Q-Notes for Adult Medicine  

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REF:  http://www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtIH/WSIHW000/8513/31402.html    

Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)

Be aware that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and dietary supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products containing or claiming to contain alfalfa. Decisions to use herbs or supplements should be carefully considered. Individuals using prescription drugs should discuss taking herbs or supplements with a pharmacist or health care professional before starting.


Scientists have studied alfalfa for the following health problems:

High cholesterol

Atherosclerosis (clogged arteries)


Unproven Uses   

Alfalfa has been suggested for many other uses, based on tradition or on scientific theories. However, these uses have not been thoroughly studied in humans, and there is limited scientific evidence about safety or effectiveness. Some of these suggested uses are for conditions that are potentially very serious and even life-threatening. You should consult with a health care professional before taking alfalfa for any unproven use.

Potential Dangers   


Side Effects

Pregnancy And Breast-Feeding


Interactions With Drugs

Interactions With Herbs And Dietary Supplements

Alfalfa may lower blood sugar levels. People using other herbs or supplements that may alter blood sugar levels, such as bitter melon (Momordica charantia), should be monitored closely by a health care professional while using alfalfa. Dosing adjustments may be necessary. Alfalfa may have cholesterol-lowering properties. These effects may be increased if used with other supplements that possess similar properties, such as red yeast. Alfalfa may contain vitamin K and, as a result, may increase the likelihood of blood clots. In theory, alfalfa may possess estrogenlike properties and may increase side effects if used with other herbs, such as red clover (Trifolium pratense), that have estrogenlike effects. In theory, alfalfa may lessen the effects of supplements such as iron or vitamin E.


The doses listed below are based on scientific research, publications or traditional use. Because most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly studied or monitored, safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients even within the same brand. Combination products often contain small amounts of each ingredient and may not be effective. Appropriate dosing should be discussed with a health care professional before starting therapy; always read the recommendations on a product's label. The dosing for unproven uses should be approached cautiously, because scientific information is limited in these areas.

Safety of use beyond eight weeks has not been studied. There are no standard or well-studied doses of alfalfa, and many different doses are used traditionally.

Adults (Aged 18 Or Older)

Children (Younger Than 18)

There are not enough scientific data to recommend alfalfa supplements for use in children, and alfalfa is not recommended because of potential side effects.


Alfalfa has been suggested as a treatment for many conditions. However, there is not enough scientific evidence at this time to support the use of alfalfa for any medical condition. Alfalfa may lower cholesterol levels. Use of alfalfa may increase the risk of blood clots and may lower blood sugar levels. People taking anticoagulants (blood thinners) and those with diabetes who take oral drugs or use insulin to control their sugar levels should use alfalfa cautiously. Alfalfa should be avoided in pregnant or breast-feeding women and in children in amounts larger than commonly found in foods. Safety of use beyond eight weeks has not been studied. Consult a health care professional immediately if you have any side effects.

The information in this monograph was prepared by the professional staff at Natural Standard, based on thorough systematic review of scientific evidence. The material was reviewed by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School with final editing approved by Natural Standard.


Some of the more recent studies are listed below: