What is Moringa?
Moringa may now be on your radar since Well+Good named it the hottest health trend of 2018. But what exactly is this superfood that everybody is suddenly going crazy for?
What is Moringa?
The superhero of plants?
Although it was discovered thousands of years ago Moringa is considered one of the most impressive supplements to hit the holistic health market. It is commonly referred to as the Drumstick tree (describing the shape of it's pods), Horse Radish tree (referring to the taste of the roots), "Tree of Life" or "Miracle Tree" (due to its economic importance and versatility).
Moringa is a tropical tree that contains some of the most nutrient dense leaves on the planet. These nutritional leaves are dried and ground into a superfood powder that contains incredible health benefits for your body. It is often referred to as the “Miracle Tree” because every part of the tree has benefits including the roots, leaves, bark, flowers, pods, gum and seeds. Whether it's boosting your smoothie with antioxidants, making your "latte" extra anti-inflammatory or nourishing your skin with nutritionally rich oil, this plant has it all.
This nutritionally dense superfood has endless health benefits. It has been utilized in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, which claims it can be used as a preventative for over 300 diseases. Moringa is a great source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as it contains a very concentrated amount of nutrition as seen below.
History of Moringa
Where did Moringa come from?
Moringa is native to the Himalayas, India, Pakistan and Africa, and has been used in Indian medicine for over 5000 years. There are also accounts that ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians utilized Moringa. The most prominent use was in Ayurvedic medicine – one of the oldest systems of medicine in the world that originated in India. Ayuveda utilizes herbal compounds as a remedy for disease and to promote health. It is widely studied in India through clinical and laboratory research.
Moringa is now widely cultivated and distributed in Africa, Asia and Latin America, most notably the Philippines, Cambodia, Central America, North and South America and the Caribbean. It can grow readily in tropical and subtropical regions and is plentiful near the sandy beds of rivers and streams.
How Do You Use Moringa?
Each part of the plant has been used for thousands of years to nourish the body, prevent disease, help mothers lactate, to cook, as a natural pesticide, as a domestic cleaning agent and much more.
The leaves can be consumed fresh or added to salads and other dishes for a nutty, bitter flavor. They can be dried for making loose leaf tea. They can also be ground into a superfood powder and consumed in capsule form or added to smoothies and other dishes as a nutritional booster or preventative measure.
The seeds of the Moringa tree can be pressed into a rejuvenating oil for your skin or used as a nutritional cooking oil.
Moringa seeds, when crushed, can purify dirty water. When these crushed seeds are placed in water the toxic particles and bacteria become charged and clump together with the Moringa and then settle at the bottom, thus acting as a natural filtration system and leaving clean drinking water on top. The World Health Organization estimates that unsafe water, poor sanitation and inadequate hygiene cause about 1.6 million deaths a year globally. Moringa seeds could have a huge impact on cleaner water in developing nations where filtration is not highly accessible.
The latest addition is Moringa seeds as a strong candidate for biofuel.
The roots of the Moringa tree have been used by Greeks, Romans and Egyptians as medicine for thousands of years. They actually have more concentrated nutrients than the seeds and leaves but they also contain phytochemical compounds that can be toxic when consumed in large quantities. However, in small quantities Moringa roots have no negative consequence, which is why they are supplemented to horseradish in home parts of the world. They taste very similar to horseradish and are frequently used as a condiment in the same way.
Moringa roots are also known for their antibiotic properties, which is why they are sometimes used to treat asthma, Digestive Disorders, Gastris, Inflammation, Rheumatism, Circulatory Disorders and Nervous Disorders. Below is a list of treatment applications using the roots of Moringa.
The roots have also been shows to suppress the reproductive system and thus are used in some parts of the world as contraception.
The roots are used to create medicines, perfumes, natural pesticides, fertilizers, cleaning agents, animal fodder and many other important products.
What were the different part of the Moringa tree used for?
