(NaturalNews) Alfalfa (medicago sativa L.) is probably one of the most widely recognized foods in the natural health community. Alfalfa sprouts are found in practically every grocery store in the U.S., and alfalfa grass powder is well known as a green superfood. Alfalfa is an antipyretic, which means it is a fever reducer. It is a diuretic, meaning it increases urination. It is an appetite stimulant, and is a hemostatic, which means it helps to stop bleeding. Alfalfa is mineral and vitamin rich. It is very high in the macro-nutrients calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. Alfalfa has a high chlorophyll content, and contains almost every known vitamin. It has been clinically proven to reduce LDL cholesterol and shows promise in the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as lupus.
Alfalfa seeds lower LDL cholesterol
In a 1987 clinical study published in Atherosclerosis, fifteen patients with hyperlipoproteinemia (high blood cholesterol levels) were given forty grams of alfalfa seeds three times a day for two months. No other changes were made to the patients' diets. At the end of the study, the patients saw an average 17% decrease in their overall plasma cholesterol levels and an 18% decrease in their LDL, the so-called "bad" cholesterol levels. After the patients stopped eating alfalfa, all of their blood cholesterol levels rose again. The researchers concluded that adding alfalfa to the diet on a daily basis could help normalize blood cholesterol levels.
Similar results were found in-vitro and with rats during a 1984 clinical study. Here, the researchers used alfalfa sprouts and grass. Liver cholesterol, bile acid excretion and colon structure were observed in the rats. Alfalfa grass bound significantly with cholesterol. Alfalfa sprouts did as well, but to a lesser extent. Bile acid absorption was also greater in alfalfa grass than in alfalfa sprouts.
Alfalfa shows promise in healing lupus and other auto-immune diseases
The March 2009 issue of the medical journal Lupus included a study performed on female mice who had systemic lupus. The scientists knew that alfalfa sprout extract has anti-inflammatory properties, so they wanted to test alfalfa for any effects on lupus erythematosus. Protein in the urine was delayed and longevity was significantly increased in the experimental group of mice who consumed alfalfa sprout extract. In addition, blood markers for infection were also significantly lowered in the alfalfa-fed mice. The mice also had less kidney disease (glomerulonephritis). Because alfalfa sprout extract decreased the severity of disease, increased both the survival and the life span of the mice who consumed it, the researchers stated that alfalfa should be considered as a treatment in auto-immune diseases.
Pubmed.gov. "Alfalfa seeds lower low density lipoprotein cholesterol and apolipoprotein B concentrations in patients with type II hyperlipoproteinemia." J. Molgaard, et al. Atherosclerosis. May 1987; 65(1-2): 173-9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3606731
Pubmed.gov. "Interactions of alfalfa plant and sprout saponins with cholesterol in vitro and in cholesterol-fed rats." J.A. Story, et al. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. June 1984; 39(6): 917-29. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6720621
Pubmed.gov. "The ethyl acetate extract of alfalfa sprout ameliorates disease severity of autoimmune-prone MRL-lpr/lpr mice." Y.H. Hong, et al. Lupus March 2009; 18(3): 206-15. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19213858
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.org. "Alfalfa, Vitamin E, and Auto-immune Disorders," Victor Herbert and Tracy Stopler Kasdan. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition October 1994; 60(4): 639-40. http://www.ajcn.org/content/60/4/639.long