Alfalfa – Medicago sativa

Alfalfa flowers
Alfalfa flowers
The field of alfalfa
Across from Rio Grande High School
Is green
Bright green
In early spring
Fog seeps
Rising from the field
Like a whisper
The field of alfalfa
With infinite patience
Sits
Waits
And breathes
It moves
Following the wind
It sways
And sometimes
Fights back

By Adan Baca

 

This native herb of southwest Asia was under cultivation as early as 1,000 BC in the Middle East. It is the earliest known plant to be under domestication for livestock feed. It has one of the highest nutrient contents known…it is high in protein, calcium, chlorophyll, carotene, and vitamin K. Due to these high levels it is considered good food for animals and humans as well! In Russia and China the young tender alfalfa leaves are used as a vegetable.

Alfalfa has been used in medicine for over 1500 years. The Costanoan Indians of coastal central California used a poultice of heated leaves for the treatment of earaches. In ancient China and in India with Ayurvedic medicine the leaves were used to treat digestive issues. A classic Roman treatment for arthritis was the ritual drinking of a cup of alfalfa tea twice daily. Traditionally this plant has been used in the treatment of arthritis, atherosclerosis, anemia, bad breath, cancer, constipation, diabetes, endometriosis, osteoporosis and ulcers.

This plant has been used in magic for ages. It was kept in the house or dried and sprinkled around the property to protect form poverty. To increase prosperity it was placed in the pantry (within a small jar), or burned and the ashes scattered around.

The alfalfa seeds can be used to dye fabric yellow; and the fibers in the stems were used for making paper. Care should be used when handling the roots as they contain saponin-like substances that can cause contact dermatitis!

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