Introduction

Moringa (botanical name “Moringa olefeira”) or Sahijan also known as Drumstick
tree or Horseradish tree is a versatile tree useful not only for human beings but also
for animals and also in various industrial applications.

Moringa oleifera has high nutritional value and medicinal benefits. Different parts of
Moringa have a profile of important minerals and are an excellent source of protein,
vitamins, beta-carotene, amino acids and various phenolics. Moringa supplies a rich
and rare combination of zeatin, quercetin, beta-sitosterol, caffeoylquinic acid and
kaempferol.

History

The Moringa plant originated initially in the Northern portion of India some 5000
years back and shortly moved into the Southern parts as well, where it was known
as ‘Murungai keerai’ (Moringa leaves) and ‘Murungai kaai’ (Moringa vegetable). The
Moringa tree had spread to most regions of Asia, nearly the whole of Africa, South
America, southern portion of North America and some pockets in Europe. It has
been found useful in nutrition, agriculture, soil control, water purification, industrial
applications, cattle feed etc and also for treating various types of illnesses in
humans and livestock. Individuals in India have been using it as an item of their
daily food for nearly 5000 years.

Common Name

English - Moringa, Drumstick tree, Horseradish tree
Latin - Moringa oleifera
Sanskrit - Surajana
Hindi - Sahjan

Tamil - Murungai or murunga kaai
Kannada - Keramaddinagaddi
Telgu - Mulakkaya
Malayalam- Muringa.
Marathi - Shevga
Gujarati - Saragