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In a remote valley of Congo, on a farm with splendid views of lush green mountains, I stand amidst a plantation of young moringa trees. The green leaves glisten in the African sun, the seed pods hang in curls. I pull a tender young leaf and chew on it, enjoying the fresh, pleasing taste. The Belgian couple growing this crop plans to cash in on an up-and-coming trend and their timing appears to be just right.
Over the past few years, a botanical new to the U.S. and European markets has been making impressive gains in popularity, due to its broad traditional benefits and emerging supportive science. That plant, moringa oleifera, is native to northern India, Pakistan, the Himalayan region, Africa and Arabia, but is now cultivated more widely throughout the tropics. The young plantation I have visited in Congo is one such cultivation project.
Also known as drumstick tree or horseradish tree, moringa trees grow quickly, reaching a height of between 15 and 30 feet within just a few years. The leaves, fruit flowers and immature pods of the tree are eaten as nutritious foods. The leaves in particular are consumed either raw in salads, tossed into blender drinks, or steamed like spinach. Rich in protein, beta-carotene, vitamin C, potassium and calcium, the leaves make an excellent green vegetable, and are pleasing in flavor.
But beyond the flavor and nutrition, moringa offers healing benefits. Virtually all parts of the plant are used to treat inflammation, infectious disorders, and various problems of the cardiovascular and digestive organs, while improving liver function and enhancing milk flow in nursing mothers. The uses of moringa are well documented in both the Ayurvedic and Unani systems of traditional medicine, among the most ancient healing systems in the world.
Moringa is rich in a variety of health-enhancing compounds, including moringine, moringinine, the potent antioxidants quercetin, kaempferol, rhamnetin, and various polyphenols. The leaves seem to be getting the most market attention, notably for their use in reducing high blood pressure, eliminating water weight, and lowering cholesterol.
Studies show that moringa leaves possess anti-tumor and anti-cancer activities, due in part to a compound called niaziminin. Preliminary experimentation also shows activity against the Epstein-Barr virus. Compounds in the leaf appear to help regulate thyroid function, especially in cases of over-active thyroid. Further research points to anti-viral activity in cases of Herpes simplex 1.
Now that moringa is emerging as a popular supplement for health enhancement, the science on this plant is accelerating. The glucose-modifying, anti-diabetic effects of moringa may prove of great use amidst a virtual epidemic of Type 2 diabetes and obesity. The liver-protective activities of the leaf and its extracts could make it a staple component of bitters formulas and various cleansing preparations. And ongoing work on the anti-cancer properties of moringa may at some point earn this plant a role in chemotherapy.
In the traditional medicinal systems of many cultures, plants with long uses and benefits remain to be discovered. Moringa oleifera, unknown in the market just ten years ago, is surging into greater popularity due to its multiple health benefits and nutritious value as a food. Also known colloquially as “miracle tree,” moringa is a valuable plant medicine, and deserves a place in the home pharmacy.
Article by Chris Kilham on March 29, 2016
Moringa Trees can be found in the tropics, world wide. It also thrives in the arid parts of the world where bad water, poor diet, and the diseases are leading killers. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly 80% of the world’s population relies on traditional medicine (the use of plants) for their primary healthcare. Since the Moringa Tree is already common in much of the developing world, it can meet the needs of local populations in terms of availability, accessibility, and utilization. It is already growing in areas of need, with spontaneous growth in many regions, and is a hearty and drought tolerant plant. Unlike imported medicine, foods, or other supplements, the low cost of the Moringa Tree makes it affordable to poor populations. Its potential as a cheap local supplement in the fight against malnutrition is promising. Many humanitarian organizations including the Church World Service, the Educational Concerns for Hunger Organizations, Trees for Life, and the National Science Foundation now promote the use of Moringa in poverty-stricken areas to combat malnutrition.
Amadou Ba, director of a Senegalese village health post states, “We were all trained in the classic solutions for treating malnutrition– whole milk powder, sugar, vegetable oil, sometimes peanut butter. But these ingredients are expensive and the recovery of malnourished infants can take months. Now we have replaced this with Moringa. We start seeing improvements within 10 days.”
Lack of vitamin A (due to malnutrition) causes 70% of childhood blindness around the world. 500,000 children are going blind every year due to lack of vitamin A. The Bethesda, Maryland based International Eye Foundation, is using Moringa with its high content of beta carotene, which is converted to vitamin A by the body, to combat childhood blindness around the world.
Lack of drinkable water is one of the world’s most serious threats. Water related diseases account for more than 80% of the world’s sickness. People in many developing nations simply do not have acess to clean safe water. They are left with no choice but to drink and wash with water so contaminated that we wouldn’t even dare to walk in it.
Professor Suleyman Aremu Muyibi, of the International Islamic University of Malaysia, believes Moringa seeds could potentially provide a renewable, sustainable and biodegradable material for treating global water supplies. When Moringa seeds are crushed and added to dirty, bacteria laden water, they purify the water. As part of a Nigeria-based study, Muyibi feels that such an opportunity could be especially attractive in developing countries, where roughly 1.2 billion people still lack safe drinking water, with an estimated 25,000 people dying from water-borne diseases every day.
Britain’s University of Leicester is also studying the coagulating properties of Moringa seeds for its water purifying abilities. Researchers believe the Moringa seeds would work better than the common water purifier, aluminum sulfate, which can be toxic, and have successfully replaced the imported alum system of a Malawi village with a simpler full scale system using Moringa seeds.
