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).

 

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