From its leaves to its seeds, moringa is said to have over 300 nutritional, therapeutic and medicinal benefits. With this, one need not wonder why it is dubbed the 'Miracle tree'.
In fact, the alias "Miracle Tree" an accolade given to it is somewhat coined from its healing and therapeutic properties.
Moringa pods, bark, flowers, fruits, leaves, roots, and seeds are all useful - according to scientists. It is said to contain various valuable nutrients, antioxidants, as well as amino acids which are essentially for many metabolic processes in the body.
Moringa Oleifera, has been used in the last two decades in many climes in the management of various ailment including diabetes, cancer, poor eye sight, digestion, hypertension, heart diseases and cardiovascular diseases.
Its leaves and seeds were used by some international organisations to combat malnutrition at a time.
Moringa leaves, according to scientists in a journal titled, 'Moringa Oleifera: A Review Of The Medical Evidence For Its Nutritional Therapeutic And Prophylactic Properties Part 1, is loaded with nutrients that remain preserved for many years when stored appropriately; hence, it should be considered as the next super food and supplement for health living and diet.
Highlighting its medicinal and nutritional benefits, Chair, University of Ilorin moringa Plantation Management Committee, University of Ilorin, Kwara State, Dr. Ayo Afolabi-Toye, says moringa plant products possess protective and prophylactic properties which have been found to be helpful in the management of some disease conditions.
According to him, research shows that moringa leaves promote cardiovascular, prostate, neurological and vision health when used appropriately.
He says a moringa leaf meal, which can be prepared like the African vegetable and egusi soup, is bound to deliver loads of amino acids, proteins, phenols, beta-carotene, cholorophyll, minerals and fibre, nutrients that aid many metabolic and energy processes in the body.
Afolabi-Toye , who is also the editor-in-chief, International Journal of Moringa and Nutriceutical Research, a journal of the International moringa and Nutraceutical Research Society, adds that its leaves have antibiotics properties which support the immune system of the body.
Still on its antibiotic properties, moringa oil is popular in the treatment of some infections, including abscesses and athlete foots and gum diseases. Moringa oil is sometimes applied directly to the skin as a germ-killer or drying agent -astringent. It is also used for treating pockets of infections such as gingivitis, snakebites, warts, and wounds.
Moringa is also said to have cholesterol-lowering properties which are important in maintaining the body's overall well being and is especially beneficial for diabetic patients.
According to experts, the tree and its other parts contain soluble fibre, anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds which directly and indirectly contribute to lowering blood cholesterol and improving cholesterol profile.
"The leaves of the Moringa Olifera trees, when ground to powder, contain 26 per cent proteins. Its leaves are also rich in vitamins, biotin, folic acid and much more in addition to other minerals.
"Moringa can serve as food, medicine and it is seen to seemingly "cure all diseases". No wonder it is also called the miracle tree, and the Yoruba's call it gbogbonse, that can do all things".
"A combination of factors, including soluble fibre, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds present within many of the plant's parts as well as the high proportion of unsaturated fatty acids present within its oil, may be responsible.
"Each of these factors can directly or indirectly contribute to cholesterol-lowering properties. However, the efficacy of moringa in lowering blood cholesterol levels and/or improving blood cholesterol profiles will vary with the amount moringa product consumed," Afolabi-Toye notes.
It is not just the leaves, many medicinal benefits abound in eating moringa seeds which are developed inside the moringa pods produced by the tree.
Experts say the seeds are full of nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, as well as iron. It is said to contain more amount of vitamin compared with various foods such as oranges, carrots which are prime sources of vitamins.
The good thing, however, is that it also digests easily
Afolabi-Toye , however, warns that its use should not be substituted for medication for those on other prescriptions. The expert insists that it should rather be seen as a food supplement and not a herbal supplement that should replace the doctor's recommendation.
Experts note that though it's safe to ingest its leaves, fruits, nuts and seeds by mouth, it is important to avoid eating the root and its extracts.
They warn that these parts of the plant may contain a toxic substance that can cause paralysis and other serious complications when it is not used appropriately.
Luckily for us, the weather in Nigeria supports its growth, hence its seeds, leaves and other parts are readily available. However, you must be careful as there are adulterated moringa products out there.
And just in case you are at a loss on how you can incorporate this highly medicinal plant into your daily diet, look no further. Moringa leaves can be used as vegetable used to garnish melon soup or cooked as a vegetable meal.