Alfalfa Medicago sativa.Alfalfa Extract.
- Brief info and Basic Botanical Data of Alfalfa.
- Narrative Description of Alfalfa:Medicago sativa.
- Archeology Literature of Alfalfa.
- History of Alfalfa:Medicago sativa.
- Phytochemicals and Constituents of Alfalfa,Medicago sativa.
- General Uses.
- Actions of Alfalfa,Medicago sativa.
- Application of Alfalfa,Medicago sativa:Application scope.
- How Search engine think about Alfalfa.
- Research Update:Alfalfa Medicago sativa.
Alfalfa has been used for thousands of years in many parts of the world, as a source of food for people and livestock and as a medicinal herb. It is probably more useful as a source of easily accessible nutrients than as a medicinal herb. Alfalfa is an excellent source of most vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E, and K. Vitamin K is critical in blood clotting, so alfalfa may have some use in improving clotting. It also contains trace minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, and potassium. Alfalfa is also higher in protein than many other plant foods. This abundance of nutrients has made alfalfa a popular tonic for convalescents when brewed into tea.
In addition to using the seeds and leaves as food, alfalfa has a long history of folk use in Europe as a diuretic or "water pill." It is also said that alfalfa can lower cholesterol. Alfalfa is used as to treat arthritis, diabetes, digestive problems, weight loss, ulcers, kidney and bladder problems, prostate conditions, asthma, and hay fever. Alfalfa is also said to be estrogenic (estrogen-like).
Alfalfa is not native to the United States and did not arrive until around 1850. However, once introduced, it spread rapidly and was adapted by Native Americans as a food source for both humans and animals. The seeds were often ground and used as a flour to make mush. The leaves were eaten as vegetable. The main medical use for alfalfa in the United States was as a nutritious tea or tonic.
In China, alfalfa, or zi mu, and a closely related species tooth-bur clover, Medicago hispida or nan mu xu have been used since the sixth century. Alfalfa is a minor herb in traditional Chinese medicine. It is considered to be bitter in taste and have a neutral nature. Traditional Chinese healers use alfalfa leaves to cleanse the digestive system and to rid the bladder of stones.
The root of alfalfa is used in Chinese medicine to reduce fever, improve urine flow, and treat jaundice, kidney stones, and night blindness. Contrary to the Western belief that alfalfa will aid in weight gain, Chinese herbalists believe that extended use of alfalfa will cause weight loss.
Alfalfa contains hundreds of biologically active compounds, making it difficult to analyze and to ascribe healing properties to any particular component. In addition to the nutrients mentioned above, alfalfa contains two to three percent saponin glycosides. In test tube and animal studies, saponin glycosides have been shown to lower cholesterol, but there is no evidence that this cholesterol-lowering effect occurs in humans. In addition, saponin glycosides are known to cause red blood cells to break open (hemolysis) and to interfere with the body's utilization of vitamin E.
No modern scientific evidence exists that alfalfa increases urine output, effectively treats diabetes, aids kidney or bladder disorders, improves arthritis, reduces ulcers, or treats respiratory problems. Similarly, there is no scientific evidence that alfalfa either stimulates the appetite or promotes weight loss. There is no evidence that alfalfa has any estrogenic effect on menstruation. There is evidence, however, that although for most people alfalfa is harmless, for some people it can be dangerous to use.
Alfalfa leaf has been used in tea and dietary supplements to help increase appetite and vitality, reduce water retention, and as a stimulant for digestion and bowel action. It is a folk treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and preventing absorption of cholesterol from the diet. Its use for loss of energy due to indigestion, dyspepsia, anemia, loss of appetite, and poor assimilation began in the early 1900s with American physicians who specialized in herbal medicine. Dr. Ben A. Bradley of Hamlet, Ohio, wrote in 1915: 1 find in Alfalfa, after about seven years' clinical tests in my practice and on myself, a superlative restorative tonic.... It rejuvenates the whole system by increasing the strength, vim, vigor, and vitality of the patient."
