alfalfa-flower Alfalfa

Alfalfa | Medicago sativa

general characteristics

general characteristics

Common names include alfalfa, lucerne, purple medick, buffalo herb, Mu-su (Chinese). The name 'alfalfa' comes from the Arabic for 'father of all foods', a glowing tribute to its nutritional content and medicinal applications.

Alafalfa is a legume and a member of the pea family. It is a perennial herb that grows in fields and pasture lands in Asia, Britain and Europe, America, the Middle East and is thought to have originated around the area of modern Iran but it is also grown in many other parts of the world such as South America, Australia and New Zealand. It is commonly grown as a food crop for grazing livestock, for hay or silage. It can be grazed several times a year and grows right back.

It superficially resembles the red clover but with thinner and longer trifolate leaf clusters and more open purplish pink flowers. It grows well in fertile, well drained soil that has low acidity and can reach up to a metre in height. Its roots penetrate deep into the soil, as much as a hundred feet down is normal for alfalfa roots where it searches out and absorbs vast amounts of nutrients. When spotted in the wild, it is a reliable indication of fertile soil.


Dried Alfalfa is available in our herbal shop.



harvesting and preparation

harvesting and preparation

Alfalfa can be collected from the wild but is often grown commercially and there is a possibility that it has come into contact with pesticides/herbicides and many are now 'Roundup Ready' GMO (genetically modified organisms). Stray plants do escape the field though and are more likely to grow around field margins. It is easily grown in the garden (given the right conditions) and makes a pretty plant for the border, so home cultivation and harvesting is easy enough. It can also be bought as an organic dried herb in our online shop.

The entire upper portion of the plant (not the root) is used medicinally and should be picked when the majority of flowers are blooming (mid summer). Shake off any insects, remove any dead or dying parts and dry in a warm place away from direct sunlight. When fully dried the plant material is rubbed with the hands into smaller pieces and stored in a glass jar away from direct sunlight. It will retain its potency for a year or so if treated in this way. It can also be made into a tincture to preserve it for much longer.

When making reference to the medicinal herb alfalfa, it is referring to the dried plant material unless otherwise stated.

The tiny seeds of alfalfa can also be soaked in water to 'sprout' them. The nutrient and high protein content of alfalfa sprouts makes them a valuable addition to salads and sandwich's and can provide a quick micro-salad crop all year round. Use them sparingly as a food.


Dried Alfalfa is available in our herbal shop.

therapeutic actions and uses

therapeutic actions and uses

Alflafa is prized for its rich mineral and vitamin content and blood cleansing and tonic qualities. It is high in the anti-oxidant vitamins A, C, E and K4 and also phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, folic acid and vitamins B!, B2, B3, B5 and B6, iron, calcium, chlorophyll and other trace minerals. It also contains enzymes that are used in the digestive process to break down protein, starches and fats ready for the intestines to absorb. It is of use as a medicine in a wide range of health complaints.


It has a potent blood cleansing and detoxifying action and will help to reduce unpleasant body odours as a result.

Alfalfa also helps to detoxify the liver and gallbladder making it useful against conditions such as jaundice and cirrhosis.


It bitter components increase the appetite, aid with the digestion and assimilation of nutrients from foods and the break down of dietary fats so can be used when the body is thin and weak or in anorexia. Body weight gain is increased over time and energy levels raised yet if the body is heavy to begin with, it encourages gentle weight loss. It also relieves constipation and helps digestion in a way that prevents fermentation in the stomach and intestines that can lead to bad breath. It will provide easily absorbed nutrients in cases of celiac disease and other problems of nutrient malabsorption.


It has been used traditionally to give speed, energy and vitality to racehorses and athletes and lift you out of a state of fatigue.


Alfalfa thins the blood making it more free flowing and preventing abnormal blood clot formation, embolism, thrombosis and varicose veins. It also helps to slow the flow of blood from internal or external wounds, nosebleeds, haemorrhage and excessive menstrual flow. It can also help to prevent strokes and discourages the build up of deposits on the inner linings of blood vessels, called atheroma.


It is also suitable for treating anaemia when the seeds are sprouted and its high chlorophyll content rejuvenates existing red blood cells and also encourages the production of new ones.


