Moringa oleifera is a small tropical tree, which is easily distinguishable from others by its light knobby trunk and heavily branched complex leaves. The fruits are rather thin to 60 cm in length, in shape resemble long pods. They are available for most of the year. Moringa is known for countless health benefits, and many people value it as a useful source of food.
History of using moringa leaves as a medicine
Moringa tree is resistant to drought and easily adapts to the tropical and subtropical climate, so it spread throughout Asia, Africa, and some parts of North America.
Health authorities around the world have been using moringa for several decades to fight the symptoms of malnutrition. Its advantages are proved in scientific research, it is widely used in the practice of traditional medicine, and in Ayurvedic medicine for more than 4000 years!
A characteristic feature of the tree is that it can grow on depleted or dry soils, where many other kinds of useful plants or trees cannot survive. That is why some undernourished people living in third world countries, such as Somalia or India, use the moringa in times of famine.
In addition to providing important nutrients, moringa is used to restore fertile soil, restore forests, filter water, produce oils, certain medicines, and additives.
Moringa is grown throughout the life cycle, which actually contributes to replenishment of reduced minerals and other substances. Even when it decomposes, the tree provides the opportunity for better growth to other sources of food in difficult terrains with infertile soil.
In 2008, the US National Institutes of Health called Moringa "the plant of the year," recognized that "perhaps no other plant species have the potential to reverse numerous environmental problems and provide unmet human needs".
How to use parts of moringa tree as a medicine
Here are the most common ways to use a moringa:
Dried leaves or powder
About 14 kg of leaves are required to obtain 1 kg of dry powder. They are considered to be the most powerful parts of the plant, containing most of the antioxidants and available macro-elements.
With regard to the concentration of phenolic compounds, amino acids, and volatile oils, part of the stem and root of the plant appears to have the least bioactive nutrients compared to its leaves. The leaves are available in capsules, powder or in form of tea, but the main thing is to take them with food, but not on an empty stomach.
Currently, there is no recommendation or dose of powder, as this is only a herbal supplement. It is believed that the optimal dose for humans is 29 mg per kg of body weight.
It is recommended to start taking half a teaspoon of dry powder orally per day for 3 to 5 days, gradually increasing the dose two weeks as the effects manifest.
Most people prefer taking moringa every few days for a long time, but not every day, as this can cause a laxative effect and upset stomach when abused.
Tea from the Moringa leaves
The tea is brewed from dry leaves immersed in hot water, as well as other useful herbal teas. Avoid boiling for a better preservation of the nutrients.
Pods and flowers have a high phenolic content together with proteins and fatty acids. Seeds are used to purify water, they are added to a diet with a low content of nutrients. Seeds are available in the form of creams, capsules, and powders. Unripe green plant pods are often called "drumsticks", they are prepared like green beans. Seeds are sometimes dried like nuts.
It is extracted from seeds. It is a frequent ingredient in creams and lotions. Store oil in a cool dark place away from high temperatures and sun. Researchers from around the world agree that the Moringa seeds are more effective in purifying water than conventional synthetic materials used today.
Purification of dirty water
In many countries, it is still difficult to obtain clean water and this is not just the countries of the third world. Even developed countries can benefit from wastewater treatment without the use of additional synthetic chemicals. Moringa seeds can purify water in accordance with household needs and reduce the concentration of bacteria in the water, making it safe for drinking, acting as a coagulant and an antimicrobial agent.
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Positive effects of regular using of moringa leaves
Natural food source of vitamins
One tree of moringa is enough to satisfy the vitamin needs of the whole family. Leaves in this regard have the highest score because they are an excellent source of calcium and a deposit of many other minerals and vitamins.
100 g of dry leaves contain 17 times more calcium than milk and 25 times more iron than spinach. The content of beta-carotene is 10 times greater than in carrots. They are rich in minerals: potassium, iron and zinc, vitamins C and B-complex.
Moringa leaves are remarkably rich in protein: 4 times more than in eggs. In one cup of fresh leaves, there are 2 grams of protein. Most plant protein sources are considered to be worse than animal origin, but the Moringa leaves have one advantage - they contain all the essential amino acids so that this protein is considered complete.
Reduces inflammation in the body
The inflammatory response to trauma is an integral part of the natural healing mechanism of the body, but chronic inflammation as a result of damage caused by free radicals has a negative impact on the metabolic system.
Cardiovascular diseases, metabolic disorders, insulin resistance, and diabetes are believed to be the results of chronic inflammation. Not only the moringa leaves but also fruits, flowers, and the seed extract have an anti-inflammatory effect and are used as vegetables.
Reduces the level of cholesterol in the blood serum
Modern medicine begins to recognize some of the medical properties of moringa leaves, one of which is the ability to lower cholesterol levels. Many traditional Asian medicine systems use extracts from leaves and roots in the form of tonics. These herbal preparations reduce serum cholesterol and the formation of atherosclerotic plaques.
Laboratory studies on rabbits showed a 50% reduction in serum cholesterol and a 86% reduction in the formation of atherosclerotic plaques in just 12 weeks of using the extract.
Gives more energy
Moringa contains antioxidants that can reduce cell damage, as well as a large number of vitamins, minerals, and most importantly, all the necessary amino acids necessary for tissue regeneration, therefore, it is a very nutritious and healthy food.
Controls the blood sugar level
Eating a tablespoon of lightly roasted leaves early in the morning is a traditional herbal remedy for hyperglycemia. Recent laboratory studies using powdered leaves on diabetic animals show beneficial changes in the regulation of blood sugar levels. The beneficial effect is partly due to fiber content, quercetin-3-glucoside, isothiocyanates and chlorogenic acid.
Significant improvement in symptoms is observed in patients with diabetes mellitus when using only 7 grams of Moringa leaf in powder form for 3 months. It was found that 50 g of fresh leaves as part of a normal diet significantly reduce blood sugar levels immediately after a meal.
Improves immune function
Leaves and fruits of moringa contribute to increased immunity, provide protection against seasonal diseases. During the cold and flu season, leaves are usually added to soups to increase resistance to disease.
This practice is common in poor communities where people live in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions with little or no access to medical facilities. Here, the Moringa leaves are part of the herbal supplement to HIV patients, as an adjunct to antiretroviral therapy.
Helps to beat insomnia
Moringa leaves improve sleep. The factor contributing to this is the amino acid tryptophan. It is important in the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin and the hormone melatonin, which regulates the sleep cycle. The leaves also contain vitamin B6 - another necessary player in the production of serotonin.
Promotes weight loss
Leaf extract and powder are often taken to control weight. This positive effect is due to many factors. Anti-inflammatory and diuretic action helps reduce water retention. Fibers reduce the absorption of fat in the intestine, and a decrease in insulin resistance prevents the accumulation of excess fat.
Helps with rheumatoid arthritis
Immunomodulatory properties of the tree are especially useful in autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, and psoriasis). Many herbal preparations for the treatment of arthritis contain Moringa leaves. Their anti-inflammatory effect reduces pain and swelling in the joints.
Warnings and contraindications
- Moringa is suitable for cooking, namely its leaves, flowers, and pods. But such herbal preparations should be used reasonably since the concentration of substances is high and very powerful.
- Light gastrointestinal problems are a natural side effect, they appear immediately after the introduction of a powder of leaves into the diet and pass in a few days.
- If the adverse reactions persist or develop an allergy, then it is best to stop using the drug. The preparation of moringa leaves in oil increases the bioavailability of nutrients.
Like many herbs and plants used as medicines, some parts of the plant are useful, and others in some way may be harmful. So, you should always be very careful with what you consume and if you have serious problems with health you should always consult your doctor first.
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