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Clover Yellow Sweet

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  • Botanical: Melilotus officinalis
  • Family: Fabaceae
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Clover Yellow Sweet

Botanical

Melilotus officinalis

Family

Fabaceae

Known as

Yellow Sweet Clover, Yellow Melilot, Ribbed Melilot, Common Melilot, Bärenklee, Mottenklee, Melilotenklee, Goldklee, Schotenklee, Mottenkraut

Old Use

culinary; medicinal

Collection Times

July to September.

Parts Used

flowers, herb, leaves, roots

Medicinal

anxiety, amenorrhea, boils, bruises, circulation, coughs, dermatitis, eczema, flatulence, headache, hemorrhoids, insomnia, irritability, joint pain, menstrual cramps, menstruation promotion, migraine, neuralgia, nervousness, pain relief, rheumatism, stomach pain, ulcers, vascular, varicose veins, wounds, erysipelas

Heart & Circulation

circulation, hemorrhoids, vascular, varicose veins

Hormone & Sexual Organs

cramps, menstrual cramps, menstruation promotion, menstrual problems

Infection & Inflammation

earache, eye inflammation

Muscle & Joints

joint pain, rheumatism

Mind & Nerves

anxiety, anorexia, headache, insomnia, loss of appetite, migraine, neuralgia, nervousness, sleep

Respiratory System

cough

Stomach & Intestinal

digestion, flatulence, laxative, stomach cramps

Skin & Hair

burns, dermatitis, eczema, erysipelas

Properties

antispasmodic, carminative, diuretic, expectorant

Description

The Meliots are perennial herbs, 2 to 4 feet high, found in dry fields and along roadsides, in waste places and chalky banks, especially along railway banks and near lime kilns. The smooth, erect stems are much branched, the leaves placed on alternate sides of the stems are smooth and trifoliate, the leaflets oval. The plants bear long racemes of small, sweet-scented, yellow or white, papilionaceous flowers in the yellow species, the keel of the flower much shorter than the other parts and containing much honey.

They are succeeded by broad, black, one-seeded pods, transversely wrinkled.

All species of Melilot, when in flower, have a peculiar sweet odour, which by drying be comes stronger and more agreeable, somewhat like that of the Tonka bean, this similarity being accounted for by the fact that they both contain the same chemical principle, Coumarin, which is also present in new-mown hay and woodruff, which have the identical fragrance.

Properties & Uses

Melilot, used either externally or internally, can help treat varicose veins and haemorrhoids though it requires a long-term treatment for the effect to be realised. Use of the plant also helps to reduce the risk of phlebitis and thrombosis. Melilot contains coumarins and, as the plant dries or spoils, these become converted to dicoumarol, a powerful anticoagulant. Thus the plant should be used with some caution, it should not be prescribed to patients with a history of poor blood clotting or who are taking warfarin medication. See also the notes above on toxicity. The flowering plant is antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, diuretic, emollient, mildly expectorant, mildly sedative and vulnerary. An infusion is used in the treatment of sleeplessness, nervous tension, neuralgia, palpitations, varicose veins, painful congestive menstruation, in the prevention of thrombosis, flatulence and intestinal disorders. Externally, it is used to treat eye inflammations, rheumatic pains, swollen joints, severe bruising, boils and erysipelas, whilst a decoction is added to the bath-water. The flowering plant is harvested in the summer and can be dried for later use. A distilled water obtained from the flowering tops is an effective treatment for conjunctivitis. 

Other Uses

The leaves contain coumarin and they release the pleasant smell of newly mown hay when they are drying. The leaves are dried and used as an insect repellent, especially in order to repel moths from clothing. They can be put in pillows, mattresses etc. Poorly dried or fermented leaves produce a substance called dicoumarol. This is a potent anti-coagulant which is extremely poisonous in excess, it prevents the blood from coagulating and so it is possible to bleed to death from very small wounds. Dicoumarol is used in rat poisons. The plant can be used as a green manure, enriching the soil with nitrogen as well a providing organic matter

Cautions

 The dried leaves can be toxic. though the fresh leaves are quite safe to use. This is possibly due to the presence of coumarin, the substance that gives some dried plants the smell of new mown hay, if taken internally it can prevent the blood clotting.

Distribution

Europe to E. Asia. Naturalized in Britain.

Constituents

Glykoside, Melilotin, Cumarin, Flavonoide, Melilotsäure, Benzoesäure, Schleim, Cholin