A. L. Blackwood, 1915: Observations with Medicago Sativa.

Botanical name: 
Alexander L. Blackwood, A. B., M. D., Chicago, Ill., 1915

Scanned version copyright © 2000–2024 Henriette Kress.

Synonyms: Alfalfa, Spanish Clover, California Clover, and Lucerne.

The composition of Alfalfa is, according to the United States Department of Agriculture:

Water 8.4 per cent
Ash 7.2 " "
Protein 14.3 " "
Crude fiber 25.0 " "
Nitrogen free extract 42.7 " "
Ether extract (fat) 2.2 " "

Alfalfa is a leguminous plant. It has been cultivated from ancient time, and is highly prized as a pasture and forage plant. Those who have observed its influence when employed as a forage for stock, must have been impressed with the favorable results obtained from its use.

During the past year, clinical observations were made of the action of Alfalfa on seventeen persons, most of whom were students in the Hahnemann Medical College, Chicago. In the proving, the remedy was used in strength varying from the full strength tincture, to the 30x dilution. No definite symptoms were developed, however, above the 3x. It was noted that when more than five drops of the full strength tincture were administered every three hours, several patients complained of abdominal distress, although two of the patients took as high as twenty drops, every three hours, with no complaint apart from its action as a diuretic, the quantity of urine being much increased. The provers, except one, noted three things in particular; a general sense of well-being, an increase in the amount of urine, and an increased appetite, could not wait for the regular meals. Given clinically, in small doses, five drops of the tincture controlled polyuria, with loss of appetite, and allayed irritation from an enlarged prostate.


Mind. Clear and bright. The remedy, while dosage continues, seems to prevent the "blues," making one rejoice, or feel "alive." All bodily functions seem to be stimulated. Under large doses, the provers felt sluggish, drowsy, dull, stupid, thinking slowly, and irritable; worse during the evening.

Head. Pain in the left side of head, with dull, heavy feeling, coming on about 2 P. M., and gradually increasing till 6 P. M., starting at the occiput and becoming severe.

Eyes. Aching, in and above the eyes.

Ears. Eustachian tubes feel closed at night, but are clear in the morning.

Face. Flushed.

Mouth. A peculiar astringent sensation, while taking the drug.

Appetite. Greatly increased, sometimes becoming ravenous. Sensation of hunger at all times. Must stop and have something to cat in the middle of the morning. A desire for sweets. Provers hungry all the time, and eat much more heartily than ordinarily. I regularly eat a light breakfast, but while taking Alfalfa, was able to eat more for breakfast than usual. A similar increase in appetite for other meals was noted. Digestion was very good. Although more food than usual was eaten, it was all nicely digested, and caused no distress. Normally, if I overeat for two or three meals, I feel stuffy and lose my appetite, and for a meal or two, care only for bread and lemonade. But under this remedy, I can eat extra bread at every meal. Occasionally, I seemed to have a little wind colic. There were sharp pains that would come and go, generally about three hours after a meal. However, there was no belching of gas, up or down.

Abdomen. Distended, with flatus in the intestines, pain in the line of the colon. This was recorded by seven provers.

Stools. Distended condition of the bowels, diarrhea, painless, accompanied with flatus and burning. Stools loose and yellow, more frequent than usual, two or three times daily. (I am usually constipated).

Urine. Marked increase in the quantity. Indican increased by large doses. Phosphates increased.

While taking the medicine, I took the specific gravity and urea percentage of the urine every day. For several days, the specific gravity was 10.08 or 10.10, and the urea 15 grams per liter. These figures gradually increased until, after taking the remedy for about ten days, the specific gravity was 10.20 and the urea 25 grams per liter. These figures were sustained for several days, and then dropped to about 10.15 specific gravity and 20 grams of urea per liter, although increased quantities of the medicine were being taken when these figures were lowered. Whenever previously examined, my urine has been very low in total content, these figures showing the largest renal elimination I have ever had.

Female. Increased desire. Menstrual period exactly 28 days. Had been coming three and four days ahead of time, for the past six months. Did not notice any difference in the flow.

Sleep. Very good. Better than usual in early part of night.

Clinical Cases.

