Remarkable Alfalfa Benefits: Prepare To Be Amazed

Remarkable Alfalfa Benefits: Prepare To Be Amazed

Table of Contents

Alfalfa, an herbal remedy with a long history in Ayurveda, offers potent relief for digestive and arthritis ailments. Its rich assortment of vitamins, minerals, and bioactive compounds account for the myriad benefits it provides. In this Probiotiv‘s article, we have explored the potential advantages of Alfalfa Benefits for your overall well-being, hair, and skin, as well as its potential adverse effects. Continue reading!

What is Alfalfa

Remarkable Alfalfa Benefits: Prepare To Be Amazed

Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is available in supplement, sprout, dried leaf, and seed forms. Consuming alfalfa aids in cholesterol reduction, blood sugar regulation, alleviation of menopause symptoms, and mitigation of cellular harm.

Alfalfa, also referred to as lucerne or Medicago sativa, is a plant that has served as livestock feed for centuries. It has been highly valued for its abundant vitamins, minerals, and protein content compared to other feed sources.

Although alfalfa belongs to the legume family, it is also recognized as an herb. While its origins trace back to South and Central Asia, it has been cultivated worldwide for ages.

In addition to its use as animal feed, it boasts an extensive history as a medicinal herb for human consumption. And can be incorporated into your Super Green Diet.

Supplementing with its seeds or dried leaves, or incorporating alfalfa sprouts made from its sprouted seeds, are common practices.

Nutrition Facts

Alfalfa is commonly consumed as an herbal supplement or in the form of sprouts. Since the leaves or seeds are marketed as supplements rather than food, standard nutrition information is not readily available.

Nevertheless, they generally provide a decent amount of vitamin K and various other nutrients, such as vitamin C, copper, manganese, and folate.

Alfalfa sprouts possess the same nutrient profile and are exceptionally low in calories. For instance, a cup (33 grams) of alfalfa sprouts only contains a mere 8 calories. It also offers the following:

  • Vitamin K: 8% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin C: 3% of the DV
  • Folate: 3% of the DV
  • Thiamine: 2% of the DV
  • Riboflavin: 3% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 2% of the DV
  • Iron: 2% of the DV
  • Copper: 6% of the DV

Additionally, a cup contains 1 gram of protein and 1 gram of carbs, derived from fiber. It’s also rich in bioactive plant compounds, including saponins, coumarins, flavonoids, phytosterols, phytoestrogens, and alkaloids.

Alfalfa Benefits

Remarkable Alfalfa Benefits: Prepare To Be Amazed

Apart from Alfalfa Benefits nutritional advantages, it is frequently employed in alternative therapies for addressing medical ailments and metabolic disorders.

Elevated Cholesterol

Alfalfa harbors saponins, compounds that impede protein digestion and mineral absorption in the body. Nonetheless, these anti-nutrients possess some positive aspects. In the plant kingdom, they serve as a defense mechanism against infections and insect damage.

Anti-nutrients can also provide health advantages. For instance, animal experiments have demonstrated a direct correlation between escalating doses of alfalfa saponin extract and reduced blood cholesterol levels in rats.

However, whether the same effect can be replicated in humans remains uncertain. Alfalfa’s potential as a treatment for hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol) has received limited investigation, necessitating further research.

Diabetes

Fiber-rich foods like alfalfa can aid in blood sugar regulation by slowing down glucose absorption in the intestines. Consequently, Alfalfa Benefits may offer support for individuals with diabetes or prediabetes. Animal studies have provided some evidence in this regard.

A study conducted in 2015 and published in Interventional Medicine and Applied Science examined the impact of alfalfa extract on rats with chemically-induced diabetes. The researchers divided 40 rats into two control groups (one non-diabetic and one diabetic) and two intervention groups (both diabetic). The control groups were given their regular diet and water. One diabetic group received a 250 mg/kg dose of alfalfa extract for 21 days, while the other diabetic group received a 500 mg/kg dose for the same duration.

