Medicago sativa, Luzerne
Part of the plant used: leaves and sprouts
Alfalfa is a perennial plant of the Leguminosea family. It is largely cultivated world wide as a forage plant to feed animals. Alfalfa also occupies a growing place in the human diet as a valid source of proteins, calcium, trace elements, carotenoids and vitamins A, C, E and K.
Even though alfalfa has been attributed several possible therapeutic properties, it seems to have more value as a food than as a medicinal plant.
There is insufficient reliable information to conclude that alfalfa is effective in any other indication.
In 2004, Canada adopted new regulations that control the manufacturing, packaging, labeling and importing of natural health products. The new regulations also include an adverse reaction reporting system. Products that conform to the regulation's criteria are identified with a natural product number (NPN) and can be legally sold in Canada. This number indicates that the product meets specific criteria for safety and purity, not that it is effective for any indication.
Medicinal plant contents vary naturally from plant to plant - just as fruits from the same package may vary in taste and texture. There is no standard to measure the active content of each plant. Thus, efficacy of natural products should be expected to vary from brand to brand as well as from bottle to bottle of the same brand.
For more information about the Natural Health Products Regulations, or to check if a product has been assessed, visit the Health Canada website at www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodnatur/index-eng.php.
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