Alfalfa (Medicago sativa). Have I grown alfalfa? No. I have never even seen it growing, but I certainly would like to. The information I have collected points to the fact that our Deep South environment is not well suited to its growing needs.
My dictionary describes alfalfa this way: "A deep-rooted leguminous plant widely grown for hay and forage." There is no reference to its usefulness in the human diet. No, not one single, little word! But I’ll tell you what I’ve learned since my interest in herbs began.
Alfalfa is a perennial plant which sends its tap root way down deep into the soil. From this depth, it picks up valuable trace minerals which are not usually available nearer the earth’s surface. Its erect, smooth stem reaches a height of approximately 18 inches. In late-summer, purplish flowers appear and mature into a spiral seed pod. The leaves and seed are both beneficial additions to the human diet as well as for livestock. It provides us with trace minerals, important enzymes, vitamins and other health needs.
Athletes use this herb extensively for strength and endurance. On one occasion, a young girl on a bicycle trip was out of her usual alfalfa tablets. She took rabbit pellets which were available. This form of alfalfa seemed to serve her needs just as well.
You can make a healthful tea from its fresh or dried leaves. If desired, you can combine this with other herbs and call it potpourri tea. You can purchase alfalfa sprouts at your groceries or sprout your own seed. At Oriental shops or health food stores, you’ll find sprouting containers with directions for use. The seed which don’t sprout will be softened and edible also. They provide nutrition, too. I sometimes eat the sprouts from the container or add them to salads and sandwiches. You can also take alfalfa in pill or capsule form. In some cultures this beneficial herb is considered to be "THE FATHER OF HERBS."
I was introduced to the word alfalfa about 1940. The villain in the comic strip "Dick Tracy" had alfalfa foliage hung on his car bumper. This clue provided our famous detective with the proof needed to pin the crime on the guilty culprit. I do wonder why this incident has stayed in my mind all these years!
As always, I suggest you consult with your doctor before the use of herbs. Since alfalfa tends to be a blood thinner, I warn those on blood thinners to be especially cautious with its use.