What are the health advantages of alfalfa supplementation?
Alfalfa, also known as lucerne or by its scientific name, Medicago sativa, is a flowering legume which is a member of the pea family. Used in herbal medicine for over 1500 years, it has a considerable amount of plant proteins, is one of the richest sources of vitamins and trace minerals including: calcium, magnesium, potassium, betacarotene, vitamins A, B12, C, D, E and K and is high in the antioxidant chlorophyll.
Containing coumarin and vitamin K, alfalfa is an effective anti-coagulant. Because of this property, use extreme caution when supplementing an anemic pet with alfalfa. It is best to speak with your veterinarian before adding alfalfa to your pet’s diet. Alfalfa can also be helpful to the cardiovascular system by lowering cholesterol and preventing arterial plaque build-up. The alkalizing effect of alfalfa also reduces overly acidic urine. Alfalfa also supports optimum liver function, is a digestive aid, prevents constipation and the Saponin constituents contained in Alfalfa assist the small intestines in the absorption of fat soluble nutrients.
Forms of Alfalfa
Alfalfa comes in many forms: fresh sprouts, dehydrated powders, concentrated extracts and alfalfa meal. The most recommended form is the pharmaceutical-grade dehydrated powder. Because the dehydrated powder is considered to be pharmaceutical-grade, it has to meet certain nutritional standards, making it a more reliable source of nutrients. You may also find it in some pre-mixed pet nutritional supplements. You can also easily grow alfalfa sprouts at home. They start to sprout approximately 3-4 days after you plant the seeds. However, when growing at home you need to take steps to ensure cleanliness and avoid cross contamination. Salmonella and e.Coli infections are always a concern with any time of green leafy foods.
Other notable benefits of Alfalfa supplementation:
- Improves immune function
- May inactivate chemical carcinogens related to cancer
- Has anti-inflammatory properties
- Can be used as an anti-fungal
- Increases support in bones and joints
- Treats bleeding disorders
- Aids in ulcer healing
- Supports pituitary gland function
- Stimulates growth hormones
Notes of caution:
- Excessive doses or too much of the concentrated extracts may irritate the stomach and GI tract
- May interfere with blood clotting due to the anti-coagulant Coumadin
- Has been shown to cause allergic reactions in pollen-sensitive pets
- Always choose organic Alfalfa as herbicides are commonly used on Alfalfa
- Alfalfa sprouts have an increased incidence of salmonella contamination
- If processed with heat it decreases the active components and vitamin content