What Is Moringa?
Moringa Oleifera is a drought-resistant, fast-growing tree, with high medicinal properties that belong to the Moringaceae family. The Moringaceae is a single family with 13 known species.
The Moringa tree is native to the sub-Himalayan regions of North-Western India, which is now indigenous to many regions in the Islands and South America. Moringa was first mentioned as ‘Shigon’ in the Shushrita Sanhita, an ayurvedic medical text written in the first century AD.
Moringa has been known for its medicinal qualities for thousands of years and was also used as a medicinal agent by the Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians.
Other names associated with Moringa are Horseradish tree (from the taste of the roots which resemble horseradish), Mulangay, Mlonge, Shigon, Benzolive tree (from the oil which is derived from the seeds), Drumstick tree (from the long, slender, triangular seed-pods ), Sajna, Kelor and Saijihanand Marango
Moringa is now cultivated in many parts of the world, including Africa, tropical Asia Philippines, the Caribbean, Polynesia, west Indies, Saudi Arabia, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, and Florida.
It is widely known and used primarily for its health benefits and in modern society, has garnered the name ‘the miracle tree’ because of its amazing healing abilities for various disorders and even chronic diseases.
Several investigations have even been carried out to single out bioactive compounds from certain parts of the plant due to their various applications.
The Nutritional Components of Moringa
Due to scientific research, Moringa has been found to contain many essential nutrients such as:
- Amino acids
- Anti-inflammatory agents
- Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
In comparison to other foods, certain parts of Moringa oleifera have more iron than spinach, more vitamin c than oranges, more potassium than bananas, more protein than eggs, and more calcium in milk.
The nutrition content of a plant plays an essential function in medicinal, nutritional, and therapeutic properties.
It has been discovered that each different part of the moringa tree that was studied, be it fruits, seeds, leaves, flowers, bark, and roots all resulted in the discovery of several beneficial nutrients.
In an article by Trees for life organization, it was mentioned that:
‘ every part of the moringa tree is said to have beneficial properties that can serve humanity’
What Are The Benefits Of Moringa?
Moringa Oleifera is a multi-purpose herbal plant also known as a phytomedicine. Phytomedicines are believed to have benefits over conventional drugs.
They are widely applied as one of the alternative ways in the medical field due to their affordability. Its benefits range from health and even beauty. These are:
1.Promotes a Healthy Central Nervous System
Seratonin is a neurotransmitter that brings about sleep, appetite, mood, and cognition.
In a series of studies performed on rats, a strain of albino rats demonstrated that serotonin in Moringa Oleifera increased the effect of sleep-inducing properties of phenobarbital ( slows the activity of your brain and nervous system)
Other discoveries also showed that Moringa Oleifera significantly relaxed muscle cramps and reduced body temperature.
This demonstrates that Moringa is beneficial to the central nervous system. It acts as a depressant, improves sleep, decreases muscle cramps, and may reduce temperature associated fever.
2.Protects the Cardiovascular System
In many studies conducted on Wistar rats, injections were given to induce a heart attack, researchers found that Moringa Oleifera had cardioprotective effects. Moringa Oleifera significantly reduced heart rate and pressure. It also demonstrated antihypertensive and diuretic effects. Certain compounds found in Moringa Oleifera pods reduced blood pressure without lethal side effects.
3. Protects The Liver
Fibrosis – is the formation of fibrous tissue on an organ or part as the result of inflammation, irritation, or healing.
CCl4– A carcinogen that can cause damage to the brain, liver, and kidneys when inhaled.
Hepatoprotective (Hepatoprotection) – The ability of a chemical substance to prevent damage to the liver.
Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) –an enzyme mostly found in the kidney, heart, and liver. Healthy individuals have levels of low AST.
Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) – an enzyme mostly found in the heart, liver, and kidneys. Healthy individuals have levels of low ALT.
In a conducted study, It was discovered that the Moringa Oleifera seed extract exhibited anti-fibrotic effects on liver fibrosis in rats.
