In a remote village in Eastern India, Balbir S. Mathur was approached by an old and dignified practitioner of traditional medicine. The old man had learned that the Trees For Life, a non-profit organization based in Wichita, Kansas which Balbir heads was helping villagers plant fruit trees and that he had traveled more than a hundred miles to meet him. As they talked, the old man made an outrageous claim: “The leaves of the Moringa tree prevent 300 diseases.”
His claim was based on real-life experience. Now science is confirming that claim. ”The more we study, the more it seems that the Moringa oleifera tree truly delivers wonders.” says Balbir
The leaves of this tree are worthy of special attention. Traditional medicine in several countries has used these leaves to cure a host of diseases. Clinical studies are now suggesting that traditional medicine has been on the right tract. Nutritional analyses show that the leaves are very high in protein and contain all the essential amino acids, including two amino acids that are especially important for children’s diet. This is most uncommon in a plant food.
Moringa leaves are also packed with essential vitamins and minerals – especially vitamins A and C. Delivering such powerful nutrition, these leaves could prevent the scourge of malnutrition and related diseases. To top it off, Moringa is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree that grows even in marginal soils and with very little care. . Although this tree is a native of Himalayas, it can now be found in South and Central America, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Philippines, and Africa.
Some call it a miracle. Could it also be good science?
Mark Fritz of the Los Angeles Times filed this report: ”Scientifically speaking, Moringa sounds like magic. It can rebuild weak bones, enrich anemic blood and enable a malnourished mother to nurse her starving baby. Ounce for ounce, it has the calcium of four glasses of milk, the vitamin C of seven oranges and the potassium of three bananas.
“A dash of Moringa can make dirty water drinkable. Doctors use it to treat diabetes in West Africa and high blood pressure in India. Not only can it staunch a skin infection, but Moringa also makes an excellent fuel and fertilizer.
“Memo to Popeye: Moringa has triple the iron of spinach and more impressive attributes than olive oil. Both Moringa and the common carrot are diamonds in the roughage department, but Moringa has quadruple the beta carotene, which is good for the eyes and effective against cancer.”
Fritz also reports on the positive results of using Moringa as a substitute for expensive whole milk powder in nutrition projects.
Ann Hirsch, PHD, Professor of Botany at University of California Los Angeles says that one of the things that impresses her most about Moringa is the fact that it has the full complement of the essential amino acids that humans beings need. She further explains: “there are eight of them that we cannot synthesize, so we have to get them from our food. The Moringa is packed with amino acids which are highly absorbable and absolutely crucial to good health. The human body is capable of manufacturing only 12 of the 20 different amino acids needed to build proteins used to grow, repair, and maintain cells. The other eight essential amino acids must come from a person’s diet.”
Experts now agree that the long-term solution to malnutrition is the use of foods rich in the essential nutrients often lacking in people’s diets. Latest scientific research at John Hopkins School of Medicine is proving that Moringa leaves are one of the richest sources of such nutrients. Dr. Jey W. Fayed, a nutritional biochemist at the Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences has studied the phytochemical in Moringa for almost a decade. His detailed analyses made on a published review contained the strongest possible claims on Moringa as the nutritional and medical cornucopia. He adds, “even small amounts of the leaves could protect thousands of people from suffering and death.”
In the Philippines and in India where malnutrition is prevalent, it is ironic that Moringa trees abound, growing in the wild, available for the taking. But according to the 2010 report of the Philippines’ Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), one out of four children is considered underweight or stunted – tell-tale signs of nutritional problems. But this figure, which translates into four million children under 10 being undernourished, is considered an improvement. In the early 1990s, 30 to 40 percent of the same age group was found to be either underweight, stunted or in a worse physical condition. With the surge in global food prices, however, these gains are at risk. The Philippines is one of the world’s largest importers of rice and food security is one of the major determinants of nutritional status, according to WHO-Unesco specialists.
In the poorest of villages of India, Africa and Asia, Moringa trees are plentiful in the countryside but little of their value is appreciated by the natives. Only when mothers are recovering from child-birth and need to replenish their breast milk are Moringa leaves popularly used.
Moringa dried leaf powder contains the following per 100 grams of edible portion
Protein (g) 27.1
Carbohydrate (g) 38.2
Fiber (g) 19.2 Fat (g) 2.3
Ca (mg) 2,003 MG (mg) 368
P (mg) 204 K (mg) 1,324
Cu (mg) 0.57 Fe (mg) 28.2
S (mg) 870
Vitamin A-B Carotene (mg) 16.3
Arginine (g/16gN) 1.33%
Vitamin B1 – Thiamin (mg)2.64
Histidine (g/16gN) 0.61%
Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin(mg) 20.5
Lysine (g/16gN) 1.32%
Vitamin B3 – Nicotinic acid(mg) 8.2
Tryptophan (g/16gN) 0.43%
Vitamin C 0
Ascorbic acid (mg) 17.3
Phenylanaline (g/16gN) 1.39%
Vitamin E Tocopherol acetate mg) 113
Methionine (g/16gN) 0.35%
Threonine (g/16gN) 1.19%
Leucine (g/16gN) 1.95%
Isoleucine (g/16gN) 0.83%
Valine (g/16gN) 1.06%
Moisture % 7.5
Oxalic acid (mg) 1.6%
Here’s a list of the complete range of naturally occurring amino acids found in Moringa and a brief explanation of why our bodies require them:
ISOLEUCINE builds proteins and enzymes and it provides ingredients used to create other essential biochemical components in your body, some of which promote energy and stimulate the brain to keep you alert..
LEUCINE works with isoleucine to build proteins and enzymes which enhance your body’s energy and alertness.
LYSINE insures your body absorbs the right amount of calcium. It also helps form collagen used in your bone cartilage and connective tissues. And 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 your 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 your nerve cells and your brain. It can help keep you alert, reduce your hunger pains, plus improve your memory and your mood.
THREONINE is an important part of collagen, elastin,and enamel proteins. Not only does it assist metabolism, threonine helps prevent fat build-up in the liver while boosting your body’s digestive and intestinal tracts.
TRYPTOHYAN supports your 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. These non-essential amino acids, which can be manufactured by your body with the help of proper nutrition, are also found abundantly in Moringa:
ALANINE is important when it comes to building energy in your muscle tissue, brain, and central nervous system. It strengthens your immune system by producing antibodies. Alanine also helps in the healthy metabolism of sugars and organic acids in your body.
ARGININE has been shown in studies to cause 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 your body’s wounds.
ASPARTIC ACID helps rid your body of ammonia created by cellular waste. When the ammonia enters your circulatory system it can act as a highly toxic substance which can damage your 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 your 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 leadto poor hearing.
SERINE is important in storing glucose in the liver and muscles. Its antibodies help strengthen your 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.
TRYROSINE 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.
For printable information about Moringa, you may download in booklet form courtesy of Trees For Life.