Moringa which is popularly known as Zogale among Hausa speaking people, is a plant which can cure countless diseases. Significantly, it arrests ageing, produces a more retentive memory, and is capable of curing 300 diseases.
The common names of the Moringa oleifera include horseradish tree, radish tree, drumstick, West India Ben, and Benzoline in French. Back home the tree is known as Zogale in Hausa, Gawara in Fulfulde, Okwe Oyibo in Igbo, and Ewe Igbale in the Yoruba language.
Typically, Moringa can be regarded as a WAZOBIA tree at the local level, since it is found in every part of the country and beyond.
Moringa has for a very long time been identified by some traditional herbalists to cure many diseases, and even used as food and nutrition supplement, but it is only of recent that modern scientists began to reap out its benefits. Out of the several researches they have conducted they found many to have medicinal, nutritional as well as raw materials values.
Early researches confirmed that the leaves and pods of Moringa tree have great nutritional value, and yield many vitamins and minerals.
The Moringa is a multi-purpose tree with a variety of potentials uses. It is regarded by some people as ‘A Miracle Plant’. Its leaves, pods, seeds, flowers, roots are edible, and have different nutritional and medicinal values. Edible oil can also be extracted from the seeds, because it yields 38-40 percent of non-drying oil known as Ben oil.
The Ben oil is used for arts, manufacturing, hairdressing and lubricating some other delicate machinery.
It was also observed from the recent research works that the powder from Moringa kernels works as a natural coagulant which can clarify even very turbid water, removing up to 99 percent of bacteria in the process. It is also used in alley cropping systems, and various parts and products can be used for scrubbing utensils and for cleaning walls. It can also be used for clarifying honey and sugar cane juice, plant disease preventive, ornamental, paper pulp among others.
Scientists said from the pure Moringa tree leaf you can get very good benefits for the health, which are very much reported in studies of the leaf. It is organic, natural, endurance, and energy supplement of health and the post beneficial and purest part of the plant is the powdered Moringa leaf.
According to the annals of the ayurveda, India’s old tradition of medicines, the leaves of the Moringa tree could treat at least 300 diseases. Although it is not yet confirmed by the orthodox scientists.
Researches have also found that Moringa leaf has no proven bad effects and is absolutely safe and organic. “Because of its tolerant properties, it has been given to malnourished little babies in some part Africa. Athletes all over the world boost their performance abilities by taking huge quantities of the leaf, to keep them fit both mentally and physically. It is their secret weapon. Even for senior citizens who are losing their sharpness of mind, the Moringa tree leaf could be a great help. In fact the powder is suitable for people from any age group”, said the Herbel Home Remedies- herbel medicine research center.
The Moringa tree grows mainly in semi-arid tropical and subtropical areas. While it grows best in dry sandy soil, it tolerates poor soil, including coastal areas. It is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree that is native to India, Africa and the Middle East. Today it is widely cultivated in Africa, Central and South America, Sri Lanka, India, Mexico, Malaysia and the Philippines. Considered one of the world’s most useful trees, as almost every part of the Moringa tree can be used for food, or has some other beneficial property.
In a first attempt by the Nigerian government to develop the potentials of the Moringa Oleifera, the Raw Material Research and Development Agency (RMRDC), an Agency under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, recently organized a workshop and Exhibition to sensitize the public on socio-economic uses of Moringa.
The theme of the Workshop entitled; ‘Moringa Oleifera, a Plant Resource for Achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)’ has attracted many resources persons to deliberate on the uses of the plants and how to encourage commercials plantation and production of the tree.
Dr. Nwora A. Ozumba, is a Moringa researcher from the Moringa Research Department of Parasitology, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Akwa, and a resources person at the workshop, said every part of Moringa Oliefera, be it the leaves, roots, flowers, oil, have a range of medicinal and nutritional remedies.
“In fact, at the last count I ended up with eighty one (81) remedies minimum and they can cure virtually anything, we the orthodox scientists have been attacking the herbal medicine men on how can a single drug cure 20 diseases, but now we realized that if you pick a leaf Moringa it has the potential to cure so many diseases, all scientifically proven, the leaves alone can cure diabetes, malaria, malnutrition etc. We can now see the scientific basis for what the traditional medicine people are saying. Moringa in one sentence can cure anything. It is a Dr. Cure All”.
