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December 3, 1982

Alfalfa Grass and Legume

Author Affiliations

University of Oklahoma Norman

JAMA. 1982;248(21):2836. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330210028023

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To the Editor.—  A physician from Ohio requested information concerning the use of alfalfa pills in the treatment of allergies (1982;247:1493). Included in the response to this inquiry was a gross error that I believe readers should be made aware of. Dr Polk, who answered the question, stated incorrectly that alfalfa is a member of the grass family and that exposure to alfalfa may "intensify or exacerbate symptoms caused by grass pollen." Any good farmer will tell you that alfalfa is not a grass; indeed, it is not botanically closely related to grasses. Alfalfa belongs to the legume family and, thus, is akin to clover, beans, and peas—not to wheat, as is suggested in Dr Polk's response. He also erred in his citation of Gerrad's Food Allergy: New Perspectives as the source of this misinformation. On page 250 of this text, alfalfa is correctly listed as belonging to the order