In this article, you’ll learn and discover what ALFALFA is, its uses, side effects, interactions, and warnings.
What is it?
Alfalfa is a herb. People use the leaves, sprouts, and seeds to make medicine.
Alfalfa is used for kidney conditions, bladder, and prostate conditions, and to increase urine flow. It is also used for high cholesterol, asthma, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, upset stomach, and a bleeding disorder called thrombocytopenic purpura. People also take alfalfa as a source of vitamins A, C, E, and K4; and minerals calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron.
How effective is it?
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
The effectiveness ratings for ALFALFA are as follows:
Possibly effective for…
- Lowering cholesterol in people with high cholesterol. Taking alfalfa seeds seems to lower total cholesterol and “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in people with high cholesterol levels.
Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for…
How does it work?
Are there safety concerns?
Special precautions and warnings:
Pregnancy or breastfeeding: Using alfalfa in larger than food amounts is POSSIBLY UNSAFE during pregnancy and breastfeeding. There is some evidence that alfalfa may act like estrogen, and this might affect the pregnancy.
“Auto-immune diseases” such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions: Alfalfa might cause the immune system to become more active, and this could increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. There are two case reports of SLE patients experiencing disease flare after taking alfalfa seed products long-term. If you have an auto-immune condition, it’s best to avoid using alfalfa until more is known.
Hormone-sensitive condition such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Alfalfa might have the same effects as the female hormone estrogen. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, don’t use alfalfa.
Diabetes: Alfalfa might lower blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes and take alfalfa, monitor your blood sugar levels closely.
Kidney transplant: There is one report of a kidney transplant rejection following the three-month use of a supplement that contained alfalfa and black cohosh. This outcome is more likely due to alfalfa than black cohosh. There is some evidence that alfalfa can boost the immune system and this might make the anti-rejection drug cyclosporine less effective.
Are there interactions with medications?
Birth control pills (Contraceptive drugs)
Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants)
Alfalfa might increase the immune system. By increasing the immune system, alfalfa might decrease the effectiveness of medications that decrease the immune system. Some medications that decrease the immune system include azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax), muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf), sirolimus (Rapamune), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone), corticosteroids (glucocorticoids), and others.
Medications that increase sensitivity to sunlight (Photosensitizing drugs)
Some medications can increase sensitivity to sunlight. Large doses of alfalfa might also increase your sensitivity to sunlight. Taking alfalfa along with medication that increases sensitivity to sunlight could make you even more sensitive to sunlight, increasing the chances of sunburn, blistering or rashes on areas of skin exposed to sunlight. Be sure to wear sunblock and protective clothing when spending time in the sun.
Some drugs that cause photosensitivity include amitriptyline (Elavil), Ciprofloxacin (Cipro), norfloxacin (Noroxin), lomefloxacin (Maxaquin), ofloxacin (Floxin), levofloxacin (Levaquin), sparfloxacin (Zagam), gatifloxacin (Tequin), moxifloxacin (Avelox), trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Septra), tetracycline, methoxsalen (8-methoxypsoralen, 8-MOP, Oxsoralen), and Trioxsalen (Trisoralen).
Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?
Are there interactions with foods?
What dose is used?
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For high cholesterol: a typical dose is 5-10 grams of the herb, or as a steeped strained tea, three times a day. 5-10 mL of a liquid extract (1:1 in 25% alcohol) three times a day has also been used.