Hear this, Popeye, there’s a new leafy green in town – and it’s superior to spinach.
The plant is known as Moringa, and it can do even more than strengthen your biceps. It may be able to help fight the side effects of cancer.
Moringa is a naturally grown plant native to India, but is cultivated worldwide in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. It is known for its nutritional and medicinal properties that potentially can help combat the signs and symptoms of cancer, asthma, heart disease, diabetes and other diseases.
There are 13 species of Moringa that range in size, from tiny, leafy herbs to tall, massive trees. The most commonly harvested species, M. oleifera, is a small, fast-growing tree used for centuries to combat a variety of ailments, including symptoms associated with a mesothelioma diagnosis.
That species also is commonly known as the drumstick tree due to its long, slender, triangular seedpods and the horseradish tree because of its taste.
Cartoon character Popeye may have been on to something when he discovered that spinach, an excellent source of iron, strengthened his muscles.
However, Moringa contains thrice the quantity of iron found in spinach, and it has many other benefits, too.
ECHO, an organization that aims to reduce hunger and improve the lives of the poor, reports that researchers at the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center (AVRDC) found that Moringa leaves contain high levels of nutrients, including protein, calcium and iron; and high degrees of antioxidants, such as vitamins A, B and C.
Antioxidants help protect against cell damage caused by chemicals in the body, referred to as free radicals, which can play a role in the growth and spread of cancer.
Vitamin C helps to maintain a healthy immune system, while Vitamin A is vital for normal growth, vision and bone development. It can also help maintain mucous membranes that protect against infections in the respiratory and digestive tracts.
Moringa leaves also contain essential amino acids that can help boost the immune system. This is extremely important while undergoing treatment for example chemotherapy, because the drugs used during chemo can wreak havoc on the immune system and the body needs ways to combat this unwanted effect in order to fight back.
Additionally, the National Institute of Nutrition published a book, titled “Nutritive Value of Indian Foods,” which reports that a handful of Moringa leaves contain:
Seven times the amount of vitamin C in an orange
Three times the amount of iron in spinach
Four times the amount of vitamin A in a carrot
Four times the quantity of calcium in one glass of milk
Three times the potassium in one banana
Two times the protein found in regular, plain yogurt
There are many ways to incorporate Moringa into your diet program. Its leaves can be eaten fresh, cooked or crushed, and stored as dried powder for several months without loss of nutritional value.
It tastes great in fruit smoothies. You can try combining passion fruit, Moringa and honey for a tasty, nutritious snack. You can use the dried powder in a curry recipe and serve over rice. It is also frequently used as an alternative for spinach in almost any recipe.
Not only is M. oleifera highly nutritious, but every single part of the tree has been used for beneficial purposes. In India, its leaves, bark, fruit, flowers, seeds and root are regularly employed to make medicine, specifically for anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor growth.
As Moringa has long been recognized by folk medicine practitioners, scientists are starting to look into the possible cancer prevention of this power plant.
The Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention in 2003 published research in which researchers examined skin tumor prevention following ingestion of Moringa seedpod extracts in mice. Results showed an impressive reduction in skin papillomas and suggested that M. oliefera has possible cancer preventing properties.
Another study conducted in 2006 reported that a molecule found in M. oleifera induced cell death in ovarian cancer cells grown in a lab. Based on these findings, researchers believe the plant has potential to treat this type cancer.
According to ECHO, a diet of Moringa leaves with porridge made from amaranth grain has substantially reduced or alleviated HIV symptoms in patients. These symptoms include fatigue, breathlessness, weight loss and chronic cough, which are also common in people diagnosed with mesothelioma and other cancers of the lung.
Research also suggests the Moringa tree has shown potential to lower the following symptoms common in cancer patients:
The organizations Trees for Life, Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization and Church World Service have strongly advocated for Moringa as a way to combat these symptoms, as well as a way to improve malnutrition.
Malnutrition comes about when your system doesn’t get enough nutrients. Due to the unwanted effects of some cancer treatments, patients have a loss of appetite, which can lead to malnutrition and severe weight loss.
This can negatively affect their total well being, treatment response and survival. Moringa provides an easy way to meet your daily nutrient requirements without having to consume a big meal.
Keep in mind that treatment options affect people differently. As with any alternative treatment, it is best to talk with your doctor before adding Moringa to your treatment regimen or diet. If you experience any side effects after using these alternative methods, you should seek medical attention immediately.
Moringa’s Growing Recognition
As the advantages of Moringa become more evident, scientists and researchers are starting to give the plant some credit. Actually, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations recognized Moringa as the September 2014 Traditional Crop of the Month.
While the nutritional and medicinal value of Moringa is becoming more well-known, further research and clinical tests are needed to provide further acknowledgement of this plant as a cancer preventive method.
Bharali, R., Tabassum J., and Azad M. Chemomodulatory effect of Moringa oleifera, Lam, on hepatic carcinogen metabolising enzymes, antioxidant parameters and skin papillomagenesis in mice. Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, 4(2):131-9. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12875626
Deaton, A. and Dreze, J. (2009). Food and Nutrition in India: Facts and Interpretations. Retrieved from http://www.princeton.edu/~deaton/downloads/Food_and_Nutrition_in_India_Facts_and_Interpretations.pdf
Gopalan, C.; Rama Sastri, B. V.; and Balasubramanian, S. C. (1971). Nutritive value of Indian foods. Hyderabad, India: National Institute of Nutrition.
Kalkunte, S.; Swamy, N.; Dizon D.S.; and Brard, L. (2006). Benzyl isothiocyanate (BITC) induces apoptosis in ovarian cancer cells in vitro. Journal of Experimental Therapeutics and Oncology, 5(4):287-300. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17024969
Lowell J. Fuglie. (1999). The Miracle Tree/Moringa oleifera: Natural Nutrition for the Tropics. Dakar, Senegal: Church World Service.
Stadlmayr, B. et al. (2012). West African Food Composition Table. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/docrep/015/i2698b/i2698b00.pdf