of this wild edible is the flower. Red clovers are the tastiest of all clovers although it is recommended not to eat too many of these as some people experience bloating.
Red clover is a source of many nutrients including calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C. Red clover is a rich source of isoflavones (chemicals that act like estrogens and are found in many plants).
RED CLOVER USES & EFFECTIVENESS
It is widely grown as a fodder crop, valued for its nitrogen fixation, which increases soil fertility. For these reasons, it is used as a green manure crop. Several cultivar groups have been selected for agricultural use, mostly derived from T. pratense var. sativum. It has become naturalized in many temperate areas, including the Americas and Australasia as an escape from cultivation.
Red clover is commonly used to make a sweet-tasting herbal tea. It is an ingredient in some recipes for essiac tea.
In alternative medicine, red clover is promoted as a treatment for a variety of human maladies, including symptoms of menopause, coughs, disorders of the lymphatic system and a variety of cancers. Several systemic reviews and meta-analyses concluded that red clover extract reduces the frequency of menopause hot flashes.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF RED CLOVER
Reduces Hypertension: The unique properties of red clover include its ability to reduce inflammation throughout the body, particularly in the cardiovascular system. Studies have linked the use of its tea to a significant reduction in the tension of arteries and blood vessels, therefore reducing blood pressure. This can help to prevent coronary heart diseases and a variety of other cardiovascular conditions.
Boosts Immune System: If you consume the greens of red clover, you are much more likely to get a high dose of vitamin C than if you consume the tea. Vitamin C is a powerful immune system booster and can help to stimulate the production of white blood cells.
Prevents Infections: If you consume the leaves in the form of tea, you can get a healthy dose of antioxidants. Antioxidants can neutralize free radicals, which cause degenerative diseases and cell mutation. The overall immune boost of red clover includes preventing infections, both viral and bacterial.
Eases Menstruation & Menopause: The hormonal impacts of red clover are significant, particularly in women. The isoflavones found in red clover mimic estrogen, so for women who may struggle to maintain estrogen levels, red clover can help to balance their hormonal shifts and prevent mood swings, as well as reduce breast pain. This applies to women undergoing PMS as well as menopause, as both of these times can cause dangerous or unpredictable fluctuations in hormone levels.
Prevents Cancer: Red clover is not only useful for women, however, and in terms of cancer prevention, it is extremely important for men. Prostate cancer is one of the most dangerous forms of cancer in men, and some of the compounds found in it can block certain enzymes that could cause prostate growth. Although some forms of prostate enlargement are benign, a reduction in prostate size is always a good thing for long-term male health.
Cholesterol-lowering Properties: If you struggle to maintain healthy cholesterol levels, you significantly increase your chances of heart attacks and strokes as a result of atherosclerosis. Therefore, anything that can lower cholesterol levels is valuable, and research has shown that LDL cholesterol levels can be reduced by adding red clover.
Blood Circulation: Furthermore, coumarins found in red clover have been shown to keep blood flowing smoothly and stimulating healthy circulation, further preventing high blood pressure and cardiovascular distress.
Detoxify the Body: If you want to find a quick way to detoxify your body and clear your system of excess toxins and salts, nothing works better than a diuretic. Red clover has been connected to increased urination, thereby helping to release excess water, toxins, and even fat from the body.
TREATMENTS WITH RED CLOVER
Cardiovascular health: Researchers theorize that red clover might help protect against heart disease, but studies in humans have not found strong evidence. Red clover isoflavones have been associated with an increase in HDL (“good”) cholesterol in pre and postmenopausal women, but other studies show conflicting results. One study found that menopausal women taking red clover supplements had stronger, more flexible arteries (called arterial compliance), which can help prevent heart disease. Red clover may also have blood-thinning properties, which keeps blood clots from forming. It appears to improve blood flow.
Menopause: Researchers think that isoflavones, like those found in red clover, might help reduce symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and night sweats, because of their estrogen-like effects. So far studies have been mixed. Several studies of a proprietary extract of red clover isoflavones suggest that it may significantly reduce hot flashes in menopausal women. However, the largest study showed no effect.
Osteoporosis: As estrogen levels drop during menopause, a woman’s risk for developing osteoporosis (significant bone loss) goes up. A few studies suggest that a proprietary extract of red clover isoflavones may slow bone loss and even boost bone mineral density in pre- and perimenopausal women. But the evidence is preliminary, and more research is needed.
Cancer: Based on its traditional use for cancer, researchers have begun to study the role of isoflavones from red clover in cancer prevention and treatment. Preliminary evidence suggests these isoflavones may stop cancer cells from growing or kill cancer cells in test tubes. Researchers theorize that red clover may help prevent some forms of cancer, such as prostate and endometrial cancer. However, because of the herb’s estrogen-like effects, it might also contribute to the growth of some cancers, just as estrogen does. Until further research is done, doctors cannot recommend red clover to prevent cancer. Women with a history of breast cancer should not take red clover.
