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Alfalfa

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Alfalfa - Medicago sativa

Alfalfa has been used as an herbal medicine for over 1,500 years. Alfalfa is high in protein, calcium, plus other minerals, Vitamins in the B group, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K.

Description: Alfalfa is one of the best natural sources of vitamin K. This herbal supplement helps blood to clot by moving calcium into proteins that form a microscopic net to capture red blood cells. Vitamin K likewise helps bones to knit by working with vitamin D and glutamic acid to activate osteocalcin.

Atherosclerosis (cholesterol plaques in heart arteries): Several studies in animals report reductions in cholesterol plaques of the arteries after use of alfalfa. Well-designed research in humans is necessary before a firm conclusion can be drawn.

Diabetes: A small number of animal studies report reductions in blood sugar levels following ingestion of alfalfa. Human data are limited, and it remains unclear if alfalfa can aid in the control of sugars in patients with diabetes or hyperglycemia.

High cholesterol: Reductions in blood levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein ("bad cholesterol") have been reported in animal studies and in a small number of human cases. High-density lipoprotein ("good cholesterol") has not been altered in these cases. Although this evidence is promising, better research is needed before a firm conclusion can be reached.

Alfalfa is a cool season perennial legume which can live more than twenty years, depending on variety and climate. The plant grows to a height of up to 1 metre (3 ft), and has a deep root system sometimes stretching more than 15 metres (49 ft). This makes it very resilient, especially to droughts. It has a tetraploid genome. This plant exhibits autotoxicity, which means that it is difficult for alfalfa seed to grow in existing stands of alfalfa. Therefore, it is recommended that alfalfa fields be rotated with other species (for example, corn or wheat) before reseeding.

This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.