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Herb Spotlight - Alfalfa Leaf

Herb Spotlight - Motherwort - Sun God Medicinals

Alfalfa Leaf (Medicago sativa)

Family: Fabaceae

Part Used: Aerial Parts

Flavor/Aroma: Sweet, Bitter, Neutral

Energetics: Cooling, Moistening


Herbal Actions: 

Diuretic, Anti inflammatory, Nutritive, Phytoestrogenic, Carminative1

Overview:

Alfalfa, also referred to as buffalo grass or Chilean clover, is known for its mineral and nutrient dense properties, its ability to support anabolic processes in the body, and its  efficacy in toning all body system tissues. The seeds are often sprouted and eaten, or a tea made from Alfalfa leaves can be made and consumed regularly. Alfalfa contains vitamins A, B1, B6, C, E, and K, as well as calcium, potassium, iron, and zinc. The therapeutic properties of Alfalfa are applicable and diverse.³

 

Botany:

Alfalfa is a perennial plant with leguminous flowers that present in a wide range of colors, such as purples and yellows. The leaves are trifoliate and clover like, with a deep reaching tap root. It is native to the Southwest Asian regions, with species occurring in the Caucasus area, as well as in the mountainous regions of Iran and Afghanistan.  

Cultivation and Harvesting:

Alfalfa is regularly cultivated in the United States, and is mostly produced for animal feed purposes; it also has soil-regenerative properties due to its high nitrogen content, and can create an overall healthier soil profile wherever it is cultivated. It is known as “lucerne” in the UK, France, and Australia.1  

Southern Oregon Cultivation:

Alfalfa is a commonly cultivated herb in Southern Oregon. It is primarily used as ground cover on pastures and farmlands, and to replenish nitrogen stores in the soil in which it is grown. Alfalfa seeds are regularly available due to their agricultural impact, and when cultivated will provide sustenance for local pollinators and scavengers alike. It can be found in the wild in areas along the coast, and other low lying regions.

History and Folklore:

Traditional Chinese Medicine: traditionally used to support the digestive system and to stimulate the appetite. It is also praised for its strengthening abilities and regularly served as a side dish with meals. 

The name “Buffalo grass” was adopted by the Native Americans in the 1850’s. 

American Indian Usage: the seeds were regularly crushed and integrated into flours, breads, and gruels; they also consumed the young roots and leaves as a nutrient dense meal.

Other Traditional Uses: the seeds were crushed and used as a cooling poultice for aching joints and muscles in parts of India. In China and Russia the leaves are regularly served as vegetables.   

Modern Applications:

Alfalfa has been used to support female bodies that are experiencing hormone imbalances and to optimize lactation after pregnancy.³ It has also been shown to help regulate cholesterol levels, promote the healthy growth of hair and nails, and provides a variety of antioxidants.1,2

Uses and Preparations:

Dried Herb Tea Preparation: 

Brew 2 grams of dried leaves in 8 oz of water.

Tincture: 

Up to 1-3 mL per day. 

Dosage:

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Precautions:

We suggest conversing with your practitioner before taking Alfalfa if you are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant due to the phytoestrogenic effect of this herb.  

References:

  1. Alfalfa. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://cms.herbalgram.org/healthyingredients/Alfalfa.html 
  2. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 13-5
  3. Alfalfa. (n.d.). www.henriettes-herb.com/eclectic/ellingwood/medicago.html 

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.