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Questions About The Diets

Alfalfa and Type O


I am a Type O 51-year-old woman, 35-40 pounds overweight. Have just devoured your book (where is that on the food lists!) I know wheat is a problem for me and have decided to eliminate. I drink a smoothie 3 or 4 mornings a week that has a green formula as its basis--lots of good sea foods in there: spirulina, dulse, kelp that are good for me. But also has powders from organically grown alfalfa. Are the harmful glutens and lectins in this form of alfalfa?

I have just begun the program and I am already feeling better after one week. My mother has also begun the program, and since she doesn't have a computer I am asking a question for her. She has been taking Alfalfa pills for regularity, and she is Type O. You list alfalfa tea as something to avoid. Should these tablets be avoided also? Thank you.


Long appreciated for its value as a food for livestock, Medicago sativa (alfalfa) has also come to be widely considered as a "health food" and may be found in a variety of forms, including: seeds, sprouts, tablets and a variety of extractions. In spite of its use as a heathful food in animals, the evidence as to its value in primates is rather more mixed.

This is principally due to one of alfalfa's constituents, the amino acid canavallin. This compound is a non-essential amino acid which competes with arginine and has been found to induce a reversible lupus-like condition in some individuals. This syndrome is characterized by anemia, antibodies to DNA, and deposition of immunoglobulins and complement in the skin. The suspected mechanism is a loss of T suppressor activity. T suppressor cells modulate the immune response by "suppressing" the T killer cells. Thus, by "suppressing the suppressors" canavallin increases immune activity. However it is non-specific and often directed against the body's own tissues. As I wrote in ER4YT, type O's have higher rates of auto-immune disease over the other ABO types. (Mourant,

1985) Alfalfa contains an additional compound with thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) activity. This TRH analog is biologically active, probably via the hypothalmus rather than the pituitary, and has the additional effect of inhibiting prolactin release. Since type O has a rather unstable thyroid metabolism to begin with, this adds yet another contra-indication against using the herb in this type.

There is considerable evidence that canavallin inhibits the actions of nitric oxide, an important control element in both the cardiovascular and immune systems. It does this principally through inhibiting the enzymes nitric oxide synthase and argininosuccinate synthetase, both of which are arginine dependant. The latter is associated genetically with ABO (both the genes literally sit on top of each other!) This might actually be helpful for type B as a very recent study shows that this blood type has difficulty breaking down inhaled nitric oxide when given as a treatment for respiratory distress syndrome.

However, in ER4YT alfalfa is listed as beneficial. The reasoning is two-fold: Alfalfa contains three major phytoestrogens coumestrol, genistein and formonetin and two less important ones, diadzein and biochanin A. Most phytoestrogens are isoflavones, while coumestrol is a coumarin derivative. The relative weakness of their estrogenic action means that these compounds will have an "alterative" or "balancing" effect. Thus, phytoestrogens may be used therapeutically in both hypoestrogenism and hyperestrogenism states.

Of additional value to type A is alfalfa's ability to lower total cholesterol, triglycerides, low density lipoproteins, (LDL) and very low density lipoproteins (VLDL) while not significantly lowering the desirable HDL subfractions. It is precisely this quality that makes them so useful therapeutically, in type A in whom alfalfa is beneficial. Alfalfa extracts can be very useful for this purpose as there is a substantial amount of literature which supports their use in cholesterol reduction.

With regard to the blood types, alfalfa goes a long way in demonstrating the maxin that "One Mans Food Is Another Main's Poison."

The Ask Dr. D'Adamo internet advice column ran from 1996 to 2009, at which time Dr. D'Adamo's teaching and programming responsibilities no longer allowed him to devote time and resources to directly answering visitor questions. However we've recently reorganized this treasure-trove of material and made it again available to his readership. He occasionally posts new entries. These are marked with a NEW tag.

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