It showed a significant protective effect against CCl4- induced liver fibrosis in rats which was confirmed by histological findings, as well as biochemical analysis.
In the discovery conducted by Hamza (2010), treatment with Moringa was found to stimulate hepatoprotective effects against liver injury by blocking the increase of two serums, aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) which are indicators of liver health conditions.
4.Protects against Ulcers
Ethanolic– containing, relating to alcohol
Ulcerogenic – development of ulcers
In another study conducted by Verma et al (2012) the effect of 50% ethanolic leaf extract of Moringa Oleifera on aspirin-induced gastric ulcers was investigated.
The results of the tests indicated that the ulcerogenic effect was reduced, by showing a dose-dependent anti-ulcerogenic activity by the 50% ethanolic leaf extract. The extract was found to decrease acid-pepsin secretion as well as show ulcer protective properties.
5.Fights Against High Blood Sugar (Hyperglycemia)
Hyperglycemia is a medical term used to describe High blood sugar.
Moringa Oleifera was shown to decrease the occurrence of hyperglycemia in 2 animal studies.
The results of these studies showed that an active ingredient in Moringa oleifera improved glucose tolerance and decreased free fatty acids. Moringa has a high fiber content which helps with the absorption of glucose.
6.It Can Treat Edema
Edema is swelling caused by excess fluid trapped in the body’s tissue. The nutritional components that are found in Moringa such as flavinoids contribute to the anti-inflammatory effects that can ease the pain that comes with Edema.
7.It Fights Against Bacteria and Promotes Wound Healing
Through studies, Moringa Oleifera has been found to promote antimicrobial activity and wound healing. It has demonstrated to promote wound contraction and enhancing collagen production.
The seeds and oil were also effective against athlete’s foot which makes it have antifungal properties as well.
Studies have also shown that the antibacterial activity of the moringa extract can fight against bacterial infections like Salmonella and E. Coli.
8. Helps To Treat and Prevent Cancer
It has been revealed that Moringa contains therapeutic effects to fight cancer. In Southern Asia, it primarily works as a treatment for different diseases in the indigenous system of medicine. Moringa Oleifera contains niazimicin, a composite that suppresses the development of cancer cells. It could be a potential chemopreventive agent.
9.Boosts Your Immune System
Moringa is very rich in vitamin C. This Vitamin helps with the reproduction of white blood cells that help the body fight against infections. 100 grams of Moringa leaf is 12 times the vitamin C of oranges.
10.Promotes Healthy Bones
The anti-inflammatory properties in Moringa can help fight against rheumatoid arthritis and the high content of calcium helps in promoting good bone health. Just 100 grams of dry moringa leaf contains 17 times the calcium of Milk.
Does Moringa Have Side Effects?
If you are considering using moringa it is advised you discuss it with a health care professional first. Moringa has been used to induce abortions in African and Asian countries hence it is not recommended for pregnant women.
Very few side effects have been reported but you should always follow dosage instructions.
Precautions That You Should Take
Some of the medications to be particularly aware of are:
Levothyroxine: Used to combat thyroid problems. Compounds in the moringa leaf may aid the thyroid function, but people should not take it in combination with other thyroid medications.
Any medications that might be broken down by the liver: Moringa extract may decrease how quickly this happens, which could lead to various side effects or complications.
Diabetes medications: Diabetes medications are used to lower blood sugar, which moringa also does effectively. It is vital to ensure blood sugar levels do not get too low.
High blood pressure medication: Moringa has shown to be effective at lowering blood pressure. Taking moringa alongside other drugs that lower blood pressure may result in it becoming too low.
Abdull, R., Ahmad, F., Ibrahim, Muhammed, Kntayya, & Saie. (2014). (PDF) Health benefits of moringa oleifera. ResearchGate. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/267932962_Health_Benefits_of_Moringa_oleifera
Cadman, B. (2020, January 2). Moringa: Benefits, side effects, and risks. Medical and health information. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319916#what-is-in-moringa
Posmontier, B. (2011). ResearchGate. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/49840565_The_Medicinal_Qualities_of_Moringa_Oleifera