Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is high in water soluble vitamins, trace minerals, as well as vitamins E and K.  It is rich in protein, carotene, and calcium. 1  Flavanoids and high concentrations of manganese have also been found in alfalfa.2  Therefore, this herb is a nice source of nutrition.

Alfalfa may stimulate lactation and improve breast milk quality.Alfalfa has historically been used for ulcers3 and other types of wound healing, such as healing gums after dental work.It may decrease cholesterol1 and has been studied in some animals regarding atherosclerotic plaques.4,5  Alfalfa is cool and moistening, 1  so when your body is struggling with a condition associated with a sort of dryness or excess heat, Alfalfa may be a good herb to use.

Alfalfa acts as a phytoestrogen.  It contains estrogenic isoflavones.  These types of isoflavones are also in soybeans and may help in rebalancing hormonal health.1  But also because it is estrogenic, people with hormone sensitive cancers should be cautious with alfalfa2 and are encouraged to consult an oncology focused naturopathic doctor before trying it.

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Multiple constituents of Alfalfa have been shown to possess antibacterial and antifungal properties, and the herb has been found to lower plasma glucose concentrations,2 implying its ability to potentially lower blood sugar levels.

Alfalfa contains coumestans and isoflavones.  These constituents have been shown to decrease fertility in animals who graze on plants containing them, so women or men with fertility problems should be cautious about consuming Alfalfa.1  Chronic ingestion of alfalfa may also exacerbate symptoms of lupus by stimulating immune activity via L-canavanine, an amino acid.  This amino acid may inhibit CD8 Leu8 T cells, which normally regulate antibody synthesis and proliferation.2  High doses should be avoided in those on blood-thinning medications due to Alfalfa’s vitamin K content.1

References:

  1. Dr. Sharol Marie Tilgner. Herbal Medicine from the Heart.  2nd ed. Wise Acres LLC; 2009.
  2. Natural Medicines Database.  Alfalfa. Updated November 26, 2023.  Accessed January 25, 2024. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=19
  3. James Balch MD, Mark Stengler NMD, Robin Young Balch ND. Prescriptions for Natural Cures. Revised edition.  John Wiley & Sons, Inc; 2004
  4. Malinow MR, McLaughlin P, Naito HK, et al. Effect of alfalfa meal on shrinkage (regression) of atherosclerotic plaques during cholesterol feeding in monkeys. Atherosclerosis. 1978;30(1):27-43. doi: 10.1016/0021-9150(78)90150-8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/98169/
  5. Malinow MR, McLaughlin P, Stafford C, et al. Alfalfa saponins and alfalfa seeds. Dietary effects in cholesterol-fed rabbits. Atherosclerosis. 1980;37(3):433-8. doi: 10.1016/0021-9150(80)90148-3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7458987/

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