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The medicinal uses of alfalfa have existed for many years now and it is being used in traditional Chinese medicine as a remedy for kidney problems.
Alfalfa is an herbaceous legume that grows perennially. It has been used for a long time as livestock and horse feeds and are claimed to make horses and other livestock strong and swift. Alfalfa is an Arab term which means "Father of All Foods," and it has taken its name due to its beneficial effect.
Alfalfa naturally has about 300 nutrients and phytonutrients. The alfalfa plant is a good source of proteins as it is composed of 50% alfalfa protein. It is rich in vitamins such as beta carotene, vitamins A, B1, B2, B5, B6, C, E and K, and is also a good source of minerals such as calcium, iron, copper, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and sulphur. It is also a natural source of amino acids, and provides rich sources of 9 essential amino acids. Last but not the least, it contains phytonutrients such as saponins, octasonols and isoflavones that is responsible for some of its medicinal effects. Alfalfa is indeed a very healthy food.
While eating alfalfa legumes and leaves can potentially give you all these nutrients, the full benefits of alfalfa can be achieved by the intake of alfalfa supplements.
Alfalfa supplements come in many forms. There are dried leaves available and they are also being sold as alfalfa extracts in liquid form. Supplements also come as 250 milligram to 1000 milligram alfalfa tablets or alfalfa capsules, and they are available in drug and health stores all over the world. Alfalfa supplement is mostly taken in tablet and capsule form. Dried alfalfa leaves can also be steeped into one pint of water for 20 minutes to make alfalfa tea.
There is no standard alfalfa dosage that has to be strictly followed. The recommended dosage depends particularly on the purpose of taking the drug. Alfalfa tabs and alfalfa pills, for example, are usually taken 2-3 times everyday after meals for lowering cholesterol. Drinking two cups of alfalfa tea achieves the best results.
Generally, alfalfa is safe to take for those who are healthy. However, some isolated reports have been found on allergic reactions to alfalfa supplements. There have also been reports that mention that alfalfa seeds and alfalfa sprouts contain amino acids and other components that can be harmful for people with autoimmune diseases. If you suffer from any illness or are taking estrogens, immune-suppressing drugs, diabetes agents and water pills, it is best to consult your doctor before taking alfalfa supplements.