Moringa Oleifera: The Miracle Tree – NaturalNews.com

Moringa Oleifera: The Miracle Tree

(NaturalNews) Imagine a tree in your backyard that will meet all your nutritional needs, take care of you medicinally, and purify your water for you. This tree actually exists. For centuries, the natives of northern India and many parts of Africa have known of the many benefits of Moringa oleifera. Its uses are as unique as the names it is known by, such as clarifier tree, horseradish tree and drumstick tree (referring to the large drumstick shaped pods) and in East Africa it is called “mother’s best friend”. Virtually every part of the tree can be used. Native only to the foothills of the Himalayas, it is now widely cultivated in Africa, Central and South America, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia and the Philippines. This tree, though little known in the Western world, is nutritional dynamite. There are literally hundreds of uses for this tree.

The immature pods are the most valued and widely used of all the tree parts. 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, while the mature pods are usually fried and possess a peanut-like flavor. 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 thickened root is used as a substitute for horseradish although this is now discouraged as it contains alkaloids, especially moriginine, and a bacteriocide, spirochin, both of which can prove fatal following ingestion. The leaves are eaten as greens, in salads, in vegetable curries, as pickles and for seasoning. They can be pounded up and used for scrubbing utensils and for cleaning walls. Leaves and young branches are relished by livestock. The Bark can be used for tanning and also yields a coarse fiber. The flowers, which must be cooked, are eaten either mixed with other foods or fried in batter and have been shown to be rich in potassium and calcium.

In developing tropical countries, Moringa trees have been used to combat malnutrition, especially among infants and nursing mothers. 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.” Leaves can be eaten fresh, cooked, or stored as dried powder for many months without refrigeration, and without loss of nutritional value. Moringa is especially promising as a food source in the tropics because the tree is in full leaf at the end of the dry season when other foods are typically scarce. Analyses of the leaf composition have revealed them to have significant quantities of vitamins A, B and C, calcium, iron and protein. According to Optima of Africa, Ltd., a group 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.

Scientific research confirms that these humble leaves are a powerhouse of nutritional value. Gram for gram, Moringa leaves contain: SEVEN times the vitamin C in oranges, FOUR times the Calcium in milk, FOUR times the vitamin A in carrots, TWO times the protein in milk and THREE times the Potassium in bananas.

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Source: Moringa Oleifera: The Miracle Tree – NaturalNews.com

The Ugly Face of Malnutrition

Malnutrition is having a devastating toll on many nations in the developing world and affects productivity with high infant and maternal mortalities. The situation is compounded by many traditional diets which are nutrient deficient.Severly malnourished child

In the developing world, 230 million (39%) children under five are chronically malnourished whilst 54% of deaths among children under 5 are linked to malnutrition. In Ghana, only 76,500 children under five out of 2.55 million have normal weight. 612,000 are underweight, 51,000 are chronically malnourished, 178,500 have acute malnutrition and 1,887,000 are anaemic. (GDHS, 2005).

43% of pregnant mothers received Vitamin A supplementation within two months after delivery and 47% of mothers are anaemic. (GDHS, 2005). Protein Energy Malnutrition (PEM) is the single greatest cause of child mortality (54%) and over 19 million middle and low income earners are in danger of malnutrition.Children showing stunted growth

An appropriate and affordable solution is required and that led to the Green Journey which has a goal to develop, produce and market Moringa Oleifera nutritional supplements and fortified foods to fight malnutrition and ensure intake of balanced diets for optimal growth with a vision of Ghana Without Malnutrition and ultimately the World Without Malnutrition.

Many food and vitamin supplements are from chemical and synthetic origins with nutrients which are not readily bio-available to the body. With others from natural sources, they have been found to cover a narrow spectrum of vitamins and essential nutrients. Moringa, the main base of our products, has eight bio-available essential amino acids, large quantities of Vitamin A, D, C and E and other nutrients, which is good for the complete upkeep of the body. Our organic production and excellent production practices make our products desirable, affordable and highly preferred.  Moringa leaf powder and oil are being used to fortify the common staple foods and oils to provide all the essential nutrients the body needs.

The waste cake from the oil production is being processed to be used as a powerful coagulant for the water purification industries which has been proved to be desirable than some of the conventional materials like alum. In addition to this is the use of the agricultural waste and excess moringa leaves to produce ethanol and biogas and moringa oil to produce biofuels for use as renewable energy materials for the generation of electricity and running of industrial engines and vehicles.

