Moringa oleifera is crowned the Miracle Tree for its wondrous natural healing and medicinal properties and hardiness. Moringa is native to the sub Himalayan mountains of northwest India, where it survives in tough environments and poor soil. Now it is found throughout the tropics; in Singapore, you can find Moringa leaves at Tekka market and drumstick pods at Mustafa Centre.
Almost all of the parts of the tropical tree are edible. It has been used as a source of food or food supplement in tropical areas, while in the West it is increasingly recognised as a superfood.
The leaves and the seeds are the most important products that the Moringa tree provides. The leaves are edible raw or cooked and contain incredibly high dose of vitamins, minerals and proteins – for example weight for weight, 4 times the vitamin A of carrots, 3 times the iron of spinach, 3 times the potassium of bananas and 2 times the calcium of milk. Because of the high calcium, iron and vitamin content, Moringa leaves can be used as a wonderful tonic for infants and growing children to promote strong and healthy bones. Moringa leaves are a source of complete protein and can provide a huge boost in energy and aid post-workout recovery. When raw, Moringa leaves have a slight pungent flavour reminiscent of watercress or radish. For longer shelf life, you can dry and powder the leaves and add it to smoothies, juices and dressings. If you decide to cook Moringa leaves, do so gently like spinach; do not overcook.
The oil-rich seeds are found in long pods called “drumsticks.” The young soft seeds extracted from immature drumsticks a can be boiled and eaten like fresh peas. As the pods mature, they turn tough and fibrous. At this stage, the drumsticks and are typically cut into pieces and the sweet frothy inside material is slurped out. Throughout India drumstick slices are well-known ingredients in pickles and in the famous drumstick curries.
Decoction of the bark of the Moringa tree is frequently used in Ayurvedic medicine as a digestive stimulant.
|Botanical Name||Moringa oleifera|
|Common Name||Moringa, Drumstick, Indian Horseradish|
|Parts Used||Almost all parts of Moringa is used for medicinal and/or culinary purposes – leaves, yonug seed pods (drumsticks), flowers, root and bark.|
|Native Region||Sub Himalayan mountains of northwest India|
|Where to find in Singapore||Tekka Market for moringa leaves and Mustafa Centre for drumstick pods.|
|Botanical Description||A fairly large tree of 5-10 m that thrives well in the humid tropic or hot dry land with harsh conditions such as poor soil. The leaves are small and tripinnate and the flowers white. The flowers, leaves and young pods are eaten as vegetables and are highly nutritive.|
|Growing||Moringa thrives best in tropical climates.|
|Main Constituents||Pterygospermin (antibacterial); moringine (anti-asthmatic alkaloid); nitrile, mustard oil glycosides (lowers blood pressure); b-sitosterol (lowers cholesterol); polyphenols (lowers blood sugar), quercetin and kaempferol (antioxidant flavanoids), and a valuable source of vitamins and minerals including calcium, potassium, beta-carotene, iron, protein and chlorophyll.|
|Actions||Anticancer, antimicrobial and antihelmintic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antispasmodic, detoxifier, digestive (bark), diuretic, hypocholesterolemic, hypoglycemic, hypotensive.|
|Therapeutic Uses||Anaemia, diabetes, bacteria, fungal, parasite and yeast infections, cancer, cramps, digestive disorders, heart problems, high blood pressure, inflammatory diseases e.g. asthma, bronchitis, osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis, liver diseases, poor circulation and water retention.|
|Culinary/Medicinal Preparations||The leaves can be eaten raw, gently cooked like spinach or dried and used in smoothies and soups. Young drumstick pods are used as a vegetable in curries and stews. The seeds can be eaten green, roasted and powdered into a poultice an applied externally to treat arthritis. The roots and the bark have concentrated properties so care must be taken when using them as medicines. Decoction of the bark is a digestive, while decoction of the root is used as for cardiac and circulatory problems, and when applied topically, as an astringent to stop bleeding and help promote the healing of wounds.|
|Recipes from SRK||Mint and Moringa Chutney. Tropic Green Smoothie.|
|Taste||Bitter and pungent.|
|Energetics||Heating, light, dry, sharp.|
|Safety & Dosage||Pregnant women should take moringa with caution as it can induce miscarriage.|