Alfalfa – Medicago Sativa: Edible & Medicinal Uses of the Vitamin and Mineral Supplement of Wild Plants

Table of Contents

Alfalfa is a superfood of edible and medicinal plants, for some people to consume in moderation anyway. There are conditions and drug interactions that clash with this purple.

Alfalfa (medicago sativa) is an uncommon sight here in open grassy areas, typically where livestock was foraging on old farmland, and sandy roadsides. It was brought over from Asia primarily for hay to feed grazing livestock.

Alfalfa - Medicago Sativa
Alfalfa – Medicago Sativa

Edible Uses of Alfalfa

The tender young leaves can be eaten raw or made into a bland tea. The seeds are toxic in raw form, but they can be sprouted into edibleness. The purple flowers are edible too.

The best use of alfalfa may be drying and powdering the leaves to sprinkle on foods or put in a capsule as a temporary supplement. This “Father of all Foods” (in Western Asia) is rich in all known vitamins (A, B, C, E, K, and P), calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and also in protein. However, it should be temporarily or sparsely used. Long term use may cause reactions that are similar to the autoimmune disease lupus. For the same reason and to a greater degree that is why the raw seeds, which contain canavanine, are toxic.

High in vitamin K.

Medicinal Uses of Alfalfa

Alfalfa is primarily said to support these body systems:

  • Reproductive
  • Urinary

Medicinal tags include Alterative, Astringent and Diuretic. See Medicinal tag key for more information.

Common usage include as a supplement for nutritional deficiencies along with a balanced diet. Supplementation and vegetable juicing are often recommended when someone has nutritional deficiencies. Violets have also been used in that way, as well as dandelion, horsetail, nettle and parsley.

Due to some estrogenic properties it sees use for supporting endometriosis, menses, menopause and for breastfeeding problems. Phytoestrogens have minimal effect yet their usage should still be supervised by a professional. This herb may also see use as part of temporary regimes to prevent UTIs.

And again, it can aggravate lupus and autoimmune disorders and there are drug interactions to be aware of. See warnings below.

Alfalfa - Medicago Sativa
Alfalfa – Medicago Sativa

Alternative Uses of Purple Medic

You can peel the root into 10cm pieces, dry, and then crush the tip with hammer gently to break up the fibers for a natural toothbrush.

It’s a commercial source of chlorophyll and carotene.

Growing Medicago Sativa

Clovers are often grown as cover. Like alfalfa, most species are not native. Some, like vetch, can easily be invasive and spread uncontrollably. Red, white, and similar clovers seem to be viewed more as “naturalized” and as far as cover crops go white tends to be used by people jumping on the crop cover wagon. Clover used in this way tends to be a gray area in the native plant groups I frequent.

For this sort of cover, annual crops are preferred as they are easier to control. As a perennial, alfalfa isn’t used often. The most common cover crops would be types of annual ryes and oats, and some other pea family annuals. You might find other species in mixes, like sunflowers. The deer and similar browsing wildlife might enjoy it as well as any grazing animals you raise.

Unless you’re into agriculture, crop cover doesn’t necessarily make a lot of sense. Planting prairie type species of native plants over a lawn or meadow will bring more benefit to the ecosystem.


Consume in moderation and don’t eat if you have lupus or a compromised immune system. Also check with your doctor if you’re on anticoagulants*, antidiabeties, hormone related medications or photosensitizing drugs. There may also be herbal supplement interactions.

*Don’t take alongside anticoagulant medications like Warfarin (coumadin) as there is a major drug interaction and these two shouldn’t be combined.

Don’t consume in large amounts if pregnant. But you’ll find it in herbal pregnancy teas, which often include nettle, oat straw, red raspberry leaf, and alfalfa.

Alfalfa can cause photosensitivity in some people.

And the Usual Cautions:

1) Most medicinal herbs, if edible, are meant to be eaten in moderation, even sparingly. Some require extra preparation. Tannins are toxic if consumed in excess.

2) People can be allergic or sensitive to nearly any plant; try new herbs one at a time at your own risk. For instance, saponins commonly cause stomach upset.

3) For medicinal use, I must recommend receiving a diagnosis and working with a reputed health care provider. I generally do not post specific treatments and dosages because I think that is best between you and your health care provider, and ideally monitored.

4) Anyone pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription drugs should talk to a health care professional before adding new food items to their diet.

5) Many plants have look-a-likes, and sometimes they are poisonous.

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Edible and Medicinal Plants of Canada

The Green Pharmacy: The Ultimate Compendium Of Natural Remedies From The World’s Foremost Authority On Healing Herbs

Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine: 550 Herbs and Remedies for Common Ailments

The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine

Reader’s Digest Magic and Medicine of Plants

Indian Herbalogy of North America: The Definitive Guide to Native Medicinal Plants and Their Uses

The Herb Bible

The Herb Book: The Most Complete Catalog of Herbs Ever Published (Dover Cookbooks)

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