Clover is so much more than a fun St. Patrick’s Day decoration.
As a massage cream ingredient, red clover blossom serves as a strong accompaniment to other herbs and oils or can stand by itself. Massage therapists who use a cream containing clover might want to understand this plant’s history of benefits.
Red clover blossom, the flower of the red clover plant, is nutrient-rich, providing a source of niacin, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, thiamine, chromium, calcium and vitamin C; it has traditionally been used as an herbal remedy to address chronic or acute skin issues, such as eczema, psoriasis, rashes and burns, according to a University of Maryland Medical Center online fact sheet.
Jean Shea, founder and CEO of BIOTONE, which manufactures some products containing red clover, told MASSAGE Magazine that red clover blossom extract is typically added to a massage cream base in order to harness red clover’s skin-soothing properties.
Benefits of Clover
“Speaking purely from a sports-massage standpoint, there is no feature of clover that I find more beneficial than its healing properties,” said Laurie Towers, owner and CEO of Physical Advantage, a sports massage practice in New York, New York.
Towers said that the beneficial properties of red clover make it a popular ingredient in balms and skin ointments. Its versatility makes it a fantastic ingredient in massage creams by itself or along with other herbs. Arnica, especially, is a great accompaniment to clover, according to Towers. Together, these two herbs have little to no aroma and are not overpowering, she said.
“The anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties of red clover in particular are in step with the array of soft tissue injuries I see [every] day,” Towers said.
Considerations and Contraindications
A comforting and gentle herb, clover usually does not cause skin irritation, but it does have a few contraindications, Towers said.
Because red clover is high in isoflavones—“chemicals that act like estrogens and are found in many plants,” the fact sheet noted—several studies have been conducted on red clover’s effects on symptoms of menopause, but any evidence of benefit is as yet inconclusive. What is known is that due to its level of isoflavones, red clover may increase estrogen levels in the body when taken orally as a supplement.
When taken as a supplement for self-care, individuals sensitive to estrogen; pregnant or breastfeeding women; or those with medical conditions that may be worsened by estrogen should avoid red clover. Red clover also has blood-thinning properties and may boost the effects of anticoagulant medications, so individuals who are taking blood thinner medications should avoid using red clover. Since this herb has the potential to interfere with the liver’s ability to process certain prescription medications, clients taking prescription medications may also want to avoid red clover, as should clients undergoing breast cancer treatment, since this herb can interact with the cancer drug tamoxifen.
Evidence has so far not been sufficient to determine whether red clover has exactly the same effects when applied topically.
The Wonders of Red Clover
This St. Patrick’s Day, you and your clients may fall in love with this festive herb’s many great properties and versatile nature.
About the Author
Kaitlin Morrison is a freelance health and wellness writer living in Moses Lake, Washington. A former chiropractic assistant and health care publicity person, she now follows her passion of informing and educating her readers about health care, business and marketing. She has written several articles for MASSAGE Magazine, including “The Power of Pomegranate Massage Cream.”