Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) has been used as an herbal medicine for over 1,500 years. Alfalfa, also known as Lucerne, is a member of the pea family and is native to western Asia and the eastern Mediterranean region.
Known as “father of plants”, Alfalfa sprouts have become a popular food. Herbal supplements primarily use the dried leaves of the plant and are available in as a bulk herb, tablets, capsules, and in liquid extracts.
Alfalfa is high in protein, vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K. It is also a good source of calcium, plus other minerals such as potassium, iron, and zinc. In early Chinese medicines, physicians used alfalfa leaves to treat disorders related to the digestive tract and the kidneys. In Ayurvedic medicine, alfalfa extract is used for treating poor digestion.
Alfalfa supplements have been used to treat menopause symptoms and high cholesterol. The leaves contain approximately 2–3% saponins and studies suggest that these constituents block absorption of cholesterol and prevent the formation of atherosclerotic plaques. Alfalfa leaves also contain flavones, isoflavones, sterols, and coumarin derivatives. The isoflavones are thought to be responsible for the estrogen-like effects seen in animal studies.
In addition, alfalfa supplements may play a vital role in strengthening and the growth of bones because of its high content of several minerals, nutrients and vitamins. So, if you like the taste of alfalfa, feel free to add alfalfa sprouts in salads and sandwiches.
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