Moringa is a native plant of Africa and Asia. The plant grows in the tropics and in Asia, it’s mainly found in the sub-Himalayan regions of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. This is an interesting plant and every part of the Moringa is used. This includes the bark, the flowers, seeds, fruits, leaves and root. In Asia and Africa, Moringa is used to fight malnutrition since the leaves and seeds can be cooked. The wonders of the Moringa plant are immense, and this can be credited to its mineral, protein and vitamin properties which make it a great antioxidant.
Nutrients in Moringa Oleifera
Moringa Oleifera, also referred to as the horseradish tree or the drumstick tree is a wonder plant. The tree is known for its nutritional value and this are found in its pods which are rich in minerals, its flowers and green leaves. The Moringa Oleifera is the most nurtured Moringa tree and it is said that the plant has over 46 different antioxidants and 92 nutrients. The plant also contains 36 anti-inflammatory compounds, over 20 amino acids. The plant is a good source of vitamins and in fact provides seven times the amount of vitamin C you would find in an orange. Moringa leaves contain vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6 and B7 as well as vitamins C, D, E and K.
Benefits of Moringa Oleifera
Moringa has many medicinal uses and has been used to treat conditions such arthritis, rheumatism, anemia, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and stomach complications such as spasms, ulcers, stomach pain and constipation. It is said that Moringa can also help to boost the immune system and increase the production of milk in lactating mothers as well. The list on uses for Moringa is rather diverse and ranges from skin and hair care to treating a wide range of infections.
More health benefits of Moringa are listed below:
- Moringa Oleifera has antiseptic properties and can be directly applied on the skin to kill germs. It is also used in treating wounds, warts, dandruff, athlete’s foot and snake bites.
- The oil source from the seeds is used in the production of hair care products and perfumes. This oil is also used as a machine lubricant and in cooking as well.
- The plant has anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce the swelling brought about by parasitic fungal and bacterial infections.
- Moringa Oleifera is also used as an aphrodisiac to stimulate sex drive.
- Some communities have used Moringa to treat heart problems, thyroid disorders, fluid retention, kidney stones and high blood pressure as well.
- The plant can help fight hunger in poverty stricken countries. It grows easily and cheaply. A wide array of nutrients such as calcium, iron, vitamins and zinc can be sourced from its dried leaves and the pods. Its green pods are cooked and so are the leaves. In its powder form, Moringa can be used a condiment.
- Moringa doesn’t only provide health benefits. The seed cake which remains after the oil has been extracted is used to purify water and can also remove salt in stored seawater. The seed cake also makes for a brilliant fertilizer.
Uses of Moringa Oleifera
It’s important to note that Moringa Oleifera does not have substantial clinical studies that support its benefits. More studies therefore need to be conducted before the uses of Moringa can be advised. That said; there are two ways in which Moringa Oleifera can be used and this is orally or through application to the skin.
1. Taken by Mouth
Moringa Oleifera can be taken orally to treat:
- Stomach pain including constipation and intestinal ulcers
- Heart conditions
- High blood pressure
- Kidney stones
- As an aphrodisiac
- Immunity boosting and more
2. Apply to the Skin
Moringa Oleifera is applied to the skin to help treat:
- Skin infections
- Athletes foot
- Gum disease and other conditions
Safety Concerns of Moringa Oleifera
Although Moringa is likely safe to eat for most people, there are still safety concerns that people need to pay attention to.
1. Side Effects
Like all good things, the Moringa Oleifera also has its side effects. For starters, you are not allowed to eat the root or extracts from this part of the plant. This is because the roots could contain toxic substances and ingestion of these toxins could lead to paralysis and even death. The leaves, seeds and fruits are however safe for consumption.
- Common Side Effects. Common side effects that may manifest with the consumption of Moringa include nausea, diarrhea and heartburn. The taste is not too pleasant and tends to produce a gag reflex on many first time users. If taken too much, Moringa could cause nausea. It’s recommended that you lower your dosage when you begin feeling nauseated. Moringa can also act as a laxative especially when consumed on an empty stomach. Remember that sudden potency could be overwhelming on the stomach. People who take Moringa directly with water have complained of heart burns. It’s much better to mix the herb with a thicker beverage or cook it with food. Greens are known to thicken blood and it may not be advisable to eat Moringa if you are on blood thinning medications.
- Effects on Pregnant and Lactating Women. There are precautions and warnings against the consumption of Moringa in pregnant and lactating women. The chemicals found in the roots, flowers and the bark could cause a contraction to occur on the uterus. This therefore puts the expectant mother at the risk of a miscarriage. When it comes to a breast feeding mother, the chemicals may not be safe for the infant being nursed.
Just like any other medicine, several factors need to be considered with dosage. The condition being treated is one of them and some conditions may require a higher dosage than others. The health of the person is also critical and like we noted in the side effects, the herb could bring about bouts of nausea and diarrhea. People who are generally weak and unable to eat should take the herb in small doses, if at all. The age of the user also matters, generally children take a lower dosage than adults. Lastly, bear in mind that such natural products are not necessarily safe and it’s important to have get dosage. Follow the directions on the product labels and consult with a medical professional before trying this alternative medicine.