How to use Moringa Tea Leaves:
Put the Moringa leaves inside hot water and let the tea go by for +/- 5 minutes. Add for extra taste some honey and / or lemon.
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“All Things Moringa”
The Story of an Amazing Tree of Life Contents Introduction Vitamin Mineral Content of Moringa Amino Acid Content of Moringa The Moringa.
Here’s a sample of the 1st 6 of 42 pages
Growing up in India this humble tree grew in our backyard and it never caught my attention, though I always loved the vegetable that grew on it. As I entered into the world of Ayurveda I learnt about this most nutritious tree in the world called Moringa only to realize that this tree was a childhood friend that I had loved and this world famous Moringa was my backyard fried the drumstick tree or Sajana as we used to call it.
In this paper I will attempt to cover:
According to Wikipedia Moringa, a native to parts of Africa and Asia, is the sole genus in the flowering plant family Moringaceae. The name is derived from the Tamil word Murungai (முருங்கை) .
It contains 13 species from tropical and subtropical climates that range in size from tiny herbs to massive trees. The most widely cultivated species is Moringa oleifera, a multipurpose tree native to the foothills of the Himalayas in northwestern India and cultivated throughout the tropics. M. stenopetala, an African species, is also widely grown, but to a much lesser extent than M. oleifera.
As Moringa spread from India to other tropical and subtropical areas, it adapted to local conditions. Over time, these thirteen distinct species of Moringa developed.
Scientific Names of the 13 different species of Moringa found in the world today 
While native to the Indian sub-continent, Moringa has spread throughout the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. There are over 400 names of Moringa around different parts of the world. Here are some of the many common names of Moringa: 
|English||Drumstick tree, Horseradish tree, Mother’s Best Friend, Radish tree, West Indian ben|
|French||Bèn ailé, Benzolive, Moringa, Ben oléifère, Arbre radis du cheval|
|German||Behenbaum, Behenussbaum, Flügelsaniger Bennussbaum, Pferderettichbaum|
|Portuguese||Acácia branca, Cedra (Brazil), Marungo, Moringuiero, Muringa|
|Spanish||Árbol del ben, Ben, Morango, Moringa|
Benin: Patima, Ewé ilé
Burkina Faso: Argentiga
Cameroon: Paizlava, Djihiré
Chad: Kag n’dongue
Ethiopia: Aleko, Haleko
Ghana: Yevu-ti, Zingerindende
Niger: Zôgla gandi
Nigeria: Ewe ile, Bagaruwar maka
Senegal: Neverday, Sap-Sap
Togo: Baganlua, Yovovoti
Cambodia: Ben ailé
India: Sahjan, Murunga, Moonga;
Hindi: Sahijan, Munaga, Sajana,
Tamil: Murungai, Murunkak-kai, Morunga
Telegu: Tella-Munaga, Mulaga, Sajana
Kannada: Nugge mara, Nugge kayi;
Oriya: Munigha, Sajina
Punjabi: Sanjina, Soanjana
Rajasthani: Lal Sahinjano
Sanskrit: Sigru Shobhanjan, Sobhan jana, Shobanjana
Konkani/Goa: Moosing, Mosing
Malayalam: Sigru, Moringa, Muringa, Murinna, Morunna
Marathi: Sujna, Shevga, Shivga
Sri Lanka: Murunga
Taiwan: La Mu
Vietnam: Chùm Ngây
South and Central America, Caribbean
Costa Rica: Marango
Cuba: Palo Jeringa
Dominican Republic: Palo de aceiti
El Salvador: Teberinto
French Guiana: Saijhan
Honduras: Maranga calalu
Puerto Rico: Resada
The tree is often referred to as “The Miracle Tree” and “Mother’s Best Friend”, which is understandable when you learn that Moringa contains a unique combination of vitamins, minerals and amino acids that make it one of the most nutritious plants ever discovered. Much of the plant is edible by humans or by farm animals.
Moringa leaves are exceptionally nutritious. When fresh, they are rich in vitamin C. When carefully dried, gram for gram Moringa leaves contain 24 times the iron of spinach, 16 times the calcium of milk, 9 times the vitamin A of carrots, many times the potassium of bananas, and every essential amino acid your body needs.
The leaves are rich in protein, vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C and minerals . 100g of fresh Moringa leaves have 8.3 g protein, 434 mg calcium, 404 mg potassium, 738 μg vitamin A, and 164 mg vitamin C .
Moringa contains 46 powerful antioxidants – compounds that protect the body against the destructive effects of free radicals by neutralizing them before they can cause cellular damage and disease .
Vitamin A (Alpha & Beta-Carotene), B, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, C, D, E, K, Folate (Folic Acid), Biotin 
Calcium, Chromium, Copper, Fluorine, Iron, Manganese, Magnesium, Molybdenum, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, Selenium, Sulphur, Zinc  .
Essential Amino acids
Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Valine .