Alfalfa has been thoroughly studied as an animal feed but not as an herbal medicine for humans. Animal studies suggest it can prevent high cholesterol in animals on high-fat diets. Compounds in the plant may decrease intestinal absorption of cholesterol and reduce atherosclerotic plaque.
Alfalfa is high in protein and contains vitamins A, B1, B63 B 12, C, E, and K1, along with the minerals calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc.Despite its widespread use as a dietary supplement, there are no human studies of its claimed benefits. Alfalfa would be a good subject for further research.
Antihemolytic Agent:Alfalfa Contains Vitamin K
Vitamin K is found in many green leafy plants, but is especially abundant in alfalfa. The herb has therefore been effectively used in treatment of vitamin K disorders in man. When the delivery of bile to the bowel is hindered, as in obstructive jaundice or biliary fistula, a bleeding disorder may arise. Other bleeding disorders may result from the use of artificial formulas to feed newborns, protracted antibiotic therapy, pancreatic insufficiency, chronic diarrhea and steatorrhea, and from the misuse of anticoagulants, aspirin, and anticonvulsant drugs.In man, dietary vitamin K can remedy bleeding disorders which occur when the delivery of bile to the bowel is hindered, as for example in obstructive jaundice or biliary fistula.
The saponins in alfalfa have been shown to be antifungal. This activity is concentrated mainly in the medicagenic acid fraction. Alfalfa has shown some activity against tuberculosis bacteria, while aqueous and volatile extracts of alfalfa are antibacterial against gram negative bacteria.
Basic proteins (histones) displaying antitumor activity without undesired side effects occur in alfalfa. These substances contain high levels of l-lysine, aspartic acid, and glutamic acid. Tumor stimulating fractions were also found, containing large amounts of l-arginine. This basic relationship requires further study.
Anti-inflammatory, diuretic, galactogogue:
The primary properties of Alfalfa are considered to be anti-inflammatory, diuretic, galactogogue, nutritive, stomach tonic, phytoestrogenic, and tonic. The parts of the plant typically used are flowers, leaves, and sprouts. Primary known active constituents include chlorophyll, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folic acid, calcium, copper, phosphorus, manganese, iron, zinc, fluorine, electrolytes, isoflavones, coumrains, betaine, alkaloids (stachydrine), phytoestrogens, and antioxidant (tricin).
Alfalfa detoxifier:cleanse the liver and bloodstream
Alfalfa is promoted as a detoxifier, able to cleanse the liver and bloodstream. Claims link Alfalfa with enhanced pituitary functions, as well as treating high fevers, inflamed prostate, and alleviating allergic reactions related to plants and grasses. While there are few, if any, valid scientific studies supporting these claims, Alfalfa is generally recognized as a healthy and nutritious source of chlorophyll, beta carotene, calcium, and the vitamins D, E and K. Alfalfa leaves and sprouts are consumed around the world, and Alfalfa tea is widely touted as a health tonic. Alfalfa in tablet and capsule forms are readily available at most health food stores.
Pertaining to the claims for Alfalfa's curative powers, researchers have found that the Alfalfa Root, a part of the plant not generally used, contains saponins, a family of chemicals that have been shown to lower cholesterol levels in monkeys. To date, this research has not been repeated with human subjects. Other studies have found that alfalfa can inhibit the growth of some viruses. This ability seems to be associated with a non-protein amino acid called L-canaverine, which is found in Alfalfa leaves and roots.
Past topical uses of this herb include its use as a bath herb, facial steam, and hair rinse. Also, Alfalfa has been used as a poultice on wounds. The root of the plant can be peeled, dried and frayed (by hitting with a hammer) to be used as a toothbrush.
