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  • Writer's picturePorpeang farm Thailand

Moringa the best tree on earth (The Miracle Tree)

Updated: Feb 3, 2020

Called the Miracle Tree, it's no surprise that Moringa Oleifera is considered by many as THE most important tree in the modern world.

Moringa contains an amazing 92 nutrients and 46 natural antioxidants.

Here's everything you need to know to back up this bold claim.

Below is a list of just a few benefits of including Moringa into our diets:

  • Reduces weight gain.

  • Helps to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

  • Prevents inflammation.

  • Helps the body convert fats into energy.

  • Reduce fatigue and improve energy levels.

  • And this is just the tip of the Moringa iceberg!

A Moringa tree, otherwise know as the Miracle tree
The AMAZING Moringa Tree (Miracle tree)

Background of the Moringa Tree

Moringa Oleifera is also commonly known as muringa, the tree of life, the miracle tree, the drumstick tree, the horseradish tree, the ben oil tree, and finally the benzoil tree.

Moringa trees are the most widely cultivated species of the genus Moringa and the only genus in the Moringaceae plant family.

Moringa oleifera is a rapid-growing, drought-resistant tree, that is native to tropical and subtropical regions in South Asia.

It is cultivated for its fresh young seed pods and leaves and used as vegetables and many traditional herbal medicines. It can also be used for the purpose of water purification.

Moringa trees are regarded as an aggressive and invasive species.

The tree of life is considered a fast-growing, deciduous tree that often reaches a height of 10–12 m with a trunk diameter of 45cm.

The bark has a white-grey color and is surrounded by thick cork. Young shoots have a purplish/greenish-white, hairy bark.

Moringa trees have an open crown of drooping branches that are quite fragile. The Moringa leaves accumulate feathery foliage of tripinnate (feather-like) leaves.

A flowering moringa tree
A flowering Moringa tree. The flowers are edible & nutritious

Moringa flowers are hermaphroditic and fragrant, surrounded by 5 unequal, thinly veined, white-yellowish petals.

They grow on delicate slender, hairy stalks in drooping/spreading flowering clusters.

Moringa flowering begins within the first 6 months after planting. In seasonally cold regions, flowering only occurs once a year between April and June. In more constant seasonal temperatures and with continuous rainfall, flowering can occur twice and even all year round.

The Moringa seed pods are hanging, three-sided brown capsules which hold dark brown, globular seeds (diameter around 1 cm.) The seeds have three white papery wings that are dispersed by water and wind.

Moringa Cultivation

Moringa trees are grown mainly in tropical, subtropical areas, and the semiarid regions.

It tolerates wide-ranging soil conditions, preferring a neutral to slightly acidic, and well-drained sandy or loamy soil.

In waterlogged soil, the roots are susceptible to rotting.

The Moringa tree is a sun and heat loving plant that does not tolerate frosts or freezing. Moringa is particularly suitable for arid regions. It can be grown using rainwater without requiring expensive irrigation techniques.

Moringa cultivation involves cutting back annually to 1m and allowing to regrow, so the pods and leaves remain within easy reach.

Parameter Requirement/range

Climate - Grows best in tropical or subtropical

Altitude - 0 – 2000m

Rainfall - 250 – 3000mm

Irrigation is required for leaf production if rainfall < 800mm

Soil Type - Loamy, sandy, or sandy-loam

Soil pH - pH 5 – 9

Moringa Propagation

Moringa can be easily propagated from seed or cuttings. Direct seeding is attainable because the germination rate of Moringa oleifera is very high. Moringa seeds can be germinated all year round in well-draining soil. Cuttings of 1m length and at least 4cm diameter can be used for propagation.

Planting Moringa Trees

For maximum leaf production, the spacing of plants should be 15 x 15cm or 20 x 10cm, with conveniently spaced alleyways (for example every 4m) to facilitate farm management and harvesting.

Weeding and disease prevention can be challenging because of high density. In a semi-intensive production, plants are spaced 50cm to 1m apart. This gives good results with much less maintenance.