It helps to nourish the nervous system due to the high content of the various B vitamins and along with its mineral content can help in cases of hyperactivity, anxiety and even disorders such as dementia.


The high chlorophyll content of the fresh herb and sprouted seeds can also be taken to protect the body from the harmful effects of radiation exposure.


It is known to reduce the levels of the more harmful low density cholesterol and also to help prevent the build up of plaque on the inner linings of blood vessels, preventing arteriosclerosis.

It lowers blood sugar levels as it enhances the release and action of insulin. It is therefore useful in the treatment of diabetes or high blood sugar episodes and helps to support the health of the pancreas.


Alfalfa shows an anti-inflammatory action which can be useful against arthritis, lumbago, general backache and rheumatism.


It is reputed to be of benefit to the general health and functioning of the pituitary gland and helps nourish a malfunctioning thyroid gland.


Used as a poultice externally, it can help to heal wounds, boils, insect stings and bites and ulcers.


Its richness in calcium and other minerals boosts the strength and healing of bones and fractures and can help to prevent osteoporosis, rickets, re-mineralise teeth and help prevent or even reverse tooth decay and gum disease.


It promotes the growth of healthy, strong connective tissue and improves the appearance of skin, even to the extent of tightening and improving ageing skin and helping to eliminate cellulite. It also helps to heal damage and pain caused by dislocations, generalised backache, lumbago and provides a nutrient boost to keep hair strong and healthy.


Alfalfa has diuretic properties which means it can help to eliminate water retention, swollen feet and ankles and can also be successful in treating cystitis, prostatitis, kidney stones and gout.


It can be used in a formula to help the healthy development of the testicles in adolescent boys.


It has a cleansing action on the lymph nodes and circulation of lymph fluids generally so can be used in the prevention and treatment of lymphoma, other disorders of the 'glands' such as tonsillitis and swollem lymph nodes in the neck, armpits or groin for example.


Has a positive effect on the immune system. It has been used over the years for increasing the immune response and raising vitality and energy.


Alfalfa also has oestrogenic activity but tends towards a balancing effect more than a straight forward raising of oestrogen levels. It combines well with sage in the reduction of menopausal hot flushes and sweats. It increases the production and flow of breast milk in new mothers. It may also be used in a formula to help promote fertility in women.


It is reputed to have anti-cancer properties (as do other legumes such as lentils, beans, red clover, soya bean, astragalus) and tumour reducing abilities.


dosage and cautions

dosage and cautions

*Alfalfa is generally a well tolerated and safe tonic herb with a long history of use as a nutrient rich tonic herb. It is probably most suitable for sporadic use in medicinal doses (eg. every other day, one week on, one off etc) rather than long term continual use. Alfalfa sprouts or fresh herb can be eaten in small amounts as part of a healthy diet.

*Modern chemical analysis has identified a component in alfalfa that is said to have the potential to aggravate lupus symptoms (SLE)in those who have it, which so far has been observed in 2 people to date. Certain authorities caution the use of alfalfa with any so called 'autoimmune' disorder, including Lupus, MS and rheumatoid arthritis. Tradition says otherwise as it has a long held reputation for treating rheumatism and arthritis.

*Due to its efficient blood sugar lowering action, take under careful supervision if you are taking diabetes medication for blood sugar control.

*Do not use alfalfa in medicinal doses if you are taking immunosupressant drugs as it has a potential to counteract their effects. Avoid also after organ transplantation as it may increase the likelihood of organ rejection due to its immune stimulating action.

*Be cautious eating alfalfa seeds or sprouts if you are taking anticoagulant medications such as warfarin.

*Taking alfalfa during normal menstruation can increase the bood flow.


Dried herb in tea form: 1 -2 teaspoons, 3 times daily

Fresh herb: a small handful daily, in food or as part of a fresh juice

Powdered form: 250 mg up to 3 times daily, with food

Tincture: up to 6ml daily

Add 12 to the child’s age. Divide the child’s age by the total.
E.g. dosage for a 4 year old...... 4 {age} divided by 16 {age + 12} = . 25  or 1/4 of the adult dosage.






Child watering plants




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