Moringa is beneficial for a wide variety of reasons and hence is sometimes referred to as ‘super food’. Moringa is often used to treat arthritis, anemia, asthma, cancer, constipation, diabetes, diarrhea, epilepsy and stomach and intestinal disorders. It also helps to deal with headache, heart problems, and kidney stones, helps to lower high blood pressure, regulates retention of fluid in our body and prevents bacterial, fungal, viral and parasitic infections.
Moringa or Moringa oleifera is otherwise known as the ‘drumstick tree’ and has a variety of nutritional benefits. The name moringa may have been derived from the word ‘Murungai’ which means ‘twisted pod’ in the Tamil language. It is native to India but is also grown in different parts of the world and is also known by a host of different names. Various parts of the plant including the roots, leaves, barks, flowers, fruits and seeds are used to make medicines.
There are a large number of nutrients and vitamins in moringa that are beneficial for us. The vitamins which are present in moringa plant are Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B6, folates and ascorbic acid. Calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus and zinc are the essential minerals which are present in this plant. It also contains essential amino acids which help in the production of protein in our body.
The presence of flavonoids like beta-carotenoids, Vitamin C, quertecin and Chlorogenic acid in moringa help to prevent inflammation. Quertecin helps to stabilize histamine production in the body and while Chlorogenic Acid helps to balance blood sugar levels. This helps to control inflammation as fluctuations in blood sugar levels have been found to cause inflammation, diabetes and other problems.
Moringa has essential minerals like calcium and phosphorus which help to keep our bones healthy and strong. Extracts from this plant have been found to possess anti-inflammatory properties that help to treat conditions like arthritis and also help to fix mandibular or jaw bone fractures.
Moringa extracts help to prevent cancer as they contain phenolic components like quertecin and kaempferol which exhibit chemopreventive properties. Niazimicin is a bioactive compound present in moringa which help to restraint the development of cancer cells. Moringa extracts prevent the proliferation of malignant cells and helps induce apoptosis or programmed cell death and thus helps prevent various types of cancer like ovarian cancer, liver cancer and skin cancer.
Moringa extracts act against food-borne microorganisms like Salmonella, Rhizopus species, E.coli, Enterobacter aerogenus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus and thus protect us from the disease-causing microbes. The leaves of moringa plant have anti-fungal properties that help to inhibit the growth of disease-causing fungi and prevent us from contracting diseases.
Moringa is rich in Vitamin E and Vitamin C and these help to fight oxidation which may lead to neural degeneration. Moringa has an essential role in regulating essential neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and noradrenline in the brain which play a vital role in the functioning of memory, mood and even organs. Thus consumption of moringa can help to have an affirmative effect on mental health and aids in preventing Parkinson’s disease.
The liver is one of the most vital organs of our body and it is responsible for metabolism of fats and nutrients, bile production and even blood detoxification. The liver carries out all these functions with the aid of enzymes and moringa oil helps to maintain the liver enzyme levels. It further helps to reduce fibrosis and liver damage by reducing oxidative stress and increases protein content in the liver.
Moringa leaves contain ethanol which helps to boost body immunity. It helps to improve cellular immune response and increases the count of leucocytes and antibodies which protect our body against a variety of illnesses.
Moringa leaf powder helps to reduce lipid and glucose levels and regulates oxidative stress. It also helps to improve hemoglobin levels and the total protein content in people suffering from diabetes. Thus it helps to fight diabetes by lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Moringa extracts act as effective bio-absorbent and helps to remove heavy metals and harmful toxins from the body. Thus consumption of moringa help to fight against nephrotoxicity, a condition where kidneys are damaged due to exposure to toxins or drugs. Moringa exhibits this property due to the presence of powerful anti-oxidants.
Moringa plant extracts help to prevent asthma and inflammation in the respiratory airways. Moringa helps to reduce the severity of asthmatic attacks and prevents other respiratory disorders like wheezing, cough, dyspnea and contraction of the chest. Moringa seeds have anti-allergenic qualities that have positive effects on the respiratory system as well.
In addition to its health benefits, moringa plant has a host of other uses as well. Moringa can be used as an aphrodisiac and it also has proved to increase milk production in new mothers. The oil in moringa seeds can be used in foods, perfumes, hair care products and also as machine lubricant. Moringa, when applied directly to the skin, helps to kill germs and to dry wounds. It can also be used topically to cure infections, athlete’s foot, dandruff, gum disease, snake bite warts and wounds. The leaves, bark, fruits and roots are edible and they are consumed widely in India and parts of Africa. Moringa extracts also possess anti-cyanobacterial qualities and they help to purify water.
Leaves, fruits and seeds of this plant are safe to be consumed by mouth. It is however risky to consume the roots or its extracts as it contains a toxic substance. Pregnant women should take extra care so as not to consume moringa roots. The leaves of this plant have a lightly laxative effect and this may cause some digestive problems in some people.
The moringa plant was used in the Indian subcontinent in around 2000 B.C. It was used to treat over 300 illnesses ranging from skin blemishes to kidney stones and tubercolosis. Later it spread to Egypt where it was used as a sunscreen. In Greece and Rome, it was used both as an ointment and also as an expensive perfume. This plant also spread to South-East Asia and Pacific Islands and has since become a part of their diet.
Moringa grows best in the sub-Himalayan tracts of the Indian subcontinent. However it is grown throughout the world in tropical and sub-tropical regions. It grows best under direct sunlight and can be grown on a wide range of soil conditions. However, neutral to slightly acidic and well-drained sandy or loamy soil is ideal. Optimum rainfall is also required. A temperature range of 25-35 degrees celcius is best suited for the plant to grow.