Medicinal Plant Moringa oleifera

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Introduction

Moringa (botanical name “Moringa olefeira”) or Sahijan also referred to as Drumstick tree or Horseradish tree is a versatile tree useful not only for humans but also for animals and also in various industrial applications.

Moringa oleifera has high nutritional value and medicinal benefits. Different parts of Moringa contain a profile of important minerals and are a useful source of protein, vitamins, beta-carotene, amino acids and various phenolics. Moringa gives a rich and rare mixture of zeatin, quercetin, beta-sitosterol, caffeoylquinic acid and kaempferol.

History

The Moringa plant originated initially in the Northern portion of India some 5000 years back and very quickly moved into the Southern parts as well, where it was referred to as ‘Murungai keerai’ (Moringa leaves) and ‘Murungai kaai’ (Moringa vegetable). The Moringa tree had spread to most regions of Asia, nearly the whole of Africa, South America, southern part of North America and some pockets in Europe. It has been found valuable in nutrition, agriculture, soil control, water purification, industrial applications, cattle feed etc and also for treating various types of illnesses in humans and livestock. People in India have been using it as an item of their daily food for almost 5000 years.

Common Name

English – Moringa, Drumstick tree, Horseradish tree
Latin – Moringa oleifera
Sanskrit – Surajana
Hindi – Sahjan
Tamil – Murungai or murunga kaai
Kannada – Keramaddinagaddi
Telgu – Mulakkaya
Malayalam- Muringa.
Marathi – Shevga
Gujarati – Saragvo
Bengali Sojne danta
Oriya Sajana or Sujuna
Punjabi Surajana
Nepali Sajiwan or Swejan
Assamese Sojina
Sinhalese Murunga
Chinese La mu

Moringa oleifera Plant

The Moringa plant is a perennial, evergreen tree that grows up to 20 ft (6.1 m) tall, with a straight trunk with corky, whitish bark. It grows well in hot, semi-arid and humid regions and in well-drained sandy or loamy soils. The tree has tuberous taproot and brittle stem is with corky bark. The leaves are pale green, compound, tripinnate, 30-60 cm (11.8 to 23.6 in) in length, with many small leaflets. The lateral leaflets are elliptic in shape while the terminal one is obovate and slightly larger than the lateral ones.

The fruit pods are pendulous, green turning greenish brown, triangular and split lengthwise into 3 parts when dry. The pods are 1 to 4 ft (30-120 cm) long and 1.8 cm (0.7 in) wide and tapering at both sides.

The pods contain about 10 to 20 seeds a part of the fleshy pith. The seeds are darkish brown and the kernel is surrounded by a lightly wooded shell with three papery wings.

Chemical Constituents

The primary constituents of Moringa plant are : deic, palmitic and stearic acid, saponins, glycoside, gum, protein. Vitamins: A (8855 IU per 100g), B1, B2, B3, C. Minerals: calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium.

The leaves, flowers and pods are used as significant sources of vitamins A, B and C, riboflavin, nicotinic acid, folic acid, pyridoxine, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, calcium, iron, and alpha-tocopherol (Dahot, 1988). The pods are viewed as good sources of the fundamental amino acids.

Moringa oleifera as a Medicinal plant

The Moringa tree has great use medicinally both as preventative and treatment. Sonjna (Moringa oleifera) bark, sap, roots, leaves, seeds, oil, and flowers are used in traditional medicinal practices in several countries. A folk cure for stomach complaints, catarrh, cancer, gastric ulcers, skin diseases, lowering blood sugar, increasing bone density, nervous conditions, diabetes, fatigue, increase lactation, hay fever, impotence, edema, cramps, hemorrhoids, headaches, sore gums; to strengthen the eyes and the brain, liver, gall, digestive, respiratory and immune system, and as a blood cleanser and blood builder. A traditional folk remedy was to use the leaves as a poultice on the abdomen to expel intestinal worms. An infusion of leaves is used as an eye wash for treating conjunctivitis.

Soup prepared with drumstick leaves is incredibly good for the natural prevention for tuberculosis, bronchitis, and asthma. The concoction of drumstick leaves are taken as soup; for better taste lime juice, pepper, and salt can be added to it as per the discretion of the patient.

A concoction made with fresh drumstick flowers and cow milk is a wonderful herbal tonic for sexual weakness and functional infertility of both women and men. The powdered form of the bark, as a medicine, improves quality of semen and cures problem like premature ejaculation in male. The concoction of bark powder and water treated by honey is the herbal medicine should be taken in curing the issue of premature ejaculation.

