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Alfalfa

What is it?

Alfalfa is an herbal medicine used to decrease cholesterol (fat) in the blood. It is also rich in fiber and may protect you from colon cancer.

Other names for Alfalfa include: Medicago Sativa and lucerne.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you

  • have diabetes
  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement)
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine (2)
  • are breastfeeding
  • have any other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease

Dosage:

Talk with your caregiver about how much Alfalfa you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking Alfalfa. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the medicine bottle. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.

Drug and Food Interactions:

Do not take Alfalfa without first talking to your doctor if you are taking:

  • Azathioprine (examples: Imuran(R)) (7)
  • Cyclosporine (examples: Sandimmune(R); Neoral(R), Sang Cya(TM)) (7)
  • Blood thinning medicines (examples: warfarin (Coumadin(R)) (2)
  • Prednisone (5,6)

Warnings:

  • Do not eat or drink Alfalfa juice if you have systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) or another autoimmune disease (2,3)

Side Effects:

Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects. Your medicine may be causing these symptoms which may mean you are allergic to it.

  • Breathing problems or tightness in your throat or chest
  • Chest pain
  • Skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin

Other Side Effects:

You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • Alfalfa may lower the amount of potassium that you have in your blood (4)
  • Alfalfa may cause you to have belly pain, pass more gas, or have larger and more frequent bowel movements (BMs). It may also cause you to have diarrhea (loose BMs) (1).

References:

1. Molgaard J, vonSchenck H & Olsson AG: Alfalfa seeds lower low density lipoprotein cholesterol and apolipoprotein B concentrations in patients with type II hyperlipoproteinemia. Atheroscler 1987; 65(1-2):173-179.

2. Brinker F: Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions, 2nd ed. Eclectic Medical Publications, Sandy, OR; 1998.

3. Montanaro A & Bardana EJ Jr: Dietary amino acid-induced systemic lupus erythematosus. Nutr Rheu Dis 1991; 17(2):323-332.

4. Feingold RM: Should we fear "health foods?" Arch Intern Med 1999; 159(13):1502.

5. Herbert V & Kasdan TS: Alfalfa, vitamin E, and autommune [sic] disorders (letter). Am J Clin Nutr 1994; 60:639-640.

6. Roberts JL & Hayashi JA: Exacerbation of SLE associated with alfalfa ingestion. N Engl J Med 1983; 308:1361.

7. Light TD & Light JA: Acute renal transplant rejection possibly related to herbal medications. Am J Transplant 2003; 3:1608-1609.


Last Updated: 8/4/2017
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