Alfalfa Medicago sativa
Alfalfa is well known for its highly nutritious qualities, which is why it is best known as a feed plant for livestock. It does, however, have a rich tradition of human use being revered for its health-building and strengthening properties. Alfalfa, also called lucerne, is a perennial flowering legume plant in the pea family Fabaceae and like many legumes it is a "nitrogen fixer". Alfalfa seems to have originated in south-central Asia and was first cultivated in ancient Iran. Alfalfa has also been used medicinally in American folk herbalism, as a culinary food in India and in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It first appeared around 200 CE during the Han Dynasty, for digestive system support and to stimulate the appetite. In the 16th century, Spanish colonisers introduced alfalfa to the Americas as fodder for their horses. Today alfalfa is cultivated as an important forage crop in many countries around the world and is used for grazing, hay and silage. It provides nutrient dense hay and is considered the foremost forage plant for dairy cows. Today in parts of China and Russia young alfalfa leaves are served as a vegetable and the seed is often sprouted and eaten in salads and sandwiches.
Full spectrum food source
The Arabs called alfalfa “father of all foods” and it is no wonder that it is called a superfood/superherb, because it is so densely nutritious and healing. Alfalfa provides an excellent source of energy yet it is surprisingly low in calories. Herbalists of ancient and modern times recognised alfalfa as a valuable human medicine and nutritive tonic that boasted a broad array of essential nutrients including chlorophyll. Specifically, alfalfa contains vitamins A, B1, B6, C, D, E, G, and K. It is also rich in iron, zinc, magnesium, sodium, calcium, silicon, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, chlorine and carotene. Alfalfa also contains bitter alkaloids, coumarins and isoflavonoids (specifically phytoestrogens).
When taken with a meal, alfalfa can promote nutrient absorption of calcium and protein in particular by encouraging the release of gastric secretions. Overall digestion is greatly improved when our body’s ability to break down nutrients is improved. Its rich mineral content explains Alfalfa's traditional use for bone support especially when combined with horsetail and nettle leaf. Indeed alfalfa offers us quality protein that is made up of the building blocks - amino acids. Protein is a vital constituent of muscle and taking alfalfa regularly is a healthy way to help build muscle tone.
To enjoy Alfalfa’s multiple health benefits, it is important to choose an organic, non-GMO source that is grown especially for the health market.
Healing Super herb
Superb alfalfa can replenish the stores of liver supportive vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin K which is stored in the liver and fatty tissues. It increases insulin, which reduces fat stores and toxicity in the liver. Studies have been shown how alfalfa helps lower cholesterol and can also benefit blood sugar management. Alfalfa’s large amounts of vitamin K is used by the body to facilitate blood clotting. It should be noted that this benefit does not suit those on blood thinner “warfarin”, as it might decrease its effects.
Alfalfa can be of help to treat allergies, thyroid problems and asthma and is also reputed to reduce the risk of heart attacks. It may also help with an inflamed prostate, rheumatoid arthritis, stomach problems and diabetes. Alfalfa can be effectively used as a treatment for urinary tract issues, high cholesterol, indigestion and excessive bruising or bleeding (thrombocytopenic purpura). It is very beneficial to the blood so include alfalfa in any regime to treat anaemia.
Alkaline alfalfa alkalises and detoxifies the body, especially the liver, helping to neutralise acidity in the body (or soil). Alkalisation helps to sedate the nerves and muscles while removing acids from the digestive tract thereby improving gut function. Traditionally alfalfa was combined with peppermint as a tonic for the intestinal tract. With both bitter and sweet flavours, this combination is stimulating and regulating to the intestinal tract, specifically the stomach. Alfalfa’s cooling energy helps to reduce fevers. It is ideal to add to other herbal blends to boost blood-cleansing and building properties.
Regularly taking alfalfa tea helps to flush out retained water in the body. In general the integrated actions of alfalfa’s actives helps to normalise weight and it was certainly employed by the Chinese for reducing weight. Alfalfa has weak estrogen-like actions similar to the effects of soy, and has traditionally been used by women suffering with menopausal symptoms. A study suggests that regular consumption of alfalfa with its quercetin present may increase testosterone in males.
Clears and brightens skin
Alfalfa is anti-inflammatory: with its enzymes and smorgasbord of minerals and vitamins that can help reduce inflammation anywhere in the body. Its high antioxidant factor wards off free radicals making it an excellent tea to add to your skincare routine which soothes and make dull skin look brighter. Not only will it stave off premature signs of aging, but it will also aid in easing redness and irritation due to its high concentration of nourishing elements. It contains antibacterial and antifungal properties that make it a great body cleanser, infection fighter and natural deodoriser. The herb produces specific antibacterial activity against gram-positive bacteria. Alfalfa also finds use to enhance hair growth and overall health.
Fun facts about Alfalfa: