In the foothills of the Himalayas, a species of tree known as Moringa Oleifera has been providing people with an abundant source of nutrition and medicine for centuries, and its powerful healing properties are well-known by the local people. Containing over 92 different nutrients, Moringa Oleifera is used to counter the effects of malnutrition in poorer communities as the leaves, seed pods and flowers of the tree are rich sources of calcium, protein, potassium, iron, magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin A. Moringa has been utilized as a medicinal treatment in Ayurvedic medicine for over 5000 years and is used in the prevention of over 300 diseases. It is now being widely studied for its potential use as a treatment for diseases such as cancer, diabetes and arthritis. Moringa Oleifera can be used in countless other ways including as a natural alternative to antibiotics, to purify drinking water and provide a burst of energy, happiness and mental clarity making this incredible tree well-worthy of its reputation as the ‘miracle tree.’
The Moringa tree thrives in dry, arid climates, but has been cultivated around the world and grows well in tropical areas. It can stand poor soil quality, drought and grows rapidly making it the perfect crop to provide well-needed nutrition to 3rd world nations. Optima of Africa is a charity based in Switzerland that promotes the use of the Moringa tree in third world nations as a nutritional supplement, edible oil, beauty treatment, animal feed, water purifier and fuel. They claim that 25grams of powdered Moringa leaf provides more than half of a child’s RDA of calcium, iron and magnesium, and almost 3 times their RDA of Vitamin A. It also provides around 40% of their protein and potassium, and 22% of their daily intake of Vitamin C. Moringa powder also makes an ideal dietary supplement for vegans as it contains twice the amount of protein found in milk and four times the amount of calcium. The long, thin seed pods of the tree are used to create Ben Oil which can be used for cooking, cleaning, medicine and cosmetics.
The list of conditions that Moringa has been used for over the years is endless, and every part of the tree can be used to make medicine. Moringa seed extract is known to have antibacterial properties and can be applied topically to relieve rashes, fungal infections, inflammation, dandruff and to prevent infection in minor wounds. The leaves of Moringa Oleifera contain a flavonoid known as Quercetin. A study performed at the University of Calcutta found that Moringa Leaf Extract and its active component quercetin were able to prevent inflammation in mice that were fed a high-fat diet, and significantly increased antioxidant activity. Its anti-inflammatory properties are also helpful in the management of arthritis and it can be applied topically to painful joints. Another study into Moringa leaf extract found that it can regulate the thyroid hormone status in rats. The School of Life Sciences in India tested it in a controlled experiment over 10 days, and the results showed that Moringa extract could be used as a potential treatment for hyperthyroidism.
A collaboration between research groups from the US, France, Botswana and Namibia discovered how the seeds of the Moringa tree are better at purifying drinking water than modern synthetic methods. A protein found in the seed extract binds itself to any impurities found in drinking water forming aggregates. These clusters of impurities can then easily be removed from the drinking water. This method is far more sustainable than conventional water treatment methods, and the research published in Colloids and Surfaces stated that it could be used for both the purification of drinking water and the treatment of wastewater.
Moringa as a Cancer Treatment
Adenocarcinoma of the pancreas is the most common and aggressive form of pancreatic cancer that quickly develops a resistance to chemotherapy drugs. Only 6% of patients diagnosed with this disease live longer than 5 years, and it is the fourth most common cause of cancer-related death. Moringa leaf extract was tested on human pancreatic cancer cells at the Laboratory of Herbal Medicine and Cancer Research in Israel, and the results showed that Moringa extract was able to inhibit the growth of every single cell used in the study. Moringa contains benzyl isothiocyanate, a compound that has been proven to cause apoptosis in breast cancer cells. Another study performed in India found that topical application of Moringa seedpod extract was able to reduce the amount of skin papillomas in mice.
Moringa as a Diabetes Treatment
Moringa is a rich source of ascorbic acid which stimulates the body into producing insulin. The University of Rajasthan found that the extract of Moringa seedpods was able to slow the progression of diabetes in rats after a period of just 21 days. Moringa’s nutrient dense composition makes it the perfect dietary supplement for those suffering from diabetes as it can help many of the conditions associated with diabetes such as eye disease, lesions and chronic fatigue.
Potential Side Effects and Interactions
Moringa Oleifera leaves, flowers, seeds and tree bark is generally considered safe for use and rare side effects include nausea, diarrhoea and heartburn. However, the root of the tree is not fit for human consumption as it contains toxic substances that could potentially be fatal. Pregnant or nursing mothers should not take Moringa Oleifera as more research is needed in this area first.
The Moringa tree is truly one of the most wonderful gifts nature has bestowed upon the planet, and almost everyone can benefit from including some form of it in their diet. It is available as a powder, capsules, oil and tea. Moringa trees can easily be grown at home, and even those who do not live in hot climates can cultivate a healthy tree indoors with the right care. This way the benefits of the miracle tree can be enjoyed all year round, and its beautiful flowers make it an attractive and incredibly beneficial addition to the home.
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