One of my favorite summer activities is harvesting! I have a natural instinct to always look around me and gather things. I've always been this way - tucking herbs in my pockets, picking flowers, or finding wild berries to snack on. And let's not forget gathering fresh vegetables and fruit from the garden - that's the absolute best!
Since I started studying medicinal herbalism three years ago I've gotten increasingly interested in harvesting herbs. Amazingly many of the most medicinal herbs out there are wild herbs. There is this misconception that medicinal herbs have to be fancy herbs cultivated in exotic countries around the world, instead of backyard plants and staples in our spice cabinets.
Red clover is an herb I have come to love and use regularly to support my health. It also happens to be one of these wild beauties that grows in abundance in New England. I harvested a huge paper bag full of red clover blossoms while in Vermont a few weeks ago. I dried half the blossoms for teas and tinctured the rest by preserving them in alcohol.
Red Clover Tincture Ingredients:
3 - 4 cups fresh red clover blossoms (sustainably harvested from a clean place)
~ 2 cups unflavored vodka (enough to fully cover the blossoms)
Rinse the blossoms gently to remove any bugs or dirt. Pack tightly into a glass jar - fit in as many blossoms as you can!
Fill the jar with vodka until the blossoms are fully covered. Close with a well-fitting lid and leave to sit in a cool, dark place.
Check your jar and give it a good shake every few days. You should see the color draining from the blossoms as the tincture evolves.
After a month, drain the tincture through cheesecloth and squeeze well to extract as much liquid as possible. Bottle the tincture in glass bottles for future use.
Red clover (Latin name: Trifolium Pratense) has a mild sweet taste and cooling and moistening energetics in the body. My favorite way to use red clover is as a lymphatic mover to boost immune function. I often add 1/2 a dropper of red clover tincture to my tea when I feel like I'm fighting something, or have been exposed to lots of germs.
But that is only the tip of the iceberg. Red clover can be used medicinally to support many functions in the body. Here are some of my favorite uses -
- Respiratory Tonic: Used as an antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory for lung issues, such as asthma, coughs, colds, whooping cough, and bronchitis.
- Hormone Balancer: Used to support all aspects of the female reproductive system – menstrual symptoms, fertility, and menopause.
- Nourishing Tonic: High levels of vitamins and minerals including vitamin B complex, vitamin C, calcium, nitrogen, iron, chromium, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, flavinoids, saponins, salicylates, coumarins, resins, and volatile oils.
- Lymphatic Mover: Special affinity for the glands of the body, which is helpful in relieving blocks in the lymphatic system and supporting overall strong lymphatic flow.
- Nervine: Offers psychic first aid and can create calm in the midst of hysteria, or to support people whose brains feel overwhelmed by too much work.
Red clover is very safe for regular use in most people. However, due to its natural coumarins, red clover can have a blood thinning effect, so it should be avoided by hemophiliacs or people with thin blood.
So, go find yourself some wild red clover growing in a beautiful field and have a quintessential summer harvesting experience!