Most commonly referred to as Medicago sativa or lucerne, alfalfa is a flowering perennial legume that belongs to the family Fabaceae. When young, the plant superficially resembles clover (a cousin in the same family). It produces clusters of tiny purple flowers, followed by fruits that spiral in two to three turns and contain 10–20 seeds each. Alfalfa has been grown for livestock feed since the ancient Greeks and Romans. Therefore, alfalfa, also known as lucerne or Medicago sativa, is a plant that people have cultivated for hundreds of years as feed for livestock.
In the United Kingdom, Australia, France, Germany, and other nations, alfalfa is known as lucerne (or Luzerne). It’s commonly used as a garnish in humans and inhibits cholesterol absorption in the stomach. Early colonists were the first to farm alfalfa in the United States. Still, widespread cultivation did not occur until the California Gold Rush. Nevertheless, the dried alfalfa leaf is readily available as herbal tea, pill, or powder in herbal shops and health food stores. In addition, sprouting the seed and using it in salads and sandwiches is common.
In many countries, alfalfa is a vital forage crop known as “Lucerne” in Europe and other places. It was initially grown in south-central Asia, but it has since become a globally recognized crop due to its high nutritional content and versatility in use. In addition, alfalfa seeds have traditionally been used as a herbal supplement for Ayurvedic treatments in China, Iraq, Turkey, India, and the United States.
Alfalfa nutrient content
Alfalfa is a nutrient-dense, low-calorie food. It’s not only low in calories, but alfalfa sprouts also contain 0.7 grams of carbs, 0.6 grams of fiber, and 1.3 grams of protein in a single serving. It has a small amount of vitamin K and traces of many other vitamins and minerals. It also has a lot of plant compounds that are good for you. Alfalfa sprouts are a good source of vitamins B, C, D, E, and minerals and proteins.
Alfalfa is often used in alternative and complementary medicine to treat health problems and metabolic disorders. Plants that are good for animals have different amounts of fiber and nutrients than plants that are good for humans.
Health Benefits of Alfalfa
1. Alfalfa reduces cholesterol levels.
Alfalfa has compounds called saponins, which are found in plants. There is evidence that saponins can lower cholesterol levels and increase the amount of cholesterol that the body can flush out of the system. Even though there isn’t much research on alfalfa and cholesterol in humans, studies done so far show that it might be able to lower cholesterol. In addition, alfalfa has a lot of dietary fiber, which is very important in the fight against cholesterol.
2. Symptom relief during menopause
There are a lot of Kumestans in sprouted alfalfa, which can help with menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, insomnia, dizziness, headaches, and a fast heartbeat. Alfalfa has a chemical called phytoestrogen, similar to the chemicals that make up the hormone estrogen in women. Research shows that 20 out of every 30 women who use it have signs of menopause. So if you want to use it to treat those symptoms, you should first talk to a doctor.
3. Healthy blood sugar support
Alfalfa may help control blood sugar by taking longer for the body to absorb sugar (glucose) in the intestines. The powdered alfalfa leaves can help people with diabetes because they lower the amount of glucose in the blood and make the body make more insulin. In addition, minerals like potassium and chromium help turn blood sugar into glycogen and keep insulin levels from going up.
4. A urinary tract infection
Some herbalists use alfalfa as a natural diuretic (also called a “water pill”) to treat problems with the urinary tract, like kidney stones and urinary tract infections. The germs that cause urine infections can be killed by vitamin C. Two grams of vitamin C should be taken every hour until the infection is gone. In 2016, researchers looked into what plants Iranian herbalists used to treat kidney and bladder stones.
5. Reduced inflammation.
Even though alfalfa is an anti-inflammatory plant, studies have shown that it can cause acute symptoms of some autoimmune diseases, such as lupus-like symptoms in otherwise healthy people and reactivated symptoms in people with dormant illness. This is because alfalfa has a lot of vitamin C, B, calcium, and antioxidants. These can help reduce inflammation in the joints and other body parts and support the immune system.
6. It can help your body fight off sickness.
This sprout is a great way to boost your immune system with many vitamins C. Vitamin C helps make white blood cells and fights oxidative stress by acting as an antioxidant. It has protein and minerals like zinc, iron, magnesium, and calcium. It also has vitamins A, B, C, D, E, K, and U.
7. Protect the heart
Alfalfa is full of potassium and iron and is suitable for the heart differently. Potassium is a vasodilator, opening blood vessels and arteries to lower blood pressure. The iron in these sprouts helps the body make more red blood cells, improving circulation and ensuring that all organs get enough oxygen.
8. Alfalfa might help keep cancer away.
Alfalfa has phytoestrogens, protecting healthy cells from mutations and acting as antioxidants. This lowers your risk of getting cancer. It is also known that the active parts of this plant bind well to carcinogens in the body and colon, helping to get rid of them before they can do more damage. If someone has cancer, a doctor must give them the proper care. You can’t cure solely through home remedies.
9. Cleansing the body
Alfalfa can help the body get rid of excess salts, fats, and water by making you urinate more often. In addition, people use the leaves and sprouts of alfalfa to clean the skin. They contain antioxidants that help slow down the signs of aging on the skin.
10. Reproductive Health
Some people think that alfalfa can help with menstrual problems like PMS and menopause. This is because it has a phytoestrogen, a hormone made from plants that act like estrogen. In 2011, researchers looked at how estrogenic supplements affected the quality of life, fatigue, and hormonal symptoms of people with breast cancer.
Uses of Alfalfa
Because herbal supplements are not subject to stringent regulation by the FDA, it is essential to conduct adequate research and purchase products from manufacturers with a good reputation. You may either buy sprouts or grow your own at home. Both options are available. Sandwiches, salads, and other foods can benefit from sprouts’ simple addition. The actual herb can be consumed as a pleasant and nutritious supplement to one’s diet in its own right. Breastfeeding women can benefit significantly from the vitamins and minerals found in dried alfalfa sprouts.
Alfalfa sprouts and products produced from alfalfa seeds are generally harmless. Still, some people, such as pregnant women, on blood thinners or who have an autoimmune disorder, may experience adverse side effects. Therefore, in Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s opinion, children, pregnant women, older adults, and anyone else with a damaged immune system should avoid sprouts.
Alfalfa has been demonstrated to reduce cholesterol levels and may also benefit blood sugar management and menopause symptoms. However, some individuals, especially pregnant women and those taking blood-thinning drugs, may need to avoid alfalfa. While there is limited study on potential health advantages, insufficient evidence supports their usage in treating health concerns.
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DISCLAIMER OF MEDICINE
This information is not meant to provide medical advice or replace a personal physician’s advice or treatment. All readers of this information, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should check with their doctors before initiating any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program. In addition, the statements and goods on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.