Cholesterol and diabetes:Root and Leaves
While the medicinal benefits of alfalfa are poorly understood, the constituents in alfalfa have been extensively studied. The leaves contain approximately 2~3% saponins.Animal studies suggest that these constituents block absorption of cholesterol and prevent the formation of atherosclerotic plaques.One small human trial found that 120 grams per day of heat-treated alfalfa seeds for eight weeks led to a modest reduction in cholesterol.However, consuming the large amounts of alfalfa seeds (80~120 grams per day) needed to supply high amounts of these saponins may potentially cause damage to red blood cells in the body.Herbalists also claim that alfalfa may be helpful for people with diabetes. But while high amounts of a water extract of the leaves led to increased insulin release in animal studies, there is no evidence that alfalfa would be useful for the treatment of diabetes in humans.
The hypocholesterolemic effect of alfalfa root saponins has been thoroughly established. Alfalfa root saponins can inhibit increases in blood cholesterol levels by 25% in experimental animals fed a high cholesterol diet. Alfalfa root saponins also have a hemolytic effect. It appears this hemolytic effect is the result of a marked reduction in prothrombin factor concentration. In addition, they may interfere with the metabolism of vitamin E.
Alfalfa saponins inhibit increases in blood cholesterol levels by 25% in laboratory experiments with monkeys, rats and rabbits. Other components of Alfalfa greatly enhance the action of the saponins by binding the bile acids that are necessary for cholesterol absorption.
Currently, the most convincing clinical evidence for alfalfa is in the area of cholesterol control. In several animal and human studies, alfalfa supplements reduced blood cholesterol levels, particularly for individuals with a specific kind of high cholesterol known as type II hyperlipoproteinemia. Although the exact reasons are not understood completely, fibers and chemicals in alfalfa appear to stick to cholesterol, keeping it from staying in the blood or depositing in blood vessels. More of the harmful types of cholesterol leave the body, while high-density lipoprotein (HDL) -- the "good" kind of cholesterol -- appears to be unaffected.
Results of animal studies show that alfalfa may also lower blood sugar levels slightly due to its high manganese content. Manganese is a trace element that is thought to be involved with the body's use of carbohydrates from food. Some of the enzymes that control carbohydrate use and blood sugar levels depend on manganese as an activator. Low levels of manganese have been associated with diabetes in some studies.
For culinary applications, the young leaves and flowers may be eaten as a salad or pot herb. After the seeds sprout, they are eaten as a salad vegetable.
Enhance immune system:
Theoretically, based on other laboratory and animal studies, alfalfa may also have some ability to enhance immune system function. Alfalfa seeds are also used as a folk remedy for asthma or other breathing conditions. Chemicals in alfalfa have mild diuretic properties, which may promote the loss of water from the body. Therefore, alfalfa may relieve swelling caused by excess water accumulation. Because other components of alfalfa may act somewhat like the female hormone, estrogen, it has been suggested as potentially useful in relieving the symptoms of menopause. However, no substantial proof exists to support the use of alfalfa in any of these conditions.
Estrogen-like effects:Alfalfa flavones
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.Although this has not been confirmed with human trials, alfalfa is sometimes used to treat menopause symptoms.Alfalfa contains protein and vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K. Nutrient analysis demonstrates the presence of calcium, potassium, iron, and zinc.
Traditional uses as nutritive restorative for convalescent patients. A cooling herb that has an alkalinising effect on the system, and is of benefit to the blood as a gentle cleanser.It is also important to remember that Alfalfa is a fiber. As such, it has been shown, along with Bran and Pectin, to bind and neutralize various types of agents carcinogenic to the colon. Finally, some work suggests that Alfalfa induces activity in a complex cellular system that inactivates dietary chemical carcinogens in the liver and small intestine before they have a chance to do the body any harm.
Reduce tissue damage:
French scientists have shown that Alfalfa can reduce tissue damage caused by another modern medical technique - radiotherapy. Also of interest are the effects of vitamin K, found in high concentrations in Alfalfa.
- 1.Alfalfa Medicago sativa.Alfalfa Extract.
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