Alfalfa (Medicago Sativa) is an edible herb that is a member of the pea family and is native to Asia and eastern Mediterranean region. Typically, the dried leaves of the alfalfa plant are used as an herbal supplement. However, the flowers are also edible. Mostly, alfalfa is grown for fodder typically for horses. This herb has many health benefits and it’s no wonder why horses love it. Us human beings should also consider eating this herb every once in a while.
Historically, alfalfa has been used in many different cultures and for different purposes. Early Chinese physicians would use the dried alfalfa leaves to treat digestive tract disorders. Also people in India the leaves and flowers were prescribed by Ayurvedic physicians to help with poor digestion. They would also use alfalfa to assist with water retention and arthritis pain. The North American Indians would use alfalfa to encourage blood clotting and to treat jaundice. Eclectic physicians (American physicians that focused on botanical remedies in the late 19th century) used an alfalfa tonic to treat a multitude of health issues. For example, indigestion, dyspepsia, anemia, loss of appetite, poor nutrient absorption and low milk supply in nursing mothers. Traditionally, alfalfa has also been used as a poultice for the treatment of boils and insect bites.
What’s it made of?
Alfalfa leaves contain 2-3% saponins which have been studied to block the absorption of cholesterol and prevent artery plaque buildup associated with atherosclerosis. Alfalfa also contains vitamins A, B complex, C, E, and K. Other great nutrients that are found in alfalfa are calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. This powerful herb contains a good amount of protein as well. Alfalfa has the highest chlorophyll content of any plant.
Common uses today
- Can help flush out a build-up of toxins from the bowels
- Help with UTI’s and reduce water retention
- Lowers cholesterol and blood pressure
- Purifies and detoxes the blood
- Helps balance hormones
- Boosts the immune system
- Fights bad breath
- Ease sore joints
- Beneficial for migraines and headaches
- Ease morning sickness
- Helps to alleviate allergies
- Capable of reversing tooth decay
- Helps ease gout
- Supports the pituitary gland
Take it as a tea
You can drink alfalfa as a tea. This is an easy and effective way to get the nutrients that alfalfa has to offer. I suggest buying dried, organic alfalfa here. Simply steep 1 tsp of dried alfalfa and 1 tsp of peppermint in 8 ounces of boiling water for at least 10 minutes.
Make a tincture
A tincture is highly concentrated and easy to use. The Mountain Rose Herbs blog has an amazing article on making tinctures. Once you have made your tincture you can put a few drops underneath your tongue daily.
Another great way to get all the amazing benefits of alfalfa is to sprout the seeds. You can purchase the seeds online or in any health food store. Here is how you do it:
1) Once you have bought your seeds, rinse and sort them. Toss out the broken or discolored seeds.
2) Put 1 tbsp of seeds into a quart glass jar and cover with 2 inches of water.
3) Cover the jar with cheesecloth and a rubber band to secure the cheesecloth in place
4) Soak for at least 12 hours in a warm, dry place away from sunlight.
5) Next, drain the water, rinse the seeds, and drain the water off again. Then place the jar in a dark location.
6) Remove jar every 12 hours to rinse the seeds. This time use WARM water. I would set an alarm on your phone for this part. Do this for 3 – 4 days until the sprouts are 1 1/2 – 2 inches in length.
7) Put them in the sunlight and wait for them to turn green. Once they are green they are ready to eat. You can store them in the fridge.
You can use your sprouts on salads, sandwiches, pizzas, in soups and stir-fry’s or just as a snack. The possibilities are endless!
If you are interested in growing your own alfalfa it should be planted in the fall and harvested in the spring. Here is a great article on how to grow and harvest your own alfalfa.