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Information about the herb Alfalfa

Medicago sativa, also known as Buffalo Herb is part of the Papilionacae plant family. Alfalfa is widely grown throughout the world. It is a perennial plant native to Central and Western Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean region but was originally found in Medea, Spain, Italy and France.

General Information

Botanical Name: Medicago sativa

Common Name: Buffalo Herb, Lucerne, Purple Medic

Plant Family: Papilionacae (a member of the pea family)


  • The first recorded mention of Alfalfa is in a book by the Emperor of China written in 2939 BC
  • It was imported into Greece from the East, after Darius discovered discovered it in Medea (from where it gets its botanical name Medicago).
  • The Arabs gave Alfalfa its name which means 'father of all foods' and fed it to their horses to make them run faster.


In folk lore Alfalfa was used:

  • ashes burnt and scattered around a property to protect it
  • used in Wicca rites to protect the home from poverty and hunger

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Plant Constituents of Alfalfa


  • calcium
  • carotene
  • chlorophyll
  • choline
  • coumarin derivatives
  • eight essential amino acids
  • flavones
  • iron
  • isoflavones (estrogen-like effects)
  • lime
  • magnesium
  • phosphorus
  • protein (high protein content)
  • potassium
  • saponins (2–3%)
  • silicon
  • sodiums
  • sterols
  • vitamins A, D, B1, B6, E, K, U
  • zinc

and the essential enzymes:

  • amylase (acts on starch)
  • coagulase (coagulates milk and clots blood)
  • emulsin (acts on sugar)
  • invertase (changes cane sugar to dextrose
  • lipase (splits fat)
  • pectinase (forms vegetable jelly from pectin)
  • peroxidase (has an oxidizing effect on the blood)
  • protease (digests proteins)

Action: Alkalizes and detoxifies the body, especially the liver. Promotes pituitary gland function and contains an anti-fungus agent.

  • anti-anemic [agent to relieve anemia]
  • appetizer [an agent that excites the appetite]
  • diuretic [an agent that increases the secretion and expulsion of urine]
  • galactagogue [an agent to increase mammary gland function]
  • laxative [an agent promoting evacuation of the bowels]
  • nutrient[gives nourishment]
  • tonic [an agent that strengthens or invigorates organs or the entire organism]

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Usage of Alfalfa

Medicinal Part used: Whole herb and leaf

Alfalfa has been used extensively over the years in India, and has been used by the Chinese since the sixth century to:

  • relieve fluid retention and swelling
  • treat kidney stones

Alfalfa is commonly used for:

Blood Conditions

  • anemia (with Nettles and Oatstraw)
  • blood thinner
  • boils
  • helps the blood clot

Brain and Nervous System Conditions

  • recuperation of narcotic and alcohol addiction

Cardiovascular Conditions

  • heart disease
  • prevents the formation of atherosclerotic plaques
  • stroke

Female Conditions

  • late or irregular menstruation
  • menopausal symptoms
  • stimulates lactation (milk supply) in nursing mothers

Fungal Conditions

  • anti-fungal

Gastrointestinal Conditions

  • appetite stimulant for loss of appetite
  • bowel problems
  • digestive disorders
  • dyspepsia
  • peptic ulcers
  • poor assimilation of nutrients
  • poor digestion
  • regulates the bowels
  • relievesgastric ulcers
  • stomach upset

Genitourinary Conditions

  • eliminates retained water
  • fluid retention and swelling
  • kidney, bladder and prostrate disorders
  • kidney cleanser
  • kidney stones
  • relieves urinary problems
  • urinary tract infections

Glandular Conditions

  • nourishes pituitary gland
  • promotes pituitary gland function

Immune System Conditions

  • hay fever

Inflammatory Conditions

  • arthritis

Liver Conditions

  • blocks absorption of cholesterol
  • detoxifies the the liver
  • jaundice

Male Conditions

  • prostrate disorders

Respiratory Tract Conditions

  • asthma

Other Conditions

  • alkalizes and detoxifies the body
  • cancer (binds carcinogens in the colon to help speed up theirelimination from the body)
  • debility
  • diabetes
  • overall tonic for general health
  • fatigue
  • stimulates the growth of supportive connective tissue
  • weight gain

Other Uses:

  • sprouts used in salad

Externally the seeds can be made into a poultice for:

  • boils
  • insect bites


Recommended dosage is as follows:

  • Tablets and capsules of whole alfalfa or alfalfa extractsshould be taken as directed
  • Alfalfa for tea - 1 to 2 teaspoons per cup, steeped in boiling water for 10 to 20 minutes
  • 30-60mL/week 1:2 fluid extract

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Alfalfa in its various forms may present some health risks. Powdered Alfalfa herb, Alfalfa sprouts, and Alfalfa seeds all contain L-cavanine, a substance that may cause:

  • abnormal blood cell counts
  • spleen enlargement
  • recurrence of lupus in patients with controlled disease

Heating Alfalfa may correct this problem.

Alfalfa should not be eaten by pregnant or nursing women or young children due to:

  • its ability to bring on menstruation (periods)
  • the estrogenic effects of some of Alfalfa's components

Drug Interactions:

Do not use Alfalfa without first talking to your practitioner or healthcare provider if you taking any of the following medications:

  • Warfarin (Coumadin) (the high vitamin K content in Alfalfa could make the drug less effective)

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Global Herbal Supplies has Alfalfa available in the following forms:



Information given by our website is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by a physician or other medical professionals. You should not use the information given for diagnosing a health problem or disease. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider. The above information is just a guide to general circumstances and in no way should it contradict the advice that you have been given by your naturopath, medical doctor or specialist.

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