Following the treatment, both diabetic groups exhibited reductions in blood glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol compared to the diabetic control group. Additionally, there was a significant increase in HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. These effects were dose-dependent, indicating that the rats in the higher-dose alfalfa group experienced more pronounced improvements.

It is important to note that this study was conducted on animals, and therefore, it remains unclear whether similar benefits can be achieved in humans. Further research is necessary.

Urinary Tract Disorders

Certain herbalists employ alfalfa as a natural diuretic, utilizing its properties as a “water pill” to address urinary tract disorders such as kidney stones and urinary tract infections (UTIs).

In a 2016 study conducted in Iran, researchers examined the plants utilized by herbalists to treat kidney and urinary stones, and Alfalfa Benefits one of them. Among the 18 species relied upon by herbalists, alfalfa was included. However, the study did not assess the safety or efficacy of these herbs.

Reproductive Health Concerns

Alfalfa possesses a cluster of compounds known as isoflavones. These compounds are classified as phytoestrogens, which are plant-derived hormones that imitate the functions of estrogen. Consequently, some proponents suggest that Alfalfa Benefits could effectively remedy menstrual disorders like premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopause.

An older 1998 study evaluated the use of alfalfa and sage in menopausal people with hot flashes. For three months, 30 participants with these symptoms took extracts of these plants. After therapy, night sweats and hot flashes completely disappeared for 20 participants, four had good improvement, and six had reduced symptoms.

An earlier 1998 study assessed the effectiveness of alfalfa and sage in managing hot flashes in individuals experiencing menopause. Over a period of three months, 30 participants with these symptoms consumed extracts derived from these plants. Following the treatment, 20 participants experienced a complete cessation of night sweats and hot flashes, four showed significant improvement, and six had reduced symptoms.

In a 2011 study, researchers examined the impact of estrogenic supplements (including alfalfa) on the quality of life, fatigue, and hormonal symptoms of individuals with breast cancer.10 In this prospective study involving 788 participants diagnosed with breast cancer, researchers gathered information regarding the participants’ usage of botanical supplements and their associated symptoms.

After 40 months, participants responded to a survey that assessed the extent of their discomfort from common hormonal symptoms, fatigue, and self-image over the past year. Individuals who incorporated alfalfa into their regimen were less likely to report sleep disturbances compared to those who did not use alfalfa. However, it is important to note that this was an exploratory study that lacked controls or comparisons.

While there is some research examining the potential role of alfalfa in hormonal conditions, the available studies are limited, dated, and largely speculative.

Enhancing Breast Milk Production

Alfalfa is recognized as a natural galactagogue, which means it has the potential to stimulate breast milk production. In fact, alongside black seed (Nigella sativa) and fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum), alfalfa is one of the most commonly used traditional remedies for this purpose.

A 2014 review published in the journal Procedia examined the utilization of herbal galactagogues, including alfalfa, among breastfeeding individuals. The study gathered responses from 83 participants who had used herbal galactagogues and assessed their satisfaction levels.

Among the herbs evaluated, alfalfa was the most frequently used, followed by black seed and fenugreek. Of the participants, 67 expressed satisfaction with the herbs, while six reported dissatisfaction, and 10 remained unsure.

Although this study indicates that alfalfa might have a positive impact on milk production, it does not provide substantial evidence regarding the treatment’s effectiveness or the required dosage.

Reducing Inflammation

Being a nutrient-rich plant-based food, alfalfa possesses the characteristics of an anti-inflammatory dietary choice. Several studies have indicated that alfalfa can inhibit the production of inflammatory substances called cytokines.

Certain practitioners of alternative medicine believe that this effect may alleviate pain and inflammation associated with conditions like osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Notably, alfalfa is a commonly utilized ingredient in herbal remedies for arthritis.

