I use herbal remedies for many things on a daily basis. From homemade lotions, to infused oils and salves, to herbal teas and veggie smoothies, we use a lot of different herbs each day for the nutritional benefits and one of my favorites is alfalfa.
Alfalfa, you ask? Isn’t that what they feed cows, horses, and other livestock?
Yes, it does have a long history of use in feed for livestock, in large part due to its high protein and complete nutritional profile. There are more tender parts of young alfalfa plants that are edible and beneficial for people, too, and it is more commonly used for human consumption in Europe than in the US.
Alfalfa is particularly helpful for some pregnancy-related symptoms, so it’s one all moms should get to know.
Alfalfa: One of My Favorite Healing Herbs
To some of you, alfalfa may bring thoughts of a type of hay or a character from the Little Rascals, but I’d like to introduce you to the real deal. A powerhouse among herbs, alfalfa means “Father of All Foods” and deserves its name!
Sometimes also called lucerne, buffalo herb, or Medicago sativa, alfalfa is a member of the pea family. It has a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Indian Ayurvedic medicines for digestive complaints, jaundice, and blood clotting disorders. There is also evidence that some 19th-century physicians used alfalfa for the same purposes and also to encourage lactation in nursing mothers.
It’s special claim to fame is not only high level of nutrients but also how easily the body can absorb and assimilate them. Alfalfa is generally considered safe for children, adults, and pregnant and nursing mothers for nutritional support.
I’ve personally seen the benefit of many different herbs, even in situations where medicine or conventional remedies didn’t work at all. Here’s how alfalfa can help support the body in specific ways:
Nutritional Benefits of Alfalfa
Alfalfa contains a wide variety of minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur, chlorine, sodium, potassium, silicon, and trace elements. It is also a good source of vitamin E, vitamin C, and vitamin K, which is necessary for blood clotting.
It also contains essential amino acids that are not made by the body but must be obtained from food sources. Because it is so easy to assimilate, many greens powders and vitamins use it as a base. Also, it contains the highest chlorophyll content of any plant and is often used to make liquid chlorophyll, which is highly nutritious.
As mentioned, alfalfa does an especially good job of:
- cleansing the blood
- alleviating allergies
- promoting healthy blood clotting
- supporting healthy digestion
- easing morning sickness
- reversing tooth decay and remineralizing teeth
- increasing milk supply during nursing
- supplementing vitamin K (drinking it in tea during pregnancy helps improve baby’s vitamin K levels at birth)
- supporting the pituitary gland
- relieving all forms of arthritis
- easing menopause symptoms (when combined with sage)
Medicinally, alfalfa is even used in alternative medicine to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. Its high concentration of alkaloids make it useful in reducing blood sugar levels and it is also commonly used as a blood detoxifier and for any types of arthritis or joint problems.
Alfalfa Cautions & Dosage
While not all of these benefits are supported by medical studies (yet), they are worth mentioning because of alfalfa’s long history of successful, safe use. The University of Michigan asserts that there are no known contraindications to date, with the exception of consuming very large amounts. The dosage generally considered safe is 500-1,000 mg of the dried leaf per day or 1-2 ml of tincture three times daily.
One caution about alfalfa is not to use in combination with blood thinning agents or medications as it is so effective it can interfere or amplify the effects of these.
How to Use Alfalfa
In our family, we primarily use dried alfalfa in herbal teas and tinctures. I buy it in bulk here, or check your local health food store. Just make sure to buy from an organic source as otherwise it’s likely to be treated with pesticides in conventional crops.
Consuming fresh alfalfa sprouts either lightly steamed or in a salad is another option. Since consuming sprouts comes with many benefits but also a few cautions, I vary these with other types of sprouts and don’t consume them all of the time.
I make an herbal tea for the kids by using equal parts alfalfa, red raspberry leaf, and peppermint as a source of vitamins and minerals that they love to drink. To brew, I just pour 8 ounces of boiling water over 1 tablespoon of the tea mixture and let steep for at least 5 minutes before drinking.
As I mentioned, alfalfa is especially supportive during breastfeeding. Here’s how to use it in a homemade herbal nursing tea blend.
Another more concentrated option that’s quick to administer is this homemade multivitamin tincture that’s safe for kids or adults. This process is similar to making tea but much stronger since it steeps for 3 weeks or more. A tincture like this keeps for months and a small dropperful is all that’s needed to get the benefits.
We also drink a lot of liquid chlorophyll, which is a concentrated liquid of the chlorophyllins from the fresh alfalfa plant. We love this brand because it has a minty taste. (Even the kids love to drink it.) When the kids are sick, this is often all I can get them to take, and its purifying and detoxifying properties help them recover more quickly. Since it is so high in nutrients, I also don’t worry if they don’t eat as much while they are sick.
