5 Health Benefits & Medicinal Uses of Alfalfa


Alfalfa is an herb that is fast gaining popularity. The leaves, sprouts and seeds of this herb are used for making medicine. The plant itself is power packed with nutrients, including Vitamins A, B1, B6, C, E and K. It is also one of the healthiest plant sources of protein and minerals like calcium, potassium, iron and zinc.


Alfalfa

For a long time, alfalfa was considered an alternative medicine, promoted by folklore. However, the medical community has embraced the herb for its many medicinal properties. Though alfalfa is still not promoted as a medicine in itself, science does have some evidence to back its claims as one of the most therapeutic herbs. Here are some of its most popular medicinal uses:

Cardiovascular Benefits

Alfalfa is clinically found to be effective against high cholesterol. It contains chemical compounds that stick to cholesterol molecules, forcing it to be washed away instead of getting accumulated along the arterial walls. By preventing the formation of plaque on the arterial walls, alfalfa also prevents several heart diseases including atherosclerosis, stroke and high blood pressure.

Respiratory Benefits

Though there is little evidence to back these claims, alternative therapists believe that alfalfa can be used to treat the symptoms of respiratory conditions such as asthma. The seeds of the plant, specifically, are used for bringing respiratory relief.


Restricts Side Effects of Antibiotics

Those who have been consuming antibiotics, should consider consuming alfalfa too. The plant is a great source of vitamin K, which naturally gets depleted upon prolonged use of antibiotics and other such medications. Alfalfa can reduce the side effects of these medications, allowing you to recover from your ailment in a healthier fashion.

Cancer Prevention

Documented evidence suggests that alfalfa can bind oxygen radicals in the body to prevent them from damaging internal organs. The antioxidants present in the plant can successfully act as anti-carcinogens. This is especially true of oxygen radicals in the colon, which are not only neutralized by alfalfa, but also effectively removed from the colon.

Diuretic Benefits

The chemical components of alfalfa successfully allow the body to eliminate moisture from within. Some people tend to retain excessive water and appear puffy or bloated. Consuming alfalfa supplements can effectively remove this excess water, leaving you feeling healthy and fit. It can also help you lose the extra weight caused due to the water retention.

Potential Side Effects

As with any medicine, alfalfa is also best when taken in moderation. Temperance is the key to receiving all the positive health benefits of alfalfa without getting its side effects. Though it is considered safe for most adults, alfalfa may have some side effects in special cases. Indiscriminate consumption of the herb causes reactions that are often similar to that of lupus erythematosus, an autoimmune disorder that may prove fatal.

Consumption of alfalfa is also contraindicated for pregnant women and nursing mothers. Alfalfa has estrogen like properties, which may trigger labor in pregnant women and cause premature deliveries or even miscarriage. In breast feeding women, the chemicals in alfalfa may be absorbed into the milk. The chemicals are then passed to the child through the milk.

Though it is not a serious side effect, alfalfa may cause some people to develop sensitivities towards the sun. In such cases, the person may feel extremely uncomfortable in the presence of sun or in excessive heat. The side effects are more severe in those who are light skinned.

People, who are suffering from autoimmune diseases such as lupus or multiple sclerosis, should also avoid consuming alfalfa because it can trigger an autoimmune response in the body, worsening an already bad situation.

Alfalfa may also be harmful to the human body when consumed with specific medications or chemicals. Medications containing warfarin should never be mixed with the herb because the herb may decrease the effectiveness of this blood thinner. Since alfalfa has enormous amounts of vitamin K, it increases the clotting abilities of the blood, especially when warfarin is administered to increase blood dilution.

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About the author

Neha

Neha started her career as a research associate with the Azim Premji Foundation and went on to lead several development programs with various NGOs. In her free time she loves travelling and writing.