Dr Ozumba who has been working on Moringa for about 11 years, told Daily Trust that he has never taken protein or mineral supplement prepared by the pharmaceutical companies since he discovered Moringa. According to him they are too inferior compared to Moringa. “Take a look at me to see whether I have a malnutrition problem, when you look at the scientific analysis of what Moringa tree contains, you will see the basis of all what I am saying”
“As a researcher as well as an academician, our duty is to develop this thing for the industry, to develop them and add value to it, as you can see RMRDC is collaborating with Avuco to develop the potentials of the plant.
Dr Ozumba said Moringa is sustainable. It never finishes, it does not destroy the environment, but instead it adds to it. Crude oil can damage our environment, but Moringa doesn’t encourage hostage taking, like what is happening in the Niger Delta today. So if the cost benefit analysis is done in these two sectors, Moringa usage will go beyond the crude oil.
“A lot of things can be developed and commercialized from the tree ,and I can tell you that if we do a real cost benefits analysis, between crude oil and Moringa, it will definitely be in favour of Moringa”.
According to him, Moringa business is not a local issue, “there was an international workshop held in Ghana two years ago, the whole World was there ,and only Nigeria was absent, I was the only Nigerian scientist that attended the workshop, and I was even ashamed of myself because I was the only man from Nigeria. “The most irritating thing in Nigeria is that, Moringa can grow anywhere from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri because it suits every climatic condition in Nigeria, and we have the landmass, so if Nigeria is really serious about Moringa, I assure you it will do away with all these problems associated with crude oil and will achieve much in the fight against poverty”, said Dr Ozumba Herbal Home Remedies listed Moringa leaf benefits to include among others, Increasing the natural defenses of the body, Provide nourishment to the eyes and the brain, Promotes metabolism with bio-available ingredients, Promotes the Cell structure of the body, Promotes natural Serum cholesterol.
Others are it lowers the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, promotes the normal functioning of the liver and the kidney, Beautifies the skin, Promotes energy, Promotes proper digestion, Acts as an antioxidant, Takes care of the immune system of the body promotes healthy circulatory system, It is an anti-inflammatory, gives a feeling of general wellness and supports the normal sugar levels of the body.
The center also identifies that Moringa leaf boosts energy in a natural manner, and is a remarkable source of nutrition. This energy promotion does not happen because of sugar, so it is lasts for a long time. Individuals ingesting it say that their ulcers are healed, tumors restricted, there are reduction in the arthritis pains and inflammations, controlled blood pressure, the skin problems are restored, and finally they have stronger defenses against diseases.
Another property of the Moringa leaf is its soothing ability, because of which it can lower the blood pressure and promotes good sleep. It can also purify water since it has a detoxifying effect. It is also a coagulant agent, Moringa can attach itself to hazardous bacteria and other materials, a process that is surmised to occur in the body too. The happy outcome is more sustained energy without any over-activity, balanced hormone and gland system, controlled blood pressure, and a rested nervous system.
Simple analysis made by the centre shows that Moringa leaves contain:
7 times the vitamin C in oranges
4 times the calcium in milk
4 times the vitamin A in carrots
2 times the protein in milk
3 times the potassium in bananas
Another resource person at the workshop from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Dr I.M Bugaje, said the contributions of Moringa are immense, not only in nutrition, but in water treatment. The seeds after removing oil and other chemicals from it, can be used to remove bacteria from drinking water.
Dr Bugaje said the oil also is as good as olive oil, because it has high omega three and eight component in it.
He said the main focus of the workshop is on the use of Moringa seeds for water treatment to replace alum and other chemicals.
According to him, Nigeria today is importing chemicals worth billion of Dollars for water treatment and because of the rising cost of these chemicals; many of the water treatment plants are not using enough chemicals to treat the water well. “That is why our drinking water is of low quality, because is under dose.
“With this initiative, we believed we don’t need to put more money to import these chemicals again. We can use our local biodiversity to treat our water, that is why this workshop is holding to discuss on how to use Moringa seeds for water treatment”, said Bugaje.
He said a plan to build a pilot plant in a village near Zaria is on, that will show to the World that this is proven technology, and for the private sector to come in.
Bugaje added that already Moringa is being processed in Tanzania, Malawi and they are exporting it to Europe. “Nigeria needs to move forward. We have more potentials of Moringa than any country in Africa, but yet we are not exporting it to any country”.
The advantage of Moringa is natural, so they have no side effects, but alum is known to have caused a lot of diseases including anemia diseases.
He said using Moringa is for the betterment of Nigeria economically and healthwise, saying that that is why we need to shift from the use of alum to the use of Moringa seeds.
