By Sarena-Rae Santos, Natural Health Blogger
What is Alfalfa?
Alfalfa, sometimes referred to as lucerne, purple medic, or by its botanical name Medicago sativa, is a cloverlike perennial of the pea (Fabaceae) family (1). Alfalfa can be identified by its gorgeous purple flower and long narrow leaves with serrated tips. The overall plant grows 24 to 36 inches tall and is widely grown in every state in the US (2).
Health Benefits of Alfalfa
Alfalfa has been used to feed livestock for hundreds of years but also has a long history of medicinal benefits for humans, including:
Rich in Nutrients
Alfalfa seeds and leaves are typically used in herbal supplements or consumed alone as alfalfa sprouts. Alfalfa contains vital nutrients, including vitamin K, C, folate, thiamine, riboflavin, magnesium, iron, and copper (3). I recommend Earthley’s Nourish Her Naturally or Nourish Me Naturally for these benefits.
Alfalfa is packed with potent antioxidants, which help neutralize or prevent the harmful effects of free radicals in the body (4). The buildup of free radicals has been linked to chronic diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. Invivo and invitro studies have found alfalfa could reduce cell death and DNA damage generated by free radicals, decreasing the production of free radicals and improving the body’s ability to fight them (5). I would recommend Earthley’s Berry Balancing Tea for these benefits.
May Lower Cholesterol & Blood Pressure
Alfalfa’s most commonly studied benefit is its cholesterol-lowering ability due to the high content of saponins, plant compounds known to lower cholesterol levels (6). Several animal studies have demonstrated alfalfa’s ability to lower total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglyceride levels while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol (7,8). In turn, this may result in lowering blood pressure as well.
May Improve Metabolic Health
Various definitions of metabolic health have been proposed to explain differences in the risk of type 2 diabetes within body mass index (BMI) categories (9). Traditionally, alfalfa has been used as an antidiabetic to lower blood sugar. Several animal studies have demonstrated that alfalfa improves cardiometabolic health by decreasing rat blood fat and blood sugar levels in rats (10,11).
May Provide Menopause Symptom Relief
Menopause transpires when estrogen decreases and is characterized by a point in time 12 months after a woman’s last menstrual cycle. In the years leading to menopause, women may have changes in their monthly cycles, hot flashes, or other uncomfortable symptoms (12). Alfalfa’s high content of phytoestrogens, a plant compound chemically similar to the estrogen hormone, can generate some of the same effects in the body as estrogen, making menopausal symptoms less severe (13).
May Increase Breastmilk Production
Lactation occurs when hormonal changes signal the mammary glands to make milk in preparation for a baby (14). The plant compound that aids in menopausal symptoms may also boost breastmilk production. Again, phytoestrogens mimic the effects of estrogen or oestrogen in the body, one of the most critical indirect hormones for breastmilk production and supply (15). I recommend Earthley’s Mama’s Magic Milk Boost for these benefits.
The mainstream will caution against alfalfa sprout in pregnant women due to the potential of foodborne pathogens like E. coli, salmonella, and listeria. They’ll also caution against it for those with a compromised immune system or autoimmune disorder.
As per trusted herbalist Richard Whelan, alfalfa extracts or sprouts can be used confidently by all ages. They may assist with producing healthy breast milk and can safely be used during breastfeeding. Still, it may be wise to avoid taking high doses of alfalfa during pregnancy as it contains the substance stachydrine, a uterine stimulant in animals.
It may be wise not to consume a lot of alfalfa sprouts or medicine if using the contraceptive pill as alfalfa contains isoflavonoids with estrogenic effects and large doses of alfalfa may interfere with the pill. Likewise, while there is no medical evidence to suggest that it interferes with fertility in humans, it has been seen that animals that consume large amounts of foods that contain isoflavones have reduced fertility.
It may be an herb that will lower blood sugar levels if taken in sufficient doses. A person using anti-diabetic medicine should carefully watch their levels and need for medication when using alfalfa.
Alfalfa should not be used alongside the anticoagulant drug Warfarin. Alfalfa might interfere with immuno-suppressive medications as it appears to have some immune-enhancing properties. This is only theoretical, however, as no cases of adverse interactions are reported in the literature (16).
How to Use Alfalfa
You can find alfalfa in dried bulk, pills, powders, teas, extracts, or tinctures. Tinctures always contain the most concentrated amount of herbs. Teas and soups are also options, especially when following ayurvedic medicine recipes. If you’re a DIY person, some great starter recipes are:
Follow the recommendations of any supplement; some of my recommendations include:
Earthley’s Berry Balancing Tea has bitter and sweet notes from balancing herbs and real fruit. Great hot or iced. Enjoy the taste of berries and the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of Berry Balancing Tea. Raspberries, blueberries, and Schisandra berries combine with alfalfa and raspberry leaf to bring you a refreshing tea blend with numerous health benefits.
Earthley’s Calm and Clarity helps promote a calm mood and mental clarity. Perfect for those who could use a little help cutting through the brain fog and focusing on a task can benefit from this herbal extract.
Earthley’s Greens Powder/Capsules are a supplement that combines traditional greens like spirulina and kelp with green tea and nutrient-rich herbs for energy and wellness. High in vitamin and mineral content, this powder boosts your daily nutrition. Enjoy a natural energy boost, improvements to gut health, and an overall feeling of wellness. Available in powder or capsules.
Earthley’s Lunamore “moon love” is for metabolic support and a woman’s moon cycle. This tincture provides herbal support for hormone balance, helps to reduce cramps and cysts, and supports healthy blood sugar levels.
Earthley’s Mama’s Magic Milk Boost is an herbal tincture created to help increase milk supply with all-natural ingredients. This product is high in vitamins and minerals to nourish the body, but it also contains herbs to soothe baby’s tummy. This tincture is made with the highest-quality ingredients and supports both mom and baby on their breastfeeding journey.
Earthley’s Nourish Her Naturally is an herbal multivitamin made to fortify, improve, and nurture the female body. This tincture includes herbs packed with vitamins and minerals to help balance hormones, boost energy levels, and promote overall wellness.
Earthley’s Nourish Me Naturally is an herbal multivitamin for everyone. This is the organic way to help your body get the nutrients it needs. Formulated to provide your body with safe and sufficient levels of vitamins and minerals it can adequately absorb, made from actual, whole herbs (not isolates or synthetics).
Earthley’s Postpartum Balance was created especially for mamas to help break down no-longer-needed pregnancy hormones, support hormone balance, and helps to lessen bleeding for an easier fourth trimester.
Disclaimer: This post is not intended as medical advice. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and nothing in this post is intended to diagnose, treat, or cure anything. If you have questions, please do your own research or seek advice from a health professional.