Red Clover Side Effects, Cautions, and Contraindications

If you've been considering adding red clover tea to your diet, red clover side effects may not be foremost in your mind. However, even though red clover is well-known for many health benefits, it's still essential to be aware of any cautions or possible contraindications before adding this herbal tisane to your tea cupboard.

Red clover tea is made from the dried, purplish blossoms of the perennial red clover plant, and this tea, which has been valued for centuries in traditional medicine, has many benefits for health and wellness.

However, along with these health benefits, red clover has some cautions and potential side effects and contraindications, as well.

Red Clover Phytoestrogen Properties

Red clover is known to be a rich source of 'isoflavones,' a type of phytoestrogen. Phytoestrogens, which are naturally occurring, estrogen-like compounds derived from plants, are well known for certain health benefits.

Research has found that the isoflavones in red clover provide relief from the discomforts and symptoms of menopause, and isoflavone phytoestrogen therapy has been targeted as a potential safe, natural, effective alternative to HRT (hormone replacement therapy).

However, phytoestrogens come with some cautions, as well.

Because the phytoestrogens in red clover have estrogen-like properties, red clover tea (or red clover in any other form) is not recommended for anyone who is currently being (or has been) treated for any hormone-dependent condition or cancer (such as breast, cervical, endometrial, ovarian, uterine, or prostate cancer).

Red Clover Side Effects

If your medical history includes any hormone-sensitive condition, it's essential that you consult with your healthcare professional before adding red clover tea to your diet. She can answer any questions you have about red clover contraindications and side effects. Be sure to ask her how this herb may interact with any current treatments or prescription medications you are taking.

Because the phytoestrogens in red clover can increase estrogen effects, please also check with your healthcare provider before drinking red clover tea if you are taking birth control pills or any fertility drug.

Red Clover Tea and Prescription Medications

Red clover also has blood-thinning properties and, as such, may increase the effects of prescription blood thinners. If you are currently taking any anticoagulant medications, please avoid consuming any red clover tea until you have asked your healthcare provider whether red clover is a safe choice for you.

Herbs and herbal teas have a reputation of being healthful and risk-free. However, some herbs can interact negatively with certain prescription or over-the-counter medications. So, it's best to schedule a visit with your healthcare professional if you've been thinking of adding red clover herbal tea to your tea stash for any specific reason (such as helping to manage the symptoms of menopause or to prevent osteoporosis) to ensure this tisane is a safe, healthy brew for you.

Other Red Clover Side Effects and Cautions

As with any herbal tea, it's a good idea to introduce red clover tea to your diet slowly, until you know how it will interact with your body. 

Some people experience headaches or upset stomach after drinking red clover tisane, so be sure to listen to your body's messages about this herbal tea.

Whether you simply enjoy the delicious taste and fragrant aroma of red clover tea, or you've added this herbal tisane to your daily regime for its many health and wellness benefits, it's important that you are aware of any possible cautions or side effects of drinking this (or any) herbal tea. 

Interested in learning more about the benefits of red clover tea?

Click here to visit our Red Clover Tea Research pages to learn more about what current scientific research is saying about this popular, healthful herbal tisane.

Stay informed... and then you can fully enjoy and appreciate red clover tea with no worries or concerns!


Atkinson C, Compston JE, Day NE, Dowsett M, Bingham SA. The effects of phytoestrogen isoflavones on bone density in women: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Feb;79(2):326-33.

Gray NE, Liu X, Choi R, Blackman MR, Arnold JT. Endocrine-Immune-Paracrine Interactions In Prostate Cells: A Model For Mechanistic Studies Of Phytomedicines. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2009 Feb;2(2):134–142.

Hidalgo LA, Chedraui PA, Morocho N, Ross S, San Miguel G. The effect of red clover isoflavones on menopausal symptoms, lipids and vaginal cytology in menopausal women: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2005 Nov;21(5):257-64.

Lipovaca M, Chedrauib P, Gruenhutc C, Gocanc A, Stammlerd M, Imhofa M. Improvement of postmenopausal depressive and anxiety symptoms after treatment with isoflavones derived from red clover extracts. Maturitas. 2010 March;65(3):258–261.

van de Weijer PH, Barentsen R. Isoflavones from red clover (Promensil) significantly reduce menopausal hot flush symptoms compared with placebo. Maturitas. 2002 Jul 25;42(3):187-93.

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