Alfalfa is a tonic nervine, meaning that it nourishes the nervous system through its high vitamin and mineral content.1 The health benefits of nervines are most apparent when taken over long periods of time. They have a restorative, balancing effect, and are especially useful in combating stress.
Alfalfa’s stunning array of vitamins and minerals provide support to all bodily systems, rather than focusing on specific organs, like certain herbs. It contains vitamin A, B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (Panothenic Acid), B6 (Pyridoxine), B12 (methylcobalamin), C (ascorbic acid), D, E, and K. As far as minerals, it contains calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, selenium, and zinc. Fresh, raw alfalfa provides the most vitamins and minerals.2
Latin Name: Medicago sativa
Common name: Alfalfa
Parts of the Plant Used: Leaves, flowers, petals, and sprouted seeds.
Extraction Methods: Infusion (tea), Tincture, Poultice.
Habitat/Bioregion: Very widespread. Grows in the US, as well as warmer and cooler regions of the world.
Actions: Diuretic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal. Lowers cholesterol, balances blood sugar and hormones, and promotes pituitary gland functioning. Useful for treating anemia, arthritis, ulcers, bleeding disorders, digestive issues, and disorders involving skin and joints. It also alkalizes and detoxifies the body.2
Body Systems Supported: Nervous System, Circulatory System, Integumentary System, Endocrine System, Digestive System, Skeletal System
History/Folklore: In traditional Chinese medicine, alfalfa was used to treat issues related to the digestive tract and kidneys. In Ayurvedic medicine it is also used to treat digestive issues and the seeds are sometimes used in a poultice to treat boils.
1. Famacy Herbs. Herbal Training and Education Coursebook, Mary Blue
2. Prescription for Nutritional Healing. Phyllis A. Balch, CNC. 2006
3. Title image from: http://www.biodiversityexplorer.org/plants/fabaceae/medicago_sativa.htm