Beside the seeds for water treatment, analysts said the Moringa leaf is comparatively an unheard name in spite of the fact that it has been found mentioned more than two thousand years before, and the World Health Organization has been observing and utilizing the tree for more than forty years now as a cheap health supplement in the poverty-stricken countries the world over. They said the reason behind this is that, the sale of all kinds of health supplements, minerals and vitamins is a lucrative business. According to some analysts no big company would ever take the risk of introducing a name that could potentially harm and lower the sale of all other nutritional items. The same holds water for the pharmaceutical countries too. These huge companies would prefer to keep the general public in the dark about the benefits of the Moringa leaf to make big money.
Yohanna Dami Kadashi is the Executive Director of Avuco Nigeria Limited. He said among the common diseases that Moringa can cure are high blood pressure, Malaria and diabetes, as well as helping people living with HIV/AIDS by removing the feverish condition for the patient to be stable.
He said his center has been doing research on Moringa for at least five years, stressing that their main concern is to do the research to find out the capabilities of the plant and other product from it.
He said the oil from Moringa seeds is in high demand in the international market, and is being sold at $10 per litre.
He told Daily Trust that part of the expansion project of the centre is the plan to plant one million seedlings for this year, also making it available to public to buy ,as he said the tree is very important to every home.
The Director General of the Raw Material Research and Development council, Professor Peter A. Onwualu said at the sensitization workshop on Moringa that the plant is a good supplement to other oil seed crops, and does not compete with local food production.
According to him, the importance of Moringa includes but is not restricted to oil uses for both cooking, and as raw material for the cosmetic industry, water treatment as suitable substitute to alum and the leaves as a source of raw materials for preparation of nutritional and medicinal products due to its high protein content (27 %), significant quantities of calcium, Iron, phosphorous and Vitamins (A, B, and C) among other active ingredients.
Onwualu further disclosed that other uses include, it’s use as animal fodder, the cake is used as animal feed, and the wood pulp is used as raw materials for paper-making.
He said the policy relevance of promoting the plant is to cultivate and develop the whole value chain is in line with the poverty reduction strategy of this administration.
Onwualu said the new strategy to be used by RMRDC in developing the plant is through the sensitization workshops and awareness, creation on the importance of Moringa, as well as promoting the culture of processing Moreinga into useful products for industrial and other importance uses.
He said the Agency would also create employment opportunities through the cultivation of Moringa and enhance income generation among farmers, especially women, who might be involved in the cultivation, seed harvesting and marketing, processing of seeds into oil and other economic activities.
“There is no doubt that Moringa has the potential to address issues relating to income generation, job creation, improved health through the supply of potable and wholesome water. It will equally enhance food security through cultivation, processing and utilization of the plant”.
The DG RMRDC told the participants that the need to mount adequate awareness campaign among the policy makers, private sector, NGO, farmers and the public, concerted efforts will be made to develop this hitherto unknown plant resources to an export crop, which will in turn attract considerable economic benefits to our country.
Professor Charles Wambebe, Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Science and member of the International Biomedical Research in Africa said the potentials of Moringa for medicinal purposes are enormous, but unfortunately, in Nigeria there is no documentation of research work of the Plant.
He said ‘ I wish to see that there is collection of researches on Moringa in Nigeria and be publishing in the science journals.
“In Ghana they have gone far in that respect. In fact they encourage every household to plant the tree within their compounds, so that they can explore the best out of it”.
Moringa Oleifera contains more than 92 nutrients and 46 types of antioxidants. Moringa is said to cure about three hundred diseases and almost have all the vitamins found in fruits and vegetables. Even in a larger proportions. With all the health benefits of this miracle herb, it can easily be termed as the most nutritious herb on Earth. There are no side-effects which also has tried, tested, documented and proved evidence to support the same. It can be consumed by small children and adults. Today, millions world over have started using Moringa based products in porridge, pastas, bread and to reap the everlasting health benefits of the extraordinary ‘Moringa’ herb.
Some Facts about Moringa- (Excerpt From The Book “Miracle Tree” by Author Monica G.Marcu,Pharm.D., PH.D.)
• 92 Nutrients
• 46 Antioxidants
• 36 Anti-Inflammatories
• 18 Amino Acids, 9 Essential Amino Acids
• Nourishes The Immune System
• Promotes Healthy Circulation
• Supports Normal Glucose Levels
• Natural Anti-Aging Benefits
• Provides Anti-Inflammatory Support
• Promotes Healthy Digestion
• Promotes Heightened Mental Clarity
• Boosts Energy Without Caffeine
• Encourages Balanced Metabolism
• Promotes Softer Skin
• Provides Relief From Acne
• Supports Normal Hormone Levels
Rare for a plant source -Moringa leaves contain all the essential amino acids to build strong healthy bodies.
Examples of some few nutritional value of Moringa- ( Gram-for-gram comparison of nutritional data)
2times -the Protein of Yogurt
3times – the Potassium of Bananas
4times – the Calcium of Milk
4times – the Vitamin A of Carrots
7times -the Vitamin C of Oranges
The Vitamin component of Moringa Leaves:
Moringa has Vitamin A (Beta Carotene), Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Vitamin B6 Pyrodixine), Vitamin B7 (Biotin), Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol), Vitamin E (Tocopherol) and Vitamin K.
Vitamin A (Beta Carotene), Vitamin A is a vitamin which is needed by the retina of the eye in the form of a specific metabolite, the light-absorbing molecule retinal. This molecule is absolutely necessary for both “Scotopic”scotopic and color vision. Vitamin A also functions in a very different role, as an irreversibly oxidized form retinoic acid, which is an important hormone-like growth factor for epithelial and other cells.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) helps fuel the body by converting blood sugar into energy. It keeps the mucous membranes healthy and is essential for nervous system, cardiovascular and muscular function.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) is required for a wide variety of cellular processes. Like the other B vitamins, it plays a key role in energy metabolism, and for the metabolism of fats, ketone bodies, carbohydrates, and proteins. It is the central component of the cofactors FAD and FMN, and is therefore required by all “Flavoprotein”flavoproteins.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin), like all B complex vitamins, are necessary for healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver. They also help the nervous system function properly. Niacin also helps the body make various sex and stress-related hormones in the adrenal glands and other parts of the body. Niacin is effective in improving circulation and reducing cholesterol levels in the blood.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) is required for the synthesis of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine and for myelin formation. Pyridoxine deficiency in adults principally affects the peripheral nerves, skin, mucous membranes, and the blood cell system. In children, the central nervous system (CNS) is also affected. Deficiency can occur in people with uremia, alcoholism, cirrhosis, hyperthyroidism, malabsorption syndromes, congestive heart failure (CHF), and in those taking certain medications.
Vitamin B7 (Biotin) has vital metabolic functions. Without biotin as a co-factor, many enzymes do not work properly, and serious complications can occur, including varied diseases of the skin, intestinal tract, and nervous system. Biotin can help address high blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes, and is helpful in maintaining healthy hair and nails, decreasing insulin resistance and improving glucose tolerance, and possibly preventing birth defects. It plays a role in energy metabolism, and has been used to treat alopecia, cancer, Crohn’s disease, hair loss, Parkinson’s disease, peripheral neuropathy, Rett syndrome, seborrheic dermatitis, and vaginal candidiasis.
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)is one of the safest and most effective nutrients, experts say. It may not be the cure for the common cold (though it’s thought to help prevent more serious complications). But the benefits of vitamin C may include protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling.
Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol) is essential for promoting calcium absorption in the gut and maintaining adequate serum calcium and phosphate concentrations to enable normal mineralization of bone and prevent hypocalcemic tetany. It is also needed for bone growth and bone remodeling by osteoblasts and osteoclasts . Without sufficient vitamin D, bones can become thin, brittle, or misshapen. Vitamin D sufficiency prevents rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Together with calcium, vitamin D also helps protect older adults from osteoporosis. Vitamin D has other roles in human health, including modulation of neuromuscular and immune function and reduction of inflammation.
Vitamin E describes a family of 8 antioxidants, 4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienols. alpha-tocopherol (a-tocopherol) is the only form of vitamin E that is actively maintained in the human body and is therefore, the form of vitamin E found in the largest quantities in the blood and tissue. Vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin, protects vitamin A and essential fatty acids from oxidation in the body cells and prevents breakdown of body tissues.
Vitamin K is necessary for normal clotting of blood in humans. Specifically, vitamin K is required for the liver to make factors that are necessary for blood to properly clot (coagulate), including factor II (prothrombin), factor VII (proconvertin), factor IX (thromboplastin component), and factor X (Stuart factor). Other clotting factors that depend on vitamin K are protein C, protein S, and protein Z. Deficiency of vitamin K or disturbances of liver function (for example, severe liver failure) may lead to deficiencies of clotting factors and excess bleeding.
Amino Acids: The foundation of our body.
Our bodies need twenty different amino acids or proteins that are the building blocks for a healthy body. Nonessential amino acids are those that the body can synthesize for itself, provided there is enough nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen available. Essential amino acids are those supplied by the diet. They must be consumed as the human body either cannot make them at all or cannot make them in sufficient quantity to meet its needs. ?Of the 20 amino acids required by our bodies, eleven of them are nonessential and nine are essential.
