The etymological origin of sweet clover comes from the Greek meli which means honey, and from lôtos , for lotus, that is to say honey flowers . Indeed, the plant, melliferous, wants to be very sought after by the bees. Melilotus officinalis is the species used medicinally . However, related species like M. alba Medicus are also used in herbalism .
A little history
In an old astrological treatise written in Greek, we actually find an eye plant and eye pain, the triphullion (which means “three leaves”). This astrological booklet therefore tells us that this triphullion is attributed to the sign of Taurus.
Dioscorides points in fact, just like Pliny , a plant as being an ocular medicine . The Greek doctor calls it lôtos (which some also call triphullion , he tells us). Pliny indicates that it is good against urinary lithiasis, Corpus hippocratum against fever, swelling of wounds, for difficult expectoration; it would also calm, it is said, the “fury of drunkenness.”
At the very beginning of the Renaissance, the Touraine apothecary Thibault Lespleigney (1496-1550) underlined the anti-ophthalmic virtues of sweet clover: “From sweet clover let’s take the flower to remove the heat and the tears from our eyes. ”
What are the main pharmacological properties of sweet clover flowering tops?
Venolymphatic and capillary circulatory properties:
Several clinical studies of the 1990s thus highlight the action of coumarin derivatives, components of sweet clover, on the reduction of lymphoedemas of the arms and legs . One of them was also carried out in double blind against placebo in 104 patients presenting a chronic filarial unilateral lymphedema (grades 1-2) or elephantiasis (grades 3-5) in the legs. The treated patients received a daily dose of coumarin for one year, and were seen again twelve months later. The study therefore demonstrated the effect of coumarin in reducing lymphedema. In several other studies, coumarin has also shown beneficial effects in the treatment of lymphedema .
Sweet clover has a triple myotropic effect on the lymphatic system, the vein and the capillary with an increase in the tone of the vessels . It stimulates the lymphatic pump (increases the frequency of contractions, increases the force of contractions, decreases the threshold of excitability), it also increases the efficiency of lymphatic contractions and additionally increases lymphatic vascular activity .
The coumarin extract of M. officinalis was also shown to be effective in significantly reducing lymphedema post mastectomy and axillary dissection for mammary carcinoma in 79% of patients treated for a period of 6 months, demonstrating its interest and possible use in this indication, in combination with physiotherapy, such as manual lymphatic drainage . In another randomized, double-blind, parallel-group study conducted in 77 women after breast cancer surgery and radiotherapy, the overall efficacy of coumarin was thus shown to be good or excellent.
The compound prevented the spontaneous tendency to increase in lymphedema of the arm, with decrease in the severity of local symptoms, and overall improvement in quality of life. This study is all the more interesting as it was carried out on operated and radiotherapy patients. However, it has been shown that local irradiation is the main risk factor for the development of lymphedema
Decreased capillary permeability:
This decrease occurs by increasing tissue oxygenation and improving microcirculation , as well as stabilizing the erythrocyte membrane.
Tissue trophic effect:
This effect stimulates the revascularization mechanisms in particular: sweet clover coumarin promotes healing and tissue regeneration , by stimulation of the proteolytic power of macrophages and of the reticulo-endothelial system.
Sweet clover has powerful anti-edema properties . In vivo , in an acute inflammation model, it ultimately decreases the activation of circulating phagocytes in a manner similar to hydrocortisone hemisuccinate as the sodium salt.
- Sedative, mild pain reliever and spasmolytic
- Mild anticoagulant
Are there any precautions for use with Mélilot?
- Sweet clover is not recommended for people with liver disease and in cases of hypersensitivity to active substances.
- The EMA does not recommend the use of sweet clover in pregnant or breastfeeding women. It extends this recommendation to children and adolescents under the age of 18.
Precautions for use:
- Stop taking sweet clover 72 hours before surgery.
- Above all, do not harvest or use sweet clover yourself, given the risk of fermentation if the plant does not dry out in optimal conditions. If the plant becomes moldy, the 2-hydroxycinnamic acid it contains can be metabolized into a potent anticoagulant toxin, dicoumarol, the ingestion of which can cause life-threatening internal bleeding. It is strongly recommended to use an extract using the fresh, non-dried plant to benefit from the active ingredients of sweet clover in complete safety.
Drugs interactions :
- Due to the presence of coumarins, weakly anticoagulant, sweet clover can interact with plants and drugs that thin the blood.
- If taking anticoagulant drugs, such as K antivitamins, have medical monitoring, with monitoring of the INR during the introduction and interruption of treatment with a sweet clover extract.
How to take Mélilot and in what dosage?
- As a food supplement, in the form of a fresh plant extract standardized in capsules .
- Standardized fresh plant extract : 5 to 10 ml per day in a glass of water.
- Hydroalcoholic extract : 25 drops 2 to 3 times / day in a glass of water.
- Herbal teas : 1 to 2 tbsp. coffee sweet clover per cup, to infuse 5 to 10 minutes, 1 cup 2 to 3 times a day.
Medical bibliographic sources and clinical trials :
- Casley-Smith J.R. et al., Treatment of filarial lymphoedema and elephantiasis with 5,6-benzo-alpha-pyrone (coumarin), BMJ, 1993
- Hoult J.R. et al., Pharmacological and biochemical actions of simple coumarins : natural products with therapeutic potential, Gen Pharmacol., 1996
- Casley-Smith J.R. et al., Treatment of filarial lymphoedema of the arms and legs with 5,6-benzo-alpha-pyrone; N Engl. car J Med, 1993
- Plesca-Manea L. et al., Effect of Melilotus officinalis on acute inflammation, Phytotherapy Research, 2002
- Casley-Smith J.R. et al., Treatment of filarial lymphoedema by complex physical therapy, with and without oral and tropical benzopyrones : what should therapists and patients expect, Lymphology, 1996
- Farinola N. et al., Pharmacogenomics : it’s role in re-establishing coumarin as treatment for lymphedema, Lymphat. Res Biol, 2005
- Casley-Smith J.R., Benzopyrones in the treatment of lymphedema, Int Angiol., 1999
- Burgos A. et al., Comparative study of the clinical efficacy of two different coumarin dosages in the management of arm lymphedema after treatment for breast cancer, Lymphology, 1999
- Pastura G. et al., Lymphedema of the upper extremity in patients operated for a car cinoma of the breast; clinical experience with coumarinic extract from Melilotus officinalis, Clin Ter., 1999
- Földi-Börcsök E. et al., The anti-inflammatory and anti-edematous effects of coumarins from Melilotus officinalis. Arzneimittelforschung, 1971
- Coen J.J. et al., Risk of lymphedema after regional nodal irridation with breast conservation therapy; Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys., 2003