Moringa oleifera often referred to as the ‘miracle tree’ because of its exceptionally diverse array of nutritional, medicinal, and purifying properties, has been known for centuries in certain African, Asia and Caribbean.
In Nigeria especially in the north where it is commonly grown, the Hausa people call it ‘Zogale’. Other common names are; Ben-oil tree, horse radish tree, Drumstick tree (referring to the large pods). It is mostly planted in the region of local houses and used as a fence. It is reported to assist in the treatment of more than 300 diseases and chronic conditions.
Moringa is predictable to have more than 90 nutrients and 46 types of antioxidants, with no known side effects In the Ancient world, they regarded the tree as a ‘Cure all tree’, An ‘Elixir of long life’, ‘The tree of life’ etc. The leaves, flowers, pods, roots, bark of stems and roots, gum, seeds and oil are all used to help with a long list of ailments and health problems.
Such as: diabetes, scurvy, intestinal worms, diarrhea, headache, earache, toothache, skin rashes and abrasions, wounds, ulcers, bronchitis, anemia, sore throats, rheumatism, lower back pain, liver and spleen problems, kidney pain, asthma, epilepsy, rabies, prostate and bladder problems, tumors, tuberculosis.
This sounds like a cure for everything except death. What is particularly unique about Moringa is the fact that every part of the plant, including its bark, leaves, flowers, and roots serves a distinctive purpose in promoting human health (Its seeds, for instance, contain up to 40 percent of a non-drying, edible oil known as ‘Ben Oil’ that is rich in antioxidants and analogous in its nutritional profile to olive oil.
The clear, sweet, odour less oil also has an indefinite shelf life, as it does not turn rancid like many other oils. Perhaps the most utilized component of Moringa is its leaves, which can be dried and ground up into a nutrient-dense, tart flavored powder.
According to its nutritional point of view, powder contains seven times the amount of vitamin C typically found in oranges, 36 times the amount of magnesium in eggs, 25 times the amount of iron in spinach, four times the amount of vitamin A in carrots, 50 times the amount of vitamin B3 in peanuts, and 50 times the vitamin B2 in bananas.
Moringa tree and the leaves have been used to combat malnutrition, especially among infants and nursing mothers. Various non-governmental organizations in particular – Trees for Life, Church World Service and Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization – have advocated Moringa as ‘natural nutrition for the tropics’.
Leaves can be eaten fresh, cooked, or stored as dried powder for many months without refrigeration, and purportedly without loss of nutritional value. Moringa is especially promising as a food source in the tropics because the tree is in full leaf at the end of the dry season when other foods are typically scarce.
Moringa as a Functional Food in Health and Diseases
According term ‘functional food’ was coined in the mid- 1980s with the belief and interest that some selected foods can promote health, and that there are certain everyday foods that provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition.
To them, diet supplements are products that are taken to complement the usual diets or make up for what is lost daily, whether directly or indirectly. Human research and clinical trials have shown that plant-based diets can reduce the risk of some terrible diseases.
Recent research has shown that various parts of the moringa tree can be effective in a significant number of health concerns. Here is a quick look at a few of them:
Moringa is richest source of Vitamin A. It contains four times more Vitamin A or beta-carotene than carrots. It is known to nourish the eyes; therefore, people suffering from poor eyesight should incorporate moringa in their diet. Hence, it is a weapon against blindness.
It is also a wealthy source of Vitamin C many times supplementary than oranges.
Usually milk is said to be a rich source of calcium but the amount of calcium present in moringa leaves is by far higher than in milk.
Moringa leaves are said to contain two times the protein present in milk.
Rich source of potassium is Bananas. But moringa leaves contain several times more potassium than bananas. Beside with potassium, zinc is also present in large quantities in moringa.
If moringa leaves were to be eaten by one and all, the world will be free of anemia as it contains three times more iron than spinach.
The junk food eaten these days, people face problems of high cholesterol. If we add Moringa, helps in balancing the cholesterol levels in the body.
Essential Amino acids are also found in moringa, required for several functions of body.
It also contains omega-9 fatty acids, which have been proven to reduce the body’s resistance to insulin and severity of symptoms of diabetes. Generally, it can lighten the symptoms of diabetes and reduce the severity of the body’s reaction to diabetes. Moringa is also said to balance sugar levels, hence it is helpful in the fight against diabetes.
It is a nutrition booster and is known to promote a feeling of well-being in people. Therefore it can be used to counter anxiety and depression.
It also contains powerful antioxidants that can naturally supplement and maintain the smooth functioning of the body’s immune system. The body’s natural defense mechanism increases with the consumption of moringa in the daily diet pattern. Since it is an immunity-stimulant, it is prescribed for AIDS afflicted patients.
Moringa helps in regulating sleep cycles. People suffering from insomnia find the use of moringa beneficial.
The cell structure of the body is stimulated by the moringa leaves. Hence, moringa leaves can be consumed to stimulate metabolism.
Its seeds are used for their antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties to treat arthritis, rheumatism, gout, cramp, sexually transmitted diseases and boils.
The seeds are roasted, pounded, mixed with coconut oil and applied to the problem area. Seed oil can be used for the same ailments.
Roasted seeds and oil can encourage urination.
They can also be used as a relaxant for epilepsy.
It is also said to have digestive powers.
If you are looking for non-sugar based energy, then moringa leaves is the answer. Thus, it will also help in the weight loss process.
It is especially useful for lactating mothers. Flower juice improves the quality and flow of mothers’ milk when breast feeding. The consumption of moringa has shown dramatic increase in the quantity of breast milk.
Researchers recently concluded that a compound in moringa inhibits the growth of cancer cells. The secret lies in the fact that it is rich in Catechin Polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which is a powerful antioxidant.
Besides inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, it kills cancer cells without harming healthy tissues.
It is also famous for its anti-bacterial properties.
The paste of the moringa leaves is said to beautify the skin and is hence applied by women regularly. The flowers and oil from the pods (Ben oil) are used to produce soaps and body creams. Hence, it said to have anti-aging properties.
It protects the liver and kidneys. If eaten raw, pods act as a de-wormer and treat liver and spleen problems and pains of the joints.
Due to high protein and fiber content, they can play a useful part in treating malnutrition and diarrhea.
It can also be used as a water purifier.
Conclusion and Recommendation
Moringa oleifera is a plant with numerous benefits especially in the treatment of human and animal health. Every part of Moringa, including the seeds, flowers and roots, are very useful in tackling many diseases. Hence, it is a multipurpose plant. Moringa is a nutritional power house of minerals, antioxidants and amino acids.
There are no side effects of moringa tree leaves which have been proved till date. At the same time it can be consumed by small children and adults alike. Therefore, it is high time many people have started using it as tea, salads, porridge, pastas, breads, etc., to reap the everlasting health benefits.
Moringa is said to have almost all the vitamins found in fruits and vegetables, even in larger proportions. With all the health benefits of this miracle herb, it can easily be termed as the most nutritious herb on earth. It is therefore recommended for everybody who desires sound health of body and mind.