Due to its mild flavor, I also add scoops of dried alfalfa to green smoothies and drinks.
The Bottom Line on Using Alfalfa
There’s a reason cultures have been using alfalfa for centuries. It’s one of the foundations of our food chain and a vital source of vitamins and chlorophyll. Adding it into the diet in the ways described above can improve health and energy with few side effects or risks. Give it a try!
This article was medically reviewed by Jessica Meyers, MPAP, PA-C, RH(AHG), who specializes in herbal protocols and functional medicine. You can also find Jessica on Instagram. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
Ever used alfalfa? Taken liquid chlorophyll? What herbs do you use?
Discussion (86 Comments)
I was curious if any of these benefits are also present in sprouted alfalfa? We eat tons of salads and these are a weekly addition.
I know its been years since the question was asked, but I just came to this site for the first time, so here it is: Alfalfa sprouts contain an amino acid, L-Canavanine, that is somewhat damaging to animals, humans included. It can cause lupus-like symptoms and interferes with the immune system. This was confirmed b the Gerson Institute when several of their immune compromised patients that were recovering well, suddenly relapsed when alfalfa sprouts were added to their salads. For a healthy person, occasional alfalfa sprouts aren’t a problem. Eating tons of them regularly will eventually cause problems in even the healthiest people. L-Canavanine is not present in the mature plant, only in the sprouts, which makes mature alfalfa and its extracts safe for consumption.
I’m curious about the brand of liquid chlorophyll you use — I bought the natures sunshine bottle like you recommended, but the second ingredient is methylparaben, which doesn’t seem like an ingredient you would support… Did I buy the wrong bottle? Is methylparaben ok?
Sally Fallon of Nourishing Traditions disagrees. She says alfalfa causes a host of problems, low immunity being oe of them. What do you say to her claims?
Hi Anne, I was researching the same question, and it looks like most of the problems come with an extended use of the alfalfa seed (see: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/19.html. Obviously, anything taken in extreme amounts and/or for long amounts of time can make a body’s natural system unbalanced. Liquid alfalfa (liquid chlorophyll), herbal alfalfa tea, capsules, etc. were not mentioned as linked to auto-immune problems, etc. in this report, just the seeds. So perhaps Sally’s experiences or knowledge of others’ experiences were mostly related to the taking of the actual seeds? In any case, I’ll be staying away from the seeds myself. The other forms, however, like liquid chlorophyll, which you dilute in water a Tablespoon at a time (and used in moderation), etc. seem not as threatening, and the wide variety of vitamins and minerals seem worth it for those in search/need of the benefits. All things consumed by the body should be done so with wisdom and understanding; most problems with natural substances (or any drug/food for that matter) happen when wisdom and prudence are not practiced in their consumption. Just a thought.
She doesn’t say that at all. What she says is that alfalfa SPROUTS can cause problems due to the L-Canavanine they contain which affects our immune systems. This is only present in the sprouts and not the mature plant, probably as a defense against being eaten. It is not just Sally Fallon, but the Gerson Institute, among others, that has come out against alfalfa sprout consumption, especially for immune compromised individuals.
The more I look around on your blog, the more I love it! The day you reviewed the T-Tapp system I ordered it, and I’m loving it (I’ll post a comment on that page). They promote the use of alfalfa for skin tightening, water retention, improving varicose veins and dark under eye circles. I ordered their brand of capsules bc they are supposed to organic and contain no seeds. Also not heat processed, etc. It is supposed to be the best out there. Or maybe I’m paying through the nose unnecessarily :). I have loose skin on my belly from 6 kids so close together (including triplets). So I am trying this with her skin brushing system to improve that. We will see! Cheaper than a tummy tuck! They have a long description of alfalfa benefits on the product page in their shop.
Their brand is good… if you can handle the texture, etc, you can also order powdered alfalfa in bulk from mountain rose herbs for a lot cheaper. It can actually be made in to a tea also…
Good to know. Theirs come in capsules, which is convenient. I will check out mountain rose herbs. Thanks!
Hey you might try making sure you’re consuming collagen or gelatin every day for your skin too, I am a mom of 6 as well, and it’s made a big difference in my saggy skin 🙂
Hi April! I just read your comment, and you mentioned relief for varicose veins.
In truth, there is nothing that can be done against varicose veins, in order to “fix” them. People with varicose veins have a flawed gene expression for veins. There are little valves inside veins, whose function it is to let the blood only advance in the direction to the heart. The block back flow of blood. Imagine your legs, from where the blood needs to be pumped back up all the way to the chest, In people with varicose veins, these internal valves are malfunctioning, which allows the blood to rush back down. The constant battle of bringing the blood upwards and it flowing back down ends up wearing out the walls of the veins, and the ones near the surface of the skin will start to become baggy. We then call them varices.
The only way to remediate this is to strip the veins from the body. In legs, where this is most necessary, this will help the heart to not pump so hard any more. Enough blood will still be supplied to the leg, because there are lots of veins bringing back blood to the heart on the inner musculature of the leg, and there, the muscles support the veins all around, and with movement, the .muscles help push the blood up the legs back to the heart. The legs can also grow more veins on the inside to cope with the volume.
I have had both legs treated, and the varicose veins never came back, and what’s more important, I feel so much stronger and energetic since then.
All right, this is not directly related to Burdock per se, but I thought I’d share a little more information on the varicose veins.
Relieving them is served by putting your legs up at night or anytime you need to sit.
Be healthy, happy and thrive!
I’ve seen alfalfa seeds at my health food store. I was thinking of adding them to my daily oatmeal (which has chia seeds, goji berries, flax, nuts haha the list goes on). Would it have the same benefits or does it need to be the actual plant??
I take a few alfalfa tablets everyday in hopes of beating fatigue and keeping my Ph balance just right. As I suffer from the Autoimmune Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease, I have to battle extreme fatigue and chronic pain. This powerhouse of nutrients is really good for my whole body. I’m always searching for natural remedies to accompany my daily regimen of prescription drugs. RA drugs are so dangerous so I need to do everything I can to protect my body from drugs’ side effects and damage.
This is so true because a bad doctor will give you medicines he know will kill you. Some of them don’t care if u live or die.
You do know that people w auto immune ds are told to NOT take alfalfa dont you? Seeing as you did some research?
How much would this help morning sickness? i suffer from hyperemesis and am currently pregnant. I will give this a try. Thanks. Any other ideas would be helpful too. This is my fifth baby and my research over the years about this has had mixed results. Thanks again.
The liquid chlorophyll was one of the only things I could get down in the mornings and it, along with the mint taste, really helped ease the nausea. I took about a tablespoon in water each morning
I had no idea of all the things alfalfa was good for. These herb profiles are a great idea. Would love to see my favorite – rosemary – profiled. Thanks!
You are a wealth of information. I just love your blog. Thank you for sharing! I don’t know how you get it all in in one day – all the herbs, vitamins, gelatin, etc… perhaps you could give a brief rundown of your daily regimen and include all a list of everything.
is takin g these herbs and spices bad for my health,can they cause reactions on meds,ulcers e ct .ive heard chilli is bad
Like all herbs, they all have side effects. Alfalfa does have side effects. Google it. I do think the blogger should post that as well because it doesn’t give the full picture. You need to be careful with any herb you consume and to consult with your physician before taking it or combing with other supplements.
Very good point. ALSO, the chlorophyll that was recommended has parabens. I don’t think the blogger knew this, because she is usually very cautious with her recommendations.
Many herbs do not have side effects. There are many mild food herbs that provide nutrition but not strong alkaloids that can be toxic.
why would you need to ask your physician? Alfalfa is a plant, it is a food. Do you ask your doctor if you should eat lettuce or cabbage or green beans!!!!???????? Really alfalfa is completely safe it is a food. I would never ask any medical doctor about food as that is something they are NOT trained in. They know nothing about food only drugs
I totally agree with this point.
Exactly! I don’t ask my doctor for information or advice on the food I eat. Mainly because I don’t see a doctor, but more importantly because doctors have VERY little knowledge in nutrition. Most seem to disregard it from what I’ve witnessed. I’ll stick with my home-based midwife and personal studies.
Are you serious right now? Alfalfa is a food but not all food is safe to eat. Cinnamon in large doses is poisonous. Alfalfa contains a large amount of phytoestrogen which has been linked to low sperm count, disruption of puberty, endocrine disruption, pcos, infertility— in a study in Canada it was linked to breast cancer as well as inhibiting the function of meds used to treat breast cancer. Not all things are great. Some things work for some but not for others. If you are already experiencing certain things you could possibly make it worse.
Do your research and yes, consult your physician or a certified naturopath if you have to. Cabbage can induce a gallbladder attack if you are having issues with it… AND gallbladder attacks rival labor pains–so, think again about food just being food… sheesh!
Kami McFarland Noland
Liquid chlorophyll is my favorite of all supplements. A local herbalist recommended it to me during pregnancy because I have struggled with anemia my entire adult life. LC makes me feel noticeably better and made my hemoglobin levels higher than I had ever seen them… 12.6. I usually hovered between 10-11… as low as 8.6 (12 being the lowest # within normal range).
This might be something to think about as well as my iron is pretty low due to Celiac Disease as well as the copper iud (interferes with iron and zinc absorption). Thank you for sharing!