LATIN NAME: Medicago sativa
COMMON NAMES: Lucerne
ORIGIN: is native to south-central Asia, and was first cultivated in ancient Iran
DISTRIBUTION AREA: In the wild nature grows in Asia Minor and the Balkans; is cultivated all over the world
BOTANICAL INFORMATION: Stems are tetrahedral, bare or floccose, the upper part is strongly branched, up to 80 cm height, can be straight, wide bushy or lying. Rhizome is powerful, thick, and deep-seated. Leaves are petiolate. Leaflets are 1-2 cm long and 0.3-1 cm width, oblong-obovate, and whole. Flowers are blue-violet. The fruit is a bean, about 0.6 cm in diameter.
Alfalfa is rich in active substances: iron, phosphorus and calcium. The plant also contains vitamins A and C, unsaturated fatty acids, tannins, amino acids, phytoestrogens (couestrol and genistein), cyclic compounds and saponosides.
Seeds of alfalfa contain vitamins B1, B2, B12, C, D, E, K, chlorophyll and amino acids. The concentration of vitamins and accumulation of nutrients in seeds increases during the ripening period of the pod.
The leaves of alfalfa also contain niacin, biotin, folic and pantothenic acids.
Alfalfa is rich in useful trace elements and contains a large amount of vitamin C, and also has fortifying properties. The active substances contained in the plant (phytoestrogen stachidrine and 1-homostahydrin) regulate menstruation and enhance the secretion of milk in women. Lucerne has a diuretic effect. Extract made from alfalfa, protects from sunburn and radiation.
Alfalfa is used when having exhaustion, fatigue of the body; is also prescribed to maintain strength during the recovery period. The use of alfalfa increases the elasticity of arteries, prevents the development of atherosclerosis, stabilizes blood sugar level, effectively lowers blood pressure, has antitumor effect, boosts immunity and regulates pituitary function.
APPLICATION IN FOLK MEDICINE
In folk medicine, alfalfa is used for obesity, atherosclerosis, heart pain, coronary heart disease, joint diseases; it also helps to relieve pain in arthritis, arthrosis, gout, rheumatism. In addition, alfalfa copes with colds and bronchial asthma.
Alfalfa helps to cleanse the body of toxins and restore energy with liver intoxication, general exhaustion of the body after the disease, can be used for detoxification in the treatment for alcoholism. Alfalfa can help with cramps; it removes excessive cholesterol from the body.
Alfalfa is effective for constipation, acne, allergies, and gastrointestinal diseases; it removes uric acid and normalizes the water balance; thereby alfalfa helps with diseases of the bladder, with cystitis, and nephritis. Alfalfa infusion is used for syringing with trichomonas colpitis.
Alfalfa improves the condition of patients with diabetes mellitus and those who suffer from dysfunction of the thyroid and pancreas.
Alfalfa contains a significant amount of vitamin K (preventing hemorrhage and bleeding), which is used for various forms of hemorrhagic syndrome, one of the causes of which is radiation damage. Alfalfa leaf powder is used externally as a hemostatic and wound-healing remedy, especially with cuts.
Just like mint, alfalfa helps to improve appetite. High fluorine content allows the use of alfalfa to prevent caries.
CONTRAINDICATIONS AND POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS
Alfalfa seed medications and supplements can lead to reactions that are analogous to the autoimmune disease (lupus erythematosus). Alfalfa can be the reason of extra sun sensitivity of the skin.
Alfalfa can provoke the excessive activity of the immune system, and this could enlarge the signs of auto-immune diseases.
Consumption of the alfalfa is likely unsafe when having hormone-sensitive condition (such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids). The reason is that alfalfa can act as female hormone estrogen, thereby worsening the course of the disease. For the same reason taking of alfalfa is likely unsafe during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
It is not recommended to take alfalfa if you suffer from diabetes as alfalfa can lessen the blood sugar level.
Major Interaction with Warfarin (Coumadin):
Alfalfa includes a huge quantity of vitamin K. Vitamin K is known as the clotting vitamin, because without it, blood would not clot. Warfarin (Coumadin) has a property to reduce blood clotting. As a result of having influence on the blood clot, alfalfa can lessen the efficacy of warfarin (Coumadin). Observe your blood vigilantly. Perhaps the dosage of your warfarin (Coumadin) medications needs to be altered.
Moderate Interaction with Birth control pills (Contraceptive drugs):
Some Contraceptive drugs include estrogen. Alfalfa can have the same impact as estrogen. However, alfalfa’s effectiveness is not as strong as the estrogen’s one. Parallel taking of alfalfa and Contraceptive drugs such as ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel (Triphasil), ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone (Ortho-Novum 1/35, Ortho-Novum 7/7/7), and others can lessen the power of birth control pills.
Moderate Interaction with Estrogens:
Huge doses of alfalfa can have the effects of estrogen. However, alfalfa’s effectiveness isn't as intensive as estrogen pills. Concurrent using of alfalfa and estrogen pills such as conjugated equine estrogens (Premarin), ethinyl estradiol, estradiol, and others can decline the power of estrogen pills.
Moderate Interaction with Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants):
Alfalfa has an immune stimulating effect on the body. When improving the immunity, alfalfa can reduce the efficacy of Immunosuppressants such as azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax), muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf), sirolimus (Rapamune), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone), corticosteroids (glucocorticoids), and others. Simultaneous consumption of the alfalfa and listed medications must be under doctor’s supervision.
Moderate Interaction with Medications that increase sensitivity to sunlight (Photosensitizing drugs):
Photosensitizing medications such as amitriptyline (Elavil), Ciprofloxacin (Cipro), norfloxacin (Noroxin), lomefloxacin (Maxaquin), ofloxacin (Floxin), levofloxacin (Levaquin), sparfloxacin (Zagam), gatifloxacin (Tequin), moxifloxacin (Avelox), trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Septra), tetracycline, methoxsalen (8-methoxypsoralen, 8-MOP, Oxsoralen), and Trioxsalen (Trisoralen) can strengthen responsiveness to the sun's rays. Alfalfa can raise your sun susceptibility as well. Contemporaneous taking of alfalfa and these medications can exacerbate the risks of side effects such as sunburn, blistering, or rashes on areas of skin opened to sunlight. It is very important to use sunblock and protective clothing when spending time in the sun.
HEALTH RECIPES FROM ALFALFA
Decoction for nervousness: Add 15 gr of dried alfalfa to 300 ml of water, bring to a boil, simmer for ten minutes, infuse for 3 hours in a thermos bottle, and then strain. Take 100 ml 3 times a day before meals. It is an excellent remedy for nervousness during pregnancy and menopause.
Infusion for heart muscle stimulation: Add 6 tablespoons of dried alfalfa to 500 ml of boiling water, infuse for 5 hours, then strain. Take 100 ml 3 times a day before meals for 4 weeks.
Tincture for arthritis, arthrosis, and gout: Pour 500 ml of vodka over 25 gr of alfalfa, leave to infuse for 14 days, when ready strain. It is recommended to take 10 drops of tincture with 50 ml of water 30 minutes before meals 3 times a day.
“Minds are like flowers, the only open when the time is right”
*This article is for informational purposes only. We suggest consulting with a physician before using these or any other herbal supplements.