Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) leaves are a natural source of the plant pigment, chlorophyll, and magnesium. Iron, copper, zinc, boron, chromium, molybdenum, manganese, potassium, beta-carotene, and vitamin K are also present in Alfalfa. In ancient times, alfalfa was called the “father of all foods” because it was seen as being so nutritious. Phytoestrogenic compounds such as: coumestrol, loliolide, liquiritigenun, isoliguiritigenin, and (4S,6S)- and (4R,6S)-4-hydroxy-6-pentadecyltetrahydropyr-2-one have been isolated from alfalfa sprouts and roots.1 The following compounds have been identified in Alfalfa leaf extract: (-)-medicarpin, (-)-melilotocarpan E, millepurpan, tricin, and chrysoeriol.2
Alfalfa may protect cells from the adverse effects of LDL cholesterol, which may be augmented when supplemented with acerola cherry extract.3 Alfalfa contains high amounts of Vitamin K, an important factor in blood clotting.4 It has been suggested in a preclinical study that consumption of Alfalfa seeds may reduce total cholesterol.5 The aerial parts of Alfalfa (e.g., leaves and stem) may also contain anti-inflammatory properties.6
It is important to consult a physician regarding alfalfa supplementation when one is on Warfarin (an anti-clotting medication) because alfalfa may decrease the effectiveness of blood thinning medications.4
Hong YH, Wang SC, Hsu C, Lin BF, Kuo YH, Huang CJ. Phytoestrogenic compounds in alfalfa sprout (Medicago sativa) beyond coumestrol. J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Jan 12;59(1):131-7. PubMed PMID: 21158449.
Gatouillat G, Magid AA, Bertin E, Okiemy-Akeli MG, Morjani H, Lavaud C, Madoulet C. Cytotoxicity and apoptosis induced by alfalfa (Medicago sativa) leaf extracts in sensitive and multidrug-resistant tumor cells. Nutr Cancer. 2014;66(3):483-91. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2014.884228. Epub 2014 Mar 14. PubMed PMID: 24628411.
Hwang J, Hodis HN, Sevanian A. Soy and alfalfa phytoestrogen extracts become potent low-density lipoprotein antioxidants in the presence of acerola cherry extract. J Agric Food Chem. 2001 Jan;49(1):308-14. PubMed PMID: 11170593.
Alfalfa. MedLine Plus (accessed 6/3/2015) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/19.html
Malinow MR, McLaughlin P, Stafford C. Alfalfa seeds: effects on cholesterol metabolism. Experientia. 1980 May 15;36(5):562-4. PubMed PMID: 7379953.
Choi KC, Hwang JM, Bang SJ, Kim BT, Kim DH, Chae M, Lee SA, Choi GJ, Kim da H, Lee JC. Chloroform extract of alfalfa (Medicago sativa) inhibits lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammation by downregulating ERK/NF-κB signaling and cytokine production. J Med Food. 2013 May;16(5):410-20. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2012.2679. Epub 2013 Apr 30. PubMed PMID: 23631491.