Alfalfa Herb

Medicago sativum common name: alfalfa, lucerne

alfalfa Alfalfa herb is a perennial herb orginating from the Middle East. Called the "father of all foods" is is rich in calcium, magnesium and potassium as well as the vitamins A,D,E and vitamin K. Vitamin K in particular can cause clotting.

This herb also contains carotene, chlorophyll and eight essential amino acids. Early English and American herbalists used it to settle and upset stomach.

Alfalfa Herb Benefits

This herb is an immune system stimulant that promotes normal blood clotting. It has several conditions in which is used for specific health benefits:

  • Atherosclerosis. Can lower cholesterol levels and shrink plaques lining arteries.
  • Cancer. Extract increases white blood cell production to reverse immune suppression caused by Cytoxan chemotherapy.
  • Endometriosis. Conatins phytoestrogens which block estrogen production, reducing estrogen effect on endometriosis.
  • Menopause Again, phytoestrogens reduce symptoms and reduce risk of breast cancer.
  • Nosebleed. Contains Vitamin K which assists in normal clotting.
  • Ulcers. Bioflavonoids in alfalfa improve capillary strength and reduce stomach inflammation.

Studies have shown that this herb may help reduce cholesterol and therefore treat atherosclerosis, however for all the other conditions listed above, more studies are needed.

Teas are best for this herb. 5 grams steeped in water and taken 3 times a day, or tincture taken 3 times a day.


Alfalfa is not recommended for primary treatment of health conditions. It can be taken in capsules, or raw sprouts that have been washed. Do not eat the seeds unsprouted as they contain a toxic amino acid, canavanine.

Vitamin K deficiencies occur with many medications and alfalfa can help replace this. Pregnant women therefore should NOT take alfalfa due to the clotting effects. Also people with autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, thyroiditis, lupus or multiple sclerosis should not take alfalfa. This herb will counter effect Coumadin, Warfarin and Lovenox, so do not take it if on these blood thinning medications.

Cancer patients: Since cancer can be a hypercoagulable (thick blood and clotting) type of condition, you should NOT take alfalfa unless cleared by your oncologist.

Other Medication Interactions

Estrogens: This includes all forms of birthcontrol pills and estrogen taken for menopause symptoms. Again we are talking about coagulation and clotting. But the problem also exists in that alphafa can LOWER the blood levels of birth control pills, so you need to use back up prevention while on this herb.

Birth control pills include ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel (Triphasil, Loestrol), ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone (Ortho-Novum 1/35, Ortho-Novum 7/7/7), and many generic pills.

Taking alfalfa herb with estrogen for menopause may decrease it's effectiveness. You may start having more symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats.

Immunosuppresants: Alfalfa herb may have an effect on the immune system by stimulating it. By doing this it will interact with medications that are supposed to suppress the immune system. These medications are generally used for autoimmune disorders.

Some of these drugs include azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax), muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf), sirolimus (Rapamune), and all types of steroid.

Photosensitizing Medications: Last but not least, there are several drugs on the market that can make you more sensitive to sunlight. As a result when in the sun you may get a bad sunburn or even a rash. Unfortunately mixing alfalfa herb with the listed medications could make it worse. Therefore, wear a hat, protective clothing and the highest sunblock you can find when out in the sun and on these medications.

Photosensitivity medications include amitriptyline (Elavil), Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)and ANY drug with "floxin" in it's name, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Septra), tetracycline, methoxsalen (8-methoxypsoralen, 8-MOP, Oxsoralen), and Trioxsalen (Trisoralen).

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Swanston-Flatt SK, Day C, Bailey CJ, Flatt PR. Traditional plant treatments for diabetes. Studies in normal and streptozotocin diabetic mice. Diabetologia 1990;33:462-4.
Timbekova AE, Isaev MI, Abubakirov NK. Chemistry and biological activity of triterpenoid glycosides from Medicago sativa. Adv Exp Med Biol 1996;405:171-82.
Zehavi U, Polacheck I. Saponins as antimycotic agents: glycosides of medicagenic acid. Adv Exp Med Biol 1996;404:535-46. Malinow MR, McLaughlin P, et al. Comparative effects of alfalfa saponins and alfalfa fiber on cholesterol absorption in rats. Am J Clin Nutr 1979;32:1810-2.

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