Know that big tree that grows almost everywhere in Mauritius? The one with the really small leaves and long green pods that look like expanded pea pods.
The Moringa tree or the brede mouroum has been used to treat a wide array of diseases by the Egyptians, Romans and Greeks yet it is still poorly understood and used in Mauritius. Most probably because people do not actually know the health benefits of the tree that all take for granted.
The name Moringa comes from the Tamil word murungai (because the plant is known to originate from India) meaning twisted pod because the seeds grow in long and big pods. Moringa grows well in arid regions and can reach heights up to 10 m tall. In general, the bark is around 40 cm in diameter and is usually greyish in colour once the tree comes to maturity. Moreover, the flowers are very small, white and occur in clusters; the fresh fruit is thick, long and green reaching up to 30 cm in length. The tree is also known as the drumstick tree (because of the long fruits) or ben oil tree (ben oil is used as a base for perfumes).
Basically, every part of the moringa tree is edible and is beneficial to health. But the most important parts that are used in cooking and medicine are the leaves, seeds and pods. The table shows the nutritional composition of these parts .
|Nutrients/100mg of plant material||Leaves||Seed||Pod|
|Vitamin B1 (mg)||0.06||0.05||0.05|
|Vitamin B2 (mg)||0.05||0.06||0.07|
|Vitamin B3 (mg)||0.8||0.2||0.2|
|Vitamin C (mg)||220||4.5||120|
|Vitamin E (mg)||448||760||–|
Moringa, also nicknamed the Miracle Tree, is used to treat some 300 diseases ranging from fever to cancer in traditional medicine. Yet, many of these claims require scientific validation.
Rich in flavonoids that help to boost the immune system and also exhibit antioxidant and anti-diabetic properties. They are used to treat flu, asthma, heartburn, syphilis, headaches, scurvy, ear and eye infections, hyperglycaemia, pneumonia, dyslipidaemia, malaria, bronchitis and reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Calcium and potassium present, plus nectar. They are therefore used by beekeepers to make honey and also to cure urinary problems and cold.
Loaded with high amounts of fatty acids (linoleic acid, palmitic acid) that help to treat obesity, cure diarrhoea, liver and spleen issues and joint pains.
They contain phytochemicals that help cure many diseases as well as flavonoids that give them anti-inflammatory properties. Basically, they are used to treat arthritis, gout, cramp, epilepsy, hyperthyroidism and sexually transmitted diseases.
Contain alkaloids which have antiulcer properties, act as a cardiac stimulant and relax muscles. It can be used as an antiulcer and inflammatory agent.
Moringa is no ordinary tree. In Seychelles, pregnant women are recommended to drink infusions of the leaves daily as they are very rich sources of nutrients . While traditional medicine has always recognized the moringa tree to cure anaemia, migraines and so much more, today science is confirming what nature has freely given us.