- Clinical Overview
- Scientific Family
- Uses and Pharmacology
- Pregnancy / Lactation
- Adverse Reactions
- Further information
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Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Mar 29, 2018.
Scientific Name(s): Medicago sativa L.
Common Name(s): Alfalfa
Alfalfa may be useful in lowering cholesterol and treating menopausal symptoms. It also may have hypoglycemic and anti-inflammatory effects; however, clinical information supporting any of these indications is limited.
A general dosing regimen is 5 to 10 g of the dried herb taken 3 times daily. For the treatment of high cholesterol, the seeds may be taken at a dose of 40 g 3 times daily.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an advisory indicating that children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems should not consume alfalfa sprouts because they are frequently contaminated with bacteria. Use should be avoided in people with a personal or family history of systemic lupus erythematous (SLE) because of possible effects on immunoregulatory cells by canavanine, a component of alfalfa.
Avoid use. Documented adverse effects of alfalfa during pregnancy include possible uterine stimulation. Although alfalfa has been anecdotally recommended to stimulate milk production, evidence is lacking.
Because of its high vitamin K content, alfalfa may antagonize and therefore reduce the effects of warfarin. Alfalfa may interact with immunosuppressant agents, such as cyclosporine, because of its immunostimulatory effects.
Alfalfa seeds and fresh sprouts can be contaminated with bacteria, such as Salmonella enterica and Escherichia coli. The FDA issued an advisory indicating that children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems should avoid eating alfalfa sprouts. Ingestion of dried alfalfa preparations is generally safe in healthy adults. Because of its high potassium content, alfalfa may cause hyperkalemia.
Alfalfa tablets have been associated with the reactivation of SLE in at least 2 patients.
- Leguminoseae (bean)
The legume alfalfa is cultivated throughout the world under widely varying conditions. Common cultivars include weevelchek, Saranac, team, arc, classic, and buffalo. It is a perennial herb with trifoliate dentate leaves and an underground stem that is often woody. Alfalfa grows to approximately 1 m with 5 to 15 stems. The most common colors of flowers are purple, yellow, white, and cream, which produce spiral-shaped seed pods once pollinated. It is the most cultivated legume in the world, with the United States being the largest producer. California, South Dakota, and Wisconsin are the leading states for alfalfa production.Bora 2011
Alfalfa has played an important role as a livestock forage. Its use probably originated in Asia. The Arabians fed alfalfa to their horses, claiming it made the animals swift and strong, and named the legume “al-fal-fa” meaning “father of all foods.” Medicinal uses of alfalfa originated from anecdotal reports that the leaves caused diuresis and were useful in the treatment of kidney, bladder, and prostate disorders. Leaf preparations have been touted for their antiarthritic and antidiabetic activity, for the treatment of dyspepsia, and as an antiasthmatic. Alfalfa extracts are used in baked goods, beverages, and prepared foods, and the plant serves as a commercial source of chlorophyll and carotene.Bora 2011, Duke 1985
Dried alfalfa leaves are ground and sold as tablets or powder for use as nutritional supplements. Leaf tablets are rich in protein, calcium, trace minerals, carotene, vitamins E and K, and numerous water-soluble vitamins.Worthington-Roberts 1983 A steroidal saponin fraction composed of several factors (eg, soyasapogenols, hederagenin, medicagenic acid)Massiot 1988, Oleszek 1988 is believed to play a role in the hypocholesterolemic and hemolytic activity of the leaves and sprouts.Malinow 1978 Alfalfa seeds contain the toxic amino acid L-canavanine, an analogue of arginine. Sprouts of certain cultivars of alfalfa contain up to 13 g/kg of canavanine (dry weight). Canavanine levels decrease as the plant matures. The alkaloids stachydrine and l-homo-stachydrine, which are found in the seeds, possess emmenagogue and lactogenic activity.Newsletter 1984 Seeds contain up to 11% of a drying oil used in the preparation of paints and varnishes. The chemistry of alfalfa has been well characterized.Duke 1985
Uses and Pharmacology
Animal/In vitro data
The production of nitric oxide from lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced inflammation in RAW264.7 macrophages was reduced in the presence of alfalfa extract. Additionally, LPS-stimulation of interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha production was also decreased with chloroform extracts of alfalfa.Choi 2013
Pretreatment with a chloroform extract of alfalfa was found to improve 2-day survival rates in mice injected with LPS.Choi 2013
There are no clinical data regarding the use of alfalfa for anti-inflammatory indications.
In a study of mice, a methanolic extract of M. sativa was found to exert anxiolytic effects as noted by the average time spent and number of entries in open arms as part of an elevated plus-maze test.Singh Bora 2012
Alfalfa plant saponins and fiberStory 1982 bind large quantities of cholesterol in vitro; sprout saponins interact to a lesser degree. In vitro bile acid adsorption is greatest for the whole alfalfa plant, and this activity is not reduced by the removal of saponins from the plant material.
Several studies indicate that the ingestion of alfalfa reduces cholesterol absorption and atherosclerotic plaque formation in animals.Cohen 1990, Malinow 1977, Malinow 1981, Wilcox 1961 In 1 study, the ability of alfalfa to reduce liver cholesterol accumulation in cholesterol-fed rats was enhanced by the removal of saponins. Therefore, alfalfa plant saponins appear to play an important role in neutral steroid excretion, but are not essential for increasing bile acid excretion.Story 1984 In a study with prairie dogs, the lowest incidence of cholesterol gallstones was obtained with a diet of the higher fiber content (85% alfalfa).Cohen 1990 In a study of hypercholesterolemic rabbits, alfalfa given for 12 weeks decreased triglycerides, low-density lipoproteins, and glucose. It also increased high-density lipoproteins. A reduction in the formation of fatty streaks in the right and left coronary arteries and the aorta was also noted in animals receiving a diet supplemented with alfalfa.Asgary 2008
In addition to demonstrating a cholesterol-lowering effect, alfalfa administration was also found to exert hepatoprotective effects in rats intoxicated by carbon tetrachloride as noted by the ability to suppress increases in glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase, glutamic pyruvic transaminase, gamma-glutamyl transferase, alkaline phosphatase, and bilirubin contents.Al-Dosari 2012
The addition of alfalfa seeds to the diet of 15 patients with type 2 hyperlipoproteinemia helped normalize serum cholesterol concentrations in 1 study.Mölgaard 1987
There is no evidence that canavanine or its metabolites affect cholesterol levels.
The hypoglycemic effects of M. sativa are believed to be due to its manganese content.Bora 2011 In streptozocin-induced diabetic mice, lucerne 62.5 g/kg in the diet was found to decrease hyperglycemia. Additionally, the aqueous extract of lucerne was associated with an increase in glucose uptake, carbon dioxide production, and glycogenesis.Gray 1997
Administration of M. sativa and Salvia officinalis was associated with a reduction to a complete resolution of hot flushes and night sweats in 30 menopausal women.De Leo 1998
A general dosing regimen is 5 to 10 g of the dried herb taken 3 times daily.van Wyk 2004 Seeds for high cholesterol may be taken at a dose of 40 g 3 times daily.Bora 2011
Pregnancy / Lactation
Avoid use. Documented adverse effects of alfalfa during pregnancy include possible uterine stimulation.Brinker 1998, Ernst 2002 Although alfalfa has been anecdotally recommended to stimulate milk production, evidence is lacking.Forinash 2012
Agents with antiplatelet properties: Herbs (anticoagulant/antiplatelet properties) may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of agents with antiplatelet properties. Bleeding may occur. Consider therapy modification.Mousa 2010, Stanger 2012, Spolarich 2007, Ulbricht 2008
Anticoagulants: Herbs (anticoagulant/antiplatelet properties) may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of anticoagulants. Bleeding may occur. Consider therapy modification.Mousa 2010, Stanger 2012, Spolarich 2007, Ulbricht 2008
Estrogen derivatives: Herbs (estrogenic properties) may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of estrogen derivatives. Monitor therapy.Zava 1998
Herbs (anticoagulant/antiplatelet properties): Herbs (anticoagulant/antiplatelet properties) may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of other herbs (anticoagulant/antiplatelet properties). Bleeding may occur. Consider therapy modification.Mousa 2010, Stanger 2012, Spolarich 2007, Ulbricht 2008
Hypoglycemia-associated agents: Herbs (hypoglycemic properties) may enhance the hypoglycemic effect of hypoglycemic agents. Monitor therapy.Hui 2009
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents: Herbs (anticoagulant/antiplatelet properties) may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents. Bleeding may occur. Consider therapy modification.Mousa 2010, Stanger 2012, Spolarich 2007, Ulbricht 2008
Salicylates: Herbs (anticoagulant/antiplatelet properties) may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of salicylates. Bleeding may occur. Consider therapy modification.Spolarich 2007, Ulbricht 2008
Thrombolytic agents: Herbs (anticoagulant/antiplatelet properties) may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of thrombolytic agents. Bleeding may occur. Consider therapy modification.Mousa 2010, Stanger 2012, Spolarich 2007, Ulbricht 2008
Alfalfa seeds and sprouts can be contaminated with pathogens such as S. enterica and E. coli.CDC 1997, Christy 1999, Mahon 1997, Van Beneden 1999 Most healthy adults exposed to Salmonella or E. coli will have symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramping, and fever that are self-limiting. The E. coli infection can lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome with kidney failure or death in children or elderly patients. In 1995, 4 outbreaks of Salmonella infection occurred in the United States because of the consumption of contaminated alfalfa sprouts. In 1995 to 1996, 133 patients in Oregon and British Columbia developed salmonellosis from ingesting alfalfa sprouts contaminated with S. enterica (serotype Newport).Van Beneden 1999 Also in 1995, 242 patients in the United States and Finland developed salmonellosis from ingesting alfalfa sprouts contaminated with S. enterica (serotype Stanley).Mahon 1997
In June and July 1997, simultaneous outbreaks of E. coli 0157:H7 infection in Michigan and Virginia were independently associated with the ingestion of alfalfa sprouts grown from the same seed lot.CDC 1997 The FDA issued an advisory indicating that children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems should avoid eating alfalfa sprouts.Christy 1999
Because of its high potassium content, alfalfa may cause hyperkalemia.Munar 2007
Although alfalfa is listed as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) in the United States,van Wyk 2004 there are some concerns. Changes in intestinal cellular morphology were noted in rats fed alfalfa; these effects were more extensive in animals fed whole plant material compared with sprouts. The interaction of saponins with cholesterol in cell membranes may only be partly responsible for these changes.Story 1984 Although their importance in animal intestinal morphology is not clear, it is known that these changes, when observed concomitantly with changes in steroid excretion, may be related to an increased susceptibility to colon cancer.Sprinz 1971
A disease similar to SLE, characterized by hemolytic anemia, decreased serum complement levels, immunologic changes, and deposition of immunoglobulins in the kidney and skin, has been observed in monkeys fed alfalfa seeds.Malinow 1982 Alfalfa ingestion has resulted in pancytopenia and hypocomplementemia in healthy subjects,Malinow 1981 with L-canavanine implicated as the possible causative agent. The toxicity of L-canavanine is mainly due to its structural similarity to arginine; it binds to arginine-dependent enzymes interfering with their action. Arginine reduces the toxic effects of canavanine in vitro.Natelson 1985 Further, canavanine may be metabolized to canaline, an analog of ornithine, that may inhibit pyridoxal phosphate and enzymes that require the B6 cofactor.Mölgaard 1987 L-canavanine has also been shown to alter intercellular calcium levelsMorimoto 1989 and the ability of certain B- or T-cell populations to regulate antibody synthesis.Prete 1985, Morimoto 1990 Alfalfa tablets have been associated with the reactivation of SLE in at least 2 patients.Roberts 1983
A case of reversible asymptomatic pancytopenia with splenomegaly was reported in a man who ingested up to 160 g of ground alfalfa seeds daily as part of a cholesterol-reducing diet. His plasma cholesterol decreased from 218 mg/dL to 130 to 160 mg/dL.Malinow 1981 His pancytopenia was believed to be due to canavanine.
There is no scientific evidence that self-treatment with alfalfa tablets for asthma and hay fever is effective.Polk 1982 Fortunately, the occurrence of cross-sensitization between alfalfa (a legume) and grass pollens appears unlikely, assuming the tablets are not contaminated with materials from grasses.Brandenburg 1983 One patient died of listeriosis following the ingestion of contaminated alfalfa tablets.Farber 1990
AHA Quarterly Newsletter. 1984;3:4.Al-Dosari MS. In vitro and in vivo antioxidant activity of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) on carbon tetrachloride intoxicated rats. Am J Chin Med. 2012;40(4):779-793.22809031Asgary S, Moshtaghian J, Hosseini M, Siadat H. Effects of alfalfa on lipoproteins and fatty streak formation in hypercholesterolemic rabbits. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2008;21(4):460-464.18930871Brandenburg D. Alfalfa of the family Leguminosae. JAMA. 1983;249(24):3303-3304.6854860Brinker FJ. Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions. 2nd ed. Sandy, OR: Eclectic Medical Publications; 1998.Bora KS, Sharma A. Phytochemical and pharmacological potential of Medicago sativa: a review. Pharm Biol. 2011;49(2):211-220.20969516Choi KC, Hwang JM, Bang SJ, et al. Chloroform extract of alfalfa (Medicago sativa) inhibits lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammation by downregulating ERK/NF-ΚB signaling and cytokine production. J Med Food. 2013;16(5):410-420.23631491Christy C. Foodborne diseases: fruits and vegetables. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 1999;18(10):911-912.10530591Cohen BI, Mosbach EH, Matoba N, Suh SO, McSherry CK. The effect of alfalfa-corn diets on cholesterol metabolism and gallstones in prairie dogs. Lipids. 1990;25(3):143-148.De Leo V, Lanzetta D, Cazzavacca R, Morgante G. Treatment of neurovegetative menopausal symptoms with a phytotherapeutic agent . Minerva Ginecol. 1998;50(5):207-211.9677811Duke J. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1985.Ernst E. Herbal medicinal products during pregnancy: are they safe? BJOG. 2002;109(3):227-235.11950176Farber JM, Carter AO, Varughese PV, Ashton FE, Ewan EP. Listeriosis traced to the consumption of alfalfa tablets and soft cheese. N Engl J Med. 1990;322(5):338.2296279Forinash AB, Yancey AM, Barnes KN, Myles TD. The use of galactogogues in the breastfeeding mother. Ann Pharmacother. 2012;46(10):1392-1404.23012383From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Outbreaks of Escherichia coli 0157:H7 infection associated with eating alfalfa sprouts—Michigan and Virginia, June-July 1997. JAMA. 1997;278(10):809-810.Gray AM, Flatt PR. Pancreatic and extra-pancreatic effects of the traditional anti-diabetic plant, Medicago sativa (lucerne). Br J Nutr. 1997;78(2):325-334.9301421Hui H, Tang G, Go VL. Hypoglycemic herbs and their action mechanisms. Chin Med. 2009;4:11.19523223Mahon BE, Pönkä A, Hall WN, et al. An international outbreak of Salmonella infections caused by alfalfa sprouts grown from contaminated seeds. J Infect Dis. 1997;175(4):876-882.9086144Malinow M, Malinow MR, Bardana EJ Jr, Pirofsky B, Craig S, McLaughlin P. Systemic lupus erythematosus-like syndrome in monkeys fed alfalfa sprouts: role of a nonprotein amino acid. Science. 1982;216(4544):415-417.7071589Malinow MR, Bardana EJ Jr, Goodnight SH Jr. Pancytopenia during ingestion of alfalfa seeds. Lancet. 1981;1(8220 pt 1):615.6110847Malinow MR, Connor WE, McLaughlin P, et al. Cholesterol and bile acid balance in Macaca fascicularis. Effects of alfalfa saponins. J Clin Invest. 1981;67(1):156-162.Malinow MR, McLaughlin P, Naito HK, Lewis LA, McNulty WP. Effect of alfalfa meal on shrinkage (regression) of atherosclerotic plaques during cholesterol feeding in monkeys. Atherosclerosis. 1978;30(1):27-43.Malinow MR, McLaughlin P, Papworth L, et al. Effect of alfalfa saponins on intestinal cholesterol absorption in rats. Am J Clin Nutr. 1977;30(12):2061-2067.Massiot G, Lavand C, Guillume D, Le Men-Oliver L. Reinvestigation of the sapogenins and prosapogenins from alfalfa (Medicago sativa). J Agric Food Chem. 1988;36(5):902-909.Mölgaard J, von Schenck H, Olsson AG. Alfalfa seeds lower low density lipoprotein cholesterol and apolipoprotein B concentrations in patients with type II hyperlipoproteinemia. Atherosclerosis. 1987;65(1-2):173-179.3606731Morimoto I. A study on immunological effects of L-canavanine. Kobe J Med Sci. 1989;35(5-6):287-298.2635243Morimoto I, Shiozawa S, Tanaka Y, Fujita T. L-canavanine acts on suppressor-inducer T cells to regulate antibody synthesis: lymphocytes of systemic lupus erythematosus patients are specifically unresponsive to L-canavanine. Clin Immunol Immunopathol. 1990;55(1):97-108.2137742Mousa SA. Antithrombotic effects of naturally derived products on coagulation and platelet function. Methods Mol Biol. 2010;663:229-240.20617421Munar MY, Singh H. Drug dosing adjustments in patients with chronic kidney disease. Am Fam Physician. 2007;75(10):1487-1496.17555141Natelson S. Canavanine to arginine ratio in alfalfa (Medicago sativa), clover (Trifolium), and the jack bean (Canavalia ensiformis). J Agric Food Chem. 1985;33(3):413-419.Oleszek W. Solid-phase extraction-fractionation of alfalfa saponins. J Sci Food Agric. 1988;44(1):43-49.Polk I. Alfalfa pill treatment of allergy may be hazardous. JAMA. 1982;247:1493.Prete P. The mechanism of action of L-canavanine in inducing autoimmune phenomena. Arthritis Rheum. 1985;28(10):1198-1200.4052135Roberts JL, Hayashi JA. Exacerbation of SLE associated with alfalfa ingestion. N Engl J Med. 1983;308(22):1361.6843625Singh Bora K, Sharma A. Evaluation of anxiolytic effect of Medicago sativa in mice. Pharm Biol. 2012;50(7):878-882.22489538Spolarich AE, Andrews L. An examination of the bleeding complications associated with herbal supplements, antiplatelet and anticoagulant medications. J Dent Hyg. 2007;81(3):67.17908423Sprinz H. Factors influencing intestinal cell renewal. A statement of principles. Cancer. 1971;28(1):71-74.5110647Stanger MJ, Thompson LA, Young AJ, et al. Anticoagulant activity of select dietary supplements. Nutr Rev. 2012;70(2):107-117.22300597Story J, White A, West LG. Adsorption of bile acids by components of alfalfa and wheat bran in vitro. J Food Sci. 1982;47(4):1276-1279.Story JA, LePage SL, Petro MS, et al. Interactions of alfalfa plant and sprout saponins with cholesterol in vitro and in cholesterol-fed rats. Am J Clin Nutr. 1984;39(6):917-929.Ulbricht C, Chao W, Costa D, et al. Clinical evidence of herb-drug interactions: a systematic review by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration. Curr Drug Metab. 2008;9(10):1063-1120.19075623Van Beneden CA, Keene WE, Strang RA, et al. Multinational outbreak of Salmonella enterica serotype Newport infections due to contaminated alfalfa sprouts. JAMA. 1999;282(2):158-162.9917119van Wyk BE, Wink M, eds. Medicinal Plants of the World. 1st ed. Portland, OR: Timber Press Inc; 2004:201.Wilcox EB, Galloway LS. Serum and liver cholesterol, total lipids and lipid phosphorus levels of rats under various dietary regimes. Am J Clin Nutr. 1961;9:236-243.Worthington-Roberts B, Breskin M. Fads or facts? A pharmacist’s guide to controversial ‘nutrition products.’ Am Pharm. 1983;NS23(8):30-42.6624639Zava DT, Dollbaum CM, Blen M. Estrogen and progestin bioactivity of foods, herbs, and spices. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1998;217(3):369-378.9492350
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More about alfalfa
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What is it?
