Moringa : The Miracle Tree
Moringa tree by the roadside
The Moringa Tree : Introduction
The Moringa tree is the most nutritious tree on earth! Just imagine; the Moringa tree can supply all the nutritional needs of humans, and provide cures for our many illnesses. The Moringa tree is so potent in nutrition that it is used to combat malnutrition in third world countries. In terms of medicinal value, India's traditional ancient ayurvedic medicine has identified 300 diseases that could be cured with the Moringa leaves. It is no wonder that the Moringa tree is regarded as the Miracle Tree. Other elevated names are “Tree of Life” and “Tree of Paradise”.
The Moringa tree is native to the foothills of the Himalayas. There are many other names for the Moringa in different countries. The name Moringa is most certainly derived from the name “Muringa” a Malayalam term, one of the many dialects of India. In India alone there are so many different names for it. In the Philippines it is called Malunggay. It is called kelor in Indonesia, and kalor in Malaysia. The Chinese name is “la mu” (辣木), in Mandarin or “lat mok” in Cantonese, which means “chilli-hot wood”. As the pods are shaped like drum sticks, it is also called drumstick tree. Its roots taste like horseradish, hence also called horseradish tree. Its scientific name is Moringa Oleifera.
This Moringa tree is very hardy and can easily grow even in harsh climates with poor soil condition. The tree is slender with drooping branches and grows to about 10 meters high. However, under cultivation, the branches are cut back for ease of reach to harvest the leaves and pods.
The Moringa tree is said to contain 90 nutrients and 46 antioxidants. It is reported that by weight per weight, Moringa leaves have 4 times the calcium of milk, 7 times the vitamin C of oranges, 3 times the potassium of bananas, 3 times the iron of spinach, 4 times the vitamin A of carrots, 2 times the protein of yogurt, 4 times the fiber of oats, and as much protein as in eggs.
Whatever they are, it can safely be confirmed that the Moringa tree has more calcium than milk, more vitamin C than oranges, more potassium than bananas, more iron than spinach, more vitamin A than carrots, more protein than yogurt and more fiber than oats.
Almost every part of the Moringa tree is edible.
The Morunga trees are very common in India and in South-east Asia. In Thailand, they are even used as garden fences. The two most commonly used parts of the Moringa tree are the leaves and the young pods. Locals eat the leaves in a variety of ways both as raw vegetable and as cooked dishes and soup. That is why it is also called the Vegetable Tree. The leaves are very nutritious; contain all the essential amino acids and are rich in protein, beta-carotene, iron, calcium, potassium and vitamins A, B and C. The leaves are also dried and crushed into powder and used in soups and sauces.
The pods are as nutritious as the leaves. The young pods are usually cut into smaller pieces and cooked in a variety of soups and curries. They can even be eaten raw like the leaves as salads. The seeds from the matured pods can be cooked like peas or are roasted as nuts. These seeds are also used for treatment of erectile dysfunction and are said to be able to prolong sexual activities. Aha!!
The pods contain as much as 40% of edible oil known as Ben oil. The name Ben oil is derived from the high concentration of behenic acid. The refined oil is clear and odorless but pleasant in taste. Ben oil is characterized by its unusually long shelf life. There are many uses of Ben oil apart from cooking. It is used as a perfume base as well as for fuel.
Burmese drumstick soup
Drunstick cashew nut curry
Drumstick tomato curry
Moringa trees : Helping inhabitants in developing countries
Developing countries are encouraged to plant the Moringa trees for its very practical uses. The trees are very hardy, and easy and fast growing even in harsh climate. The various parts of the plant are also very easy to use. The leaves can be dried and ground into powder and can be kept for months without refrigeration and without losing their nutritional potency. The Moringa tree is both a healthy food source as well as a medicinal treasure box.
Groups such as Church World Service, Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization, National Science Foundation, and others are encouraging the planting of Moringa trees in third world countries as an effective way to address health problems especially malnutrition and childhood blindness. The Moringa has sufficient vitamin A to prevent retinol deficiency which can cause blindness. Healthcare groups have found that with Moringa, malnutrition problems improved within days as compared with the slow results of conventional treatments, which usually took months.
Moringa treatments are especially effective on infants and nursing mothers. 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 nutrition:
Protein 42%, Calcium 125%, Magnesium 61%, Potassium 41%, Iron 71%, Vitamin A 272%, and Vitamin C 22%.
Six tablespoons of leaf powder will provide nearly all of the woman's daily iron and calcium needs during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
The pulp from the seeds after oil extraction can be used as fertilizer as well as a water purifier. Both these uses are extremely useful in under-developed countries which experience the lack of clean water for drinking and fertilizers for crops. Most parts of the Moringa tree can also be used for livestock fodder.
