Alfalfa (generic name)

treats Atherosclerosis, High cholesterol, and Diabetes
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Interactions

Interactions with Drugs

Blood sugar levels may be reduced. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. Patients taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or insulin should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare provider. Medication adjustments may be necessary.

Alfalfa contains vitamin K, and therefore may reduce the "blood thinning" effects of the drug warfarin (Coumadin®). Alfalfa may add to the effects of cholesterol-lowering medications such as atorvastatin (Lipitor®) or simvastatin (Zocor®).

Alfalfa may increase the risk of severe sunburns when used with drugs that increase sun sensitivity, such as chlorpromazine (Thorazine®). Due to estrogen-like chemicals in alfalfa, the side effects of drugs that contain estrogens may be increased (such as birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy). In theory, alfalfa may increase thyroid hormone levels and may alter the effects of thyroid drugs such as thyroxine (Synthroid®, Levoxyl®).

Alfalfa may alter potassium and calcium levels like other drugs.

Many tinctures/liquid extracts contain high levels of alcohol and may cause nausea or vomiting when taken with metronidazole (Flagyl®) or disulfiram (Antabuse®).

Alfalfa may also interact with drugs that alter the immune system.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

Blood sugar levels may be reduced. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar such as aloe or bitter melon. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.

Alfalfa may add to the effects of cholesterol-lowering agents such as fish oil, garlic, guggul, red yeast, and niacin.

Alfalfa has been reported to contain vitamin K, and therefore may reduce the effects of herbs and supplements that have blood-thinning effects that rely on depletion of vitamin K.

Because alfalfa contains estrogen-like chemicals, the effects of other agents believed to have estrogen-like properties, such as black cohosh, may be altered. Alfalfa may also alter thyroid levels in herbs such as bladderwrack.

Alfalfa may alter potassium and calcium levels. It may also interact with iron, vitamin E, and vitamin K.

Alfalfa may interact with therapies that alter the immune system or cause sun sensitivity.

Alfalfa may contain significant levels of zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium.

Attribution

This information is based on a professional level monograph edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com): Ethan Basch, MD (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center); Dawn Costa, BA, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Cathi Dennehy, PharmD (University of California, San Francisco); Nicole Giese, MS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Mary Giles, PharmD (University of Rhode Island); Michael Goble, BS, PharmD (Massachusetts College of Pharmacy); Michelle Harrison, PharmD (New England Medical Center); David Kroll, PhD (Duke University); Richard Liebowitz, MD (Duke University); Erica Seamon, PharmD (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Michael Smith, MRPharmS, ND (Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine); David Sollars, MAc, HMC (New England School of Acupuncture); Philippe Szapary, MD (University of Pennsylvania); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Catherine Ulbricht, PharmD (Massachusetts General Hospital); Mamta Vora, PharmD (Northeastern University); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Jen Woods, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration).

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