Alfalfa Herbal Remedies for High Cholesterol
Alfalfa herbal remedies are often used to treat high cholesterol, a leading cause of heart disease and stroke. Alfalfa has long been recommended by herbalists as a nutritional tonic. It is known to be high in minerals (around 10% by dry weight) and B vitamins. Alfalfa can be thought of as a nutritious herbal supplement to the diet that may have balancing effects on blood cholesterol. It may have beneficial effects on blood flow, blood sugar balance, inhibiting plaque formation in the vessels and supply some trace minerals and vitamins. Alfalfa has been extensively studied for safety and nutritional benefits because it remains a widely-cultivated and important animal feed.
How to take Alfalfa to treat High Cholesterol
Typical Dosage of Alfalfa for High Cholesterol
For adults, a typical dose of alfalfa is 40mg of seeds or 5 to 10 gm of dried leaves taken three times per day. When taken as a capsule, always follow the manufacture’s recommendation; however, typical doses are 1 gm three times per day. Most manufactures produce 500mg capsules.
Fresh vs. packaged
Acquiring raw alfalfa and processing yourself can yield the best herbal remedy. If you are not able to obtain fresh alfalfa, judge the packaged product based on its freshness. The best product should be processed raw to preserve the important enzymes, and ideally (but may be hard to determine) made mostly from leaves that contain the most saponin. Mature plants that are organically grown are also desirable in both the bulk herb and in finished products like dried and powdered herb packed in capsules or pressed into tablets.
How often to take it
Taking alfalfa two, or preferably three, times per day is the typical dosing schedule. You may want to consider taking alfalfa in capsule form for convenience in administration of the remedy.
How much to buy at each time (weekly, monthly need)
In order to test the effectiveness of the herbal remedy, you should consider consuming the product for at least two months. Taking 3 gm per day would require approximately 42 capsules of 500 mg per week.
Where to buy Alfalfa
Alfalfa supplements can be purchased from health food stores and other possibly even your pharmacy’s herbal products section.
How to Prepare Alfalfa
Alfalfa leaves can be dried and used to make into capsules, tablets, or tea. Simply dry the herb in a food dehydrator or in the shade in a place that is dry and a little warm with good air movement, then powder finely in a coffee grinder, and pack into “00” or “0” (smaller) capsules. Use a “Cap-M-Kwik,” which can be purchased in many health food stores or online. A “00” (double-ought) capsule will hold about 500 mg of powdered herb, and a “0” (single-ought) capsule will hold about 300 mg.
To make alfalfa tea, boil the dried leaves for 10 to 15 minutes in water to extract the necessary active ingredients. Strain the decoction before drinking, and compost the spent herb. It is convenient to make one quart of the tea at one time, storing what is not consumed immediately in the refrigerator for later use, which should stay fresh for up to several days.
The tea can be consumed morning and evening around mealtimes, but with added peppermint or other flavorful herbs. Alfalfa tea can be taken hot during the winter months as a fortifying and healthful tea, as desired.
Things to know when taking Alfalfa for High Cholesterol
The safety of alfalfa is supported by its high popularity as a livestock feed, with very few reported side effects.
People with lupus, or at risk because of a family history of lupus should avoid the herb, as lupus-like effects have been reported in the literature, though evidence that this can actually happen because of taking alfalfa leaf or seed products is very scant. The symptoms might be due to L-canavanine, a potentially toxic amino acid, or due to an allergic reaction of some kind.
Alfalfa could theoretically change the way pharmaceutical blood thinners or blood sugar regulating drugs work in the body, though this has not been reported in humans in any published reports to date. You may consider avoiding Alfalfa if you are currently taking medications such as aspirin, warfarin, or heparin.
Scientific Evidence Supporting Alfalfa for treating High Cholesterol
Alfalfa is an herb high in compounds called saponins that may interfere with lipid breakdown and absorption in the gut, lowering cholesterol. Other compounds may have a beneficial effect on cholesterol balance by regulating bile synthesis in the liver. Natural coumarins have been shown to counteract stagnation of blood in the vessels and stabilize blood vessel membranes, reducing leakiness. In one clinical study, the seeds reduced cholesterol levels in humans.
Alfalfa contains phytoestrogens called isoflavones, which can have a moderate estrogenic effect in the body. Isoflavones are also found in red clover and in soy products, and are touted today as a safe alternative to estrogen supplements during and after menopause. It is not uncommon for Asian women to consume up to 200 mg of isoflavones a day in the diet, far higher than the average 10 or 20 mg that is common among North Americans and Europeans. Some research suggests that isoflavones may be partially responsible for the lower rates of prostate and reproductive cancers found in Asia, and possible the lower rate of undesireable menopausal symptoms, though this has yet to be proven in high-quality clinical trials. At the recommended dosage of alfalfa, the estrogenic effect is not likely to be cause side effects usually associated with synthetic estrogen supplements, and may provide a protective benefit when used regularly.
While there have been few controlled human studies, numerous animal studies on safety and demonstrating various biological effects.
Good herbal combinations with Alfalfa
Alfalfa combines well with other leafy herbs with an aromatic taste and aroma such as lemon balm, nettle herb, peppermint and other mints, and stevia for sweetness.
The herb can be combined with green tea or artichoke leaf as a potential enhancement of its cholesterol-balancing effects.