Moringa, the wonder tree also for good health!

NaturalNews) Imagine a tree in your backyard that will meet all your nutritional  needs, take care of you medicinally, and purify your water for you. This tree  actually exists. For centuries, the natives of northern India and many parts of  Africa have known of the many benefits of Moringa  oleifera. Its uses are as unique as the names it is known by, such  as clarifier tree, horseradish tree and drumstick tree (referring to the large  drumstick shaped pods) and in East Africa it is called "mother's best friend”. Virtually every part of the tree can be used. Native only to the foothills of  the Himalayas, it is now widely cultivated in Africa, Central and South America,  Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia and the Philippines. This tree, though little known  in the Western world, is nutritional dynamite. There are literally hundreds of  uses for this tree.

The immature pods are the most  valued and widely used of all the tree parts. The pods are extremely nutritious,  containing all the essential amino acids along with many vitamins and other  nutrients. The immature pod can be eaten raw or prepared like green peas or  green beans, while the mature pods are usually fried and possess a peanut-like  flavor. The pods also yield 38 - 40% of non-drying, edible oil known as Ben Oil.  This oil is clear, sweet and odorless, and never becomes rancid. Overall, its  nutritional value most closely resembles olive oil. The thickened root is used as a substitute for horseradish although this is  now discouraged as it contains alkaloids, especially moriginine, and a  bacteriocide, spirochin, both of which can prove fatal following ingestion. The leaves are eaten as greens, in salads, in vegetable curries, as  pickles and for seasoning. They can be pounded up and used for scrubbing  utensils and for cleaning walls. Leaves and young branches are relished by  livestock. The Bark can be used for tanning and also yields a  coarse fiber. The flowers, which must be cooked, are eaten  either mixed with other foods or fried in batter and have been shown to be rich  in potassium and calcium.

In developing tropical countries, Moringa  trees have been used to combat malnutrition, especially among infants and  nursing mothers. Three non-governmental organizations in particular - Trees for  Life, Church World Service and Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization - advocate Moringa as natural nutrition  for the tropics.” Leaves can be eaten fresh, cooked, or stored as dried powder  for many months without refrigeration, and 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. Analyses of the leaf  composition have revealed them to have significant quantities of vitamins A, B  and C, calcium, iron and protein. According to Optima of Africa, Ltd., a group  that has been working with the tree in Tanzania, "25 grams daily of Moringa Leaf  Powder will give a child" the following recommended daily  allowances:

Protein 42%, Calcium 125%, Magnesium 61%, Potassium 41%, Iron  71%, Vitamin A 272%, and Vitamin C 22%. These numbers are particularly  astounding; considering this nutrition is available when other food sources may  be scarce.

Scientific research confirms that these humble leaves are a  powerhouse of nutritional value. Gram for gram, Moringa leaves contain: SEVEN  times the vitamin C in oranges, FOUR times the Calcium in milk, FOUR times the  vitamin A in carrots, TWO times the protein in milk and THREE times the  Potassium in bananas.

The Moringa tree has great use medicinally both as  preventative and treatment. Much of the evidence is anecdotal as there has been  little actual scientific research done to support these claims. India's ancient  tradition of ayurveda says the leaves of the Moringa tree prevent 300 diseases.  One area in which there has been significant scientific research is the reported  antibiotic activity of this tree.

This is clearly the area in which the  preponderance of evidence - both classical scientific and anecdotal evidence - is overwhelming. The scientific evidence has now been available for over 50  years, although much of it is completely unknown to western scientists. In the  late 1940’s and early 1950’s a team from India identified a compound they called  pterygospermin. This group was also able to demonstrate its mode of  antimicrobial action in the mid 1950’s. Field reports and ecological studies  form part of a rich traditional medicine history claiming efficacy of leaf,  seed, root, bark, and flowers against a variety of dermal and internal  infections. In 1964 other active compounds were isolated and tested in-vitro,  and these studies, along with observational studies provide a very plausible  mechanism of action for the centuries of claims of efficacy. Unfortunately,  because many of the reports of antibiotic efficacy in humans are not supported  by placebo controlled, randomized clinical trials, Western medical prejudice  leaves the Western world ignorant of Moringa’s antibiotic  properties.

Another area of folklore which research supports is in cancer  treatment. Moringa species have long been recognized by folk medicine  practitioners as having value in the treatment of tumors. Studies examined  certain compounds for their cancer preventive potential. Recently two of these  compounds were shown to be potent inhibitors of activation of lymphoblastoid  (Burkitt’s lymphoma) cells. One of these compounds also inhibited tumors in mice  bred to be prone to tumors. In another study, Bharali and colleagues examined  skin tumor prevention following ingestion of drumstick (Moringa seedpod)  extracts. In this mouse model, which included appropriate positive and negative  controls, a dramatic reduction in skin tumors was demonstrated. More rigorous  study is required in order to achieve a level of proof required for full medical  endorsement of Moringa as, in this case, a cancer preventative  plant.

After the oil is extracted from the pods, the seed-cake remaining  contains the active components for removing turbidity (solid particles) from  water. Because bacteria adhere to the solids, this seed-cake also effectively  removes bacteria. At the Thyolo Water Treatment Works in Malawi, Africa, two  researchers from the University of Leicester, England, have worked on  substituting moringa seeds for alum to remove solids in water for drinking. Not  only were the tests successful in removing as much solid material as alum, but  the seeds used were "purchased from enthusiastic villagers in Nsanje Region in  Malawi" (Folkard and Sutherland, 1996. Not only is Moringa oleifera as effective  as aluminum sulphate (alum) in removing suspended solids from turbid water, it  has a major advantage. Because it can be produced locally, "using Moringa rather  than alum would save foreign exchange and generate farm and employment income."  The potential for Moringa to create a new market for a community is there, and  studies and projects are taking place examining this potential. Use of this  natural substance would also remove a source of aluminum  contamination.

This tree is truly a “miracle” tree offering hope;  nutritionally, medicinally and economically to devastatingly poor 3rd  world countries. It has just recently begun being used as a supplement in a  juice form and in powdered leaf tablets.


Ramachandran,C.,  Peter,K.V. and Gopalakrishnan,P.K., 1980, Drumstick (Moringa oleifera): A  multipurpose Indian Vegetable. Economic Botany, 34 (3) pp276-283.

Meitzner  and Price (Amaranth to Zai Holes: Ideas for Growing Food Under Difficult  Conditions, ECHO, 1996),

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