Alfalfa Benefits

Alfalfa
Latin Name

Medicago Sativa

Also Known As

Lucerne, Chilean Clover, Buffalo Grass

Origin

South-central Asia

Parts Used

Leaves and Seeds

Traditional Use and Health Benefits

The word “alfalfa” comes from the Arabic phrase "al-fac-facah" meaning “father of all foods”. This extremely nutritious food dates back to at least 6,000 years ago, with remains of the alfalfa leaf found in Ancient Persian ruins from around this time. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, alfalfa leaves are used to stimulate appetite and relieve ulcers. In Indian Ayurvedic medicine the alfalfa leaf is used to relieve water retention, arthritis and ulcers.

With an extensive root system that can reach as far as 60 feet underground, alfalfa has the ability to absorb minerals that are not available in the surface soil, as well as higher quantities of vitamins and minerals than your typical plant.

Alfalfa Benefits

Cleansing and Detoxification

Alfalfa alkalizes and detoxifies the body, especially the liver. Extremely nutrient dense, alfalfa can replenish the stores of liver supportive vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin K which is stored in the liver and fatty tissues. This important, fat soluble vitamin is found in exceptionally high amounts in alfalfa and goes straight to your liver where it helps to maintain healthy blood clotting. Alfalfa makes an appearance in almost all liver cleansing tonic recipes, and with good reason too.

Digestive Health

A healthy digestive system is the key to optimum health. It is here that nutrients are assimilated or discarded, and the food that we eat converted into that all important energy to fuel the body through life. There are many ways alfalfa contributes to digestive health, firstly, it is high in the pre-biotics “fructo-oligosaccharides” – compounds which fertilise and feed the good bacteria (pro-biotics) in the gut. This will help to neutralise bad bacteria (such as Candida), which can lead to a whole host of health problems.

Alfalfa contains a plethora of digestive enzymes which breakdown the various components of food. Amylase which breaks down carbohydrates, starch and sugar, lipase for fat and protase breaks down protein molecules.

Potassium packed, this unassuming grass can work wonders for your digestive health through its nutrient content too. As an essential electrolyte, potassium aids in the process of eliminating water retention found within the body - this not only reduces swelling caused by water retention, it supports the process of digestion too. When combined with the minerals found within alfalfa, potassium serves as a diuretic, ultimately promoting digestive regulation, especially for those who suffer from constipation.

Other Alfalfa Benefits

  • Detoxes the urinary tract
  • Has a strong alkaline effect on the body
  • Can lower bad cholesterol and reduce the incidence of atherosclerotic plaque
  • Supports healthy blood sugar levels, especially when taken with manganese
  • Supports the pituitary gland
Typical Use

Alfalfa seeds can be used to top salads and soups. They can also be sprouted and used to make a tea.

Alfalfa Leaf Powder can be rehydrated in water or added to smoothies. The recommended intake is around 5g per day. 

Folklore and History

According to naturalist, Pliny the Elder, alfalfa was introduced to Ancient Greece in around 490 BCE when the Persians invaded Greek territory. It made its way over to North America around the 18th century where the seeds were used by Native Americans as a thickening paste and nutrient additive. 19th century American physicians used it as an ingredient in general health tonics and the seeds were ground into a poultice which was used to soothe insect bites. Nursing mothers also used the leaf in the belief it would stimulate the flow of breast milk.

Alfalfa and Bees

There is a rather charming association with bees and alfalfa. Alfalfa seed production requires the presence of pollinators when the fields of alfalfa are in bloom. However, afalfa pollination is somewhat problematic because western honey bees suffer some unfortunate consequences; the pollen-carrying keel of the alfalfa flower trips and strikes pollinating bees on the head, which helps transfer the pollen to the foraging bee. Understandably, the bees don't like being struck on the head repeatedly and learn to defeat this action by drawing nectar from the side of the flower! Thus the bees collect the nectar, but carry no pollen, meaning they do not pollinate the next flower they visit. The older, experienced bees - wise to this unfortunate effect - end up not pollinating alfalfa and most pollination is accomplished by young bees who have not yet learned the trick of robbing the flower without tripping the head-knocking keel. Today, the alfalfa leafcutter bee is increasingly used to circumvent these problems. As a solitary but gregarious bee species, it does not build colonies or store honey, but is a very efficient pollinator of alfalfa flowers. 

Alfalfa
Constituents

High in Fibre and Protein.

Vitamins: A, K & C

Minerals: Potassium, Calcium and Iron.

Enzymes: Amylase, Lipase, Protase, Coagilase, Emulsion, Invertase, Peroxidase, Pectinaze and Cellulose

Precautions

As with all herbal products, moderation is the key to avoiding adverse reactions. Care should be taken when introducing a new Superfood into your diet as overindulgence could lead to symptoms of detoxification.

People with autoimmune disease, gout and women who are pregnant should avoid taking Alfalfa Leaf Powder.