This week's herb may make you think "alfalfa? Is that really an herb?" Well, let's look at the definition of herb:
So, alfalfa doesn't really have much of a scent or add flavoring, so it must be the medicinal and nutritional value we are interested in. Alfalfa is chock full of vitamin C; 4 times as much as citrus, it is also high in vitamins A, E and K, beta-carotene, B-12, calcium and 8 essential amino acids. It is also high in fiber. Can you see why it is grown as a feed for horses, cows and goats?
Humans can eat it too. It is probably most known as the sprouts you see put on sandwiches or in salads. Fresh sprouts (and vegetables) are full of enzymes important for digestive health and chock full of vitamins and minerals as they haven't had time to deteriorate sitting on a grocery store shelf. They provide a simple way to get some really fresh veggies if you don't have room or time for a real garden.
Alfalfa is primarily an alterative, nutritive and tonic. Nutrative speaks for itself. Alterative and tonic mean it is great for cleansing the blood. This is useful for a variety of ailments, like skin disorders, arthritis, infections and cancer. Using an blood cleansing therapy must be accompanied by a cleansing diet as well to be most effective. Alfalfa can also be used in tea form and it is used to make liquid Chlorophyll which interestingly has almost identical mineral and chemical makeup as human hemoglobin and has been used in blood transfusions.
Here's how to grow your own sprouts. Anyone can do this. You just need seeds intended for sprouting, a clean jar with some cheesecloth or mesh or sprouting lid like I have. The seeds can be found at health food stores, some nurseries and of course online. The directions are usually on the bag of seeds as well.
First, put about a tablespoon of seeds in the jar and cover with clean, cool water. Let soak for 12-24 hours. Then drain and rinse every 12 hours or so. When you rinse, be sure to shake out as much water as you can then sit the jar upside down so any remaining water can drain. This is to prevent mold from forming.
Once the sprouts have grown enough (you see two green leaves in most cases), keep in the fridge. I just swap my sprouting lid for a solid lid. I put them on salads and other vegetable dishes to add nutritional value as well as the digestive enzymes.
Other seeds that can be sprouted include broccoli, mung beans, sunflowers, arugula and Daikon radish.
Grains and beans can also be sprouted before using them for bread and other products. This helps make them easier to digest. This is why you'll see "Made with sprouted grains" touted on a food label. The process is the same, except you stop the sprouting process as soon as you see the root sprout and then dehydrate until dry to grind into flour.
With love, hugs and smiles,
Ritchason, Jack, N.D.. The Little Herb Encyclopedia. Utah: Woodland Health Books, 1995
Herbal Healer Academy Herbology Correspondence Course by Marijah McCain, N.D.