The Moringa Story Part III

The Need and Demand for Moringa

 Ghana and invariably, Africa, is reeling in the throes of malnutrition which is having a devastating toll on the citizenry and affects productivity with high infant and maternal mortalities. This made the former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to comment at a seminar on reducing hunger in Addis Ababa in 2004 that Africa was the only continent where child malnutrition was getting worse rather than better. He then called for a green revolution in Africa to reduce hunger.

Where food is available, it is at times highly deficient as it is based mainly on carbohydrates without adequate protein, vitamins and other micronutrients. The pharmaceutical and food industries tend to fight malnutrition with imported expensive vitamin and nutritional supplements. Some of these supplements are not readily available biologically for the body to use optimally. Moringa offers a local solution to combat malnutrition as bioavailability of majority of its nutrients makes it of immense value to help in wiping out malnutrition and make it a historical relic if our governments will be determined to undertake this exercise. Nutritional values of Moringa pods, fresh leaves and dried leaf powder by Dr. Lowell J. Fuglie showed a wonderful array of nutrients.

 

 

 

 

 

Church World Service nutrition program in West Africa based in Dakar, Senegal and under Dr. Lowell J. Fuglie, has successfully used Moringa oleifera as a base to cure and prevent malnutrition in children, pregnant and lactating women. It is reported that usage of Moringa leaves brought improvement in malnourished children in just a few days.

The quest for a proper nutritional program for livestock will result in the adoption of Moringa based feed. Whilst attention is on the use of Moringa leaves for combating malnutrition, we should not forget that plants and the soil can be effectively nourished with Moringa for productivity to increase. Large quantities of organic fertilizers and animal feed can be produced from Moringa.

The food supplement market will be enriched with Moringa products if proper standards are set in Ghana to control such to ensure the production of quality products that can stand local and international markets. The cosmetic industry needs Vitamin E and other preservatives which are provided by Moringa oil with the water industry using the seed cake for water purification.

 Commercial Applications of Moringa

 Moringa products, namely Moringa leaves (fresh or shade dried leaf powder), Moringa leaf puree, Moringa capsules, Moringa pods, Moringa seeds, Moringa tea powder, Moringa fruit powder, Moringa oil and Moringa seed cake powder are available on  commercial basis by some companies in India, China and some African countries.

In addition to these, there is found in some countries, various international marketing initiatives for Moringa leaves and products as food supplements.

Jaw Der Develop Co Limited of Taiwan sells Moringa leaf powder for use as tea and leaf capsule as food supplement and an energy booster.  Many Indian companies deal in various Moringa products which include Mother Herbs and Tam Herb. Himalaya Herbal Healthcare with offices in India, USA, Europe, Singapore, Cayman Islands and the United Arab Emirates sells four products: massage oil, drug for joints, an immune booster and two veterinarian products, which have Moringa parts in the formulation.

Health and Prosper Co. Limited in the Philippines sells Moringa capsules made of 100% plant parts without additives. Homecure in the USA sells 100% dried leaf powder in capsules or in powder form. Zija International, USA, produces and sells a Moringa drink ZijaTM made up of various parts of Moringa plant. Isoke Laboratory in Sacramento, California, produces and sells a herbal concentrate Olefra, made from Moringa which provides a 20-day deep tissue detoxification of the body.

In Ghana, apart from a few individuals and small scale companies producing dried Moringa powder, no serious effort has been made to engage in the commercial cultivation, processing and marketing of Moringa products in the country.  Asare Farms and Newmas Limited are on top in Ashanti region, Brong Ahafo Moringa Farmers Association in Brong Ahafo region, Permaculture in Volta region, Corpus Herbal Medicines Company Limited and Afrimart Limited in Greater Accra region with Moringa Connect, in the same region, producing moringa oil.

Christian Volunteer Service International has through the PALMS project established large tracts of Moringa farms in five regions in Ghana under various women groups and co-operative societies and through her social venture, Moringa Oleifera Farms and Industries Limited. We produce Moringa leaf powder, in bulk and retail, tea bags and capsules, sell Moringa seeds and intend to produce Moringa fortified foods, Moringa black soap and cosmetics, which will not include any chemical, Moringa biodiesel, Moringa water purification tablets, Moringa organic fertilizers and biogas in the near future.

MOFIL's Moringa powder on display

After the organic certification programme of our farms and production facilities have been concluded, probably by first quarter of next year 2015, an ambitious export and local promotion program will be undertaken to assist in intake by the citizenry of moringa products for the eradication of malnutrition in the first instance

There are also alcoholic beverages purported to have been manufactured from parts of the Moringa tree especially the root, bark and leaves by some small local companies.