Moringa trees can also be cultivated in alleyways and associated near other crops. Distances between moringa rows in agroforestry cultivation are usually between 2 - 4m.

Moringa Yields & Harvests

Moringa oleifera is cultivated for its leaves, pods, and kernels (for oil extraction and water purification.) The yields vary widely, depending on the season, variety, fertilization, and irrigation.

Moringa yields the best under warm and dry conditions with some supplemental fertilizer and basic irrigation.

Harvest is usually done manually with knives.

Pollarding, lopping, coppicing, or pruning is recommended to promote branching, increase production, and facilitate harvesting.

Moringa Seed Pods

When the plants are grown from cuttings, the first harvest can take place 6–8 months after planting. Often, the moringa seeds are not produced in the first year. The yield is generally lowest during the first few years of planting.

By year two, Moringa produces around 300 pods, by year three around 400–500. A good tree can yield 1000 seed pods.

In India, one hectare can produce 31 tons of pods per year.

Moringa Leaves

Average yields of 6 tons/ha/year of new matter can be achieved. The harvest differs between the dry and rainy seasons, with 1130 kg/ha per harvest and 680 kg/ha per harvest.

The leaves and stems can are harvested from the young plants around 60 days after seeding and another seven times in the year. At each harvest, the trees are cut back to within 60cm of the ground.

In some production systems, the leaves are intensively harvested every 2 weeks.

Moringa cultivation can also be done intensively with irrigation and fertilization with suitable varieties.

Moringa Oil

One estimate for the yield of oil from kernels is 250 l/ha. The oil can be used as a healthy food supplement, as a base for cosmetics, and for hair and skin.

Pests and diseases of Moringa

Moringa trees are not affected by any severe illnesses. In India, several insect pests are seen, such as the bark eating caterpillar, the hairy caterpillar or the green leaf caterpillar. The budworms Noctuidae are known to cause severe defoliation. Damage can also be caused by aphids, fruit flies, and stem borers. In some regions, termites can cause minor damage.

The moringa tree is a potential host to Leveillula taurica (powdery mildew which can cause damage in papaya crops.)

Nutrients of Moringa oleifera leaf (raw)

Nutritional value per 100g (3.5 oz)

Energy - 64 kcal (270kJ)

Carbohydrates - 8.28g

Dietary fiber - 2.0g

Fat - 1.40g

Protein - 9.40g

Vitamins Quantity %DV†

Vitamin A - 47% 378μg

Thiamine (B1) - 22% 0.257mg

Riboflavin (B2) - 55% 0.660mg

Niacin (B3) - 15% 2.220mg

Pantothenic acid (B5) - 3% 0.125mg

Vitamin B6 - 92% 1.200mg

Folate (B9) - 10% 40μg

Vitamin C - 62% 51.7mg

Minerals Quantity %DV†

Calcium - 19% 185mg

Iron - 31% 4.00mg

Magnesium - 41% 147mg

Manganese - 17% 0.36mg

Phosphorus - 16% 112mg

Potassium - 7% 337mg

Sodium - 1% 9mg

Zinc - 6% 0.6mg

Other constituents Quantity

Water - 78.66g

Units table

μg - micrograms

mg - milligrams

IU - International units

†% are approximated using US recommendations for adults.

Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Moringa oleifera pods (raw)

Nutritional value per 100g (3.5oz)

Energy - 37kcal (150kJ)

Carbohydrates - 8.53g

Dietary fiber - 3.2g

Fat - 0.20g

Protein - 2.10g

Vitamins Quantity %DV†

Vitamin A equiv. - 1% 4 μg

Thiamine (B1) - 5% 0.0530 mg

Riboflavin (B2) - 6% 0.074 mg

Niacin (B3) - 4% 0.620 mg

Pantothenic acid (B5) - 16% 0.794 mg

Vitamin B6 - 9% 0.120 mg

Folate (B9) - 11% 44 μg

Vitamin C - 170% 141.0 mg

Minerals Quantity %DV†

Calcium - 3% 30 mg

Iron - 3% 0.36 mg

Magnesium - 13% 45 mg

Manganese - 12% 0.259 mg

Phosphorus - 7% 50 mg

Potassium - 10% 461 mg

Sodium - 3% 42 mg

Zinc - 5% 0.45 mg

Other constituents Quantity

Water - 88.20 g

Many parts of the Moringa are edible, with regional uses varying widely:

