Moringa, also known as the ‘drumstick tree’, is being widely promoted as a “superfood” nowadays because of its rich nutritional profile. Let’s take a look at moringa’s benefits, uses, and its Ayurvedic applications.
Even though moringa has only recently gained popularity as a superfood, it has been a part of the Ayurvedic system of medicine for ages and is still considered a key ingredient in many Ayurvedic preparations.
Many cultures throughout the world have used moringa as part of traditional home remedies.
Moringa is known as shigru, shobhanjan or sahijan in Ayurveda. Other common names for moringa are horseradish tree and ben oil tree.
The botanical name of moringa is Moringa oleifera and its a part of the Moringaceae family.
Common Uses Of Moringa
Moringa leaves and immature pods are extensively used in South Indian dishes like sambar and chutney (a type of freshly prepared sauce).
Besides these dishes, moringa leaves, flowers, and immature pods are also used for culinary purposes in different parts of the world. Its roots are also considered edible in some countries.
Moringa can be used in making curries, vegetable soups, lentil soups, and sauces. It can be used as an independent vegetable or mixed with other vegetables. It can also be used for making sandwiches, bakery goods, and bread.
Even moringa seeds make for a delicious fried snack. Various parts of the moringa tree are edible but regional uses of moringa vary.
Moringa is also used for water purification. Cationic proteins with low molecular weight (MOCP) have been extracted from moringa seeds.
These proteins are very useful in water purification because of their potent antimicrobial ana coagulant properties.1
Botanical Properties Of Moringa
The moringa tree is a fast-growing deciduous, perennial that grows to a height between 20-40 feet.
Its stem is brittle with a whitish-grey bark. The tree has fragile branches. Its leaves are built feathery (foliage of tripinnate leaves) with opposite, ovate leaflets.
Flowers are yellowish-white in color and have a fragrant odor. The fruit is a hanging three-sided brown capsule. Its size can vary between 8-18 inches.
Fruits bear dark brown or white globular seeds. The seeds have three whitish papery wings.
Many people grow this wonderful tree as fencing and around their home. If you are interested in planting this tree, here are some key pointers to keep in mind.
Planting A Moringa Tree
First of all, moringa is mainly grown in tropical, subtropical and semiarid areas. The moringa tree grows best in the temperature range of 77 to 95 °F (approximately 25 to 35°C) and under direct sunlight.
The tree requires slightly acidic to alkaline soil (pH 5.0–9.0).
However, the tree can easily tolerate excess temperature, up to 48 °C (approximately 120 °F) and frost in the winter, and a wide variety of soil conditions although it grows best in ample sunlight and heat.
It cannot grow in waterlogged soil or a freezing environment. Moringa can be grown by direct seeding or cuttings. This plant grows faster and requires minimal care.
You can go ahead plant this tree if your surrounding environment is favorable for its growth.
Sanskrit Synonyms of Moringa With Meanings 2
- Shobhanjan: It is called as shobhanjan because it is believed to be an auspicious, beautiful, and beneficial tree.
- Shigru: This plant has sharp or piercing qualities, that is why its called shigru.
- Teekshan gandha: It has strong odor hence, teekshan gandha.
- Aksheeva: It has detoxifying properties, that is why it is known as aksheeva.
- Mochaka: It is useful in curing many ailments and its bark secretes a gum-like substance. This is why it is called mochaka. This gum is initially white in color and it becomes reddish-brown with time.
Ayurvedic Properties Of Moringa 3
Rasa or taste: Katu or pungent, tikta or bitter.
Guna or qualities: Laghu or light, rooksha or dry, theekshana or sharp or piercing in nature.
Virya or potency: Ushna or hot
Vipaka or taste conversion after digestion: Katu or pungent
Effect on dosha: It is Kapha dosha shamak and Vata dosha shamak. Which means it pacifies excessive Kapha and Vata doshas.
It pacifies excessive Kapha dosha due to its bitter taste, light, dry and sharp qualities.
It pacifies Vata dosha due to its hot potency.
Moringa Dosage, Ayurvedic Formulations, And Parts Used
Parts Used Of Moringa 4
- Root bark
Moringa Dosage As Per Ayurvedic Medical Texts
- Seed powder= 1-3 g 5
- Fresh juice extract of root bark= 10-20 ml 5
- Root- 1 tola (one tola is approximately equal to 10 grams) 4
- Bark- 1-2 tola 4
Popular Ayurvedic Formulations Containing Moringa 5
- Shobhanjanadi lepa
- Shyamadi churna
Different Varieties Of Moringa2
According to the classical Ayurvedic medical text Dravyaguna Vijnana, there are two main varieties of moringa.