Non-essential Amino Acids
Alanine, Arginine, Aspartic Acid, Cystine, Glutamine, Gl ycine, Histidine, Proline, Serine, Tyrosine 
All values are per 100 grams of edible portion.
|Fresh Leaves||Dried Leaves|
|Carotene (Vit. A)*||6.78 mg||18.9 mg|
|Thiamin (B1)||0.06 mg||2.64 mg|
|Riboflavin (B2)||0.05 mg||20.5 mg|
|Niacin (B3)||0.8 mg||8.2 mg|
|Vitamin C||220 mg||17.3 mg|
|Calcium||440 mg||2,003 mg|
|Calories||92 cal||205 cal|
|Carbohydrates||12.5 g||38.2 g|
|Copper||0.07 mg||0.57 mg|
|Fat||1.70 g||2.3 g|
|Fiber||0.90 g||19.2 g|
|Iron||0.85 mg||28.2 mg|
|Magnesium||42 mg||368 mg|
|Phosphorus||70 mg||204 mg|
|Potassium||259 mg||1,324 mg|
|Zinc||0.16 mg||3.29 mg|
All values are per 100 grams of edible portion.
|Fresh Leaves||Dried Leaves|
|Arginine||406.6 mg||1,325 mg|
|Histidine||149.8 mg||613 mg|
|Isoleucine||299.6 mg||825 mg|
|Leucine||492.2 mg||1,950 mg|
|Lysine||342.4 mg||1,325 mg|
|Methionine||117.7 mg||350 mg|
|Phenylalinine||310.3 mg||1,388 mg|
|Threonine||117.7 mg||1,188 mg|
|Tryptophan||107 mg||425 mg|
|Valine||374.5 mg||1,063 mg|
Jed W. Fahey, Sc.D. , Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences produced a very important research paper titled: “Moringa oleifera: A Review of the Medical Evidence for Its Nutritional, Therapeutic, and Prophylactic Properties. Part 1.” In this seminal work, they began the process of sifting through the scientific work on Moringa, as well as the traditional, as well as anecdotal evidence for Moringa’s nutritional, therapeutic and prophylactic. In doing this, they found that much of the scientific evidence is beginning to support much of the traditional and anecdotal information.
Moringa preparations have been cited in the scientific literature as having antibiotic, antitrypanosomal, hypotensive, antispasmodic, antiulcer, anti-inflammatory, hypo-cholesterolemic, and hypoglycemic activities, as well as having considerable efficacy in water purification by flocculation, sedimentation, antibiosis and even reduction of Schistosome cercariae titer.
Antibiotic Activity: This is clearly the area in which the preponderance evidence—both classical scientific and extensive anecdotal evidence—is overwhelming. The scientific evidence has now been available for over 50 years, although much of it is completely unknown to western scientists .
Phytochemicals and 6 Carbon Sugar Rhamnose: An examination of the phytochemicals of Moringa species affords the opportunity to examine a range of fairly unique compounds. In particular, this plant family is rich in compounds containing the simple sugar, rhamnose, and it is rich in a fairly unique group of compounds called glucosinolates and isothiocyanates. For example, specific components of Moringa preparations that have been reported to have hypotensive, anticancer, and antibacterial activity .
Subsequent elegant and very thorough work, published in 1964 as a PhD thesis by Bennie Badgett (a student of the well-known chemist Martin Ettlinger), identified a number of glycosylated derivatives of benzyl isothiocyanate  (e.g. compounds containing the 6-carbon simple sugar, rhamnose) (8). The identity of these compounds was not available in the refereed scientific literature until “re-discovered” 15 years later by Kjaer and co-workers (73). Seminal reports on the antibiotic activity of the primary rhamnosylated compound then followed, from U Eilert and colleagues in Braunschweig, Germany (33, 34). They re-isolated and confirmed the identity of 4-(α-L-rhamnopy-ranosyloxy)benzyl glucosinolate  and its cognate isothiocyanate  and verified the activity of the latter compound against a wide range of bacteria and fungi. (Jed W. Fahey, 2005) This is clearly the area in which the preponderance of evidence—both classical scientific and extensive anecdotal evidence—is overwhelming. The scientific evidence has now been available for over 50 years, although much of it is completely unknown to western scientists .
The main objective of this study was to isolate compounds from root wood of Moringa stenopetala and evaluate antibacterial activities of the isolated compounds. Three of the compounds namely cholest-5-en-3-ol, palmitic acid and oleic acid showed highest activity against E. coli. The observed antibacterial activities of the crude extract and the isolated compounds could justify the traditional use of the plant for the treatment of different bacterial infections .
Since Moringa species have long been recognized by folk medicine practitioners as having value in tumor therapy, we examined compounds for their cancer preventive potential. Recently, these compounds were shown to be potent inhibitors of phorbol ester (TPA)-induced Epstein-Barr virus early antigen activation in lymphoblastoid (Burkitt’s lymphoma) cells .
In one of these studies, they also inhibited tumor promotion in a mouse two-stage DMBA-TPA tumor model. In an even more recent study, Bharali and colleagues have examined skin tumor prevention following ingestion of drumstick (Moringa seedpod) extracts. In this mouse model, which included appropriate positive and negative controls, a dramatic reduction in skin papillomas was demonstrated. Thus, traditional practice has long suggested that cancer prevention and therapy may be achievable with native plants.
Oral administration of Moringa seed extract in rats reduced liver damage as well as symptoms of liver fibrosis. Moringa seed extract can act against CCl(4)-induced liver injury and fibrosis in rats by a mechanism related to its antioxidant properties, anti-inflammatory effect and its ability to attenuate the hepatic stellate cells activation. 
According to Vaidya Mishra  , an Ayurvedic expert from the Shankha Vamsa lineage, Moringa is both a detoxifier as well as a tonic. Whenever we detox we also use a tonic, Moringa does both. It purifies and nourishes the blood and muscle tissues, the bone marrow and the fat tissues of any toxins at the same time nourishing it.
|Taste (rasa)||Pungent/katu, tikta/bitter|
|Post||Digestive metabolic state (vipak): pungent/katu|
|Guna||Light/laghu, dry/ruksha, sharp/tikshana, fluid/sara|
|Prabhava||• Liver cleanser (yakrit sodhana)
• Purifies Blood (rakta sodhaka)
• enhances spleen/pliha
• Removes worms (krmi), acidic toxins from the blood (amavishagni)
• Relieves from tumor (gulma)
• Strengthens heart/ hridya, fat metabolism and weight loss/Medovishahara and regulates cholesterol.
