Yellow Melilot

Some 20 species of annuals, biennials, and short-lived perennials belong to this genus, which spans Eurasia, N Africa, and Ethiopia. Melilotus officinalis, found in fields and on waste ground, is widely cultivated for hay, silage, and green manure, and makes an attractive addition to the wildflower meadow. It contains coumarins, which release the pleasant smell of new-mown hay when drying. Poorly dried or fermented melilot produces dicoumarol, a potent anti-coagulant, which is extremely poisonous; it is used in rat poison. Melilot effectively draws out toxins and reduces inflammation; melilot bandages were used from ancient Greek times until the 19th century for this purpose. Melilotus comes from the Greek meli, "honey", and lotos, "fodder", or "clover", because these plants are important sources of nectar and animal fodder.

Sweet Clover, found throughout much of North America, produces sweet, vanilla-scented yellow blooms on spikelike stalks. It contains small amounts of coumarin, an ingredient in prescription blood thinners, and has been used to improve blood circulation, heal wounds, and treat varicose veins and hemorrhoids.

Upright or spreading biennial with ribbed stems and trifoliate, toothed leaves, divided into oblong-elliptic leaflets, to 3cm (1½in) long. Yellow, honey-scented flowers, to 7mm (¼in) long, appear in slender racemes in summer, followed by brown, hairless pods.

Common Name:
Yellow Melilot
Other Names:
Common Melilot, Field Melilot, Hay Flower, King's Clover, Ribbed Melilot, Sweet Clover, Sweet Lucerne, Yellow Sweet Clover
Botanical Name:
Melilotus officinalis syn. M. arvensis
Native Location:
Eurasia, naturalized in N America
Well-drained to dry, neutral to alkaline soil in sun. Melilotus officinalis is drought-tolerant.
By seed sown in autumn or spring.
Plants are cut when flowering and dried for compresses, infusions, and tinctures.
60cm-1.5m (2-5ft)
20-90cm (8in-3ft)
Parts Used:
Whole plant, Flowering Herb
An aromatic, sedative herb that is diuretic, relieves spasms and pain, clears congestion, reduces inflammation, and has anti-thrombotic effects.
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for tension headaches, neuralgia, palpitations, insomnia, varicose veins, or painful congestive menstruation, and to prevent thrombosis. Contraindicated with anti-coagulant medication and in cases of poor clotting (low platelet count). Externally for eye inflammation, rheumatic pain, swollen joints, severe bruising, boils, and erysipelas.
To treat problems arising from poor circulation in the legs, including pain, night cramps, swelling, hemorrhoids, and itching; as a diuretic. Germany's Commission E has approved the use of sweet clover to treat vein problems, hemorrhoids, and blunt injuries.
Typical Dose:
A typical daily dose of sweet clover in the form of tea may range from 1 to 2 tsp of the herb steeped in 150 ml of boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes, taken two to three times a day.
Possible Side Effects:
Sweet clover's side effects include headache, stupor, and transitory liver damage.
Drug Interactions:
Taking sweet clover with these drugs may increase the risk of bleeding or bruising:
Abciximab, (ReoPro)
Antithrombin III, (Thrombate III)
Argatroban, (Argatroban)
Aspirin, (Bufferin, Ecotrin)
Aspirin and Dipyridamole, (Aggrenox)
Bivalirudin, (Angiomax)
Celecoxib, (Celebrex)
Clopidogrel, (Plavix)
Dalteparin, (Fragmin)
Danaparoid, (Orgaran)
Dipyridamole, (Novo-Dipiradol, Persantine)
Enoxaparin, (Lovenox)—bleeding
Eptifibatide, (Integrillin)
Etodolac, (Lodine, Utradol)—bleeding
Fondaparinux, (Arixtra)
Heparin, (Hepalean, Hep-Lock)
Ibuprofen, (Advil, Motrin)
Indobufen, (Ibustrin)
Indomethacin, (Indocin, Novo-Methacin)
Ketoprofen, (Orudis, Rhodis)
Ketorolac, (Acular, Toradol)
Lepirudin, (Refludan)
Ticlopidine, (Alti-Ticlopidine, Ticlid)
Tinzaparin, (Innohep)
Tirofiban, (Aggrastat)
Warfarin, (Coumadin, Jantoven)
Lab Test Alterations:
May increase results of liver enzyme tests.
Supplement Interactions:
Increased risk of bleeding when used with herbs and supplements that might affect platelet aggregation.
Culinary Uses:
Leaves are used to flavor marinades, stews (especially of rabbit), and sapsago (Schabzieger) cheese. Dried herb can be used as a substitute for vanilla in desserts.
Economic Uses:
Dried herb is added as a flavoring to snuff and tobacco, and used as a moth-repellant.
The Encyclopedia of Herbs by Deni Brown Copyright © 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited. pg 274.
The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide by Geo. T. Grossberg,MD and Barry Fox,PhD Copyright©2007 Barry Fox,PhD. Pp. 446-447