The Moringa Story Part II

Characteristics and Uses of Moringa

All parts of the Moringa plant can be used in a lot of beneficial ways. It is astonishing the number of uses the parts can be put to.

Leaves

Moringa leaves

The leaves are a good source of vitamins and other nutrients.

It is reported that gram for gram, Moringa leaves contains seven times the Vitamin C of oranges, four times the Vitamin A of carrots, three times the iron of spinach, 4 times the Calcium of milk, three times the Potassium of bananas and twice the protein of yogurt. The leaves are the most consumed of the parts of Moringa.

The fresh leaves, especially the growing tips and young leaves, are picked and stripped from the stem, steamed and added to soups, stews and other recipes according to one’s taste. The leaves can, on the other hand, be dried in the shade and processed into leaf powder by crushing or pounding and added to food or sauces as needed. The drying of the leaves is done in the shade to prevent destruction of the Vitamin A in them by the sun and, in the same vein, processed leaf powder should be kept in opaque, dark or colored containers that shield off direct light and not in plain containers as is being done by many local processors in Ghana

The leaves of Moringa have been used in making sauces by Ewes in Ghana and Togo, and some tribes in the northern part of Ghana and in many West African countries of which Senegal is a notable example. Other countries in Eastern and Southern Africa equally cultivate and use the leaves of Moringa in their diet of which Uganda is prominent. The Konso people in Ethiopia use the leaves of Moringa Stenopetala as a staple food.

Recent research seems to point out that Moringa leaves are an excellent source of nutrients than any other tropical vegetable. At the end of the dry season when many green leafy vegetables cannot be found, Moringa leaves are available to offer the necessary nutritional support. Moringa leaves are being used by many programs to fight malnutrition and its associated diseases with the World Health Organisation promoting Moringa as an excellent alternative to expensive imported food supplements to treat malnutrition.

Moringa leaves are used as livestock feed for cattle, sheep, goats and poultry, plant growth hormone, organic fertilizer and pesticide, biogas production and in traditional medicines among a host of other uses. They are used in the agricultural, food, pharmaceutical and chemical industries for the production of various essential products.  In natural or traditional medicines, the leaves are used for their anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effects on wounds or insect bites and on the skin to treat skin complaints.  Gastric ulcers, diarrhoea and malnutrition are reported to be treated by using the leaves.

Flowers

Moringa flowersThe flowers are a good source of calcium and potassium and can be eaten or used to make a tea. A tea brewed from Moringa flowers is said to cure colds.

The flowers taste like mushrooms and are very useful for beekeepers as they are available all the year round for their bees. Pterygospermin, a powerful antibiotic with fungicidal effects is found in the flowers and roots.

In traditional medicine, the flower juice is used to improve the flow and quality of a mother’s milk during lactation and solve urinary retention by encouraging urination.

Pods

Moringa pods

The pods of Moringa are shaped like drumsticks and that gave the tree the name of drumstick tree in India. In India and some parts of Asia, Moringa pods are widely consumed especially the young tender ones and large plantations have been established to produce such for export, either as fresh or tinned, to overseas consumers especially Asia immigrants.

The tender young pods taste like asparagus and are eaten like green beans. The green tender seeds resembling peas are removed in addition to the white material in older and larger pods and used in various recipes.  Pods eaten raw is reported to act as a de-wormer and a treatment for liver and spleen problems and joint pains in addition to treatment of malnutrition and diarrhoea.

Seeds

Moringa seed

Moringa seeds are used for agricultural, food and industrial purposes. Varieties of Moringa seeds like PKM1 and PKM2 are used for plantation whilst the industrial grade seeds are used in oil extraction.

From a study on Moringa Oleifera seed by A. S. Mohammed and two other scientists from the University Putra Malaysia and Malaysia Agricultural Research and Development Institute, Malaysia, it was shown that the average oil content was about 31% by weight and was rich in oleic acid (67%) with other fatty acids present being:  myristic (0.1%), palmitic (7.8%), palmitoleic acid (1.5%), stearic (7.6%), linoleic (1.1%), linolenic (0.2%), arachidic (4.0%), eicosenoic (1.5%), behenic (6.2%), and lignoceric (1.3%). Depending on the plant variety and climate, the oil content of seeds ranges between 30 – 40% by weight. MORINGA SEEDS

The oil, also known as Ben oil, is liquid at ambient temperature, translucent and pale yellow in color, highly unsaturated, edible and very similar to olive oil. When compared to palm olein, a commodity of high economic importance with about 45% oleic acid, Moringa oleifera seed oil (67%) has a high potential as a new source of oil to supplement existing ones like olive oil (80%), canola oil (75%), sunflower oil (>80%) and safflower oil (77%).