In Bhava Prakash (16 Century canonical textbook of Ayurveda), part one, authored by Bhav Mishra and Rajnigantu, Moringa is called sigru, or “it moves like an arrow” in the body because it rapidly penetrates the tissues and has deep absorption and detoxification ability, making its effect on the deep bone marrow tissue swift and effective.
Dr. JV Hebbar, summarizes several interesting facts about Moringa in his blog .
There are three varieties of Moringa explained in Ayurvedic text books.
Black variety of drumstick tree is the most common. Its qualities are:
Katu – pungent,
Teekshna – piercing, sharp, strong
Ushna – hot in potency
Madhura – slightly sweetish
Laghu – light to digest
Deepana – improves digestion
Rochana – Improves taste,
Rooksha – dry
Kshara – Has alkaline properties
Tikta – Bitter
Vidaahakrit – causes burning sensation
Sangrahi – Useful to check diarrhoea
Shukrala – Improves semen quantity and sperm count
Hrudya – Good for heart. Cardiac tonic
Pittarakta prakopana: Increases Pitta and vitiates blood. Hence, drumstick should not be consumed during bleeding disorders, duriner menstruation and for people with pimples and Pitta related skin diseases.
Chakshushya – Improves vision, good for eyes.
Kaphavataghna – Decreases imbalanced Kapha and Vata
Vidradhi – Useful in abscess. It helps in quick wound healing of abscess, upon oral intake and external application as paste.
Shvayathu – It is a good anti inflammatory herb.
Krimi – useful in worm infestation in stomach and in wounds.
Meda – helpful to decrease fat and obesity.
Apachi – Useful in relieving carbuncles.
Visha – Anti toxic. Has detoxifying action.
Pleeha – Useful in spleen related diseases
Gulma – Useful in abdominal bloating and tumors
Ganda Vrana – Useful in lymphadenitis
White variety Moringa Properties: It is quite similar to the black variety.
Dahakrut – causes burning sensation
pleehaanaam vidradhim hanti – useful in splenic abscess
VraNaghna – helps in quick wound healing
Pittaraktakrut – Increases Pitta and vitiates blood.
The Red Variety, called as Madhushigru
Deepana – Increases digestion power.
Sara – promotes proper bowel movements.
The juice extract of drumstick leaves and bark are very useful in relieving pain. They act as natural analgesic. They are used both for oral intake and also for external application as paste.
In Indian household, the leaves are used to prepare Chutney and Sambar (a south-indian soup).
Moringa seeds uses: Moringa seeds are called as Shweta Maricha
Chakshushya – good for eyes
Vishanashana – anti toxic
Avrushya – do not have aphrodisiac qualities
Nasyena Shiro Artinut – When used for Nasya (in the form of powder or oil), it helps to relieve headache.
Moringa leaves paste applied externally, or used as vegetable helps to relieve headache.
Its seed powder, in the form of nasya treatment cures headache.
Moringa for Diabetes: Many studies have been conducted to prove the anti-diabetic and anti-oxidant effect of Moringa.
Oil prepared with Moringa is useful to relieve headache, pungent, useful in skin diseases and diabetes.
Moringa flowers are useful in intestinal worms. It balances Pitta and kapha.
As explained above, it causes increase in burning sensation and is pungent. Hence, people with gastritis or sensitive stomach should use this vegetable carefully.
It is not ideal to be taken during periods, since it increases Pitta and vitiates blood.
It is also not ideal to be taken during bleeding disorders.
Moringa fruit is rich in protein, vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. Hence it can be used during pregnancy. But Moringa leaves, root bark and flowers are not indicated during pregnancy.
Thus we can see that this humble tree is loaded with wonderful qualities that can be used for healing by an Ayurvedic practitioner. Several scientific studies have documented its great properties of healing like anti-bacterial, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal etc. and has been used successfully for hundreds of years.
Food Chem Toxicol. 48(1), (2010 Jan): 345-355.
A Review of the Medical Evidence for Its Nutritional, Therapeutic, and Prophylactic Properties. Part 1.
Jed W. Fahey, Sc.D.
PEER REVIEWED The Moringa tree (Moringa oleifera) has been praised for its nutritional and medicinal properties, and many claims have been made regarding its benefits. This first in a series of brief reviews looks at the published scientific evidence on this tree. PEER REVIEWEDJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences, Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Cancer Chemoprotection Center, 725 N. Wolfe Street, 406 WBSB, Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21205-2185Email: email@example.comTrees for Life Journal 2005, 1:5
The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at: http://www.tfljournal.org/article.php/20051201124931586
Received: September 15, 2005; Accepted: November 20, 2005; Published: December 1, 2005
Copyright: ©2005 Jed W. Fahey
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Moringa appears to be a nutritional and medicinal cornucopia. The author, a Western-trained nutritional biochemist who has studied some of Moringa’s phytochemicals for almost a decade, gives a brief commentary and extensive references, and presents a table introducing some of the tree’s most intriguing features. This is the first article in a series, and will be followed by more detailed analysis of some of the strongest claims made regarding this edible plant.
