Alfalfa is a legume that has been used medicinally for hundreds of years. It has a long tradition of use in traditional Chinese medicine and Arabic medicine for humans and animals. The name Alfalfa comes from Arabic and means "the father of all foods." Alfalfa is available as a supplement in various forms. Pills, capsules and dry leaves are all available at health food stores.
There has only been a small number of official animal and human studies on the effects and benefits of alfalfa. The preliminary studies in humans have shown that alfalfa, when used as a dietary supplement, can lower blood levels of cholesterol and glucose. Since these studies have been unorganized, many doctors feel the evidence isn't conclusive or reliable; however, holistic practitioners and herbalists strongly rely on alfalfa for its medicinal properties.
Limited studies have shown that alfalfa supplements are well tolerated. However, there have been reports of lupus flares, a lupus-like syndrome, low blood count, skin inflammation and gastrointestinal upset by some users.
The Nutritional Health Supplement Guide states that alfalfa sprouts and seeds have certain "amino acids and other components that can be harmful for people with autoimmune diseases." The guide recommends that anyone with a serious illness or who takes estrogens, immune-suppressing drugs, water pills or diabetes medication should consult their doctors before adding alfalfa supplements into the diet.
The Alternative Health Ezine reports that alfalfa has many digestive uses. It is often used in tonic form for the digestive system. It is believed to increase vitality, stimulate appetite and promote weight gain in anorexics. It also reduces constipation, treats chronic ulcers, cures anemia and aids in the treatment of diabetes.
Alfalfa is high in mineral content, and, because of this, it is ideal for bones, joints and skin. It promotes both bone and teeth health. The high chlorophyll content of alfalfa also supports the growth of connective tissue and is beneficial for people suffering from arthritis. It also aids in tissue repair. It is useful to heal wounds, ulcers and abscesses.
Alfalfa is also believed to work in lowering cholesterol. It has been used as an antibacterial and to relieve sinus infections. Because alfalfa is rich in anti-oxidants, it is useful for breaking down toxins in the blood system. There have even been reports that the alfalfa plant is useful for prostate and urinary problems.
- Photo Credit Victor M. Vicente Selvas; Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons
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