Other uses: Traditionally, red clover ointments have been applied to the skin to treat psoriasis, eczema, and other rashes. Red clover has also been used as a cough remedy for children. More recently, studies have shown that women using red clover may experience psychological benefits.
DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION
Red clover is available in a variety of preparations, including teas, tinctures, tablets, capsules, liquid extract, and extracts standardized to specific isoflavone contents. It can also be prepared as an ointment for topical (skin) application. Due to lack of long-term studies, self treatment should not exceed 3 to 6 months without the supervision of a health care professional.
Pediatric: Red clover has been used traditionally as a short-term cough remedy for children. Products containing isolated red clover isoflavones are very different than the whole herb, however, and are not recommended for children. DO NOT give a child red clover without talking to your pediatrician first.
Adult: Dose may vary from person to person, but general guidelines are as follows:
Dried herb (used for tea): 1 to 2 tsp dried flowers or flowering tops steeped in 8 oz. hot water for 1/2 hour; drink 2 to 3 cups daily
Powdered herb (available in capsules): 40 to 160 mg per day, or 28 to 85 mg of red clover isoflavones
Tincture (1:5, 30% alcohol): 60 to 100 drops (3 to 5 mL), 3 times per day; may add to hot water as a tea
Fluid Extract (1:1): 1 mL, 3 times per day; may add to hot water as a tea
Standardized red clover isoflavone extracts: follow directions on product labels carefully
Topical treatment (such as for psoriasis or eczema): an infusion, liquid extract, or ointment containing 10 to 15% flower heads; apply as needed unless irritation develops. DO NOT apply to an open wound without a doctor’s supervision.
RED CLOVER SIDE EFFECTS & SAFETY
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Red clover is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in amounts commonly found in food. However, it is LIKELY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in medicinal amounts. Red clover acts like estrogen and might disturb important hormone balances during pregnancy or breast-feeding. Don’t use it. Not enough is known about the safety of red clover when applied to the skin during pregnancy or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and don’t use it.
Bleeding disorders: Red clover might increase the chance of bleeding. Avoid large amounts and use with caution.
Hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Red clover might act like estrogen. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, don’t use red clover.
Protein S deficiency: People with protein S deficiency have an increased risk of forming blood clots. There is some concern that red clover might increase the risk of clot formation in these people because it has some of the effects of estrogen. Don’t use red clover if you have protein S deficiency.
Surgery: Red clover might slow blood clotting. It might increase the chance of extra bleeding during and after surgery. Stop taking red clover at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
RED CLOVER INTERACTIONS
Birth control pills (Contraceptive drugs) interacts with RED CLOVER: Some birth control pills contain estrogen. Red clover might have some of the same effects as estrogen. But red clover isn’t as strong as the estrogen in birth control pills. Taking red clover along with birth control pills might decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills. If you take birth control pills along with red clover, use an additional form of birth control such as a condom. Some birth control pills include ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel (Triphasil), ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone (Ortho-Novum 1/35, Ortho-Novum 7/7/7), and others.
Estrogens interacts with RED CLOVER: Large amounts of red clover might have some of the same effects as estrogen. But red clover isn’t as strong as estrogen pills. Taking red clover along with estrogen pills might decrease the effects of estrogen pills. Some estrogen pills include conjugated equine estrogens (Premarin), ethinyl estradiol, estradiol, and others.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) substrates) interacts with RED CLOVER. Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Red clover might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking red clover along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking red clover, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver. Some medications that are changed by the liver include amitriptyline (Elavil), haloperidol (Haldol), ondansetron (Zofran), propranolol (Inderal), theophylline (Theo-Dur, others), verapamil (Calan, Isoptin, others), and others.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2C19 (CYP2C19) substrates) interacts with RED CLOVER. Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Red clover might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking red clover along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking red clover, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver. Some medications that are changed by the liver include omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid), and pantoprazole (Protonix); diazepam (Valium); carisoprodol (Soma); nelfinavir (Viracept); and others.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2C9 (CYP2C9) substrates) interacts with RED CLOVER. Red clover might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking red clover along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking red clover, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver. Some medications that are changed by the liver include diclofenac (Cataflam, Voltaren), ibuprofen (Motrin), meloxicam (Mobic), and piroxicam (Feldene); celecoxib (Celebrex); amitriptyline (Elavil); warfarin (Coumadin); glipizide (Glucotrol); losartan (Cozaar); and others.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates) interacts with RED CLOVER. Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Red clover might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking red clover along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking red clover, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver. Some medications changed by the liver include lovastatin (Mevacor), ketoconazole (Nizoral), itraconazole (Sporanox), fexofenadine (Allegra), triazolam (Halcion), and many others.
Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs) interacts with RED CLOVER. Large amounts of red clover might slow blood clotting. Taking red clover along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.
Tamoxifen (Nolvadex) interacts with RED CLOVER. Some types of cancer are affected by hormones in the body. Estrogen-sensitive cancers are cancers that are affected by estrogen levels in the body. Tamoxifen (Nolvadex) is used to help treat and prevent these types of cancer. Red clover seems to also affect estrogen levels in the body. By affecting estrogen in the body, red clover might decrease the effectiveness of tamoxifen (Nolvadex). Do not take red clover if you are taking tamoxifen (Nolvadex).
Recipes from EdibleWildFood.com
4 cups red (and white) clover flowers
2 1/2 cups water
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 1/2 cups organic cane sugar
Boil the flowers for about 10 minutes or until the color comes out of the flowers. Strain and measure 2 1/4 cups liquid (add water if needed).
Return to pot. Add lemon juice and sugar. Bring to a full rolling boil then reduce heat. Simmer until liquid becomes syrupy.
Pour into a bottle or jar and store in the fridge up to 6 months.
Start your morning on the wild side with these tasty red clover biscuits served with homemade jam or jelly.
2 cups unbleached flour + extra for rolling
1/2 cup almond flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/3 cup butter at room temperature
2 eggs (beaten)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup dried or fresh red clover flowers (broken down)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl combine flour, almond flour, and baking powder. Add butter and knead until fully blended.
In a separate bowl, mix eggs, yogurt, and vanilla. Add in red clover flowers and blend well. Gradually add to the dough until it is completely blended.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of almost 1/2″. Use a cookie cutter about 1½” in diameter and cut.
Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve (preferably) warm with jam or jelly.
Red Clover Ice Tea
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 60 minutes Yield: Makes 8 one cup servings.
Harvest and store red clover flowers so that you can enjoy this tasty, healthy ice tea any time of the year.
12 red clover flowers (with leaves is fine)
8 cups water
3/4 cup organic can sugar (or sweetener of your choice)
one half lemon, squeezed
Boil water in a saucepan, then remove from stove and allow to cool 10 minutes. Place red clover flowers in water; let infuse minimum 1/2 hour. (For a stronger flavor and more nutrients allow to sit 1-2 hours.)
Strain, add sweetener of your choice and the fresh squeezed lemon juice. (The amount of sweetener can be reduced or increased based on your taste buds.) Place in ridge to chill then enjoy!
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Cassady JM, Zennie TM, Young-Heum C, et al. Use of a mammalian cell culture benzo(a)pyrene metabolism assay for the detection of potential anticarcinogens from natural products: Inhibition of metabolism by biochanin A, anisoflavone from Trifolium pratense L.Cancer Res. 1988;48:6257-6261.
Chedraui P, San Miguel G, Hidalgo L, Morocho N, Ross S. Effect of Trifolium pratense-derived isoflavones on the lipid profile of postmenopausal women with increased body mass index. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2008 Nov;24(11):620-624.
DerMarderosian A, ed. Red Clover. In: Facts and Comparisons The Review of Natural Products. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2008
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Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) is most known for its
culinary uses. It’s highly nutritious with an abundance of vitamin A (as
carotenoids), vitamin K, and vitamin C. It’s also rich in magnesium, iron,
potassium, and calcium. The fragrant herb Basil is best known as one of the
most versatile herbs to use in Mediterranean and Eastern cooking.
½ cup of
fresh chopped basil (or about eight tablespoons) has roughly:
0 fat, protein, sugar or fiber
56 milligrams vitamin A (24 percent)
88 milligrams vitamin K (108 percent)
0.24 milligrams manganese (12 percent)
4 milligrams vitamin C (8 percent)
Health Benefits of Basil Leaf
Adaptogen: helps the body adapt to stress and to
normalize the harmful effects of stressors on bodily processes.
Antibacterial: The basil essential oil was active
against every strain of E-coli it was tested with. It was also shown to have
anti-microbial properties that were found to fight mold, yeast, and bacteria.
Anticancer: Clinical studies published in Nutrition
and Cancer also show that basil contains phytochemicals, which can help
naturally prevent cancer, including chemical-induced skin, liver, oral and lung
cancers. Basil is able to increase antioxidant activity, positively alter gene
expressions, induce cancerous-cell apoptosis (death of harmful cells) and stop
cancerous tumors from spreading.
