This botanical has been used medicinally for many centuries. Unproven but purported to ease allergies, asthma, arthritis, diabetes, peptic ulcers, and thyroid problems. Small, uncontrolled studies reported that alfalfa may lower cholesterol levels.
Attention for Liver Disease: May cause a blood cell shortage, so those with cirrhosis or patients undergoing treatment with interferon should avoid. May bind with iron, so patients with iron overload and other liver diseases should use cautiously.
Safety Information: Organ transplant recipients should avoid alfalfa. Only use a product that is from a reputable source. There have been reports, including two deaths, from alfalfa contaminated with bacteria, arsenic and other unsafe substances. Is generally safe for up to 8 weeks. No safety data past 8 weeks. Mild gastrointestinal side effects are the most common complaints. Rashes, itching, skin redness and more sensitivity to sun have been reported. Use cautiously with history of diabetes and hypoglycemia. May increase thyroid levels and lower potassium levels. Use cautiously if taking blood thinners, such as warfarin. May exacerbate gout. Lupus- like symptoms have been reported by people taking alfalfa. Should be avoided by people with personal or family history of lupus. Alfalfa has estrogen- like properties, which may raise safety issues, particularly for those with hormone-sensitive cancers. There has been one reported case of swelling of the spleen and decreased amount of blood cells. May be unsafe for patients with autoimmune disorders. Although traditionally, alfalfa has been used to increase lactation, no data supports this. Safety has not been established for children, pregnant or nursing mothers.
Interactions: May interact with the following: birth control pills, blood-thinners, cholesterol- lowering agents, potassium, hormones, immunosuppressants, diabetes and thyroid medications. Alcoholics and those taking metronidazole (Flagyl) or disulfiram (Antabuse) should avoid alcohol-based tinctures and extracts.
Lab Notes: May increase thyroid levels and lower potassium levels. May interfere with coagulation results. May cause abnormal blood cell counts and increase urea levels.