Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)
Alfalfa is a legume that is often raised as a forage crop for cattle, horses and other livestock. Legumes include beans and peas. It is nutritious for people as well as animals. This plant is full of calcium, vitamin K, chlorophyll, minerals, saponins, flavonoids, vitamins, amino acids, trace elements and many other compounds that we need to remain healthy. The herb is often used in therapeutic diets because all the nutrients are easily absorbed by the body.
Key Medicinal Uses
Internally Alfalfa is usually taken as a supplement to increase vitamin K and iron levels in late pregnancy. It also provides many vitamins and minerals that may be lacking in the diet in a form that is easily assimilated. It is also a natural diuretic and laxative. It can be used effectively for urinary tract infections, prostate, kidney and bladder problems. It promotes healthy pituitary function and is anti-fungal. The tea is used to treat arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Proponents of alfalfa say that taking a large quantity of the herb before a meal can help prevent cholesterol from being absorbed from the food. It can lower cholesterol when the tea is taken on a regular basis.
According to the Journal of Nutrition, in August 1984, alfalfa extract improved the condition of diabetics who did not respond well to insulin.
Other Uses Sprouts of this herb are often eaten in salads and on sandwiches. Young leaves can also be eaten fresh.
Aerial parts - All of the aerial parts are used, including the flowers.
If you take anticoagulants, you should not take alfalfa due to its high percentage of vitamin K, which aids in blood clotting. If your caregiver prescribes it for you, make sure they know you are on anticoagulants, and if the benefits outweigh the risks, your medication amount can be adjusted to compensate for the higher level of vitamin K. The high iron content may interfere with the use of tetracyclines. Be sure any physician prescribing you medication knows you take this herb as a supplement, since there may be other drug interactions.
Some are sensitive to alfalfa and may have allergic reactions.
Preparation and Dosage
Follow the directions on the package or follow the directions of your care giver. You can find it available as tablets, capsules, dried leaves and extract. Some herbalists recommend 1 to 2 ml of tincture per day or 500 to 1000 mg of dried herb in capsule or tablet form.