Introduction of Alfalfa:Medicago sativa or Purple Medic.

Popular Herbs. ✵The article gives records of the herb Alfalfa, its English name, Latin name, common names, property and flavor, its botanical source two plant species, ①.Medicago sativa L., ②.Medicago polymorpha L., with a detailed introduction to the botanical features of these two plant species, the growth characteristics, and ecological environment of these two plant species, the features of the herb Alfalfa, its pharmacological actions, medicinal efficacy, and administration guide.

Alfalfa(Medicago sativa).

Medicago sativa:flowers English Name: Alfalfa.
 Latin Name: Medicago sativa.
 Common Names: Alfalfa, Lucerne, Medic, Purple Medic, and Trefoil.
 Property and flavor: neutral in nature, tastes bitter and slight puckery, no poison.

 Brief introduction: The genus name, Medicago, refers to Medea in North Africa, from where this plant is thought to have originated. The species name, Sativa, means "with a long history of cultivation".

 Medicago sativa is a forage legume. Its high protein content makes it suitable for livestock feed. It has a tetraploid genome. Medicago sativa was probably domesticated in the Near East during the Bronze Age to feed horses being brought from Central Asia and later spread to Europe.

 Medicago sativa is commonly cultivated for the production of lucerne hay. The largest cost of producing hay is in its establishment, and the gradual thinning and invasion of stands by weeds and grasses can reduce the life of the pasture. A combination of herbicides may be required for control. A genetically modified variety that is tolerant to the Roundup herbicide has been developed and is being field-tested for a 2004-05 release in USA (the United States of America).

 Botanical source: The common TCM herbal classics defined the herb Alfalfa as the whole plant of species (1).Medicago sativa L., or (2).Medicago polymorpha L. They are two plant species of the Medicago genus, the Leguminosae family (pea family). In North America and Europe, the Medicago sativa is defined as the botanical source of Alfalfa, the three-leaflet clusters and pale blue, purple, or yellow flowers are used medicinally in North America, the whole flowering plant or the germinating seeds are used medicianlly in Europe. These 2 commonly used species are introduced:

(1).Medicago sativa L.


 Medicago sativa:flowering plant Botanical description: a perennial herb. The main root is 2~5 meters long. The rhizome is developed, the root is thick, deep into the soil layer, and the root neck is developed; With or without vines, the stems are 30~100 cm tall, upright or prostrate, smooth, and multi-branched, with about 15~25 branches. Feather-shaped trifoliate leaves, small leaves are obovate-oblong, 2~2.5 cm long, and only the upper tip is serrated; The apex of the lobule has a middle rib protrusion; The petiole is long and smooth; Stipules are big. Pedicels are drawn from leaf axils, and flowers have short stalks; 8~25 flower petals form clusters of racemes; Calyx is campanulate, with 5 teeth, the corolla is purple. The pod is spiral, slightly piliferous, dark brown, and indehiscent. 1~8 seeds, reniform, yellowish-brown, very small. The flowering period of the plant is from May to June, the fruiting period is from June to August.

 Medicago sativa:flowering plant Ecological environment: Medicago sativa prefers warm and semi-humid to semi-arid climates and has wide adaptability. In areas with less precipitation, the plant can endure drought. Medicago sativa has strong cold resistance and can withstand the severe cold of 30 degrees below zero in winter. The roots of Medicago sativa are well-developed, and the roots distributed in the 0~75 cm soil layer account for about 60% of the total roots.

 Growth characteristics: Medicago sativa grows in fields, roadsides, wilderness, grasslands, riverbanks, valleys, and other places. It is widely distributed and widely planted as forage and pasture in the continents of Asia and Europe, and other continents around the world.

(2).Medicago polymorpha L.


