Moringa oleifera - miracle tree for your health
Moringa oleifera, a member of the Moringa genus species, is affectionately known as the “miracle tree” or “tree of life” because it is an incredibly useful plant. It is also known as the Drumstick tree, due to it's long, thin branches and triangular shaped seed pods. Not only is every part of this tree useful and valuable for good health, but it is also easy to cultivate, harvest and to process for consumption. The health benefits of moringa are hard to overstate.
Where Moringa is Grown
Moringa is native to the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains, but now grows also in other tropical and subtropical countries throughout the world. It is a very hardy tree that can thrive even in drought conditions and poor soil.
Although modern researchers have only recently discovered and studied the value of moringa, it has been used since ancient times to treat a wide range of ailments. Today it is a popular health “superfood” in many countries because it improves overall health and provides a wide range of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals. These days there are many poverty and malnutrition stricken areas around the world. To combat this misfortune, moringa trees are now popularly grown and cultivated in a large number of regions.
The moringa tree is slender with drooping branches, oval-shaped leaves and whitish-yellow flowers that ripen into pods containing round seeds, similar-looking to pea pods but much larger. This is why it is also often referred to as “drumstick tree.” When the seed pods are mature, one can harvest the pods, remove the seeds, dry them and simply plant them one inch deep into the soil. Sprouting will occur within 2 – 3 weeks. In one year it will easily grow up to a height of 16 feet, and can finally reach a height of 32 - 40 feet. The seedlings and the tree itself tend to grow very rapidly. To ensure the best growth, it is advisable to prune the top of the tree regularly to stimulate branching at the lower stem.
Moringa Health Benefits
Moringa is a powerhouse of important minerals like iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and calcium, as well as rich in 18 out of the 20 essential amino acids. Ounce for ounce, Moringa has three times the amount of potassium as bananas, three times the iron of spinach, seven times the amount of Vitamin C found in oranges, as well as large amounts of Vitamin E, B1, B2 and B3. Moringa leaves contain four times the calcium found in milk, five times more beta-carotene than carrots, more than three times the amount of iron found in spinach or beef, and twice the amount of protein found in yogurt. Moringa is said to have the highest protein ration of any plant studied so far, with the leaves containing approximately 40% protein. In addition to that, Moringa contains chlorophyll, beta-sitosterol, lutein, zeatin and caffeoylquinic acids, all of which contribute to overall health.
There are many ways in which moringa can be consumed. The leaves can be dried and brewed as a delicious healthy tea. Fresh leaves are a tasty and nutritious addition to any salad. Health food shops offer moringa in the form of capsules or powder. Eating the fresh nutty tasting seeds raw or cooked gives a welcome energy boost.
The Latin term 'oleifera' means oil-containing. This seed contains 35-40% oil by weight and can even yield more oil than peanuts. It is one of the most valuable plant oils, containing numerous health properties. Similar to coconut oil, Moringa oil is very stable even at high temperatures and can therefore also safely be used for cooking. This magic oil, with its antioxidant and anti-ageing properties, is the perfect product for head to toe treatments. Not only do the seeds produce this wonderful oil, they are also used for water purification.
This all around miracle tree boosts the immune system in astonishing ways. There are innumerable accounts of moringa either reducing or even eliminating sickle cell anemia and even HIV/AIDS. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University say and the World Health Organization have studied moringa extensively and report an impressive range of properties including: antibotic, antifungal, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, cholesterol-lowering, antispasmodic, antiulcer and antioxidant qualities. Moringa seeds have the ability to purify water and have also been used to make an antibacterial hand-washing soap. Simply by crushing the seeds into a powder and adding it to water purifies your water in a completely chemical-free way. Moringa oleifera is not only an ideal food source to add to your diet, giving you the nutrients that you need, but is also a powerful supplement that can be used to detoxify and heal many issues in the body.
Weight Loss with Moringa Leaves
Moringa leaves are one of the most nutritionally dense leafy greens, as well as being low on the glycemic index (GI), meaning they provide goodness and are rich in fiber, but do not create spikes in blood glucose. For this reason moringa is a good food source for those wishing to eat a healthy diet as they maintain or lose weight.
Moringa Side Effects
There do not seem to be any widely reported side effects relating to the use of moringa.
Fahey, Jed W. Moringa oleifera: A Review of the Medical Evidence for Its Nutritional, Therapeutic, and Prophylactic Properties. Part 1. Trees for Life Journal 2005; 1(5) p. 5 – 20. Torondol, B. Efficacy of Moringa oleifera leaf powder as a hand- washing product: a crossover controlled study among healthy volunteers. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014; 14:57.