  • Immature seed pods (drumsticks)

  • Leaves

  • Mature seeds

  • Oil pressed from seeds

  • Flowers

  • Roots

Moringa Leaves

The leaves of the Moringa tree are by far the most nutritious part of the plant, being a significant source of C vitamins, vitamin B, provitamin A as beta-carotene, manganese, vitamin K, and protein, amongst other essential nutrients. When compared with more common foods particularly high in certain nutrients per 100g fresh weight, cooked moringa leaves are excellent sources of these same nutrients. Some of the calcium from moringa leaves is bound as crystals of calcium oxalate though at levels 1/25th - 1/45th of that found in spinach (a negligible amount.)

The leaves are cooked and used much like spinach and are commonly dried and crushed into a powder used in soups and sauces.

Moringa leaves treat asthma, hyperglycemia, Dyslipidemia, flu, heartburn, syphilis, malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea, headaches, skin diseases, scurvy, bronchitis, ear, and eye infections. The leaves also reduce, blood pressure and cholesterol and acts as antimicrobial, anticancer, Antioxidant, antidiabetic and anti-atherosclerotic agents, neuroprotectant

Moringa vegetable pods

The immature seed pods are commonly consumed in South Asia. They are prepared by parboiling and then cooked in a curry until soft. The seed pods, even after cooked by boiling, maintain high levels of vitamin C (which may be degraded variably by cooking) they are also a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium, and manganese.

Moringa pods treat diarrhea, liver and spleen problems, and joint pain.

Dried moringa seeds and seed pods
Both the Moringa seeds & pods can be used

Moringa Seeds

The seeds are sometimes removed from the more mature pods and eaten like roasted nuts, contain a high level of vitamin C and moderate amounts of B vitamins and other dietary minerals.

Seeds of moringa help in treating hyperthyroidism, Crohn's disease, rheumatism, gout, antiherpes-simplex virus arthritis, cramp, epilepsy, and sexually transmitted diseases. The seeds can also act as antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agents.

Moringa Seed Oil

Mature seeds yield 38 to 40% edible oil called ben oil from its high concentration of behenic acid. Refined oil is clear and odorless and rancidity resistant. The seed cake byproduct remaining after oil extraction can be used as a fertilizer or as a flocculent to purify water. Moringa seed oil has the potential for use as a biofuel. Using the cold press method (<132 degrees F) yields 14% (about the same amount of yield in a raw press using no heat.)

Extracted Moringa oil from dried seeds
Moringa oil is extracted from its dried seeds

Moringa Roots

The roots are often shredded and used as a condiment with sharp flavor qualities due to the significant content of polyphenols.

Moringa Root bark acts as an effective cardiac stimulant, anti-ulcer, and anti-inflammatory agent.

Using Moringa for Malnutrition relief

Moringa trees can be used to fight malnutrition, especially amongst infants and nursing mothers. Since Moringa flourishes in arid and semiarid environments, it provides a versatile, nutritious food source all year round. Moringa leaves have an iron-rich food source that can help combat iron deficiency. However, additional studies are needed to test practical applications of using this dietary source and its iron bioavailability.

Moringa has numerous applications in cookery throughout its regional distribution. The seed pods, known as drumsticks, are a culinary vegetable commonly used in soups and curries. The leaves are also widely eaten with varied culinary uses, and the flowers are used in some recipes.

Long drumsticks are n cut into short lengths and stewed in soups and curries. Because the outer skins are tough and fibrous, drumsticks are often chewed to extract juices and nutrients, with the leftover fibrous material discarded. Others describe a slightly different method by sucking out the flesh and tender seeds and discarding the tube of skin.

Traditional dishes which include drumsticks prepared this way are South Indian sambar where it's stewed with lentils andThai Kaeng som which is a sour curry with fish and drumsticks.

The leaves can be used in various ways, perhaps most commonly added to broth based soups, such as the Filipino dishes utan and tinola. Tender moringa leaves, chopped, are used as a garnish for salads and vegetable dishes, such as the Kerala dish thoran. It can also be used instead of or along with coriander.

Despite Moringas reputation in the lay press as a "superfood," there is no scientific evidence that it provides additional nutritional benefits beyond those of a healthy diet or has any unique pharmacological effects or anti-disease activities in humans.

Moringa Research & Traditional Medicine

The bark, roots, sap, seeds, leaves, and flowers are used in conventional medicine. Research has examined how Moringa might affect blood lipid profiles, although it is not effective at diagnosing, treating, or preventing any human diseases.

Extracts from leaves contain low amounts of polyphenols which are under basic research for their potential properties. Despite considerable preliminary research regarding the biological properties of moringa components, few high-quality studies on humans justify its use to treat human diseases.

Potential Adverse Effects of Taking Moringa

Various adverse effects may occur from consuming the moringa bark, roots, or flowers and their extracts. These components contain chemicals that could be toxic when eaten. Moringa should not be used concurrently with prescribed drugs affecting cytochrome P450 (including CYP3A4), the diabetes drug sitagliptin, or during pregnancy.

Other Uses of Moringa

In developing countries, the Moringa tree has the potential to improve nutrition, boosting food security, foster rural development, and support sustainable land care. It may be used as additional forage for livestock, a micronutrient liquid, a natural anthelmintic, and possible adjuvant.

Moringa oleifera leaf powder can be used as effective as soap for hand washing when wetted in advance (this enables anti-septic and detergent properties from phytochemicals in the leaves.) Moringa oleifera seeds and its press cake have been implemented as wastewater conditioners for dewatering and drying fecal sludge.

Water purification with Moringa seeds

Moringa seed cake (obtained after the of pressing seeds to get oil,) is used to filter water to produce potable water for animal or human consumption. Moringa seeds contain dimeric cationic proteins that absorb and neutralize colloidal charges in turbid water, causing colloidal particles to clump together, making suspended particles easier to remove as sludge by either settling or filtration. Moringa seed cake eliminates the majority of impurities from water. This is of particular interest for being non-toxic and sustainable compared to other materials in moringa-growing regions where drinking water is affected by various pollutants.

Dried moringa leaf powder
Dried Moringa leaf powder makes a great convenient supplement

Moringa Health Benefits

1. Moringa is packed with nutrients

Moringa is a rich source of minerals, vitamins, and amino acids. Moringa contains large amounts of vitamins A, C, and E, potassium, calcium, and protein.

2. Moringa fights free radicals

Antioxidants fight cell damage, free radicals, molecules that cause oxidative stress, and inflammation.

Moringa leaves, flowers, and seeds contain antioxidants called flavonoids, ascorbic acid, and polyphenols.

A study found that Moringa leaf extracts had higher levels of antioxidant activity and higher inhibition of lipid, free-radical-scavenging capacity, protein, and DNA oxidation than the flowers and seeds.

This helps prevent damage and degradation that free radicals cause to cells of different organs in the body, keeping them healthy and maintaining functionality.

3. Moringa fights inflammation

Inflammation can lead to diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory problems, arthritis, and obesity. Moringa can reduce inflammation by suppressing the inflammatory enzymes and proteins in the body. Moringa leaf concentrate can significantly lower the inflammation in cells.

4. Moringa helps to reduce diabetes symptoms

Moringa leaf powder can be effective at reducing glucose and lipid and levels and regulating oxidative stress in diabetics, which means it lowers cholesterol and blood sugar and improves protection against cell damage.

5. Moringa protects cardiovascular systems

Moringa leaf powder has heart-healthy benefits, especially in blood lipid control, preventing plaque forming in the arteries, and reducing cholesterol levels.

