What is alfalfa?
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is a plant that is commonly grown and harvested by farmers to be used as feed for livestock. Alfalfa is part of the legume family and is very closely related to the bean and pea. Alfalfa is also known by the herbal names of lucerne, purple medic, buffalo grass, and chilean clover. When alfalfa grows wild, it is an indicator of incredibly rich soil. And when cows or other livestock ingest alfafla, their milk supply increases.
What are the benefits of alfalfa?
Alfalfa is credited with a broad range of medicinal properties, such as treating rheumatoid arthritis, curing diabetes and stomach disorders, as well as acting as a galactogogue in nursing women. Alfalfa acts as an anti-inflammatory, a diuretic, phytoestrogenic, and tonic. Alfalfa is also known to help keep allergies under control and allieviate allergy symptoms. Alfalfa has been declared GRAS (generally recognized as safe) but the FDA.
How does alfalfa affect breastfeeding?
Alfalfa has phytoestrogenic properties that act as an estrogen replacement and increase milk flow as well as stimulate milk production. Alfalfa has been shown to increase milk supply when ingested by both livestock and humans.
What are the risks of taking Alfalfa?
- Alfalfa can, and does act as a diuretic and can cause diarrhea in individuals who begin taking it too suddenly. A good way to prevent this is by starting your alfalfa dosage low and then slowly increasing it to what your body is comfortable handling. Please keep in mind that you should follow all directions on the label and not exceed the recommended dosage.
- Alfalfa should be avoided in individuals who have histories of lupus in their families as it may trigger lupus in these individuals.
- Individuals with grass allergies should also avoid alfalfa.
- Alfalfa may cause blood sugar levels to drop and caution should be exercised in individuals with diabetes.
- Alfalfa should not be used during pregnancy as it may cause spontaneous abortions (miscarriages.)
What form is alfalfa best taken in?
Alfalfa supplements are available in both tablet form and capsule form at most herbal drugstores, as well as in the supplement section of most large grocery stores. You can also buy fresh alfalfa sprouts in the produce section to add to your salads.