February 24, 2015

MORINGA OLEIFERA: Is It Really A 'Miracle Tree' That Heals or Just Another Over-Hyped Superfood?

In the past decade dozens of unique superfoods consisting of berries, herbs, leaves, and plants have been introduced to the dietary supplement market with great fanfare, usually with a wide body of international research and data supporting their disease fighting properties ranging from record antioxidant content to weight loss potential to anti-cancer properties. 
While the enthusiasm and excitement eventually fades with some of these superfoods, it hasn't with the ones that have proven themselves after further scientific investigation and the consumers who have used them and benefited. In fact, many have gone on to become top sellers in the supplement industry. Acai berry, macai berry, goji berry, chia seeds, flax lignans, raspberry ketones and green coffee bean extract are just a few of the more recent ones you may have tried or heard something about.
The latest superfood to come on the scene with a lot of press and excitement is Moringa oleifera, also known as the horseradish tree, drumstick tree, clarifier tree, and various other names. Moringa is a tree native to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, but is now being widely cultivated throughout Africa, tropical Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific Islands because the secret of this tree's potential to heal are no longer unknown to the masses. All parts of the tree are edible and have been used for centuries to meet medicinal and dietary needs by people living in those areas.
While Moringa oleifera has only recently been introduced to the North American market, throughout northern India and Africa natives have revered it for centuries as a disease fighting, health building tree. Interestingly enough, it has been dubbed a 'Miracle Tree' because of its life-saving and life-giving potential. In this edition of CRUSADOR we are going to highlight the uniqueness of this tree and examine its potential to heal and nourish the body in more detail.
Why should someone consider using Moringa?

 Moringa oleifera is a highly valued, fast growing leafy green tree that produces leaves, pods and flowers. Its nutrient-dense leaves are high in protein quality, leading to its widespread use by doctors, healers, nutritionists and community leaders to treat under-nutrition and a variety of illnesses. Moringa is grown in many countries of the tropics and subtropics. It has an impressive array of medicinal uses with high nutritional value. Different parts of this plant contain a profile of important minerals, and are a good source of protein, vitamins, beta-carotene, amino acids and various phenolics. The Moringa plant provides a rich and rare combination of zeatin, quercetin, beta-sitosterol, caffeoylquinic acid and kaempferol. In addition to its compelling water purifying powers and high nutritional value, Moringa is very important for its medicinal value. Various parts of this plant such as the leaves, roots, seed, bark, fruit, flowers and immature pods act as cardiac and circulatory stimulants, possess anti-tumor, antipyretic, anti-epileptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer, antispasmodic, diuretic, anti-hypertensive, cholesterol lowering, antioxidant, anti-diabetic, hepatoprotective, antibacterial and antifungal activities, and are being employed for the treatment of different ailments in the indigenous system of medicine, particularly in South Asia.
Modern science has found that the reason this 'Miracle Tree' has so many curative properties is the combination of over 92 nutrients, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, proteins, amino acids, antioxidants and micronutrients it contains and which is no longer available in the soil because of bad agricultural practices, excessive use of chemical fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides.
Moringa is a safe and proven way to supply much needed nutrients to the body as well as help fight free radicals with the 46 anti oxidants found in its leaves. It has been classified as a GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) food source without any negative secondary effects.
Why has Moringa captured the attention of the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization?
Simply put, there is no other tree that does so much. Scientists are calling it the most nutrient packed plant ever discovered. There are literally hundreds of uses for this tree. Virtually every part of Moringa can be used.
Moringa has been recommended by the World Health Organization in developing tropical countries because of its ability to combat malnutrition. FAO, UN, UNESCO, World Health Organization and many others have programs promoting the use of Moringa to treat infants, children, pregnant and lactating women, people suffering from HIV and other ailments.
As more research has been done and as more attention has been given to this tree, more federal health agencies and NGO's are exploring how Moringa can be cultivated and used on a wider scale to promote human health. Three non-governmental organizations in particular - Trees for Life, Church World Service and Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization - advocate Moringa as "natural nutrition for the tropics."
According to a group based out of Africa that has been working with the tree in Tanzania, "25 grams daily of Moringa Leaf Powder will give a child" the following recommended daily allowances:
Protein 42%, Calcium 125%, Magnesium 61%, Potassium 41%, Iron 71%, Vitamin A 272%, and Vitamin C 22%. These numbers are particularly astounding; considering this nutrition is available when other food sources may be scarce.
Surprisingly, even the generally pro-big pharma National Institutes of Health (NIH) named Moringa the plant of the year in 2008 because of the important medicinal properties it contains. The NIH has learned that no other single species has the potential to help reverse multiple major environmental problems and provide for many unmet human needs. A simple search on Google will lead to numerous documented studies and information about Moringa and the role it can play in disease prevention and disease treatment.
Explain the different parts of the tree and what they are used for.
All parts of the tree are edible: flower and buds, pods, seeds, leaves and even roots are used in various recipes. Pods are delicious and are considered an epicurean delight. The pods are extremely nutritious, containing all the essential amino acids along with many vitamins and other nutrients. The immature pod can be eaten raw or prepared like green peas or green beans. The pods also yield 38-40% of non-drying, edible oil known as Ben Oil. This oil is clear, sweet and odorless, and never becomes rancid. Overall, its nutritional value most closely resembles olive oil.
The humble Moringa seed is a sleeping giant; its properties largely unexplored. Many cultures eat the seeds roasted, sautéed or raw. The mature seeds are usually fried and possess a peanut-like flavor. Eating a few has a very cleansing and energizing effect. Moringa seeds are known internationally as one of the most effective ways to purify dirty water relatively easily. It has been shown to be effective enough to purify the water of the Nile River - which is quite an undertaking! The seeds are considered to have antibiotic properties. They are used in some countries internally to treat fevers. A paste of crushed Moringa seeds is used to eliminate warts. There are numerous scientific reports of the seeds effectiveness against most common bacteria, and there is evidence to suggest that the seeds are anti-fungal, anti-viral, antiseptic, and antibacterial.
The leaves of the Moringa tree have no parallel in the plant kingdom. Moringa leaves are the most medicinal part of the tree and they can be eaten fresh, cooked, or consumed as dried powder without the loss of nutritional value. Analyses of the leaf composition have revealed them to have significant quantities of vitamins A, B and C, calcium, iron and protein.
The Moringa tree is the most nutritious in the world, with most of its benefits stored in the small green leaves of this unassuming plant. Moringa leaves are small, thick, and tear-drop shaped and grow rapidly as the plant matures. The leaves are strong and firm and can be easily picked from the tree's branches. Moringa is recognized throughout the world as an important source of nutrition by the National Geographic Society, the National Science Foundation, and the United Nations World Food Program. Hundreds of charitable organizations have based entire nutrition programs and sustainability programs around the plant.
As a nutritional supplement, the leaves are harvested and dried at a low temperature, ensuring the nutrients remain intact in the leaf tissue. Once dried, Moringa leaves are pulverized into a fine powder-like consistency, making them easy to pack and more readily available for health-conscious individuals. The fact that leaves are referenced in the Bible as a source of healing it is easy to make the connection to Moringa and why it works so incredibly well. 

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