 Medicago polymorpha:growing plant Botanical description: an annual or biennial herb with a height of 20~90 cm. Stems are prostrate, ascending or upright, nearly quadrangular, branched at the base, glabrous, or slightly piliferous. Feather-shaped trifoliate leaves; Stipules are large, ovoid-oblong, 4~7 mm long, apex is gradually pointed, base is ear-shaped, edge with irregular stripes, filiform thin strips or deep dentate notches, and obvious veins; Petiole is soft, slender, 1~5 cm long, with a shallow groove on the upper mask; Leaflets are obovate or triangular obovate, equal in size, 7~20 mm long, 5~15 mm wide, chartaceous (papery), blunt at the apex, nearly truncated or concave, apiculate, broadly cuneate (broadly wedge-shaped) at the base, shallowly serrated at more than one-third of the edge, the upper surface is glabrous, the back surface is sparsely pilose, and without markings. The inflorescence is umbellate, with 2~10 flowers; The total pedicel is axillary, slender, and glabrous, 3~15 mm long, usually shorter than the leaves, and the apex of the inflorescence axis is not awn-pointed. Pods are disk-shaped, dark green-brown; 1~2 seeds per circle. The seeds are reniform, about 2.5 mm long, 1.25 mm wide, tan, and smooth. The flowering period of the plant is from March to May, it fruits from May to June.

 Medicago polymorpha:growing plant Ecological environment: Medicago polymorpha is suitable to grow in fertile dry land or well-drained areas. The suitable growth temperature is 12~17 °C (Celsius, or 53.6~62.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and it grows well in subtropical areas; It has strong cold resistance. Although its leaves will be frozen to death at the low temperature of -5 °C (Celsius, or 23 degrees Fahrenheit), they will sprout again after the temperature rises. It has wide adaptability to soil and can grow normally in the soil with a pH value(pH scale:acidity-basicity) of 5.0~8.6.

 Medicago polymorpha is often cultivated or grows in a semi-wild state. It is distributed in Southern Europe, Southwest Asia, and the whole European continent, it was introduced to America and Oceania. In China, it is distributed in the south of the Yangtze River Basin, northwest and southwest regions.

 Pharmacological actions: ①. Antibiotic Properties.②.Antilipidemic effect;③.Antioncotic(apokatastasis subsidence of a swelling detumescence);④. Clear stomach and spleen;⑤. Clear heat and dampness, clear heat and prompt urine, gentle cleanser;⑥. Enzymatic effect and prolactin-inhibiting effect;⑦. Antifungal effects;⑧. Estrogen-like effects;⑨. Lower cholesterol levels.

 Medicinal efficacy: In North America, the herb Alfalfa is introduced as its indications in China and Europe as a diuretic and treatment for arthritis, diabetes, asthma, digestive system upset, weight loss, ulcers, high cholesterol, kidney and bladder problems, prostate disorders, asthma and hay fever, and other disorders. Many herbalists recommend it as a vitalizing tonic. Alfalfa is a major source of chlorophyll. In Europe, the herb Alfalfa is introduced in folk medicine, for "treatment of diabetes and malfunctioning of the thyroid gland", etc. In China, the herb Alfalfa is indicated for common syndromes urinary calculus (urinary concretion, urolite, urolith, urolithus), vesical calculus, stranguria (lymphoid disease), and indicated for TCM syndromes general edema (hydroncus edema, oedema, dropsy), consumptive thirst (wasting thirst, drinking and urine symptom-complex of excessive eating), etc.

 Administration of Alfalfa(Medicago sativa): 
 
Reference: Administration Guide of Alfalfa(Medicago sativa)
Herbal classic books and TCM books: In North America, the dosage of the herb Alfalfa is recommended as an infusion, an infusion is prepared using 1 to 2 teaspoons dried leaves per cup of water, and is recommended to drink up to three times per day. To use commercial alfalfa formulations, follow the package instructions. In Europe, the commonly recommended dosage of the herb Alfalfa: daily dose for hyperlipoproteinemia, 40 g of heat-prepared seeds 3 times a day at mealtimes. In TCM herbal books, the herb Alfalfa is commonly recommended with a dosage internal as pounding juice, 3~5 Liang (about 90 to 150 grams), or prepare to ground herb powder, 2~3 qian (about 6 to 9 grams).
 Contraindications, Precautions and Adverse Reactions: The herb alfalfa is generally regarded as safe by the FDA. Contact dermatitis has occurred in hypersensitive individuals. Toxicity: The toxic effects of alfalfa root saponins are counteracted by cholesterol and beta-sitosterol.

 

 
  

 

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References:
  • 1.Introduction of Alfalfa:Medicago sativa or Purple Medic.

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