Alfalfa’s roots can penetrate remarkably deeply into the subsoil and so gather rare nutrients. In herbal medicine, we use the dried leaves of Alfalfa, a plant grown all over the world for livestock but also having rich medicinal and nutritional benefits for humans as well.
How has it been used?
M Castleman writes ‘Ancient Arabs fed their horses Alfalfa, believing it made them swift and strong. They called it al-fac-facah, “father of all foods”. The Spanish changed the name to Alfalfa’
Thomas Bartram writes Alfalfa is good to ‘promote strong bones and rebuild decayed teeth’ and is ‘a nutrient to increase weight and vitality’. He lists many conditions that he see Alfalfa having the potential to benefit, including backache, rheumatism, infections of the sinuses, ear nose and throat. He says ‘it fattens thin people, and builds a person up after a surgical operation, Rich in chlorophyll, it stimulates the growth of supportive connective tissue and is useful for collagen disease, arthritis etc. Frequent cups of tea have a diuretic effect relieving dropsy, kidney, bladder and prostate disorders’
The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia (BHP) describes Alfalfa as having a ‘Nutrient’ action and says ‘it is a source of vitamins A, C, E & K and the minerals Calcium, Potassium, Phosphorus & Iron’ The BHP recommends combining Alfalfa with Slippery Elm and Irish Moss for ‘convalescent debility’. In other words, when a person is recovering from a severe illness and is still very weak and tired.
Sharol Tilgner writes that ‘Alfalfa has been shown to stimulate lactation and increase the quantity of breast milk. It is used as a general tonic and in a variety of chronic degenerative diseases’
Andrew Chevallier writes that ‘in view of its estrogenic activity, it can prove useful in treating problems relating to menstruation and menopause’
Dr Ben Bradley writes ‘I find in Alfalfa, after about seven years’ clinical test in my practice and on myself, a superlative restorative tonic, but it does not act as a stimulant, after the manner of alcohol, cocaine or other habit-forming drugs. It rejuvenates the whole system by increasing the strength, vigour, and vitality of the patient. In all cases, the ever-marked condition calling for the remedy is despondency, along with loss of flesh, whether the case is one of stomach trouble, such as indigestion, dyspepsia, general and nervous debility, anaemia, loss of appetite and poor assimilation, as shown by loss of flesh and constipation, with the always accompanying condition; depression. Alfalfa is especially useful with bottle-fed babies. It has done wonders in some cases accompanied by loss of flesh. It increases the flow of milk in nursing mothers, as well as the urine and the peristaltic action of the stomach and bowels, with a consequent increase of appetite and strength.
A. L. Blackwood, 1915 : Observations with Medicago Sativa (Alfalfa)
~ Clinical Cases.
Mr. D., aged 41, a chief clerk in the general offices of one of our railroad companies, had complained for several months of losing flesh. His appetite was poor, and he did not relish his food. An abnormal thirst was present, with a loss of flesh, and polyuria (frequent urination). Five drops of the Alfalfa tincture were prescribed, four times a day. After two weeks, he sent a messenger for a second supply of the medicine, stating that it had greatly benefited him. He called at the end of two months, having gained ten pounds. The urination had normalised, the appetite was fine, and he considered himself in a excellent condition.
Mr. G., aged 29, complained of a loss of weight and appetite, with excessive thirst, polyuria and mental depression. This syndrome had been developing gradually for the past year. Physical examination showed a man of medium size, emaciated, heart’s action weakened, blood pressure lowered, stomach slightly dilated, prostatic portions of the urethra hypersensitive. Five drops of the tincture before each meal and on retiring gradually relieved the condition so that in three months he considered himself well.
Dr. Ben Bradley, of Hamlet, Ohio, believes that Alfalfa is one of our prime remedies. He reports a case where a woman had given birth to seven children, all born apparently strong and well, but when they reached the age of eighteen, each wasted away and died. When the last, a girl, exhibited the symptoms of the same wasting disease from which the others had died, Dr. Bradley made a concentrated tincture of Alfalfa seeds, fully saturated, of which he gave her ten drops, four or five times a day. Under this treatment her weight increased from 99 to 133 pounds, and she recovered good health.
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Science on Alfalfa
~ One study with Alfalfa showed that it helped to neutralise carcinogens (cancer forming compounds) in the body — another published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute showed that it binds carcinogens in the bowel and helps speed their elimination from the body (Smith-Barbaro, P., Hanson, D., and Reddy, B. S. Carcinogen binding to various types of dietary fiber. J Natl.Cancer Inst. 1981;67(2):495-497)
~ An old case report documented hypoglycemia in a diabetic man taking alfalfa. After being unresponsive to conventional hypoglycemic agents, his blood glucose reached 648mg/100mL. Physicians allowed the patient to prepare an alfalfa extract he had used in the past. Two hours after the patient consumed the extract, he exhibited clinical signs of hypoglycemia with a blood sugar of 68mg/100mL. The extract was consumed 12 additional times when the patient had blood glucose levels ranging between 190-580mg per 100mL, each time resulting in a reduction of blood glucose concentrations. The reserachers at the time attributed this to the high levels of Manganese known to be present in Alfalfa. (Rubenstein AH, Levin NW, and Elliott GA. Manganese-induced hypoglycemia. Lancet 1962;1348-1351)
~ A substance extracted from alfalfa appeared to be beneficial in treating skin damage secondary to radiotherapy and healing gums after orthodontist operations. The substance contained cycloartenol, sitosterol, campestrol, and stigonosterol (Mac Lean JA. Unsaponifiable substance from alfalfa for pharmaceutical and cosmetic use. Pharmaceuticals 1974;81:339)
~ Alfalfa clearly possesses extremely high nutritional value and has been shown to be able to boost levels of both Vitamin D and Vitamin K. It is also very rich in chlorophyll and uncontrolled studies have shown that this compound can reduce bad breath.
~ The authors, titles and the ‘where-and-when’ published of nearly 100 further studies and articles on Alfalfa are listed in a PDF found here
Safety of Alfalfa
In general, Alfalfa extracts or sprouts can be used with confidence by all ages. They may assist with the production of healthy breast milk and can safely be used during breastfeeding but it may be wise to avoid taking high doses of Alfalfa during pregnancy as it contains the substance stachydrine, which has been shown to be a uterine stimulant in animals.
The seeds of Alfalfa should not be eaten by anyone as they contain high levels of the toxic amino acid canavanine, something which is neutralised by the process of sprouting.
It may be wise not to consume a great deal of Alfalfa sprouts or medicine if using the contraceptive pill as Alfalfa contains isoflavonoids with estrogenic effects and large doses of alfalfa may interfere with the pill. Likewise, whilst there is no medical evidence to suggest that it interferes with fertility in humans, it has been seen that animals that consume large amounts of foods that contain isoflavones have reduced fertility.
It may be a herb that will lower blood sugar levels if taken in sufficient doses, so a person using anti-diabetic medicine should carefully watch their levels, and need for medication, when using Alfalfa.
Alfalfa should not be used alongside the anticoagulant drug Warfarin. Alfalfa might interfere with immuno-suppressive drugs as it appears to have some immune enhancing properties. This is only theoretical however, as no cases of adverse interactions are reported in the literature.
General comment on herbal safety
All medicinal herbs that have the power to do good have the potential to do harm. The old maxim ‘the poison is in the dose’ precisely describes how too much of anything can be bad for us. The ancient rule to ‘firstly, do no harm is, to this day, held as the core directive by all practitioners of traditional herbal medicine. Not only are we careful to do our best to use the right herbs, but equally we take care to not give too much of them or use them overlong.
For some years now, against this proven and safe way of herbalism, there has been a rising tide of excessive caution and scare-mongering in many parts of the world. The same authorities that, not so long ago, decried herbal medicines as ineffectual, have now taken up a different adversarial position; that they are dangerous substances that should only be prescribed by Doctors, who of course have zero training in them.
Lists of ’10 popular herbs and why you should avoid them’ include things like Garlic and Ginger that might ‘thin your blood’. Such cautions are absurd to the point of the ridiculous, but fear is a universal driver that has long been proven to be effective at manipulating people.
Unfortunately, the same unnecessary fear and worry has crept into many natural health websites and popular publications on herbs. Herbs that we have safely used for thousands of years, that have no reports of adverse reactions in the medical literature despite widespread use by millions of people, are suddenly described as contraindicated because of something that should have been seen as completely unimportant, or at the utmost a merely theoretical concern, such as a laboratory study on one of the herb’s constituents to use an all too common example.
I wonder sometimes if the writers of such articles feel that the herb will be more deserving of respect if it is thought to be a little bit dangerous, in other words more like a drug than something that has simply come out of the earth and been used by ordinary people for generations beyond count.
There is just so much misinformation about herbal medicine on the internet now. Ludicrous claims and cautions abound in equal measure; it seems like one group are trying to make money out of the public whilst the other are busily trying to scare them off.
I have to believe that the kind of reader who takes the time to read pages on herbs that are as extensive as this one is much less likely to be swayed by marketers or misinformers. I hope that you will keep your wits about you if you get conflicting opinions from people who have never really got to know these herbs, who have never worked with them, or learned how to use them safely and effectively.
I want to remind you that the reason that herbs can never be patented and owned by any individual or corporation is because they are, and always will be, the People’s medicine. They belong to all of us and it is my great hope in sharing this work that you will learn how to use them wisely for yourself, and the people you care for. Be safe, but do not be afraid.
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My personal use of Alfalfa has been within tonics for people who are depleted and exhausted. People report very positive effects from these kinds of medicines and they consistently look healthier and better nourished after using them for a while.
The tincture of Alfalfa is very interesting to use, and it was reading those observations from Blackwood from over a century ago that made me open up my mind to its possibilities. How can we explain how a medicine used in doses that were measured in mere drops could have such a profound effects?
There is more to life than the composite of its chemicals and people are more than machines. Looking around us, in any direction, we have to consider the possibility that there is a great deal of intelligence at work in the universe. Perhaps Alfalfa, this humble, ordinary food and herb, somehow brings the ‘energy’ of what is green, nourishing and good into some kind of a focal point that can shift something profoundly stuck when it is badly needed.
At a personal level, if I drink some Alfalfa tea then the first thing I can’t help but think is that I’ve just taken a bunch of lawn-clippings and put them into a cup – it’s not a bad smell at all, just very like cut grass! Subsequently the taste is quite a pleasant surprise because it’s really perfectly agreeable and it’s no problem at all to drink the whole cup.
The sense I have from drinking Alfalfa tea is one of a deep, warming, gentle nourishing action in my body. The effect is more warming than the temperature of the water warrants and it has an unexpectedly deep effect.
In fact, if I really open up to it, I can feel it reaching into my bones, my marrow; the place I make my blood. I understand this kind of subjective tasting as a way to appreciate the herbs ‘action’ and I am sure this kind of experience is a large part of how we have come to know these plants as friends over the many generations, the millennia, that we have used herbs as our medicines.
These experiences, and the records of others from long ago, lead me to add some Alfalfa extract to a formula of teas or tinctures to lift energy and nourish the blood. Especially when I see a certain kind of weakness or depletion shadow a person.
If you who are reading this are studying herbal medicine or have your own reasons to want to understand this plant ally at a much deeper level then I warmly encourage you to take a cup of Alfalfa leaf tea of a small dose of its tincture and then, with a quiet and attentive mind, observe for yourself how it makes you feel. This old method of ‘experiential’ learning may give you a greater appreciation of the herb’s ‘action’ than any amount of academic learning about it.
Further to that, if you would like to learn more about the ancient art of pulse testing, a simple but powerful way to ask the intuitive intelligence of the body for its responses to a herb by feeling the pulse whilst giving a tiny dose by mouth, read here
If wanting to use Alfalfa as a physical, nutrient tonic, then the kinds of doses that may be necessary will be in the range of 5-10 grams Which, as it is very light, means you would need between 8=15 tsps of the dried cut herb! This would be infused for 5-10 minutes then strained and drunk. Likewise, in a concentrated tincture form, somewhere between 5-10 mls would be required per dose to give sufficient nutrients to replenish a frank deficiency.
The use of Alfalfa in a more energetic manner requires much less of the physical medicine. This is how I personally use it and in a tea combined with other nourishing herbs there may be as little as a tsp of the Alfalfa, in a liquid formula with other tinctures, just a ml or so of the Alfalfa. Working with it in such a way, as an energetic tonic, I recognise, for there to be a turnaround to a deficient condition where nutrition has become depleted, that there must be an awareness for the need for a nourishing diet at the same time, rich in greens and other wholefoods.
Alfalfa combines exceptionally well with Nettles as a blood tonic and with Red Clover for a nutritive, cleansing medicine. For people who are anaemic or depleted it works perfectly with Panax Ginseng and Withania root
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Much of the information here about the traditional uses of Alfalfa is consistent with the model of thinking whereby one may treat problem A with plant B. There is value in this approach, especially in how it helps us pass on useful knowledge to one another, but it falls short in one vital area; and that is that people are not all cut from the same cloth! Something that works brilliantly for one person may do less for another — why is this?