Functions of Amino Acids: Proteins act as enzymes , hormones , and antibodies . They maintain fluid balance and acid and base balance. They also transport substances such as oxygen, vitamins and minerals to target cells throughout the body. Structural proteins, such as collagen and keratin, are responsible for the formation of bones, teeth, hair, and the outer layer of skin and they help maintain the structure of blood vessels and other tissues.
Enzymes are proteins that facilitate chemical reactions without being changed in the process. Hormones (chemical messengers) are proteins that travel to one or more specific target tissues or organs, and many have important regulatory functions. Insulin , for example, plays a key role in regulating the amount of glucose in the blood. The body manufactures antibodies (giant protein molecules), which combat invading antigens. Antigens are usually foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses that have entered the body and could potentially be harmful. Immunoproteins, also called immunoglobulins or antibodies, defend the body from possible attack by these invaders by binding to the antigens and inactivating them.
If these critical components for a healthy body are not provided as part of a healthy diet, the body will look for other sources for them. This can include breakdown of our organs, leading to chronic problems such as liver and kidney problems, diabetes and heart disease among others.
MORINGA AS FOOD Moringa is considered a complete food as it contains all of the essential Amino Acids required for a healthy body. The dried leaf is a nutritional powerhouse and contains all of the following Amino Acids.
ISOLEUCINE builds proteins and enzymes and it provides ingredients used to create other essential biochemical components in the body, some of which promote energy and stimulate the brain to maintain a state of alertness.
LEUCINE works with isoleucine to build proteins and enzymes which enhance the body’s energy and alertness.
LYSINE ensures your body absorbs the right amount of calcium. It also helps form collagen used in bone cartilage and connective tissues. In addition, lysine aids in the production of antibodies, hormones, and enzymes. Recent studies have shown lysine improves the balance of nutrients that reduce viral growth.
METHIONINE primarily supplies sulfur to your body. It is known to prevent hair,
skin, and nail problems while lowering cholesterol levels as it increases the liver’s production of lecithin. Methionine reduces liver fat and protects the kidneys, which reduces bladder irritation.
PHENYLALAINE produces the chemical needed to transmit signals between nerve cells and the brain. It can help with concentration and alertness, reduce hunger pains and improve memory and mood.
THREONINE is an important part of collagen, elastin, and enamel proteins. It assists metabolism and helps prevent fat build-up in the liver while boosting the body’s digestive and intestinal tracts.
TRYPTOPHAN supports the immune system, alleviates insomnia, reduces anxiety, depression, and the symptoms of migraine headaches. It also is beneficial in decreasing the risk of artery and heart spasms as it works with lysine to reduce cholesterol levels.
VALINE is important in promoting a sharp mind, coordinated muscles, and a calm mood.
Non-essential amino acids in Moringa
ALANINE is important for energy in muscle tissue, brain, and central nervous system. It strengthens the immune system by producing antibodies. Alanine also helps in the healthy metabolism of sugars and organic acids in the body.
ARGININE causes the release of the growth hormones considered crucial for optimal muscle growth and tissue repair. It also improves immune responses to bacteria, viruses, and tumor cells while promoting the healing of the body’s wounds.
ASPARTIC ACID helps rid the body of ammonia created by cellular waste. When the ammonia enters the circulatory system it can act as a highly toxic substance which can damage the central nervous system. Recent studies have also shown that aspartic acid may decrease fatigue and increase endurance.
CYSTINE functions as an antioxidant and is a powerful aid to the body in protecting against radiation and pollution. It can help slow the aging process, deactivate free radicals, and neutralize toxins. It also aids in protein synthesis and presents cellular change. It is necessary for the formation of new skin cells, which aids in the recovery from burns and surgical operations.
GLUTAMIC ACID is food for the brain. It improves mental capacities, helps speed the healing of ulcers, reduces fatigue, and curbs sugar cravings.
GLYCINE promotes the release of oxygen required in the cell-making process. It is also important in the manufacturing of hormones responsible for a strong immune system.
HISTIDINE is used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, ulcers, and anemia. A lack of histidine may lead to poor hearing.
SERINE is important in storing glucose in the liver and muscles. Its antibodies help strengthen the body’s immune system. Plus, it synthesizes fatty acid sheaths around nerve fibers.
PROLINE is extremely important for the proper function of your joints and tendons. It also helps maintain and strengthen heart muscles.
TYROSINE transmits nerve impulses to your brain. It helps overcome depression; improves memory; increases mental alertness; plus promotes the healthy functioning of the thyroid, adrenal, and pituitary glands.