Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) – Herbs For Alternative Medicine


Alfalfa is a perennial herb that grows throughout the world in a variety of climates. Alfalfa grows to about 3 feet bearing blue and purple blossoms that bloom from July to September.

The Chinese have used alfalfa since the sixth century to treat kidney stones, and to relieve fluid retention and swelling. It is considered a nutritional supplement and a body cleanser.

The leaves of the alfalfa plant are rich in minerals, chlorophyll and nutrients such as fiber, protein, calcium, magnesium, potassium, beta-carotene and vitamins A, D, and K.

Claims and Common Uses:

  • Relieves constipation and provides relief from bloating or water retention
  • Useful in the treatment of urinary tract infections, bad breath, anemia, colon, kidney, bladder, prostrate and digestive disorders
  • May reduce swelling and inflammation of rheumatism
  • Good for ulcers and skin disorders
  • Excellent source of nutrients
  • Alkalizes and detoxifies the body, especially the liver
  • Promotes pituitary gland function and contains an anti-fungus agent
  • Aids in the healing of allergies, arthritis, asthma and hayfever
  • Excellent blood purifier and blood thinner
  • Boosts a sluggish appetite
  • Good for morning sickness
  • May ward off heart disease and strokes by delaying the absorption of cholesterol and dissolving plaque deposits on the arterial walls
  • Reputation for treating diabetes

Part Used: Flowers, leaves, petals, sprouts

Preparations: Alfalfa is available as tincture, prepared tea, capsules, dried leaves, concentrated powder extract, or sprouts. Must be used in fresh, raw form to provide vitamins. Sprouts are especially effective.

  • As a tea: Steep 1 to 2 tsp. dried leaves per cup of water for 5 to 10 minutes. Drink 3 cups a day.
  • As a food: Add sprouts or powdered alfalfa to soups, salads, or sandwiches.

Side Effects and Warnings of Alfalfa:

  • If you are pregnant, check with a practitioner before ingesting this herb. Alfalfa seeds contain stachydrine and homostachydrine, which promote menstruation and in some cases can lead to miscarriage.
  • May cause stomach upset and diarrhea. Discontinue its use and inform your physician if the diarrhea and upset stomach does not go away.
  • Avoid eating alfalfa seeds, because they contain relatively high levels of the toxic amino acid canavanine. Ingesting large quantities of alfalfa seeds over a long period of time may lead to pancytopenia, a blood disorder that causes the deterioration of both platelets, responsible for blood clotting, and white blood cells, which fight infections.
  • Alfalfa contains saponins, chemicals thought to destroy red blood cells. Anyone suffering from anemia should use alfalfa only under the direction of an herbalist or a licensed healthcare professional.
  • Alfalfa has been known to aggravate lupus and other autoimmune disorders. The canavanine in alfalfa is believed to reactivate this disease in some people who are in remission. If you have an autoimmune problem, avoid this herb.