Moringa (Moringa Oleifera) Tree Health Benefits and Medicinal Usage

Moringa leaves and Moringa pods are highly nutritious. They contain large amounts of vitamins, proteins and minerals. You may not believe the fact in some parts of Africa, Moringa leaf powder is given to malnourished children, pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers as a food supplement.

Sahijan, Shigru, Moringa, Drumstick are few vernacular names of a common but the most underutilized medicinal tree Moringa oleifera. The most common name of this tree, Moringa is derived from Tamil word murunggai or Malayalam word muringa. It is indigenous to the sub-Himalayas of India and now naturalized to various tropical and subtropical regions of the world viz. Middle East, Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Philippines, Cambodia, and the Caribbean islands.

moringa tree

By കാക്കര (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Overview

In India the pods are mainly used as vegetable. The leaves are occasionally eaten. But the fact is leaves are far more nutritious, healthy, easily available compared to pods. They are good source of proteins, beta-carotene, amino acids, various phenolic and other phytochemicals (alkaloids, anthraquinone, coumarins, falvones, phenols, quininesand and tannins).

Countries like Senegal, Benin, Zimbabwe etc, are using Moringa leaves for programmes to fight malnutrition. The dried leaves powder is given to children and malnourished population to cure anemia, vitamin deficiency and boosting health. The dried leaves powder is sprinkled to every meal to enhance nutrition. The dried leaves are without water content and are high in iron, calcium, beta-carotene and vitamin C.

Perhaps in India, many people may not believe the nutritional benefits of leaves. But the fact is Moringa leaves can be affordable and effective option to fight prevalent malnutrition and diseases.

Moringa is a fast growing tree and can be easily grown. It propagates through seeds and cuttings. You can even grow it in containers and use its leaves.

Scientific name: Moringa oleifera, Moringa pterygosperma Gaertn

Family: Moringaceae

Vernacular names of moringa

  1. Sanskrit: Shigru, Sahijan
  2. Assamese, Bengali: Sajina, Sajna
  3. English: Horse Radish Tree, Drum-stick Tree
  4. Gujrati: Saragavo
  5. Hindi: Sahajan
  6. Kannada: Neegge, Nugge Kand Chakke
  7. Malayalam: Muringa
  8. Marathi: Sevaga, Segat Sala
  9. Oriya: Sajina
  10. Punjabi: Sohanjana
  11. Tamil: Murungai
  12. Telugu: Munaga, Mulaga
  13. Urdu: Sohanjana, Sahajan
  14. Common names: benzolive tree, drumstick tree, horse-radish tree, kelor tree, mother’s best friend, never die tree, mlonge, moonga, mulangay

Moringa is a time-tested medicine. Moringa Leaves contain amino acids viz. Aspartic acid, Glutamic acid, Serine and Glycine. These are excellent source of iron, hence recommended during pregnancy. The leaves increase semen. These expel worms and relieve constipation. Leaves are good for eyes and improves vision and increases breast milk production. Moringa leaves reduces blood pressure and are useful in hypertension.

Moringa leaves Nutrition and Benefits

Moringa leaves and Moringa pods are highly nutritious. They contain large amounts of vitamins, proteins and minerals. You may not believe the fact in some parts of Africa, Moringa leaf powder is given to malnourished children, pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers as a food supplement.

planting Moringa

This works as miracle and helps to improve their general health. This improves their body immunity to fight repetitive infectious diseases. Its leaves, pods, and flowers all are edible. When leaves nutrition compared gram-for-gram from other food items, they give more than seven times the vitamin C found in oranges, 10 times the vitamin A found in carrots, 17 times the calcium found in milk, nine times the protein found in yogurt, 15 times the potassium found in bananas and 25 times the iron found in spinach. Read more about eating moringa leaves.

The leaves are eaten as vegetable. Medicinally boiled leaves reduces body heat and cures eye diseases and indigestion. The flowers increases fertility in males by increasing sperm production.

