Traveling through West Africa this year I came across the Moringa oleifera (also called ‘Nebedaye’, in The Gambia) for the first time.
The tree is known for its powerful medicinal effect on the body. Both the seeds and leaves are used in cooking and to treat the specific illness.
As someone who has a background in herbal medicine, this intrigued me. I was especially surprised to find out that Koreans living in the Gambia used the plant seeds to stave off malaria.
This really got my attention since I was going to be in the Gambia for three months and only had one month supply of antimalarial tablets.
While my own testimony is purely anecdotal the fact is I did not suffer a single day’s sickness while taking one seed a day.
That lead me to investigate a little more thoroughly the benefits of the Moringa tree and in particular Moringa seeds.
The Moringa tree has been the focus of much attention in the last few years. It has been the subject of increasing scientific research as to it’s powerful antioxidant and antiviral effects.
Some have even claimed it can have a beneficial effect on:
- Lupus, Arthritis
- High Blood Pressure
- Stroke and Heart Diseases
…and some skin diseases
All of this makes the discovery and potency of Moringa seed a potentially great find.
In addition to the medicinal benefits of Moringa seed and leaves are said to contain:
- Quadruple the levels of vitamin A in carrots
- Seven times more vitamin C than citrus fruit
- Twice as much protein than yogurt.
- Three times the potassium than bananas and,
- Four times the amount of calcium over milk
And that is only the beginning.
A Little Moringa History
People in Africa and Southeast Asia have been eating Moringa leaves and seeds for over 4000 years.
In West Africa, I saw the leaves regularly used in salads and soups. Moringa is a fast growing and produced plenty of leaves and seeds throughout the year.
It is rich in a variety of minerals and amino acids and is often used by the locals for an upset stomach.
Medicine Research and Potential Benefits
As more and more research occurs it is likely that the benefits of the Moringa tree will only increase.
Some of the benefits of the Moringa tree that are already well established in many communities who believe in their medicine all Powers include the following.
To Assist with Sleeping
In West Africa, I saw many women preparing the Moringa leaves in boiling water and then drinking it as a form of tea in the evening.
Their opinion was that the Moringa leaves helped with a sound sleep and enabled the men to get up strong the next day.
I suffered from psoriasis for more than 15 years and can testify that until I went to the Gambia and started using the Moringa seeds on a daily basis, it was a never ending problem.
However, within one week of using the seeds d psoriasis begin to clear up and it has never come back.
There are over 30 antioxidants present in the oil of the seeds alone. Whether used as an antiseptic or moisturizer these oils appear to have strong medicinal benefits especially for skin hair and nails.
Reducing Blood Pressure
Blood pressure problems with a low or high ISO common in the west these days. They r factor in heart attacks and a number of cardiovascular diseases.
Along with the obvious, that is of good diet exercise people will testify to the benefits of the Moringa in managing their blood pressure.
The studies into how Moringa can balance and lower blood pressure I still in the early stages. You would be well advised to speak to a doctor before you adjust or self-medicate when it comes to high blood pressure treatment.
Not only did I enjoy fantastic sleep while in West Africa I also seem to have boundless energy. This was necessary since I have to walk everywhere and that is not something I usually do.
Some put the increased energy down to the high levels of iron found in Moringa leaves. Good iron levels mean good oxygen intake and good oxygen intake means greater strength and endurance.
Controlling Your Cholesterol
We all know that too much cholesterol in the bloodstream has been linked to cardiovascular disease.
Traditional medicine in South East Asia has been using the Moringa for many years to bring back cholesterol blood serum levels to normal.
Again, the research is still being done and is only in its infancy in the West, though it is a popular way of treating cholesterol problems in Southeast Asia.
How the Moringa is Prepared and Used
Both the leaves and seeds of the Moringa tree are edible. Moringa oil pressed from the seeds is also used in cosmetics as well as in skin care creams.
The seeds and roots are often ground and used as a dietary supplement.
If you are able to obtain fresh Moringa leaves from your own tree, this is a bonus. Because of the naturally occurring amount of vitamins A, B and C.
The seeds in the dried pods can be eaten in the same way that you would eat nuts. They have a bitter taste, but it disappears quickly.
The dried leaves can be crushed and used similarly to a herb in soups salads with cheese and other savory food. They can also be used in powdered form to mix and make cheese and other cool drinks.
The most common uses for the leaves is to boil them and add them to regular dishes.
The only caution I received while in West Africa was not to take too many of the seeds. Because of their powerful antioxidant effect, it is said that they can create a healing crisis, which is the removal of too much waste and disease microbes at once.
Better to go slow with the seeds, and only take a small amount at a time.
Disclaimer: The use and benefits of the Moringa mentioned in this artic; for health purposes is anecdotal and not intended as medical advice. Nor should the potential benefits mentioned be taken as a remedy for any condition. These are folklore remedies past down through generations. If you have a problem, go and see your Doctor (He may be able to tell you where you can pick up some good quality Moringa Seeds!).
Image Credit: David Trounce