Latin name: Medicago
Common name: Willayati ghas, Lasun ghas
English name: Lucerne, Guinea grass
Habitat: The leguminous plant has entered
India through northwest viz. Baluchistan, Afghanistan,
Kashmir and other countries approached from
northwest. It is found all over India.
Macroscopic identification: An erect
perennial herb with deep roots. Stem 30-60 cm
high. Leaves are narrowly ovate. Flowers are
violet in color and fruit is spirally twisted
with 2-3 turns.
Parts used: Whole plant excluding root.
Pharmacological action: Alterative, diuretic,
antipyretic, haemostatic. The plant is anti
scorbutic, aperient's, ecbolic, and haemostatic,
nutritive, stimulant and tonic. The expressed
juice is emetic and is also anodyne in the treatment
of gravel. Tonic, anti fungal, laxative, detoxifier,
anti-inflammatory, febrifuge, hepatoprotective,
Actions and uses in ayurveda: Ancient
ayurvedic physicians use alfalfa to treat ulcers,
arthritis and fluid retention. Chinese used
it to stimulate appetite and treat digestive
troubles particularly ulcers. Early Americans
used alfalfa to treat arthritis, boils, cancer,
scurvy and urinary-bowel trouble.
Photochemical: it contains upto 50% protein,
and has good quantity of beta-carotene, chlorophyll
and octacosanol. Other ingredients are: saponin,
sterols, flavonoids, coumarins, alkaloids, acids,
vitamin (A, B1, B6, B12, C, D, E, K, niacin,
pantothenic acid, biotin, folic acid), amino
acids, sugar, minerals (calcium, potassium,
phosphorous, magnesium, zinc, iron, copper),
trace elements and other nutrients. Whole alfalfa
has been applied to the ear in the treatment
of earache. The leaves can be used fresh or
dried. The leaves are rich in vitamin K, which
is used medicinally to encourage the clotting
of blood. This is valuable in the treatment
of jaundice. The plant is grown commercially
as a source of chlorophyll and carotene, both
of which have proven health benefits. The leaves
also contain the anti-oxidant tricin. The root
is febrifuge and is also prescribed in cases
of highly coloured urine. Extracts of the plant
are antibacterial. The plant is a kidney tonic,
prostatic tonic, reproductive tonic, musculoskeletal
tonic, glandular tonic and so forth. It also
contains plenty of fiber with anticholesterolemic
Leaves (Fresh weight)- Water: 82.7 Calories:
52 Protein: 6 Fat: 0.4 Carbohydrate: 9.5 Fiber:
3.1 Ash: 1.4 Calcium: 12 Phosphorus: 51 Iron:
5.4 Vitamin A: 3410 Thiamine: 0.13 Riboflavin:
0.14 Niacin: 0.5 Vitamin C: 162
Indications: The plant is taken internally
for debility in convalescence or anaemia, hemorrhage,
menopausal complaints, premenstrual tension,
fibroids etc. A poultice of the heated leaves
Preparations: powder and decoction.
Therapeutic classification index:
- Blood and haemopoeitic tissue: High
concentration of vitamin K has beneficial
effect on several kinds of hemolytic disorders.
- Cardiovascular system: it helps
to prevent heart disease and strokes. It inhibits
increase in blood cholesterol levels by 25%
in experimental animal fed on high cholesterol
- Nutrition and metabolism: Alfalfa
has an extremely high nutritive value, which
includes vitamins A, B1, B6, B12, C, D, E
and K, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, folic
acid, minerals, protein, beneficial saponin,
amino acid, tracer elements (calcium, phosphorus,
potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc and copper).
It contains several saponin, sterols, flavonoids,
cournarins, alkaloids, acids, vitamins, amino
acids, sugar, proteins (25% by weight), minerals,
trace elements and other nutrients. Overall
it is the most nutritious food known. High
concentration of vitamin K is found in alfalfa.
It is also a rich fibrous plant. Alfalfa it
self means "father of all food." It has been
seen that diabetic patients that fail to respond
to insulin improve on alfalfa diet.
- Genito- urinary system: it has been
investigated in the laboratory as a source
of plant estrogen, which might make it helpful
for menopause. It is used as a diuretic.
