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Medicinal and Culinary Herbs > Alfalfa (Medicago Sativa)

Other names: Lucerne, Purple Medick.

Lucerne is a nutritive herb which contains a range of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B1, B2, K, C and D; calcium, potassium, copper, iron and phosphorus. It is used extensively as a fodder crop for cattle and its only more recently that its beneficial effects for humans been noted.

Healing uses:
Alfalfa is an excellent internal cleanser. A tea made from alfalfa and buchu will assist in the healing of urinary infections, and alfalfa and peppermint tea will aid digestion and ease indigestion. Consuming alfalfa tea regularly will also help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Fresh alfalfa leaves are best for these purposes, but dried leaves are fine. Simply brew in a teapot as you would regular tea, adjusting the quantity according to individual taste.

An oestrogen-like substance found in alfalfa can help regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle. However, it needs to be taken in a fairly concentrated form to be of any use. A concentrated extract from the leaf, available in health food shops, can be used. 1/4 of this daily is sufficient.

Alfalfa in any form helps combat anaemia, due to its iron content.

Cautions:
While the oestrogen-like substance found in alfalfa can be beneficial to some women, it can be harmful to other individuals. Those not wanting to the oestrogen effects from alfalfa should keep away from the concentrated herb. However, a very large amount of the non-concentrated herb would be necessary for the oestrogen to have any effect.

Other uses:
Alfalfa leave are a tasty and very nutritious addition to any salad. Likewise alfalfa sprouts, widely available from supermarkets, are a healthy addition. They also provide an excellent source of protein, particularly for vegetarians and vegans who may have trouble obtaining protein elsewhere.

Growing Alfalfa:
It is very easy to grow, either in the home garden, or in huge fields. Sow the seed in free draining soil and let be. It has a vigorous deep root system and is very beneficial as a rotation crop that adds nitrogen to the soil.
 




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