Sweet Clover: anti-inflammatory properties and benefits

Let’s go to the discovery of sweet clover, used in phytotherapy against cellulite, water retention and lymphatic and venous insufficiency, as well as as a healing and sedative.

The plant

Sweet clover (scientific name Melilotus officinalis) is also commonly known as cabbage grass or yellow cabbage. It is part of the Fabaceae family, and is a biennial herbaceous plant very common in arid and uncultivated land, and is often found along roads and paths.

With a long and thin stem, it has trefoil leaves, such as clover and alfalfa, and has characteristic yellow flowers united in bunches, with a bell-shaped shape, which release a sweet vanilla scent. The fruit is a greenish-black pod.

It has several interesting properties, which we will get to know.

Where does the sweet clover come from

In ancient times it was known as Sertula campana because it grows in abundance in Campania, where it was used for ornamental purposes by weaving its stems like garlands to wear on the head.

The use indicated by popular tradition was, on the other hand, to ward off moths and perfume the linen inside the wardrobes.

The property

The leaves and flowering tops have a good concentration of flavonoids, tannins and coumarins: among the latter, in particular, melilotoside (a coumarin glucoside which then transforms into coumarin), which promotes lymphatic drainage.

This plant also carries out a useful vaso-protective action on the walls of the veins so it tends to be recommended in cases of venous and lymphatic insufficiency, in the presence of edema and swelling in the legs, phlebitis, varicose veins, heavy legs and cellulite.

It also has anti- inflammatory properties and has a slightly sedative action.

In addition, this plant also carries out a beneficial activity to counteract digestive disorders. It can also be used as an antispasmodic if poor digestion is accompanied by other symptoms, such as headache, insomnia and agitation.

It is also endowed with  healing activity, and accelerates wound healing.

In homeopathy it is used for the treatment of hemorrhoids and nosebleeds, and for the problems of the female cycle, such as hot flashes in menopause, irregular or heavy periods, cycle headaches.


In general, the use of sweet clover is not recommended during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Given its fluidifying properties, it is not suitable for those with liver problems and should not be taken in circumstances such as imminent surgery. It is also necessary to pay attention to the possible side effects related to coumarins, so in case of gastric irritation and nausea it is necessary to suspend the treatment.

It is clearly contraindicated in cases of ascertained hypersensitivity to one or more of its components. In high doses it can cause headache, weakness, nausea and vomiting.

It is also important that the plant is dried very well, because with humidity it can develop a mold that transforms coumarins into dicumarol, a toxic substance used as a rat poison, and which interferes with coagulation.

The recipe with sweet clover

You can prepare a sweet clover-based infusion using a level spoonful of plant leaves in a cup of water: pour the sweet clover leaves into boiling water, then turn off the heat and leave to infuse for about 10 minutes.

After filtering the infusion, it can be consumed to benefit from the draining and vaso-protective properties of the plant. It can be taken two to four times a day between meals.

Cultivation of the sweet clover plant

It is used as manure to nourish the soil, especially the calcareous one, and enrich it with nitrogen, to attract auxiliary insects and above all to pollinate bees. It is a drought and cold resistant plant.

It prefers full sun and all types of soils, including limestone ones. Sowing takes place from April to September. It does not require special care and germinates about 8 weeks after sowing.

Among the varieties, Melilotus officinalis is the most interesting and the most widespread, but there are also the white sweet clover (Melilotus albus), very melliferous, and the Italian (Melilotus italicus) and Indian (Melilotus indicus) varieties, and the Melilotus elegans.

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