Future of Moringa in Ghana  

The Moringa story is catching up in many countries and Ghana is waking up to join the chorus. Over the years, intense activities by various non-governmental organisations in the country have tended to get people to know of the wonderful potential offered by this miracle of nature. The Ministry of Health has developed a new health policy which aims at improving the health status of citizens through the adoption of healthy lifestyles especially nutrition.  Children are targeted so that a solid health foundation is laid in them to build a strong nation of healthy and productive citizens.

A strong plan from cultivation, processing and marketing of Moringa products needs to be put in place in the country if efforts at engaging in Moringa production can be taken seriously. Resources are to be pooled together to facilitate Moringa product supply with proper and strengthened organisational capabilities and linkages for sustainable production and marketing both local and export.

It is important that these efforts are put in place from the beginning to ensure that we do not get into production and marketing problems that have been the bane of many initiatives in many countries, especially those in Africa, in times past. A strong association of producers and marketers needs to be put in place to set and regulate standards in association with the regulatory bodies in the country namely: Ghana Standards Authority, Food and Drugs Authority, the Mampong Research Institute into Plant Medicine, Food Research Institute, Moringa Association of Ghana, Moringa Oleifera Farmers Association and other tertiary institutions.

The present free-for-all field by traditional medicine producers to manufacture and market products without adequate production and marketing standards leaves much to be desired. If a strong regime of standards is not followed with proper quality control and certification, it will be difficult to penetrate the European and American markets with our intended products.

Moringa products have a high potential in the food supplement markets in Europe and America but there are many hurdles to cross. Europe alone controls over 30% of the 45 billion dollar world food supplement market. Other competing products exist in the “green superfoods” sector of the market of which the prominent ones are spirulina, green barley, wheat and alfalfa sprouts and Noni juice which is like Moringa with similar composition and effects and labeled as Morinda citrifolia. With spirulina and cereal sprouts well known in the USA, Moringa products may be able to penetrate if proper conditions are established like proper food supplement certification, sufficient production capacity, organic certification, attractive packaging and target ethnic markets like Indian, African and Caribbean in addition to other marketing and promotional strategies.

The market for food supplements in Europe is wide and there is room for new products from the Moringa stable. All the same, producers in Africa will be in serious competition with Asian farmers especially Indian and Chinese in the event of a breakthrough. To get attention and keep up in the market, African producers will need to ensure that production costs are kept low and standards very high.

Moringa trees have been used as fences, consumed in human diet and used as animal fodder in Ghana especially in the Volta and some Northern regions for many years and is therefore not a strange plant here. Cultivation of Moringa on a large scale should therefore be concentrated in these areas especially in the Volta region around the mountainous scarps of the northern sector of the region and spread down to the low plains of the south. With a Moringa cultivation belt established, an effective push will then be made to reach the Eastern region and gradually move on to other parts of the country with standard processing units established. As proper adherence to sound quality control and production standards are maintained and vigorous marketing campaigns are launched both local and overseas, Moringa products will be established in Ghana and we will also enjoy the benefits derived from this wonderful plant.

With the Moringa story being told all over the world, it is a wonder why the usage of Moringa products is not more widespread than it is now. In Ghana, many people are still ignorant of this miracle of nature and the benefits they can derive from using its products. An effective campaign must be conducted by various ministries and government agencies, civil societies including faith based and community based organisations and the private sector.

Although laboratory tests have established Moringa’s non-toxicity and nutritional composition, a lot needs to be done to make Moringa to be acceptable in national and international programs especially its effectiveness and safety. This will pave the way for an effective launch of Moringa in all sectors of the global community without regulatory restrictions in any part of the world. Whilst this is being done, Ghana, and Africa in general, needs to brace themselves to be in the forefront of the new and bulging food supplement market being spearheaded by Moringa.

With proper education, planning and investment in the cultivation, processing and marketing of Moringa products in global acceptable standards, Ghana stands to gain greatly from this new miracle. We have done it with cocoa and can do it also with Moringa. However, unlike cocoa where we produced and marketed more of unprocessed cocoa beans, we stand to gain more by engaging in producing world class standard Moringa products that can stand their feet in local and international fields. Let us go on telling the Moringa story and brace ourselves to take advantage of the offer Moringa is putting forth to help us wipe out malnutrition from our country and continent, produce healthy citizens for greater economic growth and put more money in our pockets through a vibrant local and export market.

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.

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