Exploring the benefits of Alfalfa
Alfalfa is a popular herb belonging to the legume family. It is closely related to beans and peas. First discovered by the Arabs, it was dubbed the "father of all foods". They fed alfalfa to their horses claiming it made the animals swift and strong. The Chinese have used alfalfa since the sixth century to treat kidney stones, and to relieve fluid retention and swelling. Called the "great healer" by legions of natural herbalists, the health benefits of Alfalfa are broad, with benefits ranging from the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis to the ability to cure stomach disorders. Alfalfa is a perennial herb that grows throughout the world in a variety of climates. This versatile herb is also a folk remedy for diabetes, asthma, hay fever, and is reputed to be an excellent appetite stimulant and overall tonic.
Alfalfa is a plant commonly cultivated by farmers around the world. It is widely used as an animal feedstock. Alfalfa, Latin name, Medicago sativa, was grown in Greece and Rome before the Christian era. During the Middle Ages it spread across North Africa and into Europe. In the 18th Century it was introduced into North America, but its value was not truly appreciated until about 1850. Alfalfa grows to about 3 feet and has blue-violet flowers that bloom from July to September. The plants have clusters of three leaves that are generally smooth. Each plant can produce about 220,000 seeds.
Alfalfa is promoted as a detoxifier, able to cleanse the liver and bloodstream. Claims link Alfalfa with enhanced pituitary functions, as well as treating high fevers, inflamed prostate, and alleviating allergic reactions related to plants and grasses. There are, however, few, valid scientific studies supporting these claims. Alfalfa leaves contain eight essential amino acids and are generally recognized as a healthy and nutritious source of chlorophyll, beta-carotene, calcium, and the vitamins D, E and K. Alfalfa extract is used by food makers as a source of these vitamins and minerals.
Leaf tablets are also rich in protein, vitamins E and K. Alfalfa leaves and sprouts are consumed around the world, and Alfalfa tea is widely used as a health tonic. Alfalfa in tablet & capsule form is easily available at most health food stores. Alfalfa is a good laxative and a natural diuretic. It is useful in the treatment of urinary tract infections and kidney, bladder and prostrate disorders. Alfalfa alkalizes and detoxifies the body, especially the liver and promotes pituitary gland function and contains an anti-fungus agent.
Generally recognized as a safe, though somewhat undocumented, health supplement, researchers have raised some specific health concerns relating to the excessive consumption of Alfalfa or Alfalfa containing products. Studies have noted a link between consumption of high doses of Alfalfa with the aggravation of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), a disease affecting connective tissues. Those diagnosed with Lupus should avoid alfalfa products entirely.
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