For thousands of years, moringa oleifera has been used as a natural remedy and food source. Native to India, this tree can grow quickly and become quite tall. Powdered leaf or extracts of moringa oleifera are used as a health supplement for conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol, pain, ulcers, hormonal imbalances, and even cancer.
A beautiful aspect of this plant is its use in humanitarian efforts to provide a sustainable local food source. A tree that not only grows quickly in areas where food can be seasonally scarce, but provides a concentration of nutrients indeed deserves its name, “tree of life.”1
Nutrients in Moringa
- Vitamin A
- Amino acids
The concentration of a variety of critical nutrients make it a useful supplement for a diversity of illnesses, including the following:2,3
- Muscle Spasms
- High Cholesterol
- High Blood Pressure
- Breast Cancer
- Colon Cancer
One fascinating use of moringa is for "sleeping sickness."4 Sleeping sickness, more formally known as, human African trypanosomiasis, is a true illness caused by a parasite that is transmitted by the tsetse fly. Moringa is a natural remedy for this potentially fatal illness, which is found in rural Africa.
How Can Moringa Benefit Such a Wide Array of Illnesses?
Many illnesses are caused or intensified by a lack of one or more specific nutrients. Because Moringa contains a variety of useful nutrients, it can benefit a host of illnesses.
Moringa is largely pest resistant and grows well with simply manure and compost, making this plant easy to grow without adding chemicals.
The more foods in your diet that are chemical free and hormone free, the better for overall health. Modern diets are often completely lacking vegetable sources, especially diets that promote very high amounts of protein. These diets can be made up largely of animal products, of which even organic ones contain hormones that compete with your own hormones. Being sure to include nutrient dense vegetables helps to balance any diet and boost overall health.
How is Moringa Used?
Moringa leaf is commonly sold in powdered form. This powder can easily be added to smoothies, soups, or casseroles. Including a ½ teaspoon of the powder to one meal a day will boost overall nutrition. One study, aiming to find ways to boost nutrition of infants, found that moringa powder was easily accepted on porridge.
Moringa leaf powder has been noted to be useful to promote insulin secretion in patients with Type II Diabetes.
One study6 found that a cream made with moringa had anti-aging effects on the skin. The vitamin A and C alone from the moringa plant are of particular benefit to the skin. Moringa creams can also be useful for diaper rash, eczema, sensitive skin and dermatitis.
Moringa oleifera leaf tea is an option for gaining the benefits of this tree. Adding peppermint leaves to the moringa leaves will give it a pleasant flavor.
Hot moringa tea can be used daily for its nutritional benefits. It is of particular benefit during cold and flu season due to the vitamin C and zinc content.
In cultures where moringa trees grow, the fresh leaves are often incorporated into daily meals. Leaves are added to rice dishes and soups. The leaves are cooked as one would cook spinach or kale.
Because moringa oleifera leaves contain chlorophyll and iron, moringa leaves are useful for the prevention of anemia, a common affliction of those who lack adequate nutrition.
Moringa seeds are nutritious, but can have a purgative effect, so start low and go slow with Moringa seeds. They can be fried and salted, dried and added to homemade breads, or added to soups and stews.
Moringa seeds are even used to purify water in some countries.
Moringa Seed Pods
Moringa seeds grow in a pod that hands from the limbs of the moringa tree; these are also called “drumsticks”. The young pods can be cooked in ways that fresh green beans are cooked.
Sauted Moringa Seed Pods
- 1 quart fresh, young moringa seeds pods (5-8 inches long)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- Saute seed pods in oil.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
Roasted Moringa Drumsticks
To roast moringa drumsticks (another name for the seed pods), the older and larger pods can be used.
Arrange “drumsticks" on a baking sheet.
- Brush with olive oil
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper
- Bake at 450 until roasted, 12-16 minutes.
Can I Grow My Own Moringa Tree?
The reality is that most people will probably not grown their own moringa oleifera trees. But for those who live in temperate climates and do not have freezing temperatures, a moringa tree can make a lovely and useful addition to the backyard. For those with the space for a tree and little time to tend it, let alone grow a garden, a moringa tree may be a way to have fresh food available any time. The long tap root (a main root that grows down into the ground) make the moringa tree drought resistant.
How Can I Buy Ready-Made Moringa?
Moringa leaf powder is readily available online and in health foods stores. This is an easy way to try moringa out. Start with ½ teaspoon (per person) in smoothies or added to soups or vegetables. For many this may be an alternative to a vitamin supplement or a simple way to boost energy.
Moringa Side Effects and Cautions
Moringa is high in oxalic acid, which can affect calcium absorption. Too much oxalic acid can exacerbate health problems like kidney stones, gout, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Moringa is a plant food. Consuming more plant foods than the body is accustomed to can cause loose stools.
Many find that moringa provides a boost of energy. For that reason, it may be best to take use it early in the day to evaluate its effect and reduce the risk of insomnia. However, don't let that risk deter you from trying this superfood as many actually find adding moringa to the diet promotes good sleep.
Have you used morniga for your health? Do you have a recipe that uses the fresh seed pods or leaves of the moringa oleifera tree? Please send us some feedback!