Mr. D., aged 41, a chief clerk in the general offices of one of our railroad companies, had complained for several months of losing flesh. His appetite was poor, and he did not relish his food. An abnormal thirst was present, with a loss of flesh, and polyuria. The quantity of urine for twenty-four hours was eighty ounces, specific gravity 1.008, but with nothing abnormal, apart from an excess of indican. The prostate was enlarged and sensitive to pressure, he complaining of some irritation upon urination. Five drops of the tincture were prescribed, four times a day. After two weeks he sent a messenger for a second supply of the medicine, stating that it had greatly benefited him. He called at the end of two months, having gained ten pounds. The urine at this time was practically normal in quantity, the appetite was fine, and he considered himself in a normal condition.

Mr. G., aged 29, complained of a loss of weight and appetite, with excessive thirst, polyuria and mental depression. This syndrome had been developing gradually for the past year. Physical examination showed a man of medium size, emaciated, heart's action weakened, blood pressure lowered, stomach slightly dilated, prostatic portions of the urethra hypersensitive. The urine was greatly increased in quantity, and of low specific gravity, free from casts and albumin. The phosphates were increased. Five drops of the tincture before each meal and on retiring, gradually relieved the condition so that in three months he considered himself well.

For the following excerpts, I am indebted to Dr. Finley Ellingwood:

A physician observed the active influence exercised by alfalfa on the kidneys. He made a strong tincture of the root of this plant, which he administered for diuretic purposes, increasing the dose from a few drops, upward, until he obtained a diuretic influence. Prescribing it in a case where there was a dropsical effusion of the extremities, with kidneys inactive and skin dry, he obtained good results, in two cases. Administering it to old men, he found it relieved prostatic irritation.

Dr. Houts considered the fresh leaves preferable, but obtained good results from the use of dried leaves which still retain a green color. Of these he made an infusion, which he gave freely to patients suffering from backache, especially if they were passing but a small quantity of water while suffering from rheumatic symptoms, or the backache was accompanied with muscular aching, with an excessive quantity of uric acid and urates secreted.

Dr. Ben Bradley, of Hamlet, Ohio, believes that Alfalfa is one of our coming remedies. He reports a case where a woman had given birth to seven children, all born apparently strong and well, but when they reached the age of eighteen, each wasted away and died. When the last, a girl, exhibited the symptoms of the same wasting disease from which the others had died, Dr. Bradley made a concentrated tincture of Alfalfa seeds, fully saturated, of which he gave her ten drops, four or five times a day. Under this treatment her weight increased from 99 to 133 pounds, and she recovered good health.

Dr. Houser, of Lincoln, Illinois, tried the same preparation of Alfalfa seeds on two or three very thin female patients, to see if their weight could be increased, but without results.

The late Dr. John Fearn, of Oakland, California, wrote that the action of Alfalfa upon the kidneys and urinary apparatus was very soothing. He found Alfalfa highly nutritious, and believed that it could be prepared for human food. Dr. Fearn believed that a concentrated tincture should exercise an action similar to that of avena sativa, which has a direct nutritional value in its influence upon the brain and spinal cord. There is, without doubt, an important field for this agent.

I am indebted to Boericke and Tafel for the preparations employed, and to the laboratories of the Hahnemann Medical College for much assistance.

Uses of Alfalfa.

By Ben A. Bradley, M.D., Hamlet, Ohio.

I find in Alfalfa, after about seven years' clinical test in my practice and on myself, a superlative restorative tonic, but it does not act as a stimulant, after the manner of alcohol, cocaine or other habit-forming drugs. It rejuvenates the whole system by increasing the strength, vim, vigor, and vitality of the patient. In all cases, the ever-marked condition calling for the remedy is despondency, along with loss of flesh, whether the case is one of stomach trouble, such as indigestion, dyspepsia, general and nervous debility, anemia, marasmus, loss of appetite and poor assimilation, as shown by loss of flesh and constipation, with the always accompanying condition, depression. Alfalfa, administered in the dose of gtt. i to ii in a bottle of milk three times daily, is especially useful with bottle-fed babies. It has done wonders in some cases accompanied by loss of flesh. It increases the flow of milk in nursing mothers, as well as the urine and the peristaltic action of the stomach and bowels, with a consequent increase of appetite and flesh.

Dose. In acute cases, gtt. xv to xxx, on sugar, or in two teaspoonfuls of water, three times daily. In chronic cases, gtt. v to x, on sugar or in two teaspoonfuls of water, two or three times daily.


¼ lb Bottles $ 0.50
½ lb Bottles 0.95
1 lb Bottles 1.80
Lloyd Brothers, Cincinnati, Ohio

August, 1915