Moringa – Why was this named the “Plant of the Year”?

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This plant has nutrition or medicinal properties in its leaves, seeds, flowers/pods, stem and roots!  The seeds can even be used to purify water. What is this plant and what are its health benefits?  DrAxe.com shares some great research on the moringa (moringa oleifera), numbered research can be view in the original article.

In 2008 the National Institute of Health called moringa (moringa oleifera) the “plant of the year,” acknowledging that “perhaps like no other single species, this plant has the potential to help reverse multiple major environmental problems and provide for many unmet human needs.” (1)  To date, over 1,300 studies, articles and reports have focused on moringa benefits and this plant’s healing abilities that are important in parts of the world that are especially susceptible to disease outbreak and nutritional deficiencies. Research shows that just about every part of the moringa plant can be utilized in some way, whether it’s to make a potent antioxidant tea or produce an oily substance that lubricates and nourishes the skin. Throughout the world, moringa is used for treating such widespread conditions as: (2)

  • inflammation-related diseases
  • cancer
  • diabetes
  • anemia
  • arthritis and other joint pain, such as rheumatism
  • allergies and asthma
  • constipation, stomach pains and and diarrhea
  • epilepsy
  • stomach and intestinal ulcers or spasms
  • chronic headaches
  • heart problems, including high blood pressure
  • kidney stones
  • fluid retention
  • thyroid disorders
  • low sex drive
  • bacterial, fungal, viral and parasitic infections

6 Proven Moringa Benefits – Moringa is known by over 100 names in different languages around the world. This easy-to-grow tropical plant species, native to the Himalayan mountains and parts of India and Africa, comes packed with over 90 protective compounds, including isothiocyanates, flavonoids and phenolic acids. (3) Moringa has gained a reputation for fighting inflammation and combating various effects of malnutrition and aging, earning the nickname “the miracle plant.”

  1. Provides Antioxidants and Anti-Inflammatory Compounds – One of the reasons that the many health benefits of herbal plants like Moringa oleifera are so impressive is because they contain similar abilities to conventional drugs, only they don’t pose the same level of risk for experiencing side effects. According to a report published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, moringa contains a mix of essential amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), carotenoid phytonutrients (the same kinds found in plants like carrots and tomatoes), antioxidants such as quercetin, and natural antibacterial compounds that work in the same way as many anti-inflammatory drugs. (4)
  2. Balances Hormones and Slows the Effects of Aging – A 2014 study published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology tested the effects of moringa (sometimes also called “drumstick”) along with amaranth leaves (Amaranthus tricolor) on levels of inflammation and oxidative stress in menopausal adult women. Knowing that levels of valuable antioxidant enzymes get affected during the postmenopausal period due to deficiency of “youthful” hormones, including estrogen, researchers wanted to investigate if these superfoods could help slow the effects of aging using natural herbal antioxidants that balance hormones naturally.
  3. Helps Improve Digestive Health – Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, moringa has been used in ancient systems of medicine such as Ayurveda to prevent or treat stomach ulcers, liver disease, kidney damage, fungal or yeast infections (such as candida), digestive complaints, and infections. (6) A common use of moringa oil is helping to boost liver function and therefore detoxifying the body of harmful substances, such as heavy metal toxins.
  4. Balances Blood Sugar Levels, Helping Fight Diabetes – Moringa contains a type of acid called chlorogenic acid, which has been shown to help control blood sugar levels and allow cells to take up or release glucose (sugar) as needed. This gives moringa natural antidiabetic and hormone-balancing properties. Aside from chloregnic acid, compounds called isothiocyanates that are present in moringa have also been tied to natural protection against diabetes.
  5. Protects and Nourishes the Skin – Moringa contains natural antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral compounds that protect the skin from various forms of infections. Some of the common ways moringa is used on the skin include: reducing athlete’s foot, eliminating odors, reducing inflammation associated with acne breakouts, treating pockets of infection or abscesses, getting rid of dandruff, fighting gum disease (gingivitis), and helping heal bites, burns, viral warts and wounds. (9, 10) Moringa oil is applied directly to the skin as a drying, astringent agent used to kill bacteria, but at the same time when used regularly it’s known to act like a lubricant and hydrate the skin by restoring its natural moisture barrier.
  6. Helps Stabilize Your Mood and Protects Brain Health – As a high protein food and a rich source of the amino acid tryptophan, moringa benefits neurotransmitter functions, including those that produce the “feel good” hormone serotonin. Moringa is also rich in antioxidants and compounds that improve thyroid health, which makes it beneficial for maintaining high energy levels plus fighting fatigue, depression, low libido, moods swings and insomnia. (11)

Another interesting use of the seeds is for water purification. Combining moringa seeds with water helps impurities cling to the seeds so they can be removed, leaving behind better quality water that’s lower in toxins. Salt also seems to bind to moringa, which is beneficial for producing fresh-tasting water. Some studies have shown that 0.2 grams of ground moringa seed can turn one liter of contaminated water into safe drinking water due to the coagulating actions of certain ingredients in the seeds that absorb bacteria, adding water purification to the list of moringa benefits.

What a wonderful plant!  Next time we will see how best to use moringa, and check out an easy recipe for a Moringa Latte!

Feature Image Source: Wikipedia

Article Image Source: Wikipedia

barbara

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