Alfalfa is a perennial flowering plant that lives for 5-15 years depending upon the variety and the conditions. Believed to have originated in Iran from where it spread to the rest of the world, Alfalfa is called the ‘Queen of forages’ because it is primarily grown as cattle forage in the U.S. But, Alfalfa finds a place of pride in Chinese and other systems of traditional healing.
Benefits of Alfalfa
Alfalfa contains an active compound called Saponin. This acts on the cardiovascular system and the nervous system. It is therefore used as a natural diuretic and cleanser. In traditional Chinese medicine, Alfalfa has been used to treat kidney stone. Since the plant has very high fiber content, it is an excellent laxative. The leaves of the plant are rich in nutrients, minerals and estrogen. Therefore, it is used to treat bladder, kidney and prostrate disorders. A dose of Alfalfa is also believed to improve energy levels and is sometimes consumed before a sporting event. The leaf and sprouts are supposed to lower blood cholesterol levels and prevent plaque deposits on the walls of the artery.
Although Alfalfa is primarily grown as cattle feed, it has found a place in human food and herbal medicine for at least a 1,000 years now. Its best researched use in medicine is to control cholesterol levels in the blood. As a high fiber food rich in protein and nutrients, it may also be useful to boost the immune system and to control diabetes.
But Alfalfa sprouts may contain fungus and ingesting these may lead to nausea or vomiting. Some studies also show that Alfalfa may induce uterine contractions, thereby putting the pregnant mother at risk of losing her baby. Alfalfa may trigger allergic reactions in people who are allergic to the legume family. Alfalfa must also be avoided by people suffering from disorders in the autoimmune system.
sprouts are rich in nutrients and have a nice tangy taste too. They are easy to grow also. Just add 3 spoons of Alfalfa seeds to a glass jar and secure the top with a fabric. Soak the seeds overnight and let it sit. Then drain out the water and let the seeds sit with the moisture. Spread the seeds by rolling the jar. This will ensure that each seed gets enough moisture and air to grow. Rinse out the seeds at least once a day. This will prevent the growth of any micro-organisms. If this is done regularly, the seeds will grow rapidly and fill the jar. Once the seeds have outgrown your jar, transfer some the contents to another jar. After 5-6 days of growth, allow the seeds to sit in the sun for 10 minutes. This will activate the growth enzymes and make the tiny leaves green. Refrigerate the sprouts after they have drained for several hours.
As a nutritive tonic, Alfalfa leaves and sprouts have a high mineral content. They are also believed to be a natural source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Alfalfa has the reputation of being a ‘good all-rounder’ and as such is beneficial for a number of conditions. If used in the fluid form, 1 teaspoon of extract in water 3 times a day is enough to ensure good health.