However, it should be noted that the evidence supporting these Alfalfa Benefits is largely inconclusive. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, the underlying cause of inflammation is autoimmune, meaning the body’s immune cells attack healthy joints. Alfalfa does not intervene in this process in any way.

In fact, research suggests the opposite—there is evidence indicating that alfalfa can trigger acute symptoms in certain autoimmune diseases. For instance, studies have shown that consumption of alfalfa sprouts induced lupus-like symptoms in otherwise healthy individuals and reactivated symptoms in those with inactive disease.

Due to the potential immune system activation caused by alfalfa, individuals with autoimmune diseases should avoid its consumption.

Side Effects of Alfalfa

Remarkable Alfalfa Benefits: Prepare To Be Amazed

Alfalfa sprouts are generally safe and nutritious; however, they can potentially lead to side effects in certain individuals. These side effects can range from mild to severe.

Common Side Effect

The consumption of raw alfalfa, owing to its abundant fiber content, can lead to gastrointestinal problems, which may include:

  • Gas
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Diarrhea

However, a more significant and prevalent concern relates to the potential contamination of alfalfa sprouts with bacterial pathogens like Salmonella or E. coli.

In 2016, the FDA issued a warning regarding an outbreak of Salmonella infections across 12 states, directly linked to the consumption of alfalfa sprouts. Consequently, the FDA now advises specific groups of people to refrain from consuming raw sprouts. These groups include:

  • Children under 5
  • Adults aged 65 and over
  • Pregnant individuals
  • People with compromised immune systems, such as organ transplant recipients or those with untreated \

Symptoms associated with Salmonella and E. coli infections comprise:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Abdominal cramps

If you experience symptoms like these hours or even days after consuming fresh alfalfa, it is important to seek immediate medical attention.

Severe Side Effects

Individuals with hormone-sensitive cancers such as breast, prostate, cervical, or uterine cancers should refrain from consuming alfalfa due to its estrogenic effects. Similarly, pregnant and breastfeeding individuals should avoid alfalfa for the same reasons.

Additionally, alfalfa sprouts contain an amino acid called L-canavanine, which has the potential to induce inflammation in individuals with certain autoimmune diseases, especially lupus. Therefore, the consumption of alfalfa or the use of alfalfa supplements can trigger acute symptoms of lupus.

If you have an autoimmune condition, including multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis, it is advisable to consult with your healthcare provider before consuming alfalfa sprouts or taking alfalfa supplements.

Drug Interactions

Remarkable Alfalfa Benefits: Prepare To Be Amazed

Alfalfa supplements have the potential to interact with specific medications. Nevertheless, the extent of these interactions and whether they necessitate dosage adjustments or alterations in treatment remains uncertain. However, it is generally observed that higher doses increase the likelihood of drug interactions.

Anticoagulants

Anticoagulants, such as Coumadin (warfarin), have a notable risk of interacting with alfalfa. This is due to the high vitamin K content in alfalfa, which promotes clotting and may potentially diminish the effectiveness of the anticoagulant medication.

It is crucial to consult with a healthcare provider before incorporating alfalfa into your routine if you are taking an anticoagulant. Additionally, regular blood tests should be conducted to assess whether any adjustments to the medication dosage are necessary.

Diabetes Medications

Diabetes medications carry a moderate risk of interacting with alfalfa. This interaction can potentially lead to a further decrease in blood sugar levels and an increased risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

It is important to consult with a healthcare provider before combining these medications with alfalfa supplements. If you do decide to take both, closely monitor your blood glucose levels.

Hormones

Hormonal contraceptives pose a moderate risk of interactions when combined with alfalfa. The presence of alfalfa may potentially undermine the estrogenic effects of the contraceptive hormones, thereby reducing their efficacy in preventing pregnancy. Likewise, if you are undergoing estrogen hormone therapy, alfalfa may diminish its effectiveness.