- Shweta jati: This is the white variety of moringa. It is bitter in taste, which is why it is also called katu shigru. This variety is found more commonly and is easily available. Shweta jati the variety of moringa (Moringa oleifera) explained in this article.
- Rakta jati: This is red variety of moringa. It is sweet in taste and is called madhu shigru. This variety is comparatively less common and found sparsely.
The botanical name of the red variety of moringa is Moringa concanensis Nimmo. Its flowers are pinkish-yellow in color.
Besides these varieties, a blue variety of moringa had been also mentioned in the Ayurvedic medical text called Raj Nighantu.
Moringa Contraindications And Precautions 6
Moringa increases Pitta dosha and vitiates blood. Using moringa is contraindicated in bleeding disorders and for people with a Pitta prakriti (prakriti means physical constitution).
Also, the excessive intake of moringa may lead to a burning sensation in the body and other symptoms caused by an aggravated Pitta dosha.
Ayurvedic Uses And Benefits Of Moringa 3,5
- A paste made up of the bark and leaves of moringa is useful in relieving burning sensation, inflammatory conditions and abscesses. Its paste is also helpful in wound healing.
- The seed oil of moringa is helpful in relieving pain and has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Moringa seed oil is useful in relieving pain caused by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- The powder made up of moringa seeds is used in nasya (medicine is administered through nasal passage). This nasya is helpful in headache.
- Moringa increases nervine stimulus, as a result, it can be used as a nervine tonic for a weak nervous system.
- Moringa is also useful in conditions like paralysis and facial palsy.
- Moringa improves taste and increases appetite.
- Moringa improves digestive strength (agni).
- Moringa is binding in nature and is good for diarrhea. The red variety of moringa promotes proper bowel movements.
- Moringa is helpful in problems like abdominal pain and abdominal distension.
- Moringa is helpful in worm infestation.
- Moringa is good for the heart and acts as a cardiac tonic.
- Moringa is helpful in various Kapha dosha related problems.
- Moringa is useful in cough and cold.
- Moringa acts as a diuretic and has alkaline properties. So it is useful in dysuria (difficulty in passing urine) and if urine is more acidic.
- Moringa is helpful in problems related to menstruation like amenorrhea and dysmenorrhea.
- Moringa is helpful in managing overweight and obesity.
- Moringa has detoxifying properties and useful in toxin-related problems.
- Moringa increases sweating in the body.
- Moringa is useful in fever. A vegetable made using fruits of moringa is given when fever is relieved at some places. Because it is considered as pathya (pathya means the diet and regimen which is beneficial for the body and mind).
- Moringa has been used in a variety of skin disorders. Faanta (a hot water infusion) made up of moringa is given for skin problems and abscesses.
- Seeds of moringa have scraping properties and can be used for some skin conditions.
- Moringa is helpful in various eye problems and helpful in improving vision. The anjana or collyrium made up of moringa seeds is used in some eye problems.
Bioactive Constituents Of Moringa
Moringa oleifera is attributed to the presence of functional bioactive compounds such as phenolic acids, flavonoids, alkaloids, phytosterols, natural sugars, vitamins, minerals, and organic acids.
Moringa seed oil (yield 30–40 % w/w), also known as “Ben oil”, is used for the production of biodiesel, because of the high content of monounsaturated fatty acids in the form of oleic acid.1
The foliage of Moringa oleifera has been established as a rich source of phenolics and glucosinolates, minerals, tocopherols, carotenoids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, ascorbic acid, and folate.1
Studies revealed that leaf of moringa oleifera has a total of 35 compounds.
The important compounds isolated were n-hexadecanoic acid, tetradecanoic acid, cis-vaccenic acid, octadecanoic acid, palmitoyl chloride, beta-l-rhamnofuranoside, 5-O-acetyl-thio-octyl, gamma-sitosterol, and pregna-7- diene-3-ol-20-one.
E-lutein was found to be the most abundant carotenoid found in foliage.7
The stem of moringa oleifera contains alkaloids like moringine and moringinine, 4-hydroxymellein, octacosanoic acid, and β-sitosterol. 7
Whole gum exudate of plant contains l-rhamnose, d-glucuronic acid, l-arabinose, d-mannose, d-xylose, and d-galactose.
Another important constituent present in gum is leucodelphinidin-3-O-B-D-galactopuranosy (1->4)-O-B-D-glucopyranoside. 7
The plant radical contains 4-(α-l-rhamnopyranosyloxy)-benzyl glucosinolate and benzyl glucosinolate. 7
Spirochin and anthonine found in roots show bactericidal activity.
Beta-sitosterone, vanillin, 4-hydroxymellein, β-sitosterol, and octacosanoic acid are found in the peduncle of the plant, and its crust is composed of 4-(α-l-rhamnopyranosyloxy)-benzyl glucosinolate.7
Flowers contain sucrose, amino acids, alkaloids, and flavonoids, such as rhamnetin, isoquercitrin, and kaempferitrin. 7
Whole pods contain isothiocyanate, thiocarbamates, nitrile, O-[2′-hydroxy-3′-(2′′-heptenyloxy)]-propyl undecanoate, methyl-p-hydroxybenzoate, and O-ethyl-4-[(α-l-rhamnosyloxy)-benzyl] carbamate. 7
Fruits contain cytokines, whereas seeds contain high concentrations of benzylglucosinolate, 4-(α-l-rhamnopyranosyloxy)-benzylglucosinolate, 4-(α-l-rhamnosyloxy) benzylisothiocyanate, 4-(α-l-rhamnosyloxy) phenylacetonitrile, and O-ethyl-4-(α-l-rhamnosyloxy) benzyl carbamate. 7
Nutrient Composition Of A Moringa Leaf 8
|Fresh leaves (value/100 gm edible portion)||Dried leaves (value/24 gm edible portion)|
|Calories||92 cal||49 cal|
|Protein||6.70 gm||6.5 gm|
|Fat||1.70 gm||0.55 gm|
|Carbohydrates||12.5 gm||9.2 gm|
|Carotene (Vitamin A)||6.78 mg||4.54 mg|
|Thiamin (B1)||0.06 mg||0.63 mg|
|Riboflavin (B2)||0.05 mg||4.92 mg|
|Niacin (B3)||0.8 mg||1.97 mg|
|Vitamin C||220 mg||4.15 mg|
|Calcium||440 mg||480.72 mg|
|Copper||0.07 mg||0.14 mg|
|Fiber||0.90 gm||4.61 gm|
|Iron||0.85 mg||6.77 mg|
|Magnesium||42 mg||88.32 mg|
|Phosphorus||70 mg||48.96 mg|
|Potassium||0.26 gm||0.32 gm|
|Zinc||0.16 mg||0.79 mg|
|Essential amino acids|
|Histidine||149.8 mg||147.12 mg|
|Isoleucine||299.6 mg||198 mg|
|Leucine||492.2 mg||468 mg|
|Lysine||342.4 mg||318 mg|
|Methionine + Cysteine||117.7 mg||84 mg|
|Phenylalanine Tyrosine||310.3 mg||333.12 mg|
|Threonine||117.7 mg||285.12 mg|
|Tryptophan||107 mg||102 mg|
|Valine||374.5 mg||255.12 mg|
It is always advised to use moringa supplements only after discussing with your Ayurvedic practitioner or general physician.
- Saini, Ramesh Kumar et al. “Phytochemicals of Moringa oleifera: a review of their nutritional, therapeutic and industrial significance.” 3 Biotech vol. 6,2 (2016): 203. doi:10.1007/s13205-016-0526-3
- Dravyaguna Vijnana by Aacharya Priyavrat Sharma, Volume 2, page no. 111, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, 2017
- Dravyaguna Vijnana by Aacharya Priyavrat Sharma, Volume 2, page no. 112, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, 2017
- Aadrash Nighantu, vol. 1, page no.346, by Shri Bapalal Vaidya, Chaukhmbha Bharti Academy,2016.
- Dravyaguna Vijnana by Aacharya Priyavrat Sharma, Volume 2, page no.113, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, 2017
- Dravyaguna Vijnana by Aacharya Priyavrat Sharma, Volume 2, page no. 113-114, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, 2017
- Bhattacharya, Ayon et al. “A Review of the Phytochemical and Pharmacological Characteristics of Moringa oleifera.” Journal of pharmacy & bioallied sciences vol. 10,4 (2018): 181-191. doi:10.4103/JPBS.JPBS_126_18
- Thurber, Melanie D, and Jed W Fahey. “Adoption of Moringa oleifera to combat under-nutrition viewed through the lens of the “Diffusion of innovations” theory.” Ecology of food and nutrition vol. 48,3 (2009): 212-25. doi:10.1080/03670240902794598 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2679503/