Medicago sativa, Luzerne
- Indications with possible efficacy:
- Indications with possible, but poorly documented efficacy :
- Other indications with no proof of efficacy:
Kidney and bladder problems
Lack of energy - used as a tonic (popular use) Prostate problems
- Risk of Drug Interactions: Low
- Adverse Effects: Not Frequent
Part of the plant used: leaves and sprouts
Alfalfa is a perennial plant of the Leguminosea family. It is largely cultivated world wide as a forage plant to feed animals. Alfalfa also occupies a growing place in the human diet as a valid source of proteins, calcium, trace elements, carotenoids and vitamins A, C, E and K.
Even though alfalfa has been attributed several possible therapeutic properties, it seems to have more value as a food than as a medicinal plant.
Direction of use
Leaves and sprouts - 5 to 10 grams 3 times daily
Tea - 5 to 10 grams 3 times daily
Liquid extract (1:1 in 25% alcohol) - 5 to 10 ml 3 times a day
There is insufficient reliable information to conclude that alfalfa is effective in any other indication.
- Side effects
Alfalfa is not associated with any particular toxicity. Alfalfa may cause photosensitivity reactions. Taking alfalfa seeds (but not the stems or roots) may reactivate latent systemic lupus erythematosus.
Alfalfa is contraindicated if history of lupus and should be used with caution in patients suffering from any other autoimmune disease.
Alfalfa is a good source of vitamin K, and may thus interfere with anticoagulants. It may also impair vitamin E absorption due to its saponin content. Before taking alfalfa, check with your pharmacist to make sure that there are no interactions with your regular medication.
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding
During pregnancy and breast-feeding, women should not consume more than habitual food amounts of alfalfa. These women should avoid excessive amounts of alfalfa since some of its constituents may have hormonal (estrogenic) activity.
In 2004, Canada adopted new regulations that control the manufacturing, packaging, labeling and importing of natural health products. The new regulations also include an adverse reaction reporting system. Products that conform to the regulation's criteria are identified with a natural product number (NPN) and can be legally sold in Canada. This number indicates that the product meets specific criteria for safety and purity, not that it is effective for any indication.
Medicinal plant contents vary naturally from plant to plant - just as fruits from the same package may vary in taste and texture. There is no standard to measure the active content of each plant. Thus, efficacy of natural products should be expected to vary from brand to brand as well as from bottle to bottle of the same brand.
For more information about the Natural Health Products Regulations, or to check if a product has been assessed, visit the Health Canada website at www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodnatur/index-eng.php.
- Facts & Comparisons, The Lawrence review of Natural Products, 1999
- Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, Therapeutic Research Faculty, 2010
- Lininger S. et Al. The Natural Pharmacy, Prima Health, 1998
- Barnes J. et Al. Herbal Medicines, 2nd edition, Pharmaceutical Press, 2002
- Passeportsanté.net. Luzerne. www.passeportsante.net
- Natural Therapeutics Pocket Guide, 2000-2001
- The Review of Natural Products, 6th Edition, 2010
- Health Canada, Natural Products Database
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The patient information leaflets are provided by Vigilance Santé Inc. This content is for information purposes only and does not in any manner whatsoever replace the opinion or advice of your health care professional. Always consult a health care professional before making a decision about your medication or treatment.