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.
The Moringa plant is being hailed as a way to combat famine and malnutrition – with good reason. The leaves are an excellent source of plant protein, and at 27% is considered to have the highest protein ratio of any plant so far studied on planet earth.
It contains 18 amino acids, [including the 8 essential ones], 25 minerals and vitamins. With regard to beta-carotene it has as much fibre as carrots but 4 times the beta-carotene content. Moringa also contains EFAs: omega 3,6 & 9, chlorophyll, various phenolics, over 46 naturally occurring antioxidants, and 36 anti-inflammatory compounds. Impressive, don’t you agree? Tiny leaves – tre[e]mendous power!
More than enough evidence to include it in one’s diet.
Moringa oil can be used for cooking [marinades, sauté, stir fry – flashpoint 200C], or as-is on salads and veg. It can also be used in baking as a butter substitute, since it has a buttery flavour. Try making popcorn with it and taste the buttery, nutty difference!
Nutritionally, moringa contains a rich and rare combination of zeatin [anti-ageing], quercetin [anti-cancer agent], beta-sitosterol [anti-inflammatory, anticholesterol, anticancer], caffeoylquinic acid [anti-inflammatory, anti-flu], kaempferol [antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, cardioprotective]. For readers with a special interest in nutritional compounds the following may be of relevance:
With Moringa nothing is wasted. The seedcake remaining after extraction is used as fertiliser, so the cycle continues.
Moringa seeds have an invaluable impact on health and the environmental with regard to its unique ability to purify water. The seeds treat water on two levels, acting both as a coagulant or flocculant, and an antimicrobial agent. It is generally accepted that Moringa works as a coagulant due to positively charged, water-soluble proteins, which bind with negatively charged particles [silt, clay, bacteria, toxins, etc.] allowing the resulting ‘flocs’ to settle to the bottom or be removed by filtration.
The antimicrobial aspects of Moringa continue to be researched and findings support recombinant proteins both removing microorganisms by coagulation, as well as acting directly as growth inhibitors of the microorganisms.
While there is on-going research being conducted on the nature and characteristics of these components, it is accepted that treatments with Moringa solutions will remove 90-99.9% of impurities from water. Wow!
The medicinal uses are the stuff of legends, as can be seen below. Conditions range from A-to-V, so to speak – from abrasions to viruses – and even more!
Abrasions/grazes, acidosis, anaemia, arthritis, bruises, burns, cancer, colitis, cuts, detoxicant [attracts toxins in blood and removes build-up via excretion], diabetes & other blood glucose imbalances, diarrhoea, eye-sight [Vit A/beta-carotene], HIV/AIDS, hormone imbalances, hypercholesterolaemia, hypertension, infections, immune deficiency, insect bites, lactation deficiency, liver & kidney problems, low energy & fatigue, malnutrition, obesity, osteoporosis, parasites [internal], pregnancy problems, nervous conditions [anxiety], rashes, respiratory problems, scurvy, skin conditions, slow metabolism [metabolic stimulant], viral conditions …….
I’m particularly interested in the virtue of its galactagogic properties, being a firm believer in the value of breastfeeding. As therapeutic aromatherapists know, galactogogues are agents that establish, promote and maintain the flow of mother’s milk. Moringa is one of the most studied herbs in the Philippines, and several studies confirm its efficacy relative to problems with lactation.
Moringa tea, capsules or powder are effective as lactation support even if given prior to delivery.
To assist with normal lactation it is recommended to be given 3 days postpartum [after delivery] to induce milk flow or help the milk ‘come in’ without problems. Scientifically, the lactation enhancing effects of Moringa leaves are evidenced by a greater increase in maternal serum prolactin levels – the most important hormone in the initiation of lactation.
The oil is excellent for baby massage, and in my opinion, 1000× preferable to baby/mineral oil! I make sure I stay stocked up with a few kilos to ensure there’s enough for all our new young grandchildren. In the Cape, mothers talk about ‘rubbing the baby out’ with oil – quite a mindboggling image – but you get the idea!! Moringa is an ideal massage medium for this bonding activity.
Moringa also has a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine, and Indian people have used the oil to treat many conditions, including acne and skin problems – since it tightens pores and helps remove black heads, as well as reducing blemishes.
As intimated before, Moringa oil has many cosmetic applications. Because it balances oil secretion of skin it is great in cleansers and toners. In addition it has a remarkable capacity to remove grime [detox] from skin without clogging pores [non-comedogenic]. Could this action be related to its profound ability to purify water – and blood? It also counteracts the effects of pollution and other environmental aggressors [heat, sun, wind].
With an impressive oleic acid content of 72%, this nutrient-dense oil penetrates deeply into the skin, delivering vital nutrients while helping the skin and hair retain moisture. It keeps skin glowing and gives shine to lip gloss and creams.
Like its other African-oil comrades, Moringa oil is outstanding for mature, ageing, very dry and nutrient-depleted skin. Some of its main claims to cosmetic fame is its exceptional anti-ageing and wrinkle reduction potential. The antioxidants and the nutrients present in the oil help to curb the activity of free radicals – those nasty rogue molecules that cause damage to cells and tissues and pave way for skin wrinkles. Rich in copper, Moringa aids in the production of the powerful antioxidant Superoxide Dismutase [SOD], and acts as a catalyst for collagen production
Japanese and Korean women are said to be the top consumers and users of Moringa seed oil – which may explain their great skin. A simple face serum can be made with 60% Moringa:40% Macadamia oils. Although there are new and innovative scientific ways to reduce wrinkles and restore vitality to the skin, much of the secret to youthful skin simply lies in maintaining a healthy living environment for skin cells to live – and Moringa oil achieves this goal perfectly.
Moringa oil, like olive oil, is useful in lifting dirt out of the hair and is an efficient natural hair cleanser. By simply wetting the hair, massaging the oil into the scalp and rinsing off one can effectively clean and moisturize the scalp. In general, Moringa improves the health and strength of both hair and scalp.
Regular application and scalp massage can also reduce split ends and prevent dandruff and cradle-cap. And for the soap makers out there, Moringa oil has inherent antiseptic properties, produces a rich, creamy lather, and unlike any other plant-based oil, actually increases the cleansing ability without drying the skin.
Because Moringa contains powerful antioxidants, and absorbs quickly into the skin, it is as good a choice to add to beauty products that are rinsed off the skin [such as soaps and scrubs], as it is for leave-on products like cosmetic creams and medicinal unguents.
In conclusion – if you haven’t tried Moringa yet do yourself a favour and give the leaves, powder and oil a try as soon as you can. Or better still – plant a tree or two in your garden or pot-garden. I’m on a mission to give everyone I know either some seed, or a seedling, so that they can add this incredible gift from Nature to their daily diet.
Posted Friday, April 10, 2015 at 10:43am EST
Moringa Oleifera is currently the ‘big’ thing when it comes to maintaining excellent health. Dubbed as the new miracle tree, there are dozens of known moringa health benefits today.
If you’re one of the few people in search of a supplement that can boost the quality of your life, following are some moringa health benefits you should definitely know about:
It’s a little impressive just how much vitamins and minerals that moringa tree has. You’ll find that with one cup full of this plant’s leaves, you’ll be getting the following daily value percentages:
What does this mean exactly? Well, this means that if you need around 500mg of vitamin C on a daily basis. Moringa already contains 22% of that daily requirement – making it easier for you to reach the ‘healthy levels’ required for optimal body function.
With the surprisingly high iron content, it’s not surprising that moringa is often used as an herbal treatment for anemia. Don’t forget the calcium and vitamin A content – both of which go beyond the daily requirement. These two can help with the eyes, bones, and teeth.
Moringa is also packed with antioxidants which are used to remove toxins in the body. Just one serving of this and you’ll be able to aid your kidneys and liver with their job of removing toxins and helping with digestion. Common problems such as bloating and constipation should be fixed with daily servings of this plant. Remember: antioxidants do a lot for the body. They can boost your energy levels, improve the immune system, fight and prevent cancer, and make your skin smoother and flawless!
In the Philippines, moringa is traditionally used to help mothers who just gave birth with breastfeeding. When consumed in moderate amounts, moringa can help increase breastmilk production, which essentially means that you can provide your child with better and sufficient amounts of food.
In some countries, the leaves of moringa are often turned into a pulp and placed directly on a wound to aid with the healing process. When ingested however, you can use them to lower inflammation and essentially ease the throbbing or ache in the body.
Researcher found that a moringa root extract may be as powerful to treat pain and inflammation as the anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin
Another plus is the astounding amino acid content of moringa. This tree contains all the important amino acids the body needs to maintain practically everything in your system. Essentially, these amino acids are the driving force behind the body’s ability to repair and create new cells.
Studies show that moringa also helps with maintaining sugar levels. It manages to balance the sugar in your blood, therefore preventing and controlling symptoms of diabetes. Compared to other maintenance products, moringa manages to deliver excellent results without some of the dreaded side effects. Further studies reveal that it also helps with high blood pressure and even controls cholesterol!
Moringa Oleifera can be ingested through various means. Since it became very popular in the US, you should be able to find moringa powder, which can be added to smoothies and juices, or moringa tea.
Moringa is reasonably safe for consumption. However, the consumption of Moringa oleifera leaves should not exceed a maximum of 70 grams per day to prevent cumulative toxicity of its essential elements over long periods.
Sources for this article include: