Thursday, 2 January 2014

Herbal Alfalfa and cholesterol

Alfalfa is a flowering plant in the genus Medicago, belonging to the family Fabaceae, It has been cultivated all over the world as hay for cattle feeding. The leaves, sprouts, and seeds to make medicine has been used in traditional medicine over thousands of year to treat high cholesterol, asthma, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, enhance digestive system, bleeding disorder, kidney and urinary tract infection, etc. North America aboriginal has used Alfalfa seed as food, such as making bread and mush.
Cholesterol is needed for our body to build cell walls, make hormones and vitamin D, and create bile salts that help you digest fat. However too much of it can be dangerous because cholesterol cannot dissolve in your blood. The special particle called lipoprotein moves this waxy, soft substance from place to place. If you have too much low density lipoprotein LDL that is known as bad cholesterol, overtime cholesterol can build up in your arterial walls causing blockage and leading to heart attack and stroke.

1. Essential amino acids
2. Calcium
3. Magnesium
4. Potassium
5. Iron
6. Phosphorus
7. Zinc
8. Beta carotene
9. vitamin C
10. vitamins D
11.Vitamin E
12. Vitamin K
13. Etc.
It chemical constituents include flavones, isoflavones, sterols, Bichanin A Coumestrol Diadzein Formonetin Genisteincoumarin derivatives, etc.

The benefits
In the study of 15 patients with hyperlipoproteinemia who were given 40 g of heat prepared alfalfa seeds 3 times daily at mealtimes for 8 weeks with otherwise unchanged diet, the herb shows in lowering of pretreatment median values of total plasma cholesterol from 9.58 to 8.00 mmol/l (P less than 0.001) and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol decreases of 17% and 18%, respectively. Other study also indicated that the constituents of  soysaponin I (I), azukisaponin V (II) found in Alfalfa might process the potential in treating high blood cholesterol. In animal study, hen fed with aqueous alfalfa extract (AAE) shows to lower serum low and high density lipoprotein cholesterol, serum total triglycerides and liver cholesterol concentration (day 42), lipid indices in yolk, serum and liver.

The Side effects
1. High amount of vitamin K may reduce the effectiveness of anticogulation medicine
2. Causing additive effects for women who are under estrogen replacement therapy or taking the oral contraceptive pill.
3. It may cause stomach upset and diarrhea
4. Etc.

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(1) Alfalfa seeds lower low density lipoprotein cholesterol and apolipoprotein B concentrations in patients with type II hyperlipoproteinemia. by Mölgaard J, von Schenck H, Olsson AG.(PubMed)
(2) [Study on the chemical constituents from the aerial parts of Medicago sativa and their hypolipidemic activity].[Article in Chinese] by Yu CH, Liang DL, Guo JN, Mei QX, Yang DP.(PubMed)
(3) Effects of an aqueous alfalfa extract on production performance, egg quality and lipid metabolism of laying hens by Deng W, Dong XF, Tong JM, Xie TH, Zhang Q.(PubMed)