This article is a follow up to our previous article on the health benefits of alfalfa sprouts with even more interesting info on the benefits of alfalfa.
Alfalfa, also known as Lucerne in some parts of the world, is a plant which is part of the pea family of plants. Mainly grown as fodder for livestock, alfalfa can be eaten by humans and is popular in dishes originating from Southern India.
Although the seeds are not eaten, they are used for growing alfalfa sprouts which is the more popular way to eat alfalfa.
Herbalists consider there to be many health benefits to taking alfalfa, usually in dried herb form in capsules or tea but the eating of alfalfa sprouts is gaining in popularity.
Some of the benefits herbalists associate with alfalfa are:
- Healthy hair growth
- Weight control
- Assistance with thyroid problems
- Boosting energy
Is Alfalfa Good for Hair Growth?
Once your body receives sufficient nutrients it can redirect some of their excess energy into promoting good and healthy skin and hair maintenance. As alfalfa has long roots, it is particularly efficient in absorbing healthy nutrients and so by adding alfalfa in some form to your diet, can ensure ample nutrients in the body.
People that have issues with weak hair or hair loss can use alfalfa. It is best to drink alfalfa juice mixed with something else, as it has a very strong taste.
Does Alfalfa Make You Gain Weight?
Whilst alfalfa is considered to be a nutrient-dense food, it is low in calories. The average cup of alfalfa sprouts will deliver 1.3 grams protein, 0.7 grams carbohydrates, 0.6 grams fiber and yet only 8 calories. It is perhaps the fiber content in alfalfa which can assist in weight loss as it promotes the feeling of fullness.
Most people are concerned with losing weight but in reality, being underweight is more dangerous to your health than being overweight. If you are underweight, alfalfa can also help you to gain weight when taken as a tonic. The tonic has a high concentration of nutrients and so drinking alfalfa tonic, perhaps combined with ginseng, will assist in gaining weight. As well as increasing your overall body weight and improving your bone density, alfalfa tonic will increase your appetite, enabling you to eat more.
Is Alfalfa an Anti-Inflammatory?
Alfalfa has been used traditionally as an anti-inflammatory and research shows that this is due to its aerial parts displaying anti-inflammatory activity. The research concluded that alfalfa could be used as a functional food which could help in reducing the risks of inflammatory disorders.
Is Alfalfa Good for Thyroid?
The thyroid system, as a whole, coordinates many of the body’s activities. The thyroid is specifically responsible for manufacturing hormones which regulate the body’s metabolism.
Both hyperthyroidism (too much hormone) and hypothyroidism (too little hormone) can lead to several different health disorders, the main four being Graves’ disease, goiter, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and thyroid nodules.
Herbalists believe that alfalfa can neutralize uric acid and assist in correcting chemical imbalance as well as being beneficial to the pituitary gland, all of which assist the thyroid in maintaining hormone balance.
Does Alfalfa Give You Energy?
Although the alfalfa used as animal fodder may be hard on a human’s digestive system, alfalfa sprouts and powder made from the dried alfalfa leaves are easy for the human body to digest and are full of protein.
This protein can provide a great source of energy, even for vegans. Alfalfa sprouts and powder are also rich in phytonutrients, including saponins, flavonoids, alkaloids, phytoestrogens, and amino acids, plus vitamins C and K. They can also help in filling the daily requirements of zinc, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and the family of B complex vitamins.
What Does Alfalfa Do for the Human Body?
Different parts of the alfalfa plant have differing effects and so the whole plant has various uses. Traditionally, Chinese medicine use fresh alfalfa juice to help treat kidney stones and the plant’s root is used to control jaundice. As the alfalfa leaves contain a high proportion of saponin, it is believed they can assist in lowering cholesterol.
Whilst few studies have been carried out with humans, a study published in the Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Science in 2008 reported that a study carried out on animals showed alfalfa reduced the build-up of fat in arteries and increased good cholesterol. One trial, involving twenty people in Budapest, showed alfalfa lowered blood cholesterol levels.
It is generally considered that alfalfa can assist in helping estrogen deficiencies, however, excess alfalfa can have negative effects on hormone levels.
Alfalfa has long been considered a great beneficiary to human health by the Chinese, Indians and even herbalists in the west. however, it has not yet been officially recognized as such by the US Food and Drug Administration. This is, in part at least, due to the fact that they do not examine herbal remedies as closely as they do traditional medicines and have therefore not undertaken any human trials in order to certify alfalfa.
Whilst alfalfa is claimed to assist with Arthritis, diabetes, high cholesterol, indigestion, asthma as well as bladder, kidney and prostrate problems, further human trials will be needed before USFDA recognition.
One of the concerns the USFDA have is that alfalfa may be associated with flare ups in Lupus disease. There also may be contraindications when taking contraceptives and anti-diabetes drugs. It is therefore advised to consult a doctor before taking alfalfa as a herbal remedy.
If considering growing alfalfa sprouts yourself, as with any microgreens or sprouts, it is important to use uncontaminated seeds such as those provided by Todd’s Seeds.
You can also watch the video version of this article below.
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