Particular100 grams of leaves (Percent of RDA)100 grams of Pods (Percent of RDA)
Energy64 kcal37 kcal
Carbohydrate8.28 gm8.53 gm
Dietary fibre2 gm3.2 gm
Fat1.4 gm0.2 gm
Water79 gm88 gm
Vitamin A0.378 micrograms (47%)4 micrograms (1%)
Vitamin B10.257 mg (22%)0.0530 mg (5%)
Vitamin B20. 66 mg (55%)0.074 mg (6%)
Vitamin B32.2 mg (15%)0.620 mg (4%)
Vitamin B50.125 mg (3%)0.794 mg acid (16%)
Vitamin B61.2 mg (92%)0.120 mg (9%)
Vitamin B940 micrograms (10%)44 micrograms (11%)
Vitamin C51.7 mg (62%)141.0 mg (170%)
Calcium185 mg (19%)30 mg (3%)
Iron.36 mg (3%)4.00 mg (31%)0.36 mg (3%)
Magnesium147 mg (41%)45 mg (13%)
Manganese0.36 mg (17%)0.259 mg (12%)
Phosphorus112 mg (16%)50 mg (7%)
Potassium337 mg (7%)461 mg (10%)
Sodium9 mg (1%)42 mg (3%)
Zinc0.6 mg (6%)0.45 mg (5%)

Source FDA Database for nutrition US

Ayurvedic Uses of Moringa

In Ayurveda, Shigru or Moringa is used for time immemorial to treat wide variety of diseases. Its roots, bark, leaves, seeds and flowers are used therapeutically.

The roots are bitter and acrid. They have thermogenic, digestive, gas preventing, anti-parasitic, constipating, pain relieving, inflammation reducing, emmenagogue, sudorific, urine production stimulating, ophthalmic, cough relieving, haematinic, stones preventing, alexipharmic, stimulant and vesicant/cause blistering properties.

Roots are used in vitiation of Vata/wind and Kapaha/mucous dosha.

The bark is acrid, bitter, thermogenic, abortifacient, antifungal and cardiac and circulatory stimulant. Bark is indicated in ascites, ringworm and diseases due to vitiation of Vata and Kapha dosha.

The leaves reduces inflammation, relieves pain, kills parasites. They contains many minerals and vitamins and are particularly rich in vitamins A and C. They are useful in scurvy, wounds, tumours, inflammations and parasitic infestation.

The seeds are acrid, bitter, anodyne, anti-inflammatory, purgative, antipyretic and ophthalmic. They are useful indicated in swelling, intermittent fever, eye diseases and nerve pain.

Medicinal uses of Moringa

Moringa has swelling reducing, anti-tumour, anti-cancer, antibiotic and abortifacient properties. It has blood pressure lowering, anti-spasmodic, anti-tumour, cholesterol lowering, urine production stimulating, blood sugar lowering, anti-cancer properties. The leaves extract is given to treat hyperthyroidism and as an anti-Herpes Simplex Virus medicine. Below is given few therapeutic uses of Moringa. Various parts of Moringa are non-toxic and safe to use. They all are edible and used both internally and externally.

Arthritis, joint pain, gout

The leaves are used in combination with black pepper and mango-ginger/curcuma amada. Moringa leaves (200g) are ground and boiled in water till a paste is prepared. This paste is mixed with mango-ginger and black pepper (each 100g). This prepared mixed paste is applied externally on painful joints.

Abscess

Abscess is a condition in which pus is accumulated in a body tissue causing redness, pain, warmth, and swelling that when pressed feels like it is fluid filled. In such condition, 25 ml juice of roots with1 gm honey, twice a day is given. Another remedy is to drink 14-2 ml of moringa bark decoction with Hingu and rock salt.

Intestinal parasites

In intestinal parasite, 1-2 grams of seed powder with water twice a day is given.

In parasitic infestation, the decoction of bark is given with honey.

Erysipelas

Erysipel is an acute, sometimes recurrent disease caused by a bacterial infection, characterized by large raised red patches on the skin. Ayurvedic term for this condition is Visarpa. In this condition, the bark paste is applied externally.

Herpes zoster or shingles

Herpes zoster or shingles is a viral disease characterized by a painful skin rash with blisters in a limited area on one side of the body (left or right), often in a stripe.

In this condition, hot paste of Moringa bark, is mixed with bark of Goolar and Jamum and applied on affected body parts.

