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Alfalfa: What It Is, How We Use It

Cows eat it. Horses eat it. Humans eat it as a sprout. Of course if you’re pregnant, at risk for Lupus, or on blood thinning medication, you may want to steer clear of this widely and commercially-grown herb in both it’s seed and sprout forms, at least in large quantities. Unfortunately, Alfalfa sprouts sold in stores do not carry this warning, and it would appear you do need to eat it fairly frequently to risk the complications that can arise. Even in horses, too much Alfalfa can cause health problems due to the sugar content.

alfalfa sproutsSo if eaten in moderation or leaf form, what are the health benefits of eating Alfalfa? This is yet another plant that is an all-natural multi-vitamin! It is also another plant referred to as a whole food due to the presence of amino-acids and proteins in addition to phyto-nutrients among the wide range of vitamins and minerals present. B Complex, Iron, C, K, A, E, Potassium, Phospherous, Magnesium, Manganase, Calcium, Protein and 8 amino acids round out this amazing member of the legume family.

Similar to Yarrow and Hawthorn, Alfalfa is also another cardiovascular regulator, lowering cholesteral and aiding in managing blood sugars. Hence the warning about potential contraindications with other cardiovascular medications. Alfalfa’s toning and uterin astringent properties are welcome to those who have just given birth, but may not be so welcome to women wanting to carry a healthy baby to term. Phyto-estrogen compounds can help menopausal women, but too much can cause hormonal imbalance similar to ingesting Spinach, Cashews and Soy. Because studies are few in this area, it is always better to be safe than sorry. But again, one must question why these warnings don’t appear on commercially-sold packages of alfalfa sprouts. It must be concluded that based on Canadian laws as put forward by Health Canada, the chances of ingesting enough Alfalfa seeds or sprouts to cause such side-effects are generally slim and the risk is slight. Doing one’s own research however leads to regular encouragement to consult one’s doctor before ingesting this plant in any great quantity.

Most people are only familiar with eating the sprouts either with yogurt or in salads or sandwiches, but the leaves contain high levels of nutrition as well and almost none of what tends to cause the health warnings. How this translates into use in teas such as those in our Tea Shop, means that in liquid form, you are able to ingest legume-quality nutrition in small portions, particularly as it is never the only ingredient found in our tea blends. Teas we offer for sale generally include 3 or more ingredients, with recommended servings of 1 tspn per mug of hot water (Yes, that’s “mug”, none of this dainty little tea cup business!). At this ratio, you’d need several cups in one day to come anywhere close to the amount of plant you’d encounter in a salad or sandwich. As always however, if you feel you might be in a category of risk, always consult your naturopath or homeopathic practitioner for advice.

Links available for further reading.  Pay attention to linked foot notes in a couple of these for additional reading material.