Moringa Oleifera – The Miracle Tree
Belongning to the only genus in the family Moringaceae – Moringa,
Moringa Oleifera is the most extensively propagated tree of its kind. More commonly known as
Moringa, this tree is packed with nutritional value and has a wide range of medicinal and
therapeutic properties, which ultimately made many to refer to it as the “miracle tree”.
This rapidly-growing and hardy tree is indigenous to the sub-Himalayan regions of India,
Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, although it is today widely cultivated in other
countries such as Malaysia, Latin America, Philippines, Indonesia, and Singapore. Virtually
every part of the Moringa tree is edible or has significant use, making it one of the
world’s most useful trees.
What made Moringa Oleifera achieve its worldwide fame is because
of its exceptionally potent mix of essential and disease-preventing nutrients, which are
unusually better than most other food sources. It is rich in Vitamin A, containing four
times the amount found in carrots, and thirteen times the amount found in spinach. Its
Vitamin C content is seven times more than that of oranges, has four times the chlorophyll
of wheat grass, and four times the amount of calcium in milk. Besides essential amino acids,
Moringa is also a rich source of Zinc, Iron, Potassium, Magnesium, Selenium, Folic Acid,
Vitamin D, Vitamin K and Vitamin E.
Moringa Oleifera has so many medicinal and industrial
applications – the leaves can be used for animal forage, production of biogas, making soups
and sauces, and may also be used as a domestic cleaning agent. The wood, though low in
quality, can be used to make blue dye. The seeds can be extracted to produce what is known
as ben oil, which got its name due to its high concentration of behenic acid. This edible is
odorless, has a clear texture, and is comparable to premium oils such as olive oil and
sunflower oil as it is very stable and resists rancidity very well. After extracting the
seeds of ben oil, the seed cake left makes an excellent fertilizer, or used to purify water
by means of flocculation.
Moringa Oleifera is popular among pregnant and breastfeeding
women because of its ability to prevent malnutrition, alleviate anemia, increase production
of milk, and promote overall health of child. Studies also reveal that Moringa helps in the
prevention of Mastitis – a common problem with breastfeeding women in which breasts become
inflamed due to the blockage of milk ducts. Moringa has also been known to contain an
antibacterial peptide, which is highly effective in combating the infection of
Staphylococcus Aureus in breastfeeding women. Moringa leaves can also provide them with a
significant amount of calcium, iron, sulfur, copper and B-vitamins.
Indeed, Moringa Oleifera has lived up to its name as the
“miracle tree”. With a wide variety of applications from virtually any part of the tree, its
versatility is simply one of the best – whether for medicine, cosmetics, culinary, home or
industrial use. Today, scientists and medical experts are placing moringa under continuous
research and development to unlock other untapped potential it may have.