AbstractMoringa oleifera, or the horseradish tree, is a pan-tropical species that is known by such regional names as benzolive, drumstick tree, kelor, marango, mlonge, mulangay, nébéday, saijhan, and sajna. Over the past two decades, many reports have appeared in mainstream scientific journals describing its nutritional and medicinal properties. Its utility as a non-food product has also been extensively described, but will not be discussed herein, (e.g. lumber, charcoal, fencing, water clarification, lubricating oil). As with many reports of the nutritional or medicinal value of a natural product, there are an alarming number of purveyors of “healthful” food who are now promoting M. oleifera as a panacea. While much of this recent enthusiasm indeed appears to be justified, it is critical to separate rigorous scientific evidence from anecdote. Those who charge a premium for products containing Moringa spp. must be held to a high standard. Those who promote the cultivation and use of Moringa spp. in regions where hope is in short supply must be provided with the best available evidence, so as not to raise false hopes and to encourage the most fruitful use of scarce research capital. It is the purpose of this series of brief reviews to: (a) critically evaluate the published scientific evidence on M. oleifera, (b) highlight claims from the traditional and tribal medicinal lore and from non-peer reviewed sources that would benefit from further, rigorous scientific evaluation, and (c) suggest directions for future clinical research that could be carried out by local investigators in developing regions.
This is the first of four planned papers on the nutritional, therapeutic, and prophylactic properties of Moringa oleifera. In this introductory paper, the scientific evidence for health effects are summarized in tabular format, and the strength of evidence is discussed in very general terms. A second paper will address a select few uses of Moringa in greater detail than they can be dealt with in the context of this paper. A third paper will probe the phytochemical components of Moringa in more depth. A fourth paper will lay out a number of suggested research projects that can be initiated at a very small scale and with very limited resources, in geographic regions which are suitable for Moringa cultivation and utilization. In advance of this fourth paper in the series, the author solicits suggestions and will gladly acknowledge contributions that are incorporated into the final manuscript. It is the intent and hope of the journal’s editors that such a network of small-scale, locally executed investigations might be successfully woven into a greater fabric which will have enhanced scientific power over similar small studies conducted and reported in isolation. Such an approach will have the added benefit that statistically sound planning, peer review, and multi-center coordination brings to a scientific investigation.
The following paper is intended to be useful for both scientific and lay audiences. Since various terms used herein are likely not familiar to the lay reader, nor are many of the references readily available to either scientific or lay audiences, we encourage active on-line dialog between readers and both the author and the journal staff. Both will attempt to answer questions and to direct readers to the experts in an open and public manner.
Moringa oleifera is the most widely cultivated species of a monogeneric family, the Moringaceae, that is native to the sub-Himalayan tracts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. This rapidly-growing tree (also known as the horseradish tree, drumstick tree, benzolive tree, kelor, marango, mlonge, moonga, mulangay, nébéday, saijhan, sajna or Ben oil tree), was utilized by the ancient Romans, Greeks and Egyptians; it is now widely cultivated and has become naturalized in many locations in the tropics. It is a perennial softwood tree with timber of low quality, but which for centuries has been advocated for traditional medicinal and industrial uses. It is already an important crop in India, Ethiopia, the Philippines and the Sudan, and is being grown in West, East and South Africa, tropical Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, Florida and the Pacific Islands. All parts of the Moringa tree are edible and have long been consumed by humans. According to Fuglie (47) the many uses for Moringa include: alley cropping (biomass production), animal forage (leaves and treated seed-cake), biogas (from leaves), domestic cleaning agent (crushed leaves), blue dye (wood), fencing (living trees), fertilizer (seed-cake), foliar nutrient (juice expressed from the leaves), green manure (from leaves), gum (from tree trunks), honey- and sugar cane juice-clarifier (powdered seeds), honey (flower nectar), medicine (all plant parts), ornamental plantings, biopesticide (soil incorporation of leaves to prevent seedling damping off), pulp (wood), rope (bark), tannin for tanning hides (bark and gum), water purification (powdered seeds). Moringa seed oil (yield 30-40% by weight), also known as Ben oil, is a sweet non-sticking, non-drying oil that resists rancidity. It has been used in salads, for fine machine lubrication, and in the manufacture of perfume and hair care products (158). In the West, one of the best known uses for Moringa is the use of powdered seeds to flocculate contaminants and purify drinking water (11,50,113), but the seeds are also eaten green, roasted, powdered and steeped for tea or used in curries (50). This tree has in recent times been advocated as an outstanding indigenous source of highly digestible protein, Ca, Fe, Vitamin C, and carotenoids suitable for utilization in many of the so-called “developing” regions of the world where undernourishment is a major concern.
Moringa trees have been used to combat malnutrition, especially among infants and nursing mothers. Three non-governmental organizations in particular—Trees for Life, Church World Service and Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization—have advocated Moringa as “natural nutrition for the tropics.” Leaves can be eaten fresh, cooked, or stored as dried powder for many months without refrigeration, and reportedly without loss of nutritional value. Moringa is especially promising as a food source in the tropics because the tree is in full leaf at the end of the dry season when other foods are typically scarce.
A large number of reports on the nutritional qualities of Moringa now exist in both the scientific and the popular literature. Any readers who are familiar with Moringa will recognize the oft-reproduced characterization made many years ago by the Trees for Life organization, that “ounce-for-ounce, Moringa leaves contain more Vitamin A than carrots, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach, more Vitamin C than oranges, and more potassium than bananas,” and that the protein quality of Moringa leaves rivals that of milk and eggs. These readers will also recognize the oral histories recorded by Lowell Fuglie in Senegal and throughout West Africa, who reports (and has extensively documented on video) countless instances of lifesaving nutritional rescue that are attributed to Moringa (47,48). In fact, the nutritional properties of Moringa are now so well known that there seems to be little doubt of the substantial health benefit to be realized by consumption of Moringa leaf powder in situations where starvation is imminent. Nonetheless, the outcomes of well controlled and well documented clinical studies are still clearly of great value.
In many cultures throughout the tropics, differentiation between food and medicinal uses of plants (e.g. bark, fruit, leaves, nuts, seeds, tubers, roots, flowers), is very difficult since plant uses span both categories and this is deeply ingrained in the traditions and the fabric of the community (85). Thus, Table 1 in this review captures both nutritional and medicinal references as they relate to Moringa, whilst avoiding most of the better known agro-forestry and water purification applications of this plant. The interested reader is also directed to the very comprehensive reviews of the nutritional attributes of Moringa prepared by the NGOs mentioned earlier (in particular, see references 47,123,157).
Phytochemicals are, in the strictest sense of the word, chemicals produced by plants. Commonly, though, the word refers to only those chemicals which may have an impact on health, or on flavor, texture, smell, or color of the plants, but are not required by humans as essential nutrients. An examination of the phytochemicals of Moringa species affords the opportunity to examine a range of fairly unique compounds. In particular, this plant family is rich in compounds containing the simple sugar, rhamnose, and it is rich in a fairly unique group of compounds called glucosinolates and isothiocyanates (10,38). For example, specific components of Moringa preparations that have been reported to have hypotensive, anticancer, and antibacterial activity include 4-(4′-O-acetyl-a-L-rhamnopyranosyloxy)benzyl isothiocyanate , 4-(a-L-rhamnopyranosyloxy)benzyl isothiocyanate , niazimicin , pterygospermin , benzyl isothiocyanate , and 4-(a-L-rhamnopyranosyloxy)benzyl glucosinolate . While these compounds are relatively unique to the Moringa family, it is also rich in a number of vitamins and minerals as well as other more commonly recognized phytochemicals such as the carotenoids (including b-carotene or pro-vitamin A). These attributes are all discussed extensively by Lowell Fuglie (47) and others, and will be the subject of a future review in this series.
(Click to enlarge)
Figure 1. Structures of selected phytochemicals from Moringa spp.: 4-(4′-O-acetyl-a-L-rhamnopyranosyloxy)benzyl isothiocyanate , 4-(-L-rhamnopyranosyloxy)benzyl isothiocyanate , niazimicin , pterygospermin , benzyl isothiocyanate , and 4-(a-L-rhamnopyranosyloxy)benzyl glucosinolate .
Disease Treatment and Prevention
The benefits for the treatment or prevention of disease or infection that may accrue from either dietary or topical administration of Moringa preparations (e.g. extracts, decoctions, poultices, creams, oils, emollients, salves, powders, porridges) are not quite so well known (116). Although the oral history here is also voluminous, it has been subject to much less intense scientific scrutiny, and it is useful to review the claims that have been made and to assess the quality of evidence available for the more well-documented claims. The readers of this review are encouraged to examine two recent papers that do an excellent job of contrasting the dilemma of balancing evidence from complementary and alternative medicine (e.g. traditional medicine, tribal lore, oral histories and anecdotes) with the burden of proof required in order to make sound scientific judgments on the efficacy of these traditional cures (138,154). Clearly much more research is justified, but just as clearly this will be a very fruitful field of endeavor for both basic and applied researchers over the next decade.
Widespread claims of the medicinal effectiveness of various Moringa tree preparations have encouraged the author and his colleagues at The Johns Hopkins University to further investigate some of these possibilities. A plethora of traditional medicine references attest to its curative power, and scientific validation of these popular uses is developing to support at least some of the claims. Moringa preparations have been cited in the scientific literature as having antibiotic, antitrypanosomal, hypotensive, antispasmodic, antiulcer, anti-inflammatory, hypocholesterolemic, and hypoglycemic activities, as well as having considerable efficacy in water purification by flocculation, sedimentation, antibiosis and even reduction of Schistosome cercariae titer (see Table 1).
Unfortunately, many of these reports of efficacy in human beings are not supported by placebo controlled, randomized clinical trials, nor have they been published in high visibility journals. For example, on the surface a report published almost 25 years ago (141) appears to establish Moringa as a powerful cure for urinary tract infection, but it provides the reader with no source of comparison (no control subjects). Thus, to the extent to which this is antithetical to Western medicine, Moringa has not yet been and will not be embraced by Western-trained medical practitioners for either its medicinal or nutritional properties.
In many cases, published in-vitro (cultured cells) and in-vivo (animal) trials do provide a degree of mechanistic support for some of the claims that have sprung from the traditional medicine lore. For example, numerous studies now point to the elevation of a variety of detoxication and antioxidant enzymes and biomarkers as a result of treatment with Moringa or with phytochemicals isolated from Moringa (39,40,76,131). I shall briefly introduce antibiosis and cancer prevention as just two examples of areas of Moringa research for which the existing scientific evidence appears to be particularly strong.