Part of the reason is that people vary in their constitutions as to whether they are either hotter or cooler and, at the same time, either dryer or damper. This useful and rather fascinating subject is introduced further here
Another big part of using the right herb when it is most needed comes from understanding the need to treat what is going wrong for the person that had led up to their getting a health condition. In this light, Alfalfa shows itself as a herb that can particularly offer its benefits when a nourishing action is needed in the ‘cycle of healing’ – more about that here
Please understand that I cannot advise you, including on products or dosage, without seeing you in person in my clinic but for ideas on how you might find a good herbalist in your area read here
This living ‘book’ is my labour of love so, wherever you are, I wish you peace & good health!
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Alfalfa meal fertilizer is an excellent product for use in organic gardening.
It’s an all natural substance that provides a tremendous boost to blooming plants.
The trace elements found in alfalfa meal provide added nutrition that helps flowering shrubs and perennials to bloom more quickly and maintain blooms longer throughout the growing season.
It increases crop yield, improves soil condition and much more. In this article, we explain and explore the many benefits of using organic alfalfa meal in your garden. Read on to learn more.
What Is Alfalfa Meal?
Alfalfa meal is made by fermenting the seeds of the alfalfa plant.
The product is airy and light and smells wholesome and earthy (as opposed to chemical fertilizers which often have a strong, artificial smell.)
Alfalfa fertilizer is affordable and usually comes in 50-pound bags which you can purchase at any animal feed store.
Use the product all around your blooming shrubs and perennials, throughout your garden and in your compost pile or bin.
Where Can You Get Organic Alfalfa Meal Fertilizer?
While you can purchase alfalfa pellets or meal at large garden centers, online and in some other types of stores, your best bet is to buy it at an animal feed store.
There you’ll get the best prices and have access to the largest bags of alfalfa meal.
If the store doesn’t have the meal on hand, use alfalfa pellets instead. The pellets are a little bit easier to handle, but they do cost a little bit more.
How Do You Use Alfalfa Meal in The Garden?
This all-natural product is easy to use. Use it as a natural fertilizer throughout the growing season by sprinkling it on the ground around the plants you wish to feed.
For example, alfalfa meal is an excellent supplement for rose bushes.
Just sprinkle a couple of cups around each bush and work it into the surface of the soil. Follow up with a good watering, and you’re good to go.
When fertilizing roses and other flowering shrubs and perennials, it’s a good idea to do an initial application early in the spring when plants first start growing.
For blooming plants or ones producing fruit only once, you won’t need to fertilize again.
For plants that bloom or produce fruit throughout the growing season, fertilize with alfalfa meal once every six weeks.
How Much Alfalfa Meal Should I Use?
For a light application, apply about 12 pounds of alfalfa meal for every thousand square feet of garden.
Another way to measure it is to use a quarter cup per plant or a pound of alfalfa meal for every 20′ foot row of plants.
For a normal application, apply about 25 pounds of alfalfa meal for every thousand square feet of garden.
For individual plants, apply a third of a cup of meal. When fertilizing by rows, add 2 pounds for every 20-foot row.
For heavy applications use as much as 50 pounds of alfalfa meal for every thousand square feet of garden.
Increase the amount per plant to half a cup. You can use as much as 3 pounds of alfalfa meal for every 20-foot row.
Alfalfa Tea Fertilizer Recipe
If you prefer, mix up a liquid alfalfa based tea fertilizer to apply about once a month.
This is a good option for houseplants, container plants and for gardeners sensitive to alfalfa dust.
In a large tub or jug with a lid, combine:
* Five gallons of water
* Four cups of alfalfa meal
* One or two cups of Epsom salts
Allow the mixture to sit and steep for about a week. Apply the mixture directly to the soil by hand with a watering can or use a water sprayer to apply a lighter solution as a foliar application over entire plants.
How Does Alfalfa Meal Work?
This all-natural, organic fertilizer works by using micro-bacteria to breakdown elements in the soil and produce heat. This accelerates decomposition of the minerals contained in the meal. Rhizobacteria found in the meal continue to process the nutrients it contains. This makes them easily available for use by your plants.
Alfalfa meal decomposes very rapidly and generates a great deal of heat quickly. This quality makes alfalfa meal an excellent addition to any compost heap. When you mulch alfalfa meal into your compost, it accelerates decomposition so that you can produce good garden soil much faster.
Not only does the addition of alfalfa to your compost speed decomposition, but your finished compost will have a far higher nutrient level when you add alfalfa. More nutritious compost naturally creates more nutritious veggies and happier and healthier plants and bushes.
You can use alfalfa meal to accelerate your compost or to directly fertilize plants. Either way, using this simple product is an excellent way to help your plants produce more blooms and more fruit.
What Are the Benefits of Using Alfalfa Meal in Your Garden?
Alfalfa meal is an excellent source of minerals. When you add alfalfa meal to your soil, you are adding:
Alfalfa meal’s NPK ratio is 3 – .5 – 3.
Using alfalfa meal increases organic matter in your garden and provides a wealth of nutrients to your plants roots. The high nitrogen content in alfalfa meal encourages other organic materials in the soil to decompose.
All of this added organic matter helps prevent soil compaction. Furthermore extra organic material helps maintain moisture in your soil. It improves the structure of the soil and discourages erosion.
Alfalfa fertilizer also feeds beneficial microorganisms in the soil. Remember that alfalfa is full of natural sugars, fibers, amino acids and protein, so beneficial microorganisms that encounter it in your soil will make good use of it as a food source.
Alfalfa meal contains a growth hormone (triacontanol) that helps stimulate plant roots’ growth. Furthermore, it increases beneficial microbes in the soil and enhances photosynthesis.
Adding alfalfa pellets or meal to your soil can also help reduce nematodes.
Cyst nematodes, which attack carrots, and root-knot nematodes, which are infamous for attacking tomato plants are especially negatively impacted by the addition of alfalfa meal to the soil.
Adding organic matter to your soil gives it a sponge like ability that helps protect your plants against drought.
Why Is It Better To Use Organic Fertilizers?
Organic fertilizers such as alfalfa meal are directly derived from natural sources. Chemical fertilizers (e.g. ammonium phosphate and ammonium sulfate) are synthetic and made by unnatural manufacturing processes.
Even though many synthetic fertilizers are sourced initially from naturally occurring mineral deposits, the processes they go through cause them to have unnaturally high amounts of only a few nutrients.
Generally speaking, synthetic fertilizers contain high amounts of sulfur, potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen. Some of them also have micronutrients added.
Even though synthetic fertilizers deliver nutrients that are very quickly available to your plants, they also quickly dissipate.
This means that when you use a chemical fertilizer, you must use much more of it and much more frequently than an organic fertilizer such as alfalfa meal.