Ulcers

Prepare paste of Moringa leaves and mix in curd. Take regularly.

Breathing problems, hiccups

Prepare decoction of leaves and drink few times a day.

Stones

The traditional remedy is to make decoction of root peels and drinking it three times a day.

Improving appetite

The leaves decoction 100 ml with sugar taken 2 times a day helps to develop appetite.

As a tonic

Moringa leaves oral intake is highly beneficial for overall health. It should be given to growing children for strong bones and optimum growth. It also purifies body and cures malnutrition. The leaves juice, chutney or powder can be taken as tonic.

In pregnancy and breastfeeding, moringa leaves oral intake provides adequate iron, calcium, vitamin A, C and B group vitamins.

Dosage of Moringa for medicinal purpose: Leaf—10-20 ml juice;root bark—2-5 g powder;stem bark—2-5 g powder;seed—5-10 g powder;50-100 ml decoction.

Other health benefits of Moringa

Moringa leaves are highly nutritious and contains several phytochemicals. Phytochemical are bioactive compounds that are found in plants. These active substance protects plant from various diseases and due to presence of such compounds, the plants are useful in preventing and curing ailments. Moringa leaves contain Tannin, Alkaloids, Phytosterols, Triterpenoids, Flavonoids, Saponins, Cardiac Glycoside, Hydroxyanthraquinone, Carbohydrates, Proteins, Amino acid, Fixed Oils and Fats.

Many researches are being done on Moringa leaves to ascertain its therapeutic potential. Surprisingly all such study confirms its immense medicinal properties and supports its traditional uses.

Following is given such medicinal properties that are confirmed by researches.

Moringa leaves are good for heart. They reduces elevated blood pressure.

The leaves are hypolipidemic. They decreases level of lipids in blood. In simple terms lipids are fatty acids and high lipid level in blood implies high amount of cholesterol and triglycerides circulating in blood. Moringa leaves reduces the lipid.

Moringa leaves reduces blood glucose.

Moringa leaves lowers serum triglyceride level and serum cholesterol level.

Researches recommends use of Moringa leaves as supplement in the treatment of different heart related complications due high lipids circulating in body.

The leaves are also recommended for as preventive measure for heart diseases.

Moringa leaves consumption is also beneficial in diabetes. In one such study, two group of people were formed. One group (of 30 people) with normal fasting blood sugar levels (60-120 mg/dl) and another group (13 people) with high blood sugar, fasting blood sugar levels (>120 mg/dl). Both groups were administered Moringa leaves tea. The tea was prepared using dried leaves. One tablespoon of leaves was mixed into a cup of hot water and brewed for 5 minutes and each respondent drank one cup of tea. Results showed that blood sugar levels of people in the normal group were not significantly changed 2 hours after taking the tea. However, for hyperglycaemic individuals, the blood sugar levels significantly dropped after 2 hours. On basis of this study, it can inferred that for managing diabetes and minimising its complication Moringa leaves tea can be an easy and affordable option.

Moringa leaves are tonic. They cures deficiency of iron, vitamin C and vitamin A. For children these are food supplement that helps in better health and growth.

Moringa leaves have strong radical scavenging and antioxidant activity due to which they protect body against several chronic diseases.

Moringa is a non-toxic tree. The leaves can be taken orally for a long time without any fear. These are used in India for hundreds of year. It is a time-tested medicine mentioned in various Ayurvedic treatise. You may include Moringa in your regular diet in form of vegetable, chutney, dry powder or tea. It not only improves health, protects against diseases but also has ability to treat diseases.

Moringa Leaves to Cure Body Strains

Moringa leaves can be used to cure body strain and injured joints and believe me this home remedy is miracle.

Use this before sleeping in night or take full rest if you are using it in day.

Take 500 gm to 750 gm soft leaves of saijana and fry them using mustered oil in deep frying pan for 2-3 minute and add some salt.

Now spread this on affected area of body and wrap it with some cotton cloths and tide it so that it can not open and take rest for 6-8 hours and you will feel the relief.