Antibiotic Activity. This is clearly the area in which the preponderance of evidence—both classical scientific and extensive anecdotal evidence—is overwhelming. The scientific evidence has now been available for over 50 years, although much of it is completely unknown to western scientists. In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s a team from the University of Bombay (BR Das), Travancore University (PA Kurup), and the Department of Biochemistry at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore (PLN Rao), identified a compound they called pterygospermin  a compound which they reported readily dissociated into two molecules of benzyl isothiocyanate  (23,24,25,26,77,78,79,80,81,108). Benzyl isothiocyanate was already understood at that time to have antimicrobial properties. This group not only identified pterygospermin, but performed extensive and elegant characterization of its mode of antimicrobial action in the mid 1950’s. (They identified the tree from which they isolated this substance as “Moringa pterygosperma,” now regarded as an archaic designation for “M. oleifera.”) Although others were to show that pterygospermin and extracts of the Moringa plants from which it was isolated were antibacterial against a variety of microbes, the identity of pterygospermin has since been challenged (34) as an artifact of isolation or structural determination.
Subsequent elegant and very thorough work, published in 1964 as a PhD thesis by Bennie Badgett (a student of the well known chemist Martin Ettlinger), identified a number of glyosylated derivatives of benzyl isothiocyanate  (e.g. compounds containing the 6-carbon simple sugar, rhamnose) (8). The identity of these compounds was not available in the refereed scientific literature until “re-discovered” 15 years later by Kjaer and co-workers (73). Seminal reports on the antibiotic activity of the primary rhamnosylated compound then followed, from U Eilert and colleagues in Braunschweig, Germany (33,34). They re-isolated and confirmed the identity of 4-(a-L-rhamnopyranosyloxy)benzyl glucosinolate  and its cognate isothiocyanate  and verified the activity of the latter compound against a wide range of bacteria and fungi.
Extensive field reports and ecological studies (see Table 1) forming part of a rich traditional medicine history, claim efficacy of leaf, seed, root, bark, and flowers against a variety of dermal and internal infections. Unfortunately, many of the reports of antibiotic efficacy in humans are not supported by placebo controlled, randomized clinical trials. Again, in keeping with Western medical prejudices, practitioners may not be expected to embrace Moringa for its antibiotic properties. In this case, however, the in-vitro (bacterial cultures) and observational studies provide a very plausible mechanistic underpinning for the plethora of efficacy claims that have accumulated over the years (see Table 1).
Aware of the reported antibiotic activity of , , and other isothiocyanates and plants containing them, we undertook to determine whether some of them were also active as antibiotics against Helicobacter pylori. This bacterium was not discovered until the mid-1980’s, a discovery for which the 2005 Nobel Prize in Medicine was just awarded. H. pylori is an omnipresent pathogen of human beings in medically underserved areas of the world, and amongst the poorest of poor populations worldwide. It is a major cause of gastritis, and of gastric and duodenal ulcers, and it is a major risk factor for gastric cancer (having been classified as a carcinogen by the W.H.O. in 1993). Cultures of H. pylori, it turned out, were extraordinarily susceptible to , and to a number of other isothiocyanates (37,60). These compounds had antibiotic activity against H. pylori at concentrations up to 1000-fold lower than those which had been used in earlier studies against a wide range of bacteria and fungi. The extension of this finding to human H. pylori infection is now being pursued in the clinic, and the prototypical isothiocyanate has already demonstrated some efficacy in pilot studies (49,168).
Cancer Prevention. Since Moringa species have long been recognized by folk medicine practitioners as having value in tumor therapy (61), we examined compounds  and  for their cancer preventive potential (39). Recently,  and the related compound  were shown to be potent inhibitors of phorbol ester (TPA)-induced Epstein-Barr virus early antigen activation in lymphoblastoid (Burkitt’s lymphoma) cells (57,104). In one of these studies,  also inhibited tumor promotion in a mouse two-stage DMBA-TPA tumor model (104). In an even more recent study, Bharali and colleagues have examined skin tumor prevention following ingestion of drumstick (Moringa seedpod) extracts (12). In this mouse model, which included appropriate positive and negative controls, a dramatic reduction in skin papillomas was demonstrated.
Thus, traditional practice has long suggested that cancer prevention and therapy may be achievable with native plants. Modern practitioners have used crude extracts and isolated bioactive compounds. The proof required by modern medicine has not been realized because neither the prevention of cancer nor the modification of relevant biomarkers of the protected state has been adequately demonstrated in human subjects. Does this mean that it doesn’t work? No. It may well work, but more rigorous study is required in order to achieve a level of proof required for full biomedical endorsement of Moringa as, in this case, a cancer preventative plant.
I thank Dr. Mark Olson for his encouragement and collaboration early in my research involvement with Moringa (joint publications are still pending). I gratefully acknowledge the Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Foundation for providing unrestricted research funds that facilitated preparation of this review and work on Moringa in my laboratory; funding was also provided by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the NCI (Grant # R01 CA93780).
Table 1. Reported nutritional, therapeutic & prophylactic uses of Moringa oleifera
(3-letter code in yellow at end of reference indicates major classification in Table 1)
Jars, Vases & Bowls
This is especially significant, since the expensive oils which some of them held were usually among the first items to be stolen because they did not keep long. Some of the dockets attached to the jars indicated that they had contained b3k-oil, a very expensive commodity made from moringa nuts. The calcite vase seen on the far right below in this plate still contained about three quarts of rancid oil when it was discovered.
The oil from the Moringa Oleifera nut was used by the ancient Egyptians. This extremely fast growing woody species (Moringa oleifera, Moringaceae) could open up a new category of crops: “vegetable trees.” It also produces masses of very small leaflets that are boiled and eaten like spinach. Being so small, the leaflets sun dry in just a few hours and can then be put in a jar and stored for the off-season, a time when dietary minerals and vitamins are often scarce. Moringa seeds could be employed to make water safer for drinking and cooking.