- Musculoskeletal system: it is successfully
used for symptomatic arthritis.
- Immunity system: It has anti fungal,
anti bacterial, anti tumoral properties. The
saponin in alfalfa has shown anti fungal properties.
The aqueous extracts are antibacterial against
Presence of Phytoestrogens
One of the most promising new uses for Medicago
appears to be in the treatment of endocrine
imbalance. Investigators were able to identify
several hormonally active compounds in Medicago,
the most important group of these being the
phytoestrogens. These compounds are not true
estrogens, yet they possess molecular structures
similar enough to estrogen to bind to estradiol
receptors. Medicago contains three major phytoestrogens:
coumestrol, genistein and formonetin; and two
less important ones, diadzein and biochanin
A. Most phytoestrogens are isoflavones, while
coumestrol is a coumarin derivative. Although
all lack a true steroid structure, they do have
at least one phenol ring and free hydroxyl groups
in positions 7 and 12.
Coumestrol is the most hormonally active of
the group, with a relative estrogenic activity
5% that of estradiol. This is followed by genistein
with 1% and formonetin with .01% activity. The
relative weakness of their estrogenic action
means that these compounds will have an "alterative"
or "balancing" effect.
phytoestrogens may be used therapeutically in
both hypoestrogenism and hyperestrogenism states.
It is precisely this quality that makes them
so useful therapeutically, especially in a naturopathic
In conditions of hypoestrogenism the plant estrogens
will bind directly to estrogen receptors and
provide a mild estrogenic effect. This is enhanced
by the tendency of the phytoestrogens to concentrate
in reproductive tissues, in preference to the
In conditions of hyperestrogenism the relatively
weak-acting phytoestrogens will compete for
binding sites, thus reducing the number of receptors
available to the stronger endogenous estrogens
and reducing net estrogenic stimulation. This
is most useful in estrogen excess conditions
such as premenstrual syndrome, fibrocystic breasts,
uterine leiyomyomas, and estrogen-responsive
cancers of the breast and uterus.
Alfalfa in hypothyroidism
Medicago contains an additional compound with
thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) activity.
This TRH analog is biologically active, probably
via the hypothalmus rather than the pituitary,
and has the additional effect of inhibiting
prolactin release. These findings would suggest
that Medicago extracts could be potentially
therapeutic in the treatment of secondary hypothyroidism
and conditions of prolactin excess such as polycystic
Jackson I. Abundance of immunoreactive thytropin
releasing hormone-like material in the alfalfa
plant. Endocrinology 1981; 108; 344
Effect of alfalfa on
muscles Flavone, tricin, has the ability
to relax smooth muscle. It is poorly absorbed
from the gastrointestinal tract and would thus
be primarily useful in conditions of GI cramping
Use of alfalfa in managing cholesterol
All parts of the plant have been used in one
or more studies, and in each study the component
tested, whether it be the seeds, the roots or
the meal, has demonstrated anticholesterolemic
and anti-atherogenic activity. Alfalfa
meal appears to lower total cholesterol, triglycerides,
low-density lipoproteins, (LDL) and very low-density
lipoproteins (VLDL) while not significantly
lowering the desirable HDL sub fractions.
Alfalfa as a rejuvenator
People have used alfalfa for centuries
worldwide for overall support and rejuvenation.
Because of its deep root system, alfalfa is
a rich source of the minerals calcium, magnesium,
phosphorous, iron, potassium, and trace minerals.
Specifically, it is one of the best sources
for protein and is very high in chlorophyll,
carotene, the vitamins A, D, E, B-6, K, and
several digestive enzymes. This may be why it
is said to help reconstitute bone and when fresh,
is beneficial for rickets. Research suggests
that it may inactivate dietary chemical carcinogens
in the liver and small intestine before
they have a chance to do the body any harm.
It is commonly used for bladder infections.
Alfalfa is used as an appetite stimulant, a
vitality augmenter (tonic), a digestive stimulant,
for insomnia, and to relax the nervous system.
Dose: dried herb: 5-10 gms
Capsule Alfalfa contains pure powder of Alfalfa.
Dosage: one capsule twice a day.
Package 60 capsules
- HPI page no.30
- Dr.KM Nadkarni, The Indian Materia Medica,
Vol.I, pg 774