The most common use of Moringa is harvesting the nutrient pack leaves and turning them into a superfood powder. However, ALL parts of the tree can be used for their unique and incredibly healing properties.
combined with honey for asthma
regulate blood for diabetes
dried into loose leaf tea for for insomnia or restlessness
ground and combined with coconut oil for scalp problems and hair growth
ground into an oil to restore skin and promote rejuvenation
ground into a nutritional cooking oil
treat bone and ligament related conditions that inflammation such as rhumatism, back pain, sprains and swelling
stomach ulcers/Crohn's Disease
antimicrobial & anti-inflammatory
aphrodisiac and to promote fertility in men
help with constipation
help with an enlarged spleen
ear related problems
anti-ulcer and anti-inflammatory agent
chewed to prevent and treat intestinal parasites in children
liver and spleen problems
Moringa contains exceptionally high nutritional value including 46 antioxidants, 36 anti-inflammatories and 18 amino acids (including all 9 essential amino acids that our body cannot produce itself and must obtain from foods). Moringa is also used to obtain important trace minerals, phenolics and a unique combination of disease-preventing phytonutrients. Some noteworthy nutrients with proven anti-inflammatory compounds and strong medicinal value include zeatin, quercetin, beta-sitosterol, caffeoylquinic acid and kaempferol. These compounds promote heart health and contain antitumor, anti-epileptic, anti-ulcer, andispasmodic, antuhypertensive and antidiabetic effects. Below is a list of 9 science based benefits of Moringa oleifera.
A Rich Nutritional Profile
Abundant in Antioxidants
Provides plentiful anti-inflammatory compounds
Balances Blood Sugar Levels (Fighting Diabetes)
Lowers Cholesterol (Helps Maintain Healthy Levels)
Nourishes the Skin
Enhances Brain Health
The full breakdown, including studies and research supporting the above can be found here.
Moringaceae (the sole genus) contains 13 different species of the Moringa Tree. Moringa oleifera (native to the Himalayas) is the most widely cultivated but there are many other Moringa species.
Moringa arborea (Kenya) - contains distinctively large flowers and seeds. Little current knowledge but nutritional value is being studied.
Moringa borziana (Somalia) - very little research but contains high potassium and has traditionally been used to alleviate abdominal pain and for hemorrhoids.
Moringa concanensis (northern India) - studies show it to be a powerful tonic alternative, stomachic, laxative with similar properties to M. oleifera
Moringa drouhardii (southwestern Madagascar) - most acclaimed use is for the seeds which are sought after for their fixed oil. The leaves contain less nutritional value compare to other species. Some research, including treating coughs and colds with the wood bark.
Moringa hildebrandtii (southwestern Madagascar) - no longer grows in the wild. Contains the highest calcium content but has a much lower nutritional profile compared to other species.
Moringa longituba (Ethiopia, Somalia) - the roots are used for treating domestic animals for intestinal disorders. Contains high levels of iron but not widely studied or used medicinally.
Moringa oleifera (northwestern India) - the most widely studied and cultivated with powerful medicinal health benefits.
Moringa ovalifolia (Nambia, Angola) - no scientific literature on the therapeutic benefits.
Moringa peregrina (Horn of Africa, Egypt) - no scientific literature on the therapeutic benefits.
Moringa pygmaea (Somalia) - little medicinal value is known but it has been used to eliminate stomach parasites in livestock.
Moringa rivae (Kenya, Ethiopia) - the plant has been reported to show antibacterial, antifungal, insecticidal and phytotoxic activities. No further reports have been made.
Moringa ruspoliana (Ethhiopia) - the traditional medicinal uses have been recorded for abdominal paid, eye and throat infections, STDs, tsetse fly, and livestock diseases.
Moringa stenopetala (Kenya, Ethiopia) - built to conserve water in the mountains. Used for traditional medicinal products, seeds used for water purification and leaves consumed.
Leaves from a Moringa oleifera tree (above).
Moringa grows best in tropical and subtropical regions where the soil is light and sandy.
Moringa is extremely hardy and commonly referred to as a “never die” tree because it can grown on marginal soil, regrow after being chopped down, and is one of the few trees that produce fruit during a drought. It grows readily and quickly in tropical and subtropical regions, with the ability to reach 39 feet in just a few years.
Find out how to grown your own Moringa tree here.
After growing a Moringa tree is only takes 6 simple steps to harvest your tree for the nourishing and nutrient dense leaves. Plus the trees only need to be a few months old before they are ready for harvesting!
Moringa Oil can be used both internally and topically. It provides a rich nutty flavor for decadent foods and a deep moisturizer for skincare. Recently this anti-aging oil has gained prominence in the cosmetic industry for it's 7 science based benefits to reduce wrinkles, fight signs of aging, decrease inflammation, clear acne and hydrate skin.