The moringa, whose botanical name is Moringa Oleifera, is a plant native to India belonging to the Moringaceae family. Today it is cultivated mainly in South-America (Cuba, Paraguay and Argentina), Ethiopia and the Philippines, and it is a plant very appreciated for its many healthy characteristics: in fact it is also known as "miraculous tree", and FAO promotes its cultivation, considering it a complete and useful food to fight malnutrition in the world. Of this plant you can eat flowers, roots, seeds and leaves. From its leaves it is also obtained the moringa powder, used as a food supplement and much appreciated in western countries, while the seeds produce moringa oil that has an important characteristic since it does not turn rancid, and it can be used as a condiment or for hair care. Moringa is therefore considered a real "superfood": it is super-nourishing and very beneficial for health and beauty. But let's find out which are the characteristics of moringa, how to consume it and use it and if there are any side effects.
Why is moringa considered a super-food? Among the characteristics that make this plant unique there is its complete protein content: in fact moringa contains 9 essential amino acids, as well as vitamins, antioxidants and mineral salts, including potassium and calcium. Among vitamins we find vitamin C, in a quantity seven times higher than that contained in oranges, in addition to vitamin A, which helps to prevent infections and protect vision, and vitamin E that protects skin and organs from premature aging, fighting the harmful action of free radicals. Moringa is also a plant rich in Omega 3, 6 and 9: fatty acids important for our health, as they help the proper functioning of the heart and of the nervous system. In numerical terms, moringa contains 4 times the vitamin A contained in carrots, twice the protein contained in yogurt, 3 times the potassium contained in bananas and the quadruple of the calcium usually supplied by milk. But let's find out more about its healthy characteristics.
Moringa provides an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory action: moringa has strong anti-oxidant characteristics thanks to the content of substances such as quercetin, rutin and chlorogenic acid which, together with mineral salts and vitamins (especially vitamin E), help fight the harmful effects of free radicals, slowing the aging of skin and organs. It also provides an anti-inflammatory action that helps protect the immune system: plant extracts also help in cases of asthma and inflammation of the respiratory tracts as they promote breathing and improve lung function.
Moringa promotes digestion and weight loss: thanks to the content of fibers, moringa promotes the digestive process, which is why moringa supplements are usually taken after meals. Moringa also stimulates intestinal motility, preventing constipation. Moringa is also used for its ability to increase metabolism, thus promoting weight loss.
Moringa is a source of energy and helps fight fever: moringa is able to immediately increase the level of energy, especially the moringa powder is very nutritious and rich in iron and magnesium that help to fight physical and mental fatigue: it is useful even after a period of convalescence. It is also useful against flu, fever and joint pains.
Moringa is useful for the treatment of herpes simplex and in case of anemia: the leaves of moringa are effective in case of infection caused by herpes simplex: the substances contained in its leaves prevent the formation of skin lesions typical of this infection and that are often very annoying. The extracts obtained from leaves and flowers are also useful in case of anemia: moringa would in fact be able to facilitate the absorption of iron and increase the number of red blood cells, keeping the parameters in the norm.
Moringa is beneficial for eye health: thanks to antioxidants and vitamin A, moringa helps protect the retina by preventing dilation of the retinal vessels and keeping intact the vascularization. Thanks to the content of Omega 3, 6 and 9, the moringa would also help to reduce the possibility of developing macular degeneration, and furthermore the presence of essential amino acids promotes the repair of the cornea after a surgical, traumatic or inflammatory injury.
Moringa promotes sleep: moringa also contains tryptophan, an important amino acid for the production of serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for the regulation of sleep and mood. It can therefore be taken as a powder or food supplement to promote sleep, always after consulting your doctor.
Moringa is useful against dry skin and acne, and it is beneficial for the hair: moringa has also cosmetic characteristics, thanks to the presence of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant: it helps fight dry skin and it prevents skin blemishes. Moringa also helps regulate the hormonal system, being also effective for acne treatment. The oil obtained from the seeds of moringa is then very useful for the health of the hair: it protects them from pollution and ultraviolet radiation. Moringa oil can also be used as balsam and hair growth stimulant.
Moringa has aphrodisiac characteristics: another thing that must not to be underestimated is that moringa fruits have aphrodisiacs properties to which traditional medicine attributes great power. The fruits of the moringa can be consumed after having boiled the pods in which they are contained, also called "drum mallets". A natural and invigorating remedy useful for both men and women.
How to use and consume moringa
Of the moringa you can consume leaves, fruits, flowers, seeds and roots, but it can also be used in the form of powder or real food supplements (as capsules). The moringa leaves have a slightly spicy flavor, similar to radish taste, and they can be eaten both raw, in salads, and cooked, in soups and broths or as a side dish. Even moringa flowers can be eaten raw, especially in salads, and from flowers of moringa you can also get an excellent honey. The seeds, contained inside a pod, can be consumed both boiled and roasted: their taste reminds the chickpeas taste. From moringa seeds you can also extract moringa oil, a vegetable oil with a sweetish and very pleasant taste used to season food but also in cosmetics, such as creams and soaps, to enhance its nourishing, antioxidant and toning effect, as well as for the hair care. The fruits of moringa are consumed especially in Indian cuisine, usually boiled and used as seasoning or for soups and broths: the taste of the pods resembles that of asparagus. Also the roots are usually consumed in India and in the countries where the plant is cultivated, as a spice; anyway their use must however be limited, due to an alkaloid that interferes with the nervous system.
Moringa as a food supplement: powder or tablets that facilitate its intake
Especially in western countries, moringa is used above all in form of powder or natural food supplements. Moringa powder can be used in foods and drinks, and especially in smoothies: it helps to make them more nutritious, as well as promoting blood circulation and keeping blood glucose levels stable, preventing diabetes. However, moringa is also used to make tea and infusions, being especially useful for promoting sleep. Moringa powder has a slightly spicy taste and it can be used as a real food supplement: the recommended dose is 1 teaspoon a day dissolved in a liquid or in foods; assumed in this form, the moringa would also improve the production of milk during the breastfeeding thanks to its galactogene characteristics. Moringa powder is also known for its ability to purify water and the organism: in developing countries moringa is used to eliminate germs and bacteria contained in water, so as to make it drinkable. In addition to powder, on the market there are food supplements in form of tablets based on moringa, tablets that can be bought in herbalist’s shops, or organic shops and online stores, just like moringa powder. These supplements are recommended for regaining energy, in case of nutritional deficiencies and changes of season, to strengthen the immune system: for doses follow the instructions on the package after consulting your doctor.
Moringa: use in cosmetics for skin and hair care
From a cosmetic point of view, moringa is used in products (especially creams) with a nutritive power to take care of dry skin and to prevent cutaneous blemishes. Even moringa oil has important cosmetic uses: you can pour just a few drops on your face, instead of the classic moisturizing cream, to nourish it in depth. In addition, moringa oil is highly recommended for dry hair care and to prevent split ends: it can be used as a compress by mixing 3 tablespoons of moringa oil with 3 tablespoons of jojoba oil, to be applied then over the entire hair leaving it for a couple of hours. After the necessary time has elapsed, you can proceed with a shampoo using delicate products. Moringa oil can also be used to moisturize and re-balance the scalp to strengthen the hair and fights dandruff and seborrhoeic dermatitis: in these cases it is sufficient to gently massage the scalp.
Side effects of moringa
Moringa has no particular side effects, only the roots of the plant must be taken with moderation as they contain an alkaloid, the spirochina, which could interfere with the nervous system. The root and the bark may also have an abortive effect, so for this reason they are not recommended during pregnancy. In any case, before consuming the moringa for therapeutic use, consult your doctor, especially if you take other medicines, and start with small doses to evaluate the effect: pay attention especially to symptoms such as nausea or stomach ache.