Maiherpri – King Moringa
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|Maiherpri ( Lion of the Battlefield )
Papyrus of Maiherpri
Maiherperi was an Ancient Egyptian noble of Nubian origin buried in the Valley of the Kings, in tomb KV36. He probably lived during the rule of Thutmose IV, and received the honour of a burial in the Valley of the Kings, the royal necropolis. His name can be translated as Lion of the Battlefield,. Amongst his titles were Child of the Nursery and Royal Fan-Bearer of the Right Hand Side. There is speculation that the first title signified that he grew up in the royal nursery as a prince of a vassal territory, or perhaps was the son of a lesser wife or concubine of the pharaoh. He was among the first during the New Kingdom to hold the second title, and was literally true in that he was by the pharaoh’s side, likely as an advisor or bodyguard. This same title was also used to denote the Viceroys of Kush later in the New Kingdom.
Tomb of Maiherpri
In Maiherperi’s tomb, a papyrus was found depicting him with literally “blackish” skin, leading scholars to believe he was in fact Nubian or of Nubian descent. The papyrus in question was the Book of the Dead, in the eyes of O’Connor and Cline “[c]ertainly the most famous and arguably the most beautiful” Book of the Dead..
The mummy was unwrapped by Georges Daressy in March 1901, revealing a mummy whose dark skin matched that depicted on his copy of the Book of the Dead, and thought that this was likely Maiherperi’s natural colour, unchanged by the mummification process. He also had tightly curled, woolly hair, which turned out a wig that had been glued to his scalp.
Moringa [Ben/Behen], is known as the miracle tree – and with good reason. It grows to a height of only 7 – 12 m and has a lifespan of a mere 20 years. Though not as impressive in stature or longevity as the beloved baobab, it can more than hold its own in the impressive stakes.
Moringa has a short, but intense life, growing like the clappers. It can grow up to 4 m in in a season – taking a mere 10 months from seed to tree! As the maxim goes ‘Dynamite comes in small packets’ – and the mighty moringa sure validates this claim, and then some.
Naturally Healthy Moringa now has stocks avaailable from various suppliers like Zija International also :
Moringa grows in over 80 countries, is known by over 200 different common names, and is referenced in over 300 folk medicine remedies. Also known as the Drumstick Tree, and Famine Tree, Moringa’s virtues have even been passionately extolled by Dr Oz on TV, and lauded in print in the National Geographic [Nov 2012] magazine.
Moringa is one of the most ancient oils known to humans and its healing properties, which have been documented by ancient cultures [Greeks, Romans, Egyptians], have stood the test of time – and still come out with flying colours to this day.
All parts of this revered tree, native to Africa and India, are used for their pharmacological and nutritional properties, hence the ‘Miracle tree’ appellation. Moringa’s leaves and seeds are full of health-giving nutrients and skin-loving fatty acids. It is used in cooking, cosmetics, medicine and lubrication – and even has potential as a biofuel.
Along with the other unique African oils, Moringa has become the latest darling of the natural and commercial cosmetic industries, due to its remarkable skin-smoothing, radiance-boosting, decongesting, detoxifying, moisturising, conditioning and anti-ageing properties.
Besides its many other virtues, Moringa oil possesses exceptional oxidative stability, which may explain why the Egyptians placed vases of this oil in their tombs to assist them in the afterlife – so chance is a good thing that Cleopatra knew all about this facet of Moringa’s impressive profile!
Here is a picture of the Moringa Amphora from the Tomb of Maiherpri * [his name can be translated as Lion of the Battlefield]. Some of the dockets attached to the jars indicated that they had contained b3k-oil, a very expensive commodity made from Moringa nuts.
* Maiherpri was an Ancient Egyptian noble of Nubian origin buried in the Valley of the Kings, in tomb KV36. He probably lived during the rule of Thutmose IV, [the 8th Pharoah of the 18th dynasty of Egypt, who ruled in approximately the 14th century BC.
For the aromatic perfumers out there ..…..…
Did you know that Moringa oil was used for perfumery long before the advent of alcohol distillation and other modern day diluent chemicals?
Distillation dates back to more or less the 4th century BC.
During these times aromatics were extracted by steeping plant material or splinters of fragrant wood in oil to extract the essential oils. The macerated material would eventually be placed in cloth and wrung out until the last vestiges of aroma had been retrieved. Alternatively the material was boiled with oil and water and the aromatic essential oil skimmed off. Besides Moringa, other oils like balanos [from the seeds of the Balanites aegyptiaca tree], castor, linseed, olive, sesame, safflower and sometimes almond were used.
Traditional perfumers however held [and hold] Moringa oil in esteem for its exceptional fixative powers i.e. it can absorb and retain even the most elusive scents, locking the aromatic molecules into the oil. Another one of the reasons for my enduring love affair with this divine oil.
There are reports of Moringa being used in cosmetic preparations as far back as 1400 BC, wherein an allegedly successful remedy to treat wrinkles consisted of: gum of frankincense wax; fresh Moringa oil and Cyprus grass [Cyperus alternifolius] – a grass-like marsh plant of the Cyperaceae [or sour grasses] family that is also used to make papyrus. The mixture was ground finely, mixed with fermented plant juice, and applied daily. Let me know if you try it and it works!
These days Moringa seed oil is in much demand for natural and luxury cosmetics because of its stability profile and resistance to rancidity, which is due to high levels of powerful antioxidants.