It is advisable to consult with a healthcare provider before incorporating alfalfa into your routine if you are using hormonal birth control. Additionally, using a backup form of contraception, such as condoms, is recommended if you decide to take both.

Immunosuppressant Drugs

Immunosuppressant medications, such as corticosteroids and cyclosporine, carry a moderate risk when combined with alfalfa. The presence of L-canavanine in alfalfa, which exhibits pro-inflammatory effects, may potentially diminish the effectiveness of these drugs. If you are taking immunosuppressant medication, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare provider before incorporating alfalfa into your regimen.

Photosensitizing Drugs

Photosensitizing drugs refer to medications that make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. When combined with alfalfa, these medications carry a moderate risk as they may heighten the likelihood of sunburn. It is advisable to consult with a healthcare provider before combining these medications. Additionally, to protect your skin, make sure to use sunscreen and wear protective clothing when exposed to the sun.

Herbs

Alfalfa has the potential to interact with specific herbs and supplements. These include:

  • Aloe
  • Bishop’s weed
  • Bitter melon
  • Chlorophyll
  • Cinnamon
  • Chromium
  • Iron
  • Khella
  • Prickly pear cactus
  • St. John’s wort
  • Vitamin E

It is crucial to carefully examine the ingredient list and nutritional information of a supplement to determine the included ingredients and their respective amounts. Additionally, it is advisable to consult with your healthcare provider to discuss any possible interactions with other foods, supplements, or medications, based on the information provided on the supplement label.

What happens if I take too much Alfalfa

When utilizing an alfalfa supplement in any format, it is crucial to never exceed the dosage specified on the product label. Additionally, it is important to note that alfalfa supplements are intended for short-term use. Unfortunately, limited information is available regarding the long-term safety of alfalfa supplements.

Fresh alfalfa sprouts are generally considered safe for individuals with normal immune systems. However, it is important to acknowledge the potential risk of bacterial contamination in store-bought sprouts.

Before initiating the use of any supplement, including alfalfa, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare provider to assess its safety in your specific circumstances and determine an appropriate dosage.

Sources of Alfalfa and What to Look For

Remarkable Alfalfa Benefits: Prepare To Be Amazed

When consuming fresh alfalfa or using alfalfa supplements, there are several factors to take into account.

Food Sources of Alfalfa

Fresh alfalfa sprouts are commonly available in various grocery stores. To minimize the risk of bacterial contamination, opt for sprouts that have been appropriately refrigerated and show no signs of sliminess, wilting, discoloration, or unpleasant odor. It is advisable to store the sprouts in the refrigerator at a temperature of approximately 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Before consumption, it is crucial to thoroughly wash and rinse the sprouts to reduce the potential exposure to bacterial contaminants. Alternatively, cooking the sprouts instead of consuming them raw is recommended. This cooking process may alter the flavor and texture but will retain some nutritional value.

Alternatively, you can purchase alfalfa seeds either online or from a health food store and sprout them at home.

Alfalfa Supplements

Alfalfa supplements can be found in numerous vitamin shops and health food stores. They are available in various forms, including:

  • Herbal tea
  • Tincture
  • Tablet
  • Powder
  • Dried herb

It is important to note that the quality of nutritional supplements may vary between different brands, as they are not strictly regulated in the United States.

Assessing the quality of the traditional Chinese remedy Mu Xu can be more challenging. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health advises that herbal remedies from China may sometimes be contaminated with drugs, heavy metals, pesticides, and other harmful substances. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid imported herbal remedies.

 

Alfalfa Benefits has many medicinal properties and offers a variety of health benefits when used as recommended. While alfalfa sprouts are delicious and nutritious, it is important to note that fresh sprouts can pose a potential risk to young children, older adults, pregnant individuals, and those with weakened immune systems. If you plan to utilize alfalfa for medicinal reasons, inform your healthcare provider to ensure they can monitor you for any side effects or potential interactions with medications.

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