With a reported yield of 3,000 kg seeds per hectare and an oil yield of about 900 kg per hectare as compared to about 3,000 kg seeds/hectare for soybeans which have 20% oil yield giving about 600 kg oil/hectare, Moringa has an advantage over soybeans in terms of oil yield. Moringa seed oil or Ben oil, as it is referred to at times, on account of its richness in monounsaturated fatty acids, is stable to oxidative rancidity, being reputed to be the most stable natural oil, and is an excellent deep frying oil, vegetable based lubricant, spray oil and can be used in food industries especially as a preservative on account of its Behenic acid and in the cosmetic industry.

Extraction is done by the cold press system and enzymes have been added on laboratory basis to improve the efficiency of oil extraction, which is being employed commercially for greater efficiency. In Ghana, the use of Ben oil is virtually non-existent except in a few cosmetic industries. With a high-oleic acid content, the oil is usually healthier with lower risk of coronary heart disease than many oils and can be of great use in food preparation. With some modifications, Ben oil can be used as a substitute to olive oil which is much expensive.

Moringa seed cake or powder remaining after oil extraction is a powerful natural coagulant which is used for water purification and is being considered for use as a replacement for proprietary coagulants in the water and waste water sectors. Researchers found that Moringa powder is capable of treating water much in the same way as imported commercial chemicals like alum at a far less cost.

Experimentation with Moringa seeds for treating water on a commercial scale in Malawi had been conducted by the University of Leicester (UK) and the UK’s Overseas Development Administration with very good results. Aluminium sulphate, an important chemical used in water purification, produces a lot of side effects which is eliminated when Moringa seed cake is used thereby making the cake a good alternative for it especially for developing countries in terms of simple and easy to maintain systems and technology.

The seed cake can be used to purify honey and sugar cane juice and is suitable for use in such industries at the cottage, small and large scale levels.  It is reported that Moringa stenopetala seeds possess excellent water purifying properties that those of Moringa oleifera.

Moringa seeds 2

Use is made of the antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties of the seeds to treat arthritis, rheumatism, gout, sexually transmitted diseases and boils in addition to encouraging urination. The oil is used for such purposes also.

Moringa root

The roots, especially the tap root, of Moringa trees which are a few months old and about 60 centimetres in height, are scraped to remove the bark which contains two alkaloids and a toxin. The roots, when ground and mixed with vinegar and salt, are used as a sauce in place of horseradish which gave the tree the name of a horseradish tree. The roots also have antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties, encourage urination and used to treat scurvy.  It is unadvisable to eat large amounts of the roots or frequently on account of the chemical content.

Wood and Bark

The wood is soft and is therefore unsuitable for charcoal production but can be used as firewood and for making pulp. In Senegal, a blue dye is made from the wood. The bark can be beaten to make mats and ropes in addition to being used to treat scurvy and diarrhoea. Gum or viscose resin is produced from bark which is used in the textile industry and can be employed also as seasoning.

  Other Uses

Alley cropping and Living Fencing

On account of Moringa’s large tap root system with few lateral roots and the structure of the leaves which does not give too much shade, the tree can be used in alley cropping where it assists in  enriching the soil thereby making it useful in reclaiming waste and marginal lands. Planted as a fence, the cuttings grow quickly into a strong barrier to keep out livestock in a short period.

.

The Moringa Story – Part I

 “Moringa is an extraordinary plant. It is a plant that has all the nutrients that could be found in a perfect food” – Dr. Monica G. Marcu

“Africa is the only continent where child malnutrition is getting worse rather than better” – Kofi Annan

There is a story told many years ago as far back as 2,000 B.C., and also reflected in ancient Indian writings dating around 150 B.C., which is gaining prominence since the 1970s as scientists started conducting significant nutritional research to substantiate the claims that were made. The Moringa story is a remarkable one of a humble plant that made strides in the ancient world for many years and whose secrets are being made available to modern science. With discoveries made so far, Moringa oleifera is reputed to be one of the most nutrient-rich plants that provide a rich and rare combination of nutrients, amino acids, antioxidants, anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties with many health benefits in contrast to other plants which may have one or two benefits only. No wonder the plant is referred to as a powerhouse of health and nutritional value.