Antioxidant & Anti-Inflammatory: as an
antioxidant and help the body get rid of free radicals. Sweet basil is an
excellent source of antioxidants such as phenolic compounds and polyphenols.
Research published in 2012 showed that these antioxidants make basil a great
choice for helping with inflammatory diseases. Because oxidative stress and
inflammation are often present with serious illnesses like diabetes and heart
disease, this research is promising for combating the increase in these health
Antimicrobial: against a wide range of bacteria,
yeasts, molds and viruses. This means you can add protection against the
candida virus and various forms of skin irritations to the long list of proven
benefits of basil.
Herbal Remedies with Basil
Calming the Stomach: One-half teaspoon of dried or
fresh basil leaf in water can often help soothe indigestion and alleviate
feelings of fullness.
Coughing and Colds: chew fresh leaves to calm
coughing or make a calming tea of dried basil to help soothe illness.
Facial Steam for Headache: A facial steam with dried
basil leaf can help alleviate a headache. Add a tablespoon of dried basil leaf
to 2 cups of boiling water in a large pot. Carefully lean over the pot, cover
head with a towel and breathe in the steam for 5-10 minutes until headache
starts to subside.
Stings and Bites: If you are working outside and get
bitten or stung by an insect and don’t have any plantain growing nearby,
chewing up a basil leaf and applying to the bite will help relieve the pain and
draw out the venom.
Blood Sugar: There is some evidence that basil can
help level out blood sugar if consumed regularly and drank as a juice or tea.
Stress Reduction: One herbalist suggests adding 2
cups of strong basil leaf tea to a warm bath to help reduce stress and
Basil Essential Oil Benefits
Basil Linalool Essential Oil is one of the finest oils
available for calming and focusing the mind, and is also useful for easing
tension in the head and neck. It is preferred as a mind-clearing oil for
spiritual meditation. Due to the high linalool content (which makes this oil very
relaxing) you can also use basil to help ease the transition into bedtime.
Basil also can help uplift your mood.
Cardiovascular Health: can help the muscles that
control blood vessel function to contract and relax, promoting healthy blood
pressure. Benefits of basil include the ability to help prevent dangerous
platelet aggregation, clumping together of blood platelets that can form a clot
within the arteries and cause cardiac arrest.
Cold & Flu: add one to two drops to a steam bath,
or make a homemade vapor rub using eucalyptus oil and basil oil that can
massaged into the chest to open up your nasal passages.
Detoxification: sickly rats were given basil extract
over a period of five days, they experienced significant improvements in
producing detoxifying enzymes, higher antioxidant defenses and a reduction of
fat buildup in the liver that can cause liver disease.
Fights Depression: Benefits of basil also apply to
those with mental disorders or mood-related illnesses, including depression and
anxiety. Basil is also considered an antidepressant by some since it can
positively impact brain function within the adrenal cortex, helping stimulate
neurotransmitters that regulate the hormones responsible for making us happy
Insect Repellent: research has shown that the
volatile oils found in basil can repel mosquitoes and help to prevent bug
bites. To make a homemade bug spray or lotion, dilute several drops of basil
essential oils with carrier oil and massage into skin or swollen bites as
Mood Enhancer: Inhaling basil can help restore mental
alertness and fight fatigue since it’s naturally a stimulant that works on the
nervous system and adrenal cortex. Many people find it beneficial for reducing
symptoms like sluggishness, brain fog and poor moods that accompany adrenal
fatigue or chronic fatigue. Diffuse basil essential oil throughout your home or
inhale it directly from the bottle. You can also combine a couple drops of
basil oil with a carrier oil like jojoba and put it on your wrists for an
Muscle Relaxant: you can rub a few drops of basil
essential oil along with coconut oil into painful, swollen muscles or joints.
To further help relax tense areas and feel immediate relief, try soaking in a
warm bath with Epsom salts and a couple drops of lavender oil and basil oil.
Stress Relief: Basil oil is known to be uplifting and
renewing, which makes it useful for lowering symptoms of anxiety, fear or
nervousness. Used for aromatherapy for centuries to help people deal with
racing thoughts and overwhelming feelings, you can burn basil oil at home to
relax and unwind. This can also work quickly for natural headache relief.
Massage one or two drops with a carrier oil into your feet or over your
adrenals nightly to reduce stress.
Basil Safety & Precautions
While basil is generally considered a safe herb in culinary
amounts, medicinal use of basil is considered “possibly unsafe” for children
and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Keep in mind also that basil
essential oil (or any essential oil) is very concentrated and merits special
precautions. Because basil could reduce blood pressure, in theory, it could
cause low blood pressure. Consult your healthcare professional before taking
basil (or any herb) medicinally.
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