Moringa leaves Chutney Recipe

Ingredients for Moringa chutney

Drumstick leaves, onion (1), ginger, Tamarind or imli pulp, chilli, garlic (2-3 clove), Salt per taste

Process of making Moringa chutney

  • Wash carefully all Moringa leaves to remove dirt.
  • In grinder add onion, ginger, imli, garlic, chilli and salt.
  • Add water.
  • Grind to make fine paste.

Eat this chutney with your meals.

Health Benefits of Moringa leaf powder

How to prepare Moriga leaf powder

  • Collect moringa leaves from tree. Wash thoroughly to remove dust and soil.
  • Spread on clean cloth to remove water.
  • Dry leaves in shade. You can use thin cloth to cover leaves to avoid dirt.
  • When leaves are completely dried, pulverize and sieve them.
  • Store this green powder in air tight container for future use.

Health Benefits of Moriga leaf powder

  • Cures anaemia
  • Treats malnourishment in children
  • Good for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers
  • Improves overall health and gives nutrition and energy
  • Cures recurrent infections such as diarrhoea, dysentery, skin diseases etc.
  • Rich in protein, minerals and vitamins
  • Low cost and easily available

Dosage of Moriga leaf powder

1 teaspoonful thrice a day with meals.

Moringa Pod(Drumstick) Health Benefits

Moringa pods(Drumstick) are also very nutritious but less than it leaves. Fresh drumsticks are full of minerals, protein, vitamins and dietary fibre. These pods are used a vegetable in India, Africa and many Asian countries by making curry, soups and many other dishes.

drum stick

By കാക്കര (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

These pods are green colour and 30 to 50 cm long. Mature pod have strong fibre just inside outer skin of pods and never swallowed.

Nutritional values of Moringa Pod per 100 gm

  • Energy-37 Kcal, Carbohydrates 8.53 g, Protein 2.10 g, Total Fat    0.20
  • Dietary Fiber 3.2 g, Folate 44 µg, Niacin 0.680 mg, Pyridoxine 0.120 mg, Riboflavin    0.074 mg
  • Thiamine 0.053 mg, Vitamin A74 IU, Vitamin C 141 mg, Sodium 42 mg
  • Potassium 461 mg, Calcium 30 mg, Iron 0.36 mg, Magnesium 45 mg, Phosphorus 50 mg, Selenium    8.2 µg (15%), Zinc 0.45 mg

These pods can be eaten as vegetable till it is raw and green. Young pods are very soft and can be eaten completely by making curries, pickles and mature pod are used for making soups and thin curried.

In India drumsticks are used in Sambhar and curries in all states of India.

Fresh moringa pods can be found very easily in Indian and Asian markets.

How to Use Moringa seeds for water purification?

Around the world and especially in developing countries of Asia and Africa, a large population still directly use the water from natural sources viz. well, ponds, lakes and rivers. Generally the water from such sources are turbid. It contains micro-organisms, mud, dust and several other contamination. This contaminated water causes many water-borne diseases. People at such places are not in situation to use costly water purification process. At such places Moringa trees can be a great help. Moringa seeds can be used for purifying turbid or muddy water for drinking purpose. The whole process is simple to do and is a very cost effective. This process can be utilised at places where mature Moringa seeds are available abundantly as the only requirement is Moringa seeds.

Moringa seeds are natural coagulant, natural absorbents and antimicrobial. They have scientifically confirmed water purification abilities. They reduce hardness of water in dose dependent manner. The presence of 1% active polyelectrolytes in seeds is responsible for neutralizing the negative charged colloid in the dirty water and causing sedimentation of mineral particles and organics. Due to its antimicrobial action it acts against several bacteria. The seeds also contain number of benzyl isothiocyanate and benzyl glucosinolate which act as antibiotic.

Collection of seeds: Fully mature seeds should be harvested. To assure the seeds are mature it should be observed if the pod is cracked. The collected seeds should be dried furthur for 2-3 days.

Process: For water purification, mature moringa seeds are collected from pods. The seed coat is broken using sharp knife to get kernel. The kernels are pulverised to prepare a fine powder. Amount of powder that should be added to contaminated water is dependent on the quantity of water and degree of contamination. Dirtier the water more is requirement. General recommendation is to add powder from one Maringa kernel to two liters of when water is slightly turbid, and to one liter when water is very turbid. You may add one heaping spoonful to ten litre water.

