Veterinarian Reviewed on June 14, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized
Alfalfa Leaf (Medicago sativa)
Alfalfa Leaf (Medicago sativa) is also known as Buffalo Herb, Purple Medic and Buffalo Grass. The Alfalfa belongs to the pea family and is an important forage crop in the United States, Canada, Australia and in the Middle East. Alfalfa leaves may look like clover but it has small clusters of purple flowers. It is a perennial plant that grows only up to about a meter in height. Alfalfa is a strong plant that can even withstand prolonged dry periods.
Almost all parts of the Alfalfa are used for medicinal purposes but the Alfalfa Leaf is the most commonly used as a bulk herb. The Alfalfa Leaf has phytoestrogenic compounds that are known to treat many menopausal and PMS symptoms in women and it also has anti inflammatory properties to cure infection.
History and Origin
The lowly Alfalfa plant has many medicinal uses and the oldest writings on this herbal remedy actually date back to at least 1300 B.C. in Turkey. The Alfalfa was first cultivated by the Greeks in as early as 490 B.C. but the Medes of Persia were the ones to give it a scientific or botanical name, hence it was called ‘Medic ago sativa’ which means ‘sowed by the Medians’. The word Alfalfa came from the Latin word that meant “best horse fodder” or best horse food.
The ancient use of the Alfalfa Leaf was for food during the time of the Ancient Greeks in 490 B.C. when they first cultivated the plant for its nutritional value. During the time of the Medians, it was found that the Alfalfa Leaf was a good horse food, and that it helped to provide both power and stamina to horses that were important during times of war and other battles.
The Alfalfa Leaf was primarily used as a treatment for upset stomachs, as well as for many other minor digestive system disorders such as indigestion, stomach upset, dyspepsia and to enhance the appetite. Since it can be cultivated even in dry places, it was used as a staple food in the United States.
The Alfalfa Leaf has been found out to have phytoestrogens that can be used to treat menopausal symptoms like mood swings, fluid retention, night sweats and depression. This is also essential in the management of PMS symptoms as well, such as pelvic pain, bloating, irregular menstrual flow and also muscle cramps.
The Alfalfa Leaf is a known immune system stimulant and is essential in normal blood clotting due to its rich Vitamin K properties. The Alfalfa Leaf also contains bioflavoniods for capillary strength and overall cardiovascular health. Its high Vitamin K content can aid patients with medications that cause Vitamin K depletion. The Alfalfa Leaf has many gastro intestinal benefits plus it is a powerful diuretic to treat kidney infections and eliminate fluid retention in vital organs and regions of the body.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take any Alfalfa Leaf preparations and supplements. It is highly recommended to talk to your doctor first regarding the use of Alfalfa Leaf as part of a dietary regiment since it may interfere with certain types of allopathic medications and may also cause adverse side effects such as diarrhea and gastric upset.
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan