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Allergies & Alfalfa

author image Elizabeth Thatcher
Based outside Boston, Elizabeth Thatcher began writing health-related articles in 2007. Her work has appeared in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Science," "Nature Genetics," "Journal of Cell Biology," "Developmental Dynamics," "RNA Biology" and "BMC Genomics." Thatcher earned a Bachelor of Science in biomedical engineering from Mercer University before starting medical research and receiving her doctorate in molecular biology from Vanderbilt University.
Allergies & Alfalfa
A woman is eating alfalfa sprouts with chopsticks. Photo Credit Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Getty Images

Asian herbal doctors have long used alfalfa as a cure-all for mild disturbances in the body. AsianHealthSecrets.com indicates that alfalfa has been used to treat the symptoms of arthritis, acne, malnutrition and digestive disturbances. Though there are online reports of alfalfa’s ability to treat allergies -- and herbal stores have jumped on the bandwagon -- there is no scientific evidence to support this claim.


Alfalfa is an herb whose seeds, sprouts and leaves all provide a source of calcium, phosphorous, iron, potassium, and vitamins A, C,E and K4. MedlinePlus suggests that many people take Alfalfa to control kidney, bladder and prostate problems, asthma, arthritis, diabetes, upset stomach and allergies. However, no clinical studies have been performed to evaluate alfalfa’s effectives on these conditions.


Alfalfa is possibly effective at lowering low density lipoprotein levels -- or the "bad" LDL type -- and total cholesterol levels, according to Drugs.com. However, sufficient evidence has not been accumulated to guarantee its function or mode of action, which is thought to stop gut cholesterol absorption. Letha’s Asian Health Secrets website notes that alfalfa has been utilized in the Asian world as an overall body cleanser that “rejuvenates the entire digestive tract and the blood.”


Though some online herbal stores suggest that alfalfa is effective at minimize allergies by providing antihistamine and anti-inflammatory effects, anyone taking herbal supplements should be aware that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not monitor or regulate herbs and supplements, and that these claims are unsubstantiated by medical studies.

Side Effects

Although alfalfa is typically consumed without any adverse effects, Aetna's InteliHealth website indicates that gastrointestinal problems are a possible side effect. General stomach discomfort stemming from mild pain or gas is possible. Diarrhea and larger, more frequent stools, are also possible.


MedlinePlus indicates that long-term alfalfa seed use has the potential to increase the activity of the immune system. This may exacerbate any autoimmune disease such as lupus or multiple sclerosis.

The U. S. Food and Drug Administration issued a statement in 2010 that children, the elderly and anyone with a compromised immune system should refrain from consuming alfalfa since the seeds and sprouts can carry several forms of bacteria that may weaken these people even more.

Letha’s Asian Health Secrets also warns that anyone allergic to grasses in any form should cautiously take alfalfa only under a doctor’s care. InteliHealth indicates that anyone with allergies to Fabaceae, or leguminous plant families, should avoid alfalfa.

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