First one cup clean water is taken in a bottle and one spoonful of kernel powder is added in it. The bottle is shaked well and this water is filtered using a muslin cloth or fine mesh screen (to remove insoluble materials). Dirty water is taken in a bucket and the filtered water from bottle is added to it. Again the water in bucket is stirred well for five-ten minutes. This water is allowed to sit for two hours. The impurities settle down and purified water is poured slowly in clean vessel. This water should be filtered through clean cloth and can be boiled to make it completely safe.

Benefits: The main benefit of this process is that it is completely natural and does not require any chemical. This purification reduces the total hardness, turbidity, acidity, alkalinity and chloride level in standard limit. This is a very cost effective method that can be afforded by rural population.

How to grow Moringa Tree

Propagation: Moringa tree can be grown by two ways, by sowing its mature seeds from pods and by cuttings. The germination rate and quality of tree is good for fresh seeds which are up to one year old. Older seeds have reduced germination rates. Moringa seeds has no dormancy period. For better germination the seeds should be soaked in water for one day. This softens the seed coat and hastens the germination. The seeds can be sown in polybags or directly on ground. Generally 2 seeds are sown. The germination time is seven to nine days. The plants that are grown in polybags should be transplanted after a month. Once the plant reaches height of 2.5 feet the growing tip should be cut to encourage branching.

Fully mature black seeds give good result. The seeds should be sown in May-June and September-November.

Through cutting: Moringa easily propagates through cuttings. The good thick branch is selected and cut with sharp knife. This is firmly placed in moist soil. Once the roots grow new leaves appear on branch. It is important to keep the soil moist for rooting.

Pruning: Moringa needs regular annular pruning. Pruning makes the plant manageable and increases the branches and leaves.

Although Moringa is a tree but you can also grow it in container for getting its edible nutritious green leaves. Either sow the seeds or use a cutting. In tropical and subtropical areas it grows easily. But in cool and frosting areas it is difficult to grow. In pots, pruning every month helps to get more leaves. The primary growing tip should be cut once the plant reaches height of two-three feet. Similarly the side branches needs to be clipped for dense plant with more leaves. Moringa is an evergreen tree that gives good health. Grow it and reap its benefits.

Moringa as Plant Growth-Stimulant

Moringa tree is a gift to mankind. It is tree with innumerable uses. Many studies have been done and many are undergoing to know it’s every possible use. One such use which is less commonly known is its use a growth stimulant or enhancer for other plants. Stimulant are those substance that are applied externally to promote growth of plant. They are neither fertilisers nor pesticides. Spray of such stimulant improves plant growth and development. They contributes this through influencing plant’s respiration, photosynthesis, nucleic acid synthesis and nutrient absorption. Moringa contain natural plant growth stimulant and is successfully used in wheat, corn, coffee, tomato, peas for improving yield.

Why Moringa improves growth

Moringa leaves are rich in cytokinin, ascorbates, phenolics, other antioxidants along with macro- micro nutrients that contribute to enhance plant growth. Cytokinins are important plant hormone. They promotes cell division and expansion, increases leaf size that increases photosynthesis and more chlorophyll production. Cytokinins also promote nutrient translocation within plants which is responsible for increased plant metabolism.

Moringa leaves external spray on wheat increases total yield and in tomatoes it helped by increasing number of flowers, more number of fruits as well as heaviest fruits. Leaves spray gave longer life-span, heavier roots, stems, leaves, produce more fruit and larger fruits. The crop production can be increased by 20-35% from moringa use. Moringa leaves also improves germination and shoot growth.

How to use Moringa leaves as growth enhancer

This method of making Moringa leaves growth enhancer is taken from various scientific studies. The process requires fresh leaves of Moringa and water.

The first step is to collect fresh Moringa leaves. These leaves are ground and a paste is prepared. About four cups of fresh young Moringa leaves are ground with one cup of water. This paste or leaves pulp is put in a cloth and squeezed to get the juice. This juice is diluted with water. One cup juice is mixed with seven litres water. This juice-water mix is Growth stimulant. Spray this on garden plants in morning or evening. This can be sprayed several times during the growing season from about two weeks after germination.

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