Drumstick is a natural medicine for digestive disorder. The combination of fresh leaf extract, one teaspoon honey, and one glass of tender coconut water is an excellent herbal antidote for cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, jaundice, and colitis.

Fresh leaf-extract of drumstick leaves combined with cucumber or carrot juice is a natural antidote for dysuria and high acid percentage in urine. Drumstick leaf-extract treated by lime juice is helpful for the remedy for pimples, black head, and age spots. On regular use it adds natural radiance on skin tone.

According to Hartwell (1967-1971), the drumstick flowers, leaves, seeds and roots are used for tumors. Roots are bitter, act as a tonic to the body and lungs, and are expectorant, diuretic and stimulant in paralytic afflictions, epilepsy and hysteria. The juice prepared from root is applied externally to heal irritation of skin.

Moringa leaf powder is a powerful anti-cancer agent and a preventive against diseases such as heart diseases, blood pressure regulation, blood glucose control, improving the immune and digestive systems and improving the mood. It can also be used to treat stomach ulcer, as it is able to lining the stomach wall. It boosts the energy level of the body as it supplies tremendous amounts of energy to the human body.

Moringa oleifera other uses

Pod: The Moringa fruit is a long thin pod resembling a drumstick.The Moringa pod has the name “drumstick” or saragwa or saragwe in India. In South India, it is utilized to make a variety of sambar and is also fried. It is also preserved by canning and exported worldwide. It can be made into a selection of curry dishes by mixing with coconut, poppy seeds, and mustard. It can just be boiled until the drumsticks are semi-soft and consumed directly without any extra processing or cooking. It is employed in curries, sambars, korm. Drumstick dal is also a very tasty version of the conventional ‘toor dal’.

Leaves: The Moringa oleifera leaves are highly nutritious, being a significant source of beta-carotene, Vitamin C, protein, iron, and potassium. The leaves are cooked and used like spinach. In addition to being used fresh as a substitute for spinach, its leaves are commonly dried and crushed into a powder, and used in soups and sauces. Amino acids in green leaf vegetables vary considerably, and many that are staples, are low in the sulphur bearing amino acids methionine and cystine

Flowers: The flowers are edible when cooked, and are said to taste like mushrooms.

Moringa oleifera for Fighting Malnutrition

According to a study a Moringa leaf is more than 25 percent protein, which is as much as in eggs and twice the amount of milk. It has 4 times the amount of vitamin A of carrots, four times the amount of calcium in milk, seven times the vitamin C of oranges, 3 times more potassium than bananas, and significant amounts of iron, phosphorus and other minerals.

It has started to proliferate in recipes for example Moringa tea, Moringa corn stew, yellow rice with Moringa, scrambled Moringa; sautéed onion, pepper and buttered Moringa; and Moringa salad.

The most nutritious part of the tree is the leaf, which has the highest amount of protein and is extremely rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, ribo-flavin, calcium, iron and magnesium. Three spoonfuls of Moringa leaf powder contain 272 per cent of a typical toddler’s daily Vitamin A requirement, in addition to 42 percent of the protein, 125 percent of the calcium, 71 per cent of the iron and 22 percent of the Vitamin C, together with a full complement of minerals and all the amino acids of meat. Moringa has 4 times the vitamin A in carrots, seven times the vitamin C in oranges, and four times the calcium in milk.

Recent Research

Indian scientists have discovered a much more tantalising use of Moringa oleifera, the drumstick plant “murunga”, liquid extracted from its leaves can prevent lethal radiation damage to living tissues. The discovery by radiobiologists at the Jawaharlal Nehru Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, Bhopal, raises fresh hopes that compounds from medicinal plants might emerge a major source of natural drugs that could prevent the side effects of radiation damage to living tissues.

The drumstick might at some point find use in enhancing the efficiency of cancer treatment with radiation because it can reduce the severe side-effects of radiotherapy. Radiation harm to normal tissues in the body leads to the negative effects connected with radiotherapy. Researchers in Japan and elsewhere had shown that Moringa Oleffera extracts had antitumour and anti- inflammatory agents..

In preliminary research, Moringa seed powder is being assessed for its potential to make river water drinkable. Research showed that filtering with seed powder may diminish water pollution and bacterial counts.

A new finding, which suggested that “Moringa oleifera” may lead to the management of sickle cell disease, by incorporation of its fractions into recipes was completed by Olufunmilayo E. Adejumo; Adelodun L. Kolapo, and Akintomiwa O. Folarin. The 2012 study entitled “Moringa oleifera Lam. (Moringaceae) grown in Nigeria: In vitro anti-sickling activity on deoxygenated erythrocyte cells” was documented in the*Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences.

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