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Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • Al-fac-facah, arc, alfalfa weevil, buffalo herb, California clover, Chilean clover, Fabaceae (family), feuille de luzerne, isoflavone, jatt, kaba yonca, Leguminosae (family), lucerne, medicago, mielga, mu su, phytoestrogen, purple medic, purple medick, purple medicle, sai pi li ka, saranac, Spanish clover, team, weevelchek, yonja.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Alfalfa has a long history of medicinal and nutritional use. Basic science, animal research, and preliminary human studies of alfalfa have demonstrated reductions in cholesterol and atherosclerotic plaque formation. Early evidence suggests that alfalfa may also possess hypoglycemic or antifungal properties. However, there is currently insufficient information from clinical trials to adequately evaluate the safety or efficacy of alfalfa for any indication.
  • Alfalfa appears to be generally well tolerated. There are several reports of the development of a lupus-like syndrome, or exacerbations of lupus in patients with known systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), associated with the ingestion of alfalfa tablets. These reactions may be associated with the amino acid L-canavanine, which appears to be present in alfalfa seeds and sprouts, but not in the leaves. There are also rare cases of pancytopenia, dermatitis, and gastrointestinal symptoms.

Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.