Alfalfa is a plant that contains many essential
nutrients. The roots of the plant can burrrow upto the depth of almost twelve
metres into the soil, and bring up trace minerals, which are of great
importance to health. The alfalfa plant supplies almost all the vitamins,
namely, vitamin A, vitamin B complex, vitamins C, E, and K. It is high in
protein and calcium. The sun-dried hay of alfalfa is said be a good source of
vitamin D, vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. These nutrients makes alfalfa have
enormous health benefits.
The best way to have alfalfa is in the form of
sprouts, that have been rinsed thoroughly to remove mould. Alfalfa seeds should
not be eaten unless sprouted because they contain high levels of the toxic
amino acid, canavanine. You can also take it in the form of a tablet.
Alfalfa has been used both, in Traditional Chinese Medicine and
Indian Ayurvedic medicine. The Chinese used alfalfa leaf to stimulate the
appetite and relieve ulcers. In Ayurveda, alfalfa leaves has been used to
relieve water retention, arthritis, and ulcers. Colonial Americans have known
to have used the plant to fight scurvy, menstrual difficulties, arthritis,
and urinary problems. Alfalfa has many health benefits - it detoxes the
urinary tract, purifies the blood and liver, and has a strong alkaline
effect on the body. It also lowers bad cholesterol, reduces incidence of
atherosclerotic plaque, maintains healthy blood sugar levels and supports the
Alfalfa promotes bowel movement regularity. It contains essential
enzymes that help food digestion and assimilation. It helps prevent
general digestive problems. The seeds contain betaine, an enzyme that helps to
break down proteins and fats. Alfalfa has a high beta-carotene content, which helps
to strengthen epithelial cells within mucous membranes, hence its positive
effect on ulcers in the stomach. Herbalists have long used alfalfa to treat
ulcers with good results. The bioflavonoids found in alfalfa build
capillary strength and reduce inflammation of the stomach lining, while
alfalfa's vitamin A helps to maintain the stomach's health.
Alfalfa plays a critical part in the control of cholesterol. The
leaves contain saponins and animal studies suggest that this blocks
absorption of cholesterol and prevents the formation of atherosclerotic
plaques, thus helps in preventing strokes and heart disease. It is said to
reduce the bad cholesterol (LDL) while not affecting the good cholesterol
(HDL). The chemicals and fibres in the alfalfa, binds to the cholesterol,
preventing it from sticking to the arterial walls and blood. Alfalfa contains
coumarin derivatives, which are the cause of its anti-thrombotic effect.
It also supplies the body with flavonoids that help to relax the muscles of the
Alfalfa is a herb rich in chlorophyll, which helps to purify the
blood and eliminate uric acid. This can help relieve joint pain. Folk
medicine gives high regard to this herb in cases of arthritis, rheumatism and
other inflammation. It is believed that alfalfa contains amino acids that
reduce inflammation. In a study
investigating the anti-inflammatory potential of alfalfa and
the mechanisms involved, it was found that alfalfa aerial parts, exert
anti-inflammatory activity, and may be useful as a functional food for the
prevention of inflammatory disorders.
Alfalfa acts as a natural source of progesterone and
phytoestrogens (plant estrogens). These estrogens are very much like
natural estrogen in the body. Hence the herb is often used to promote better
hormonal balance during menopause. Alfalfa may be superior to soy for hormone
balance, as it does not inhibit iron and calcium absorption. In a prelimnary
study, it was found that supplementing with sage leaf and alfalfa extract
completely eliminated hot flushes and night sweats in 20 of 30 women. Benefits of alfalfa
In the book, 'Prescription for Herbal Healing', Phyllis A Balch writes that
"alfalfa has important uses in counteracting the effects of cancer
chemotherapy. White blood cells, including granulocytes, leukocytes, and T
cells, are the body's first line of defense against infection. Alfalfa may
increase the production of these white cells by as much as 60%. Studies in
animals have found that alfalfa completely reverses immune depression caused by
treatment with the cancer chemotherapy drugs. ......it does not inhibit the
activity of any of the immune cells the body needs during the first stages of
Alfalfa is a diuretic and helps with kidney problems.
The condition of people with diabetes, who fail to respond to insulin, greatly
improves when they take alfalfa with manganese. It helps reduce the risk
of estrogen related cancers like breast cancer.
We can use dried or fresh alfalfa leaves as a tea. To
make the tea, soak dried alfalfa in boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain,
and add a little honey before drinking. This is said to stimulate the appetite.
To get the health benefits from alfalfa, use sprouted
alfalfa seeds. This can be added to salads, sandwiches, soups, upmas, rolls and
many other ways.
Soak a tbsp of alfalfa seeds in water for over six
hours. Wash and drain the water. Put it in a jar and tie a cheese cloth round
the mouth of the jar. Keep the seeds moist but well drained. Keep rinsing the
seeds every 6-7 hours. You will see little white shoots appear on the second or
third day. Continue the process, and by the fourth ot fifth day you will have
green leaves sprouting. Remove and refrigerate at once.
be avoided by pregnant and lactating women. Alfalfa should not be taken by
patients with hormone sensitive cancer and should be avoided in patients with
gout due to the high content of purines. Canavanine, a constituent in alfalfa,
may aggravate the disease lupus.
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