6. Moringa supports brain health

Moringa helps support brain health and cognitive function due to its antioxidant and neuro-enhancer properties. It's also been tested as a potential treatment for Alzheimer's disease with favorable initial results.

Its high content of the vitamins C and E fight the oxidation that leads to neuron degeneration, thus improving brain function. It's able to normalize the neurotransmitters serotonin and noradrenaline dopamine in the brain, which play a crucial role in memory, mood, organ functions, responses to stimulus such as mental health, stress, and pleasure, for example in psychosis and depression.

7. Moringa protects our livers

Moringa contains high amounts of polyphenols in its leaves and flowers that protect the liver against oxidation, toxicity, and damage.

Moringa can reduce fibrosis liver damage and reverse oxidation of the liver. Moringa oil can also restore the liver enzymes to normal levels, helps reduce oxidative stress, and increases the protein content of the liver.

The liver is responsible for fat metabolism, blood detoxification, bile production, fructose metabolism, and nutrient processing. It can only carry out these functions with the livers enzymes, so it's vital they remain at normal levels. For example, lower levels of hepatic enzymes may impair its ability to filter the blood.

8. Moringa contains antibacterial and antimicrobial properties

Moringa has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties that fight infections. It's effective against types of fungi that cause infections on skin and certain strains of bacteria responsible for urinary tract and blood infections and digestive problems.

9. Moringa enhances wound healing

Moringa boasts blood-clotting properties in its roots, leaves, and seeds that aid wound healing and can reduce clotting time, meaning it reduces the time it takes for scratches, cuts, or wounds to stop bleeding.

A cup of refreshing Moringa tea
Moringa tea is a refreshing everyday tonic

How to Use Moringa in day to day life

You can add Moringa to your smoothie, or you can drink it as a tea. The leaf powder is deemed safe in human studies, even in larger doses than usual. The powder has a mild flavor, that makes for a light, refreshing Moringa tea with a slightly earthy taste.

Here are Moringa's Nutrients:

