Back in the early 1970s, when supplements were just gaining popularity, my Aunt Bev started taking alfalfa tablets. My Uncle Len just couldn’t understand why she wanted to take tablets she bought at the store instead of just eating alfalfa sprouts. Now remember, I come from a family of itinerant farm workers during the Great Depression. So the whole tablet thing was foreign to my family’s way of thinking. Alfalfa, to them, was a plant they ate straight from the field. Not a tablet.
In fact, when Uncle Len first looked at the tablets, you could see his bewilderment. Of course, we all busted out laughing when he said, “Why, you could simply follow a rabbit through our alfalfa field and you’d get the same thing — and it’d be a lot cheaper too.”
Well, Uncle Len knew one thing. Alfalfa was good for you. But he couldn’t see back then that alfalfa tablets had their use. In fact, three studies say these tablets can help lower cholesterol and fight lupus.
Two of these studies are from the 1980s. In 1984 and again in 1987, researchers found that alfalfa lowers overall cholesterol levels. In the latter study, the researchers gave alfalfa to 15 patients with high cholesterol. They observed a 17% average decrease in overall cholesterol levels and an 18% decrease in their LDL levels.
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The third study is relatively new. In 2009, researchers followed female mice with lupus. They divided the mice into two groups and gave them either alfalfa or a placebo. Those mice on the alfalfa lived longer than those on the placebo. And their blood markers for infection were significantly lower and they had less kidney disease. The researchers said they think alfalfa should be a regular treatment for anyone with lupus or other auto-immune disease.
Why is alfalfa so good for you? It has a high chlorophyll content, which gives it the green color. And the more color a vegetable or fruit has, the more nutrients. As it turns out, alfalfa contains almost every vitamin you can imagine.
Fortunately, you don’t have to follow a rabbit through an alfalfa field to benefit from this wonderful food and supplement. You can add alfalfa to your diet as sprouts from the grocery store. Or, like my Aunt Bev, you can take alfalfa as a tablet or as a greens powder. There are many quality brands on the market. And you can find them at any health food store and on the Internet.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.
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.