One of the beautiful things I love about Nigeria is the abundance of natural vegetation especially in the rural settings. It’s like what those in the rural areas lack in terms of luxuries and infrastructures, they gain with the abundance of natural resources which is limited to those in the urban settings.
Most people have got a variety of trees right at the back of their houses. My next door neighbors for example have the pawpaw, Lemon, Scotch bonnet, Mango, Coconut and Avocado trees. To cap it all, they’ve got moringa trees which they actually used as a “fence” for their large country home. The funny thing is, their livestock which feed on these trees occasionally get fatter every day while us humans (mostly ignorant though) look for foreign remedies to ailments whereas what we actually need is closer than we think. I really don’t know how this tree lost its fame but I think it has to do with the fact that science got more experimental leading to its remoteness in nature. But today, the world is being plagued with various degenerating health problems and many concerned scientists are going back in time to employ the natural traditional wisdom used by our forefathers in combating ailments.
|my neighbor’s moringa tree|
What is moringa.
Moringa popularly known as “The miracle tree” is a Nutritional power house of minerals, antioxidants and amino acids. In the Ancient world, they regarded the tree as a “Cure all tree”, An “Elixir of long life”, “The tree of life”e.t.c. It is a multipurpose plant as the Roots, leaves, Pods, flowers, fruits, seeds and even the bark of the tree can be utilized and used to cure various diseases. Scientifically, it is known as Moringa Oleifera . In Nigeria especially in the north where it is commonly grown, the Hausa people call it Zogale. Other common names are; Ben-oil tree, horse radish tree, Drumstick tree (referring to the large pods).It is mostly planted around local houses and used as a fence. It can grow up to 36feet in height and can live as long as 20 years if undisturbed. Due to its nutritional, therapeutic and prophylactic benefits, it is widely promoted in poverty stricken areas to counter malnutrition and the effects can be seen within a few days of including it in the diet. The leaves can also be dried, ground into powder and stored for many months without any significant loss of nutritional or therapeutic values. There are no side-effects of moringa tree leaves which have been proved till date. At the same time it can be consumed by small children and adults alike. Therefore, many people have started using it as tea, in salads, porridge, pastas, breads, etc., to reap the everlasting health benefits.
• Is a rich source of Vitamin C. It contains seven times more Vitamin C than oranges.
• Is a rich source of Calcium. It contains four times more calcium than milk.
• Is a rich source of Protein. The moringa leaves are said to contain twice the protein present in milk.
• Is a rich source of Potassium. It contains seven times more potassium than bananas.
• Is a rich source of Iron. it contains thrice more iron than spinach.
The leaves of Moringa oleifera are rich sources of dietary fibers, starch, beta-carotene, minerals (zinc, magnesium, and selenium), iodine, lutein, zeatin, etc.
Known Health Benefits
• Moringa is an effective natural immune system booster and therefore helps your body heal faster. It also contains powerful antioxidants that can naturally supplement and maintain the smooth functioning of the body’s immune system.
• Moringa helps in regulating sleep cycles. People suffering from insomnia find the use of moringa beneficial
• It is known to nourish the eyes, therefore, people suffering from poor eyesight should include moringa in their diet.
•The immature pods are highly nutritious, containing all the essential amino acids together with other vital nutrients. The immature pod contains green peas that can be eaten raw together with salad.
• Moringa leaves are often used as a nutritional food supplement for both weight loss and weight gain. This is due to the exceptional content of all the essential macro- and micro-nutrients. By consuming moringa, you would be taking in most of the nutrients your body needs.
• Moringa can be taken to naturally increase male and female libido. In fact, it’s long been used to treat sexual dysfunction as well as a natural way to boost sex drive. For libido get the tender stem of moringa which is very green in color remove skin and chew. The seeds are also potent in this aspect.
• Moringa is also said to balance sugar levels, hence it is helpful in the fight against diabetes. It also contains omega-9 fatty acids, which have been proven to reduce the body’s resistance to insulin and severity of symptoms of diabetes. Overall, it can alleviate the symptoms of diabetes and reduce the severity of the body’s reaction to diabetes
• It helps in combating and preventing anemia as it contains thrice more iron than spinach.
• Moringa helps in balancing and lowering cholesterol levels in the body as well as improving the ratio of good cholesterol (high density lipoprotein) to Bad cholesterol (Low density lipoprotein)
• The body’s natural defense mechanism increases with the consumption of moringa in the daily diet pattern. Since it is an immunity-stimulant, it is prescribed for AIDS afflicted patients.
• It is a nutrition booster and is known to promote a feeling of well-being in people. Therefore it can be used to counter Anxiety and depression.
• It is especially useful for lactating mothers. The consumption of moringa has shown dramatic increase in the quantity of breast milk produced.
• It can help in preventing tooth decay due to its bacteria destroying abilities.
The flowers and oil from the pods (Ben oil) are used to produce soaps and body creams. Some people Say it has anti-aging properties (It may be beyond that though)
Method of preservation
The Moringa leaves can be either freeze dried or dried at room temperature. Once it is completely dried, it can now be ground into powder and stored for many months without any significant loss of nutritional or therapeutic values.
Step 1: Get the fresh moringa leaves and remove them from the stem.