Its rich stores of proteins, vitamins and minerals, coupled with its ability to grow in varied climates, has made alfalfa sprouts a popular form of livestock feed all over the world. Humans have long used alfalfa in its various forms as both a food and medicine. Limited research suggests this plant might offer some medicinal benefits, such as lowering cholesterol and blood sugar, and reducing symptoms of menopause, but not enough evidence exists to make any firm conclusions about its medicinal effects. Several safety concerns surround the consumption of alfalfa sprouts, either as a food or supplement. Consult a doctor well-versed in natural medicine before using alfalfa to treat any condition.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center says alfalfa sprouts demonstrate ‘’potent’’ estrogenic activity in lab tests 2. The estrogenic effects of herbs can cut both ways. They might reduce symptoms of menopause, triggered by dropping estrogen levels. On the other hand, their ability to mimic the action of this hormone might lead to negative effects, such as increasing the risk of breast cancer and other diseases that result from excess estrogen. If you currently have any estrogen- or cancer-related conditions, suffered them in the past or have an increased risk of developing them, do not use alfalfa supplements or eat alfalfa sprouts in large amounts.
- The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center says alfalfa sprouts demonstrate ‘’potent’’ estrogenic activity in lab tests 2.
- On the other hand, their ability to mimic the action of this hormone might lead to negative effects, such as increasing the risk of breast cancer and other diseases that result from excess estrogen.
Dangers of L-Cavanine
Herbal Remedies for Dermatitis Stasis
Alfalfa sprouts contains a toxin called L-cavanine, which might trigger a flare-up of lupus in patients experiencing a remission of symptoms, lower blood cell counts and spleen enlargement, according to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center 1. It reports on animal research that found heating alfalfa to extreme temperatures might negate these effects, but this has not been conclusively established.
Alfalfa sprouts might contain several forms of deadly bacteria, including E. coli. The Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, recommends that children, the elderly and people with reduced immune function refrain from consuming alfalfa sprouts due to their increased susceptibility to infection. Sloan-Kettering notes case reports of people suffering infections with listeria and salmonella after consuming alfalfa in food and supplement form.
Oldenlandia Diffusa Side Effects
Its high vitamin K content suggests alfalfa could reduce the effectiveness of warfarin and other blood-thinning drugs. These drugs have highly individualized doses, and using supplements and foods that affect their actions even minimally could put your health at risk. Drugs.com reports that alfalfa might stimulate the immune system, which could affect the actions of drugs that suppress overactive immune system activity 3.
Alfalfa might lower blood sugar, which increases the risk of hypoglycemia if you combine it with insulin or other blood sugar-lowering drugs. Its estrogenic activity might decrease the effectiveness of hormonal therapies and hormonal contraceptives, while its ability to stimulate urination might increase the effectiveness of diuretic drugs.
- Its high vitamin K content suggests alfalfa could reduce the effectiveness of warfarin and other blood-thinning drugs.
- Alfalfa might lower blood sugar, which increases the risk of hypoglycemia if you combine it with insulin or other blood sugar-lowering drugs.
Other Safety Concerns
Avoid alfalfa if you are pregnant or nursing.
It has a high purine content, which might aggravate gout.
Gastrointestinal side effects include increased stool frequency, diarrhea, gas and general stomach upset.
- Avoid alfalfa if you are pregnant or nursing.
- Gastrointestinal side effects include increased stool frequency, diarrhea, gas and general stomach upset.
Herbal Remedies for Dermatitis Stasis
Oldenlandia Diffusa Side Effects
The Side Effects of Forslean Coleus Forskohlii
Side Effects of Long-Time Usage of Ashwagandha
How Much Fennel Is Safe?
Side Effects of Taking Ubiquinol CoQ10
Side Effects of Maca on Women
Milk Thistle & Dandelion on an Empty Stomach
Foods That Reduce the Production of the Androgen Hormones
Side Effects of Mulberry Zuccarin
- Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; "Alfalfa"; August 2011
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; "Alfalfa"; January 2010
- Drugs.com: Complete Alfalfa Information
- Bora KS, Sharma A. Phytochemical and pharmacological potential of Medicago sativa: a review. Pharm Biol. 2011;49(2):211-20. doi:10.3109/13880209.2010.504732
- U.S. Department of Agriculture. Alfalfa seeds, sprouted, raw. In: FoodData Central. Update February 1, 2009.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. Alfalfa. In: MedlinePlus. Updated March 11, 2019.
- Shi Y, Guo R, Wang X, et al. The regulation of alfalfa saponin extract on key genes involved in hepatic cholesterol metabolism in hyperlipidemic rats. PLoS ONE. 2014;9(2):e88282. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088282
- Amraie E, Farsani MK, Sadeghi L, et. al. The effects of aqueous extract of alfalfa on blood glucose and lipids in alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Interv Med Appl Sci. 2015 Sep;7(3):124-8. doi:10.1556/1646.7.2015.3.7
- Bahmani M, Baharvand-ahmadi B, Tajeddini P, Rafieian-Kopaei M, Naghdi N. Identification of medicinal plants for the treatment of kidney and urinary stones. J Renal Inj Prev. 2016;5(3):129-33. doi:10.15171/jrip.2016.27
- Dietz BM, Hajirahimkhan A, Dunlap TL, Bolton JL. Botanicals and their bioactive phytochemicals for women's health. Pharmacol Rev. 2016;68(4):1026-73. doi:10.1124/pr.115.010843
- Othman N, Che Lamin RZ, Othman CN. Exploring behavior on the herbal galactagogue usage among Malay lactating mothers in Malaysia. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences. 2014;153:199-208. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.10.054
- Choi 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):410-20. doi:10.1089/jmf.2012.2679
- Constantin MM, Nita IE, Olteanu R, et al. Significance and impact of dietary factors on systemic lupus erythematosus pathogenesis. Exp Ther Med. 2019;17(2):1085-90. doi:10.3892/etm.2018.6986
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA investigated multistate outbreak of Salmonella infections linked to alfalfa sprouts. May 13, 2016
- Patisaul HB, Jefferson W. The pros and cons of phytoestrogens. Front Neuroendocrinol. 2010;31(4):400-19. doi:10.1016/j.yfrne.2010.03.003
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Traditional Chinese medicine: What you need to know. Updated October 2013.
Kelli Cooper has been a writer since 2009, specializing in health and fitness. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers University and is a certified personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise.