In 2008, the National Institute of Health named Moringa Oleifera the plant of the year, acknowledging that this plant deserves its reputation of being one of the most important natural sources of nutrition and healing. To date, well over a thousand studies have focused on its benefits and healing abilities, and according to a report published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, Moringa contains a wide variety of essential amino acids, carotenoid, antioxidants such as quercetin, and natural antibacterial compounds that work similarly as many anti-inflammatory drugs.
The leaves are an outstanding source of vitamins and minerals – one cup of fresh, chopped leaves (21 grams) contains the following (approximately):
- Protein: 2 grams
- Iron: 11% RDA
- Magnesium: 8% RDA
- Vitamin A: 9% RDA
- Vitamin B2: 11% RDA
- Vitamin B6: 19% RDA
- Vitamin C: 12% RDA
The uses of Moringa is seemingly endless. It has been used to treat anaemia, arthritis and rheumatism, asthma, cancer, constipation, diabetes, diarrhoea, stomach pain, intestinal ulcers and spasms, headache, high blood pressure, kidney stones, fluid retention, infections and so much more, however many western people use it as a nutritional supplement or tonic.
Moringa can be applied to the skin as an antiseptic or drying agent (astringent), and it is also used topically for treating abscesses, athlete’s foot, dandruff, gum disease (gingivitis), snakebites, warts, and wounds.
Moringa is an important food source in many parts of the world because it can be grown cheaply and efficiently, and the leaves retain much of the nutrient content when dried. The leaves can be cooked and used like spinach; however, they are often dried and powdered for use as a condiment.
The seeds, harvested from their pods, yield approximately 35–40% of non-drying Moringa oil, also known as Ben oil or Behen oil. Moringa seed oil is clear and smells nutty, but does not become rancid for several years after it is produced. Everyday use of moringa oil is to boost liver function and detoxify the body of harmful substances such as heavy metal toxins. The seed cake remaining after oil extraction is often used as a fertiliser and is also used to purify well water and to remove salt from seawater.