Perhaps the most well known personality on the Moringa usage in the under-developed countries was Lowell Fuglie, who died in Canada on 21 April 2010. Lowell was an American citizen who worked for 17 years in Dakar, Senegal, as the West Africa Regional Representative for the American relief and development agency Church World Service. Lowell had recorded countless instances of lifesaving nutritional treatments by using the Moringa. The consumption of Moringa leaf powder during times of starvation had saved many lives.
Moringa’s other uses
Every part of the Moringa tree is said to have medicinal value. The leaves, pods, seeds, flowers, bark, gum and roots, all have medicinal properties. These are the possible remedies :
- As an antiseptic
- Relieves rheumatism
- Antidote for venomous toxin
- Relieves skin infections
- Lowers blood sugar
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces swelling
- Cures gastric ulcers
- Calms the nervous system
The Original Moringa Plant In My Garden (Already Chopped Off)
The new miracle tree sprouting out!! (Note the grass has already covered up the original patch)
My miracle tree (taken on June 10, 2013)
An update : my little moringa plant
The Moringa seeds are very resilient. They survive alongside the mother tree, and grow into seedlings just being left on the ground. My sister picked up a few very small seedlings from the walkway. They grew bigger in just a few weeks. She gave me two plants; one of which I recently planted on the ground in my garden. Take a look at the photo on the right. I hope it wiil grow into a healthy tree, and I shall get to enjoy the "fruits" of my labor in due course.
(An update : My moringa plant kept shedding its leaves, although still growing. I had problem with the soil before when other plants like papaya plants kept dying after a period. So without much choice, I had to chop off the plant.)
Months after the update : Moringa, truly the Miracle Tree
Today is September 24, 2012. After having chopped off my Moringa tree a few months ago, it sprang a surprise and here it is growing into a small plant again.Take a look at the photo on the right. Note the grass has already covered up the original patch.
This is truly a Miracle Tree!! I shall leave it to grow and hope it will grow to be a healthy tree this time. This new plant certainly looks healthier than the previous one!!
Another update : June 10, 2013. How this miracle tree has grown, despite cutting off the top to control its height. Take a look at the photo on the right.
By the way, I just watched a documentary on Moringa in Africa. You can even eat the leaves raw.
A final sad update : December 1, 2013
I am very disappointed to report that my miracle tree did not thrive on that spot. It did not die because it was truly a miracle tree, but it kept dropping off leaves. I had no choice but to say good-bye to my miracle tree, I chopped it off. The soil on that spot must have some very strong poisonous stuff inside it. Previously all my papaya plants also died on me after growing to a few feet.
But hold on. This is an update, many months later. Please read the surprised climax below, under caption "The Truly Miracle Moringa Tree 10 Times Over"!
Instant noodles with moringa leaves
When I have my simple meal of instant noodles, I would add fresh moringa leaves with it. You can also make simple egg soup with moringa. Boil water, break an egg and stir to disperse the white and york, and add moringa leaves. For taste, add pepper, soy sauce and chicken stock or any soup stock.
Moringa leaves in instant noodles
Dried Moringa Leaves And Powder
You can dry the leaves and simply crush them with your palms. Or you can grind them into powder, which is what my sister has been doing. This will keep for months if you have plenty of them. Spread them generously on whatever you are eating, including soups. This is what I am doing almost everyday. Below is the photo of my Moringa powder.
My Moringa Powder
The Truly Miracle Moringa Tree 10 Times Over
Believe it or not. My re-grown miracle tree was still not doing well, shedding its leaves. It refused to die, but continued to grow upwards. It must be the soil. Again, I chopped it off. After a few weeks it grew again, and I chopped it off, this time making sure I reached the roots below the ground. Then it grew again!! I chopped it off again, and it sprouted again. And again, and again; easily 10 times, I chopped it off and it appeared again!!
Then a few weeks ago, after I chopped it off again, a bunch of new shoots sprouted. This time not one shoot, but a bunch of about 10 new shoots sprouted, as if to challenge me. Or was it to plead that I should let them grow, healthy or not. So I decided this time to let them grow. In about a month, despite my plucking a few off for my meal, 5 shoots shot up dramatically. Take a look at the photo below. You should notice the small leaves already turned yellow and dropped off because of the soil condition, but the miracle tree, now becomes 5 miracle trees continue to grow. The Moringa tree is indeed a miracle wonder tree. Just imagine, its nutrients must be equally powerful. I shall leave them as they are and just enjoy the leaves before they drop off.
No wonder, in Africa the Moringa tree is also called the "never die" tree!
My Truly Miracle Moringa Tree, Now Becomes Five Plants
Slide and youtube presentation
You can view a slide presentation of the benefits of Moringa by "Trees for Life" HERE :
And below are four youtube presentations.
How can Moringa prevents Cancer?
Lowell Fuglie Discusses His Work With Moringa
Moringa : The Miracle Tree
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