Scientific name: Medicago sativa, Leguminosae 

Common names:  Lucerne, Buffalo Herb, Purple Medic

Ayurvedic names: Alfalfa, Vilaayatigawuth, Lasunghaas, Lusan

Chinese names: Lan mu xu, mu xu

Bangladesh names:

Arabic names:    فصة (fassa)

Rain Forest names:

Family: Papilionacae

Approximate number of species known: 150+

Common parts used: Whole herb, sprouts

Collection: 3-4 times yearly (in high yield regions such as the United States)

Annual/Perennial: Perennial


Actions: Diuretic

Known constituents: Saponins (2–3%) that on hydrolysis yield the aglycones medicagenic acid, soyasapogenols A, B, C, D, and E, and hederagenin; glycones glucose (arabinose, xylose, rhamnose, galactose, and glucuronic acid0; sterols (β-sitosterol, α-spinasterol, stigmasterol, cycloartenol, campesterol, β-sitosterol); high molecular weight alcohols (octacosanol, triacontanol); paraffins (nonacosane, triacontane, hentriacontane). β-Sitosterol occurs as esters with fatty acids (palmitic, lauric, and myristic); flavones, isoflavones (tricin, genistein, daidzein, biochanin A, formononetin, (−)-5′-methoxysativan); coumarin (coumestrol, medicagol, sativol, trifoliol, lucernol, and daphnoretin); pectin methylesterase; alkaloids (trigonelline; stachydrine; and homostachydrine); plant acids (malic, oxalic, malonic, maleic, and quinic, etc.); vitamins A, B1, B6, B12, C, E, and K1; niacin; pantothenic acid; biotin; folic acid; amino acids (valine, lysine, arginine, leucine, isoleucine, tryptophan, phenylalanine, methionine, and threonine; asparagine; sugars (sucrose, fructose, arabinose, xylose, galactose, ribose, mannoheptulose, d-glycero-d-mannooctulose); plant pigments (chlorophyll, xanthophyll, β-carotene, anthocyanins); crude fibers (17–25%); proteins (15–25% in dehydrated alfalfa meal); minerals; and trace elements (Ca, P, K, Mn, Fe, Zn, Cu); medicarpin-β-d-glucoside (in roots); cerebrosides (sphingosines); plastocyanins and ferredoxins; benzoylmesotartaric acid, and benzoyl-(S),(−)-malic acid; three phytoalexins; medicosides A, C, G, I, J, and L (triterpene glycosides) root-based; amino acid, medicanine, (S)-N-(3-hydroxypropyl)-azetidine-2-carboxylic acid (from seedlings)

Constituents Explained:


Cultivated by man since 2,000 BC. Its name is derived from the Iranian for ‘horse fodder.’  

Regarded as ‘The King of Herbs’ or ‘Father of Foods,’ Alfalfa is a flowering plant in the pea family grown worldwide as animal feed, as well as being one of the best “superfoods” for human consumption and health. 

Is famed for its high chlorophyll content.

Grows in rich soil, with an deep elongated tap root reaching 12 to 18 inches. 

Flowers are purple that resemble clover when in bloom. Appear in loose heads, 1/4 to 1/2 inches long, and spiral pods loosely twisted.

Leaves are small and divided, with 3-toothed leaflets. 

Is grown for public and private use with 150 varieties alone adapted to Ohio arable conditions. 

Traditional Use:

Widely grown throughout the world, Alfalfa is the highest yielding forage plant in agriculture used as feed, hay, and silage.

The whole plant is used including its seeds and sprouts. 

The parts that are above the ground are used as a bulk herb for human consumption in teas, and in capsules.

One of the best natural sources of vitamin K it helps blood to clot and bones to knit by moving calcium into proteins and working with vitamin D and glutamic acid to activate osteocalcin.

Also popular as a cure for arthritis, rheumatism, other inflammations, and an aid to digestion and detoxifying blood.

Used as a fresh or dried-leaf tea for its antioxidant constituent tricin as an aid to encourage appetite, weight-gain, and to halt bleeding. 

Reportedly beneficial in cases of vitamin/mineral deficiency, ulcers, gas, cystitis and as a laxative.

Is used homeopathically to stimulate milk production in breastfeeding mothers.

Clinical Studies:

A research studied the chemical constituents from the aerial parts of Medicago sativa. Various column chromatographies were employed to isolate and purify the constituents. Their structures were elucidated by spectral analysis (IR, UV, MS, 1H-NMR, 13C-NMR) and chemical evidence. The result of the investigation revealed that two constituents were obtained and identified as soysaponin I, azukisaponin V. These two compounds are isolated from the arial parts of Mesicago sativa for the first time. Moreover,the compounds are found to have hypolipidemic activity.


Yu CH, Liang DL, Guo JN, Mei QX, Yang DP. “Study on the Chemical Constituents From the Aerial Parts of Medicago Sativa and Their Hypolipidemic Activity.” 2011 November.

Source material:

A deep-rooted perennial plant (Medicago sativa) of the pea family with small divided leaves, purple cloverlike flowers (violet-blue) in loose heads, 1/4 to 1/2 inches long, and spiral pods loosely twisted, used extensively for fodder, pasture, and as a cover crop. 

The erect, smooth stem grows from an elongated taproot to a height of 12 to 18 inches. Leaves clover-like, but leaflets elongate. Leaflets: 3-toothed above; flowers: violet; Calyx: 5-toothed; Corolla: papilionaceous, 6 lines long; Stamens: 9 united and 1 free; Pod: spirally coiled and without spines. Flowers June to August.