Even though alfalfa meal breaks down quickly, heats up soil and accelerates the decomposition of natural organic matter, its results are long-lasting.
Alfalfa meal stays active in the soil for a very long time so that you only need to fertilize once or twice a season.
Concentrated chemical fertilizers can easily burn and damage your plants. They also bring along large amounts of unnatural salts, which can build up in your soil.
Alfalfa meal and other organic fertilizers are safer for delicate plant roots and stems and do not cause a buildup of detrimental salts in the soil.
Are There Any Downsides to Using Alfalfa Meal?
Avoid using alfalfa pellets or meal on plants that like acidic soil. Understand that the product is quite alkaline, so it would not be good for plants such as rhododendrons, camellias and blueberries.
Be advised that ‘meal’ is very powdery, and it is unpleasant to inhale. Be sure to wear your facemask and goggles before you begin tossing at about in your garden.
Remember that alfalfa meal is not only edible, it is quite desirable to wild critters. Keep your alfalfa meal in a metal container with a secure lid, such as a metal garbage can.
If you leave loose bags sitting around in your garden shed, you will surely come back to find that mice have chewed holes in them and eaten your fertilizer.
Alfalfa Meal Is User Friendly, Earth Friendly and Animal Friendly
Alfalfa meal is very easy to use, and it is an excellent alternative to other types of organic fertilizer such as blood meal or even compost which may contain too much nitrogen for use by delicate plants.
Additionally, use of alfalfa meal is more acceptable to vegetarian and vegan gardeners than use of products such as blood meal or fish meal.
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Every year, all the local organic farmers meet for the split up of the feather meal truck in Pittsboro, NC, go home and dump the stuff on our fields. One day about 12 years ago, I decided that the feather meal smelled so horrible (and smelled even worse when it rotted) that it and every other bad smelling thing would be forever banned from our farm. It was tough getting the right nutrients until we made a chance discovery about five years ago.
A Happy Accident
We accidentally left an open 50-pound bag of alfalfa pellets under the roof overhang of the barn. That night the rain dripped into the bag and in the morning there was steam rising up from some extremely fragrant alfalfa. We shoveled the hot soggy bag into a tub and later dumped it out into the closest row crop as mulch. When harvest time came around we observed that the part of the bed where we put the hot pellets was more vigorous than the rest of the row.
We had been using alfalfa meal for years as a fertilizer by just walking down the row pouring dry pellets out of the bag onto the raised bed. Alfalfa has many beneficial compounds in it and we would often try to fulfill our nitrogen requirement with it, but since it is less than 3% nitrogen we needed lots of expensive bags. It wasn’t really practical.
The next season we started making controlled alfalfa/water batches and soon learned that it worked better if we first tossed in a handful of soil. After a couple of hours in the insulated vat, the mixture started giving off a strong smell which reminded us of lawn clippings that get left in the catcher for a while. It is a fruity or nutty smell in the early stage of decomposition with aerobic microbes going after the fresh food source. The mix heated up to 105-110 degrees F and needed to be stirred with a shovel occasionally. About 48 hours into it we had to call it quits because the smell was becoming unbearable, quickly changing from good to bad.
With the next batch we stopped earlier when it still had the fruity smell. We then made one more discovery. After the sun had been shining on the soil for a few hours and warmed it up we would pour the steaming mixture onto the raised beds and quickly scratch-till it in. An amazing and powerful smell started rising up out of the soil as the fungi, yeast and bacterium went to work on the organic crop residue.
Over the last five years we’ve continued perfecting the recipe. We call the final product “meso,” short for “mesophyllic” which means middle-temperature microbes. The gut of an animal has a similar process going on which is why manure makes such good fertilizer and has a rich smell. The experiments have paid off for us in increased crop yields and at this point we do not plant anything out before adding the meso first to the soil. Other than crop residue and a little Chilean Nitrate in the irrigation drip lines later in the season, the meso became our main nitrogen source.
New Theories on Organic
The whole experience has led me to two new radical theories about organic farming. The first is that nitrogen is not a crop requirement but a symptom of microbial activity. The “pounds of nitrogen” needed for any planting should be corrected to read “pounds of good-smelling microbes.” This answers the age old conundrum of why compost makes for big healthy plants but is very low on nitrogen.
Now for the second theory: Water can be added to dry material to create even more pounds of fertilizer because the water becomes incorporated within the microbial bodies. The amount of decay product in the batch of alfalfa mix or soil can be measured by the smell it puts off. The better and more powerful the smell, the better it will work as fertilizer because the plant roots will work with the microbes to uptake nutrients.
How to Make Mesophyllic Alfalfa Fertilizer
- Divide a 50-pound bag of dry, 100% Alfalfa pellets into two big plastic tubs. (NOTE: Do not use brands of alfalfa that use beef tallow or soy oil as a binder. Only use 100% dehydrated pellets.)
- Place the tubs into two additional tubs for insulation (four tubs total, two with pellets and two for insulation).
- Throw one handful of rich soil or compost high in organic decay into each tub.
- Mix 1/2 cup of sugar with 9 gallons of warm water (1/4 cup sugar to 4-1/2 gallons of warm water; see step below).
- Pour 4-1/2 gallons of water into each tub with pellets and swirl the pellets around with a shovel until the water is absorbed evenly and the batch is uniform texture.
- Cut some cardboard to fit and place down on the meso mix. Cover with both tub lids and put as much insulation as possible on top, such as old blankets. Cover with a tarp to act as a final insulator and to keep the rain off.
- As it begins to decay it tends to cake up, so stir it at about 4-6 hours, then once again at about 24 hours. The batch should be ready around 36 to 40 hours (depending on outside temperatures).
- Watch out for stuff left too long in the vat! If the decaying material smells bad, there is either too much moisture or low oxygen content.
- Depending on the crop, we usually use one 50-pound bag of pellets (now weighing 122 pounds with the water added) per 500 square feet of raised bed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I use baled alfalfa instead of pellets?
A: Yes, but you’ll need to shred it up into small particles so the water would absorb evenly. Stirring which is essential. The key is getting it to warm up uniformly.
Q: Can you recommend a source for pellets without beef tallow or soy oil?
A: I use Grainland brand.
Q: Do I apply meso once at the beginning of the season or on a recurring basis?
A: Always before planting and sometimes more later. With potatoes, we use additional meso before we hill up.
Q: Should the mix be soupy? 4.5 gallons didn’t seem enough water and just made my mixture mealy.
A: Pour 4.5 gallons into each tub, so 9 gallons for the 50 lb. bag. It absorbs fairly quick and you have to go in every so often and bust up the clumps. The final product is what you call mealy but spreads easily when its done.
Kevin, Kim, Erin and Clare Meehan are Carolina Farm Stewardship Association members and own and operate Turtle Run Farm, a small vegetable farm in the historic village of Saxapahaw, NC near Chapel Hill. In business since 1996, they grow produce without the aid of sprays, pesticides, herbicides or other harmful chemicals. Kevin is also the inventor of the “Use-Yer-Foot,” a lightweight portable sink that provides fresh, running water in places without conventional plumbing. They’re especially handy for CFSA’s farm tours! Find out more at: www.useyerfoot.com.
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Why ferment as a step to making alfalfa meal?
I grow fast rotation poplar and willow, harvesting several tons a year. Much of that is chipped. I add alfalfa (and other materials, such as comfrey) to the chip piles as an accelerant and allow the piles to compost a year (mulch grade) to 2 years (compost grade).
The alfalfa meal slurry is a different product; meal and compost are mixed in barrels of water and held about 18 hours at 110-130F to culture an abundance of beneficial mesophyllic microbes in the slurry. Biochar (also produced from the poplar/willow) is then immersed in the slurry to innoculate (saturate) it with the microbes and nutrients before adding the biochar it to the soil.
The alfalfa fermenting stage is additional work, but more important, it occupies a lot of costly drums that take a lot of shed space. I am sure simply dehydrating the alfalfa to make meal would work. But would it be as good as fermented meal? Despite much research I have been unable to answer that question. My options seem to be to make both and observe comparative results for several years or pay for rather expensive lab analysis of the two.
Thank you for your input, and I hope I have (belatedly) satisfied your curiosity.
Alfalfa meal is derived from alfalfa plants, shredded into a meal or pressed into pellet form. Good quality Alfalfa meal is weed free making it a superb fertilizer and soil amendment. It is beneficial for adding nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium as well as trace minerals and it contains trianconatol, a natural growth stimulant. Microorganisms in the soil benefit from it as well as the plants, creating more ‘underground’ activity by providing food for them.
Roses respond very well to Alfalfa Meal. When fertilizing roses feed twice during the growing season. Feed 1-2 cups (two cups for older bushes, one cup for new bushes)of alfalfa meal after pruning is done and a second feeding after the first spring flush of blooms. Work into the soil around the rose bush. Make sure you water the alfalfa meal in well. Blooms will be show stopping!
Add Alfalfa Meal to your compost pile to speed the decomposition process up. Worms love alfalfa meal as well. In garden soil or worm bins. Adding a cup of alfalfa meal two times a month to worm bins will boost worm activity. Add 5 pounds of Alfalfa Meal for every 100 square foot as a general fertilizer for vegetable gardens.
Alfalfa tea is great for all plants! Wrap one cup of Alfalfa Meal in cheesecloth and let steep for two to three days in 3 gallons non-chlorinated water. Strain and spray on roses, or any other plant. Teas are great for instant feedings!
Alfalfa Meal is non-burning, safe and vegan approved!
Organic Alfalfa Meal
Alfalfa is a leguminous perennial plant, a member of the Fabaceae pea family called Medicago sativa. Alfalfa is used as a fodder crop for pastured livestock and as cover crop. Used as a soil amendment, alfalfa meal will help to will help to re-energize your soils potential, increase organic matter in the soil and is a valuable plant-derived organic fertilizer. Alfalfa is a vegan alternative to blood meal as a high source of nitrogen as a soil amendment. Roses and most flowering plants respond especially well to alfalfa meal. We think of alfalfa meal as an all purpose organic fertilizer.
Alfalfa meal is also an excellent addition to compost piles serving as a source of nitrogen and protein that significantly helps to speed up the process. Due to its high nitrogen to carbon ratio and protein content, alfalfa meal works as a compost activator helping to increase the heat of compost heaps and the decomposition of organic material. There are numerous compost activators on the market but nothing has come close to the results we have seen with this outstanding compost activator.
- Amending Soil: Work 2-5 lbs. of Alfalfa meal into the top few inches of soil for each 100 square feet or 50 feet of row crops (for rows 2′ wide).
- Transplanting: Apply as a top dressing and water in.
- Existing Plants: Mix 1/2 to 1 cup of Alfalfa Meal to a depth of 4-6 inches.
Alfalfa (fertilizer) Tea recipe:
- 1 cup ground Alfalfa meal or pellets
- *1 – 4 cups Earthworm Castings or mature compost
- *1-2 tbsp. molasses or other complex liquid sugars
- *1-2 tbsp. Soluble Kelp
- *1-2 tbsp. Azomite (minerals and trace elements)
- 4-5 gal Chlorine-free Water
* optional ingredients
For best results brew for 6 – 12 hours with active aeration.
Application for completed tea mixture:
Apply directly to root zone.
Diluted 50/50 alfalfa tea can be sprayed directly on leaf surfaces as a foliar fertilizer.
Fertilizing With Alfalfa Meal: How To Use Alfalfa Meal In The Garden
If you’ve ever been around horses, you know they love alfalfa meal as a tasty treat. Organic gardeners know it for another reason: it’s a great natural fertilizing agent for blooming plants. Alfalfa meal fertilizer contains trace elements that help flowering perennials and shrubs to bloom faster and longer during the season. Read on for more alfalfa meal gardening info for an efficient soil conditioner as well as a boost to your flowering plants.
Fertilizing With Alfalfa Meal
What is alfalfa meal? This organic garden booster is a product of fermented alfalfa plant seeds. It’s light and airy looking and has a pleasant, earthy smell. Alfalfa meal generally comes in large quantities, as you use it generously around all your blooming perennials and shrubs.
Although you may be able to find alfalfa meal at some larger garden centers, it may be easier and less expensive to get at feed and animal stores. If you’re near a rural area or if you have an all-purpose animal supply house in the area, check there. Contact the nearest large veterinarian’s office as another source for alfalfa meal, or clues to where you can find it.
How to Use Alfalfa Meal in the Garden
There’s no great trick to learning how to use alfalfa meal. The amount you use is important, but it’s more likely that you won’t use enough rather than using too much.
Sprinkle about 2 cups of the meal around rose bushes or other shrubs of that size. Add a generous line of the meal alongside hedges and broadcast it quite heavily among large plantings. Work the alfalfa meal into the soil with a rake, then water the plants as usual.
Do the first application in the spring, when your plants begin to show new growth. Those plants that only bloom once in the year don’t need any more meal added. If you have blooming flowers that continue to show off during a longer season, add another application every six weeks.
Alfalfa meal is an alkaline substance, which means it shouldn’t be used with plants that prefer an acid soil, such as camellias or rhododendrons. It can be quite powdery, so wear a face mask when you spread it in the garden.
Finally, transfer any leftover alfalfa meal to a secure metal or heavy plastic storage container. Mice love the meal in large quantities and will chew through any bags left in storage.