Alfalfa: Overview

Alternative names: Medicago Sativa, Buffalo herb, Lucerne, Mu-su, Purple Medic, Trefoil, Jatt, Kaba Yonca, Yonja, Mielga, Sai Pi Li Ka.

Alfalfa has been used for centuries by people world-wide for overall support and rejuvenation.  Because its deep root system reaches where other plants can not, Alfalfa is a rich source of the minerals calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, potassium, and trace minerals.

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Alfalfa lives from three to twelve years and is a cool season perennial legume, growing to a height of 1 meter (3 feet).  It resembles clover with clusters of small purple flowers.  It also has a deep root system sometimes stretching to 4.5 meters (14 feet), which makes it very resilient, especially in droughts.

Alfalfa is one of the most important legumes used in agriculture.  The US is the largest alfalfa producer in the world, but alfalfa is important in Europe, Australia, South America, South Africa, China and the Middle East.  Hay, led by alfalfa hay is the third most important crop in the United States in value, surpassed only by corn and soybeans.

History; Source

The first recorded mention of Alfalfa is in a book by the Emperor of China written in 2939 BC.  It has been used extensively over the years in India.  The Arabs gave Alfalfa its name which means "Father of all Foods" and fed it to their horses to make them run faster.  The Chinese have been using Alfalfa since the 6th century to treat kidney stones, and to relieve fluid retention and swelling.

Alfalfa supplements come in various forms and is an ingredient in many products.  Powdered Alfalfa contains vitamins A, B-1, B-6, B-12, C, E, & K-1, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, folic acid and many essential and nonessential amino acids.  The powdered form also contains high amounts of calcium, phosphorus, manganese, iron, zinc, and copper.

Function; Why it is Recommended

Alfalfa supports the skeletal, glandular, digestive, and urinary systems.  It contains chlorophyll, which is well known for its cleansing qualities.  The leaves of the Alfalfa plant are abundant in protein, minerals, trace minerals and nutrients, including calcium, iron, copper, manganese, silicon, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, carotene and fiber.  Alfalfa is also a source of beta-carotene, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, E, K, and C.

Alfalfa can help lower cholesterol, balance hormones, and promote pituitary gland function.  Alfalfa alkalizes and detoxifies the body, acts as a diuretic, anti-inflammatory and contains an anti-fungal agent.  Alfalfa is also good for treating anemia, bone and joint disorders, colon and digestive disorders, skin disorders and ulcers.

Its documented properties also include: General tonic, laxative, febrifuge, hepatoprotective (liver protecting), nutritive, anodyne, anti-arthritic.

The following are some uses for Alfalfa:

  • Alfalfa has been shown to be beneficial in preventing endometrial and colon cancer.
  • It has been said that it helps reduce the effects of rheumatoid arthritis and other arthritic conditions.
  • Taking Alfalfa tablets before meals will help prevent the absorption of cholesterol.
  • There is some evidence to suggest that Alfalfa tea can be useful in treating diabetes.
  • It appears to stimulate appetite.
  • For convalescents it provides many nutrients that their bodies need in order to heal.
  • Blood Conditions – anemia, boils, helps clot the blood.
  • Brain and Nervous System Conditions – helps people who are recovering from a narcotic or alcohol addiction to become active again.
  • Cardiovascular Conditions: Heart disease, helps stop the formation of atherosclerotic plaques, stroke.
  • Alfalfa has shown some estrogenic activity and may be useful in treating problems with menstruation and menopause.
  • Female Conditions: Late or irregular menstruation, menopausal problems, promotes lactation (milk supply) in nursing moms.
  • Gastrointestinal Conditions: Increases appetite, helps with, bowel issues, digestive disorders, dyspepsia, peptic ulcers, poor absorption of nutrients, poor digestion, regulates the bowels, relieves gastric ulcers, helps the upset stomach.
  • Genitourinary Conditions: Eliminates stored water, fluid retention and swelling, kidney, kidney stones, bladder and prostrate disorders, relieves urinary issues, and urinary tract and bladder infections.
  • Liver Conditions: Stops the absorption of cholesterol, detoxifies the liver, jaundice.
  • Research suggests that it may inactivate dietary chemical carcinogens in the liver and small intestine before they have a chance to do the body any harm.
  • Prostate Disorders
  • Asthma


The recommended dose is 500 to 1,000mg of the dried leaf per day or 1-2ml of tincture.  For tablets or capsules it is best to read and follow product label directions.  Alfalfa for tea – use 1 to 2 teaspoons per cup, steeped in boiling water for 10 to 20 minutes.  Fluid extract: 30 – 60ml per week.

Side-Effects; Counter-Indicators and Warnings

There are no known safety issues or interactions associated with Alfalfa; however, there have been isolated cases of people who are allergic to Alfalfa.

Those afflicted with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (an ulcerous disease of the skin) should not take Alfalfa with out talking to their Health Care Provider.  Alfalfa seeds may worsen this disease because they contain an immune system stimulating compound called L-canavanine, which may trigger Lupus flare-ups.  There are also reports suggesting that ingestion of this substance can cause recurrence of Lupus in patients where it had become dormant.

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