Minerals Aldehydes

01. Iron 64. Pentena

02. Copper 65. Hexenal

03. Sodium 66. Heptenal

04. Calcium 67.2 Heptadienal

05. Magnesium Alcohols

06. Phosphorus 68. Pentenol

07. Potassium 69. Dimethyl-Cyclohexanol

08. Sulfur 70. Benzyl alcohol

09. Manganese Ketones

10. Zinc 71. Methyl heptenone

11. Selenium 72. Hexen

Vitamins 73. Acetyl pyrrole

12. Vitamin B1 (thiamin) 74. Dihydroactinidolide

13. Vitamin E Terpenoids

14. Vitamin B1 75. Himachalene

15. Vitamin B6 76. Geranyl acetone

16. Vitamin B7 77. beta-Ionone

17. Vitamin D Acids

18. Vitamin K 78. Acetic acid

19. Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 79. Pentanoic acid

20. Vitamin B3 (niacin) 80. Hexanoic acid

21. Vitamin C 81. Octadecanoic acid

Amino acids 82. Hexadecanoic acid

22. Aspartic acid 83. Erythrobic acid

23. Glutamic acid 84. Citric acid

24. Serine Others

25. Glycine 85. Chlorophyll

26. Threonine 86. Dihydrozeatin

27. Alanine 87. Zeatin

28. Valine 88. Carbohydrates

29. Leucine 89. Fibers

30. Isoleucine Alkaloids

31. Histidine 90. Moringine

32. Lysine 91. Strophantidin

33. Arginine 92. A-l-rhamnosyloxy

34. Phenylalanine 93. Benzyl isothiocyanate

35. Tryptophan 94. Acetyl-α-l-rhamnosyloxy

36. Cystine 95. Benzyl isothioyanate

37. Proline Flavonoids

38. Tyrosine 96. Catechin

39. Methionine 97. Glucopyranosyl

40. Cysteine 98. Benzyl thiocarboxamide

41. Phenylalanine 99. Epicatechin

42. Choline 100. 4-O-(α-l-rhamnosyloxy)

Fats 101. Benzyl glucosinolate

43. Myristic 102. Quercetin

44. Palmitic 103. Rhamnopyranosyloxy

45. Palmitoleic 104. Kaempferol

46. Stearic 105. Niazimicin

47. Oleic 106. 4-(α-l-rhamnosyloxy)

48. Linoleic 107. Benzyl acetonitrile (niazirin)

49. Linolenic 108. O-ethyl-4-(α-l-rhamnosyloxy)

50. Arachidic 109. Benzyl carmate

51. Eicosenoic Phenolic

52. Behenic 110. Gallic acid

53. Lignoceric 111. Glycerol-1-1-(9-octadecanoate)

Sterols 112. Coumaric acid

54. Cholesterol 113. Glucopyranosyl

55. Brassicasterol 114. Ferulic acid

56. Methylenecholesterol 115. β-sitosterol-3-O-β-d-glucopyranoside

57. Campesterol 116. Caffeic acid

58. Stigmasterol 117. Hydroxy rhamnopyranosyloxy

59. Ergostadienol 118. Benzyl glucosinolate

60. Clerosterol 119. Protocatechuic acid

61. Stigmastanol 120. Rhamnopyranosyloxy

62. Sitosterol 121. Benzyl glucosinolate

63. Venasterol 122. Cinnamic acid

123. Glucosinalbin

124. Ellagic acid

125. Glucoraphanin

126. Glucoiberin

Here are Moringa's Natural Antioxidants:

01. β-carotene

02. Calcium

03. Potassium

04. Quercetin

05. Chlorogenic acid

06. Hydroxyanisole (BHA)

07. Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)

08. Tertiary-butylhydroquinones

09. Propyl gallate

10. Vitamin E (tocopherols)

11. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C)

12. Glucose oxidase

13. Reduced Glutathione

14. Citric acid

15. Polyphospages

16. Aminopolycarboxylic acids

17. Vanillin

18. Moringine

19. Strophantidin

20. 4-(α-l-rhamnosyloxy)

21. Benzyl isothiocyanate

22. 4-(4’-O-acetyl-α-l-rhamnosyloxy)

23. benzyl isothioyanate

24. Catechin

25. 4-(β-d-glucopyranosyl-1→4-α-l-rhamnopyranosyloxy)

26. Benzyl thiocarboxamide

27. Epicatechin

28. 4-O-(α-l-rhamnosyloxy)

29. benzyl glucosinolate

30. Quercetin

31. 4-(α-l-rhamnopyranosyloxy)-benzylglucosinolate

32. Kaempferol

33. Niazimicin

34. 4-(α-l-rhamnosyloxy)

35. Benzyl acetonitrile (niazirin)

36. O-ethyl-4-(α-l-rhamnosyloxy)

37. Benzyl carmate

38. Gallic acid

39. Glycerol-1-1-(9-octadecanoate)

40. P-Coumaric acid

41. 3-O-(6’-O-oleoyl-β-d-glucopyranosyl)-β-sitosterol

42. Ferulic acid

43. β-sitosterol-3-O-β-d-glucopyranoside

44. Caffeic acid

45. 3-Hydroxy-4-(α-l-rhamnopyranosyloxy)

46. Benzyl glucosinolate

47. Protocatechuic acid

48. 4-(2/3/4′-O-acetyl-α-l-rhamnopyranosyloxy)

49. Benzyl glucosinolate

50. Cinnamic acid

51. Glucosinalbin

52. Ellagic acid

53. Glucoraphanin

54. Glucoiber

The word for Moringa Tree in other languages

English - Drumstick tree, Horseradish tree, Mother's Best Friend, Radish tree, West Indian ben

French - Bèn ailé, Benzolive, Moringa, Ben oléifère, Arbre radis du cheval

German - Behenbaum, Behenussbaum, Flügelsaniger Bennussbaum, Pferderettichbaum

Italian - Sàndalo ceruleo

Portuguese - Acácia branca, Cedra (Brazil), Marungo, Moringuiero, Muringa

Spanish - Árbol del ben, Ben, Morango, Moringa

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