Alfalfa & Menopause
Alfalfa is rich in vitamins such as A, B6 and 12, C and D, and minerals including magnesium and calcium, it also provides a rich source of fluoride. Because alfalfa is a rich source of nutrition, it has many uses in Chinese and ayurvedic medicine. Alfalfa has been used to treat conditions including menopause, bladder and kidney infections, and poor digestion, and its seeds were made into poultices for insect bites and boils in the early years of medicine. Because menopause is a natural part of life for women, the use of alfalfa seems to be one of many resources to include in the management of menopause symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats.
Identification & Parts Used
Alfalfa is grown widely around the world today, originating in the Mediterranean and western Asia. Alfalfa grows to approximately three feet in height. The blooms are generally yellow and violet blue. Alfalfa is classified as a legume, and not a vegetable or herb. The foliage is blue-green, with the seed pods slightly long and twisted.
The flowers, stems and seeds are used in combination or individually, depending on the ailment being treated. In the case of menopause, the leaves and/or flowers can be used to create a tea, which can be consumed either hot or cold.
Because alfalfa is a cooling, sweet, astringent legume, it has been used by many to relieve the hot flashes and night sweats that accompany the various stages of menopause. Alfalfa has been used in the aid of managing hormone changes that occur with menopause. It is suggested to combine alfalfa with sage for a more beneficial menopausal remedy. Alfalfa is not a cure all, but it has been reported to help with some of the other issues that accompany menopause, including digestion, exhaustion and lowering cholesterol levels, and to aid circulation.
Alfalfa has been known to increase blood flow and help lower high blood pressure. Besides the ability to help lower cholesterol, it has also been reported as beneficial in aiding digestion problems and cleansing the urinary tract, and the vitamin K content is beneficial in aiding proper blood clotting.
Alfalfa has been studied in regard to cholesterol, cancer and diabetes, but its more traditional uses have been to treat menopausal symptoms as previously listed. During menopause, many conditions may occur, including a lower immunity (which can put a woman at risk for numerous infections), changes in the entire body where organs begin to slow down, an increase in blood pressure, and many other health issues that accompany aging. For many of these issues, it has been stated in a few studies that alfalfa is beneficial in strengthening the immune system, not just relieving hot flashes.
Forms of Use
Alfalfa comes in three primary forms for use: a tea, capsules and tablets. Of the three, the most potent form is capsules, which have the highest concentration of alfalfa. The tea mixture can be prepared as iced or hot tea with mint and a bit of honey to improve the taste. Alfalfa may also be purchased in seed form to grow sprouts, which can then be added to salads or as a garnish in other recipes.
Alfalfa should not be used with blood-thinning or anticoagulant medications such as warfarin. Let your doctor know if you wish to use alfalfa. Using alfalfa in greater doses can cause photosensitivity, breakdown of red blood cells, anemia or use of immunosuppressive drugs; it should not be used in cases of gout and systemic lupus crythematosus. Care should be taken when sprouting seeds or purchasing sprouts, as diseases such as salmonella and E. coli are common due to the high moisture and heat used in sprouting seeds. Individuals who are taking drugs to prepare for organ transplant should consult with a doctor prior to using alfalfa in any form, due to the risks of transplant rejection.