The Magical Moringa oleifera – Brede Mouroum

Cluster of branches displaying small green leaves of moringa

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.

How does it look like?

The name Moringa comes from the Tamil word murungai (because the plant is known to originate from India) meaning twisted pod because of the appearance of the giant pod that the plant produces. It grows well in arid regions and can reach heights up to 10 m tall. The bark is around 40 cm in diameter and is usually greyish in colour once the tree comes to maturity. 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 drumstick tree (because of the long fruits) or ben oil tree (ben oil is used as a base for perfumes).

What does Moringa contain?

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 [1].

Nutrients/100mg of plant material Leaves Seed Pod
Calories (cal) 92 26
Protein (g) 6.7 36 2.5
Fat (g) 1.7 39 0.1
Carbohydrate (g) 12.5 8.7 3.7
Fibre (g) 0.9 2.9 4.8
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
Calcium (mg) 440 45 30
Magnesium (mg) 42 642 24
Phosphorous (mg) 70 75 110
Potassium (mg) 259 259
Copper (mg) 0.07 5.5 3.1
Iron (mg) 0.85 5.3
Sulphur (mg) 0.05 137

Uses of the different parts of Moringa

Moringa, also nicknamed the Miracle tree, is known to be able to cure and heal some 300 diseases ranging from fever to cancer.

Leaves

Rich in flavonoids that help to boost the immune system and also exhibit antioxidant and antidiabetic 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.

Flowers

Calcium and potassium present, plus nectar. They are therefore used by beekeepers to make honey and also to cure urinary problems and cold.

Pods

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.

Seeds

They contain phytochemicals that help cure many diseases as well as flavonoids that give them anti-inflammatory properties. They are used to treat arthritis, gout, cramp, epilepsy, hyperthyroidism and sexually transmitted diseases.

Root bark

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 [2]. 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.


References:

  1. Gopalakrishnan, L., Doriya, K. and Devarai, S.K. (2016). Moringa oleifera: A review on nutritive importance and its medicinal application. Food Science and Human Wellness, [online] Vol 5(2), pp 49-56. Available at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213453016300362#tbl0005 [Accessed 20/04/2018]
  2. Seychelles, Ministry for Youth Sport and Culture. Bred Mouroum. [online] Available at http://www.pfsr.org/natural-medicines/head-bred-mouroum/ [Accessed 20/04/2018]

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