300 diseases have been stated in ancient Indian Ayurvedic medicine which can be prevented or treated with the leaves and parts of this wonderful tree. Moringa was prized for its therapeutic properties and was used by the Romans, Greeks and Egyptians to manufacture skin care products and for water purification. These effective remedies have been passed down to our generation. Modern science, in substantiating the claims, has discovered the incredible range of natural nutrients it contains. The Moringa story is making waves in many countries especially the Americas and in parts of Africa especially Senegal, Togo, Benin, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. In Ghana, the heat is on and people are beginning to ask what Moringa is and to seek for its products especially the leaves. The Moringa story must be told as many people are still in the dark about this wonderful blessing from nature. With a world grappling from malnutrition, our hope lies in this plant whose leaves are capable of wiping every aspect of malnutrition out of the world not to talk of the many benefits derived from other parts of it, namely: the seeds, flowers, roots and bark.

What is Moringa                                        

I asked this question some years ago when an ardent youth tried preaching the virtues of this plant to me. After getting further information on the plant, I discovered with shock that right in front of my house, I had lived with this plant for many years and did not know how great it was.  There was no beauty in the old tall plant which spotted a thick canopy of leaves, drumstick pods and many flowers. But after a few days usage of the leaves, flowers and pods in my cuisine, my view of the plant changed considerably when I experienced a new and dramatic change in my body.

Moringa is a fast growing, drought resistant tropical tree, which has its origins from India, precisely in the southern part where it is cultivated extensively and from where it spread to many tropical countries in Africa, Asia and America. The Moringa tree belongs to the family Moringaceae which has 14 species of which Moringa oleifera is the well known on account of its easy and fast reproduction and growth rates. Moringa stenopetala and other species are found in East Africa and Madagascar although less exploited. In this article, the term Moringa will be used to refer to Moringa oleifera and in the event where other species will be mentioned, their specific names will be used.

Moringa which is referred to as the “Miracle Tree” and “Mother’s Best Friend” has other names which include: Nébéday (Senegal), Yevu-ti (Ghana and Togo), Malunggay (Philippines), Mlonge (Kenya and Tanzania), Zakalanda (Zimbabwe), horseradish tree (U.K. and USA), ben oil tree (U.K.) and drumstick tree (India).

 

The Three Birds

The solitary bird is an easy prey for predators. It has no companion and has to care for its own.

Are you alone?

“…It is not good that the man should be alone: I will make him an help meet for him.” (Gen. 2:18)

Although this refers to the married state, in real life and business, this also holds. When a business is run solely by one person, the capacity for expansion is hindered in addition to results.

You can achieve success on your own in a significant way but you need others to make it monumental. In your business… in your activities… in your life, are you struggling to do everything on your own? There is a limit to what you can do and achieve alone.

“..How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight…” (Deut. 32: 30).

It is a simple law. One person’s achievement when properly joined up with others will bring significant gains.

Two can be good for comfort.Two for comfort but a big space

This can be true when the synergies are properly linked. Where there is unity and purpose of mind, much can be achieved. Unity makes for a complete whole with no space for divisions, rancor and lack of co-operation.

But are there spaces in between the two?

There is no space in 1 + 1 = 1.

This equation is contrary to mathematical reasoning. But that spells out unity. Unless this is the case, then the efforts of two or more people joined together for a purpose will not produce any outstanding results.

In 1 + 1 = 11, there is a big space.

Every one is on his own although joined together. Individualism and infighting even in the midst of togetherness can constitute a space.

Likewise, 1+1 = 2 has room for spaces to sing one’s own song. The slogan of such is –

“Each one for himself even though we are together.”

 

Two for comfort but behold a thridBehold the third.

Just look at the third bird at the far right. It is just waiting to come in into the space created between the two. Can the space between the two close to keep out the third: the gossiper, the family wrecker, the saboteur, the selfish, the jealous, the destroyer of friendships, marriages and unions

 

Keep your relationships well. Close the spaces. Good and thriving friendships, families, and partnerships portend well for  stabilized,  strong  and stress free societies.

 

What is Biodiesel

Biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement that is reducing U.S. dependence on foreign petroleum, creating jobs and improving the environment. Made from a diverse mix of feedstocks including recycled cooking oil, soybean oil, and animal fats, it is the first and only EPA-designated Advanced Biofuel in commercial-scale production across the country and the first to reach 1 billion gallons of annual production. Meeting strict technical fuel quality and engine performance specifications, it can be used in existing diesel engines without modification and is covered by all major engine manufacturers’ warranties, most often in blends of up to 5 percent or 20 percent biodiesel. It is produced at plants in nearly every state in the country. Read more