Medicago sativa belonging to the pea family is more popular by the name ‘Alfalfa’. Lucerne, California clover, Spanish clover, Buffalo herb, Purple medic are other names by which it is known. The Arabs called it ‘Father of plants’.
It is now grown all over the world, the United States of America being the largest producer; though it is a native to Eastern Mediterranean and Western Asia.
It has been cultivated for more than 1600 years, most commonly as cattle feed in the form of alfalfa hay. Imagine what we human beings missed on! The Romans have recorded its use way back in 490 BC. The Chinese used it for digestive problems while Ayurveda used it for ulcers, fluid retention and arthritic pain. The Spaniards introduced it in their colonies in 1700. The eighteenth century witnessed its therapeutic use for indigestion, anaemia dyspepsia, loss of appetite and poor assimilation. The use of alfalfa was revived around 1970 as it had lost its popularity after the Civil War.
Alfalfa is rich in vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Chlorine, Silicon, Potassium, Iron, and Zinc. It is highly alkaline.
Therapeutically Alfalfa is used –
- As a cure for cancer
- As a cure for dermal problems as it detoxifies the body
- To promote blood clotting and hence should be avoided by those on anti- blood clotting medicines.
- Treat jaundice
- To treat scurvy
- For bowel movement and urinary problems.
- For indigestion and improper assimilation
- For gastritis
- Morning sickness and nausea
- Loss of appetite
- For acidity
- For reducing blood sugar
- For alleviating painful menstruation and problems of menopause
- For balancing the hormones in the body.
- For reducing blood cholesterol and reducing plaque in the arteries
- For hair disorders
- For arthritis
The alfalfa sprouts are of great value and is known as king of sprouts. The alfalfa sprouts are used in salads and the alfalfa in powdered form is used to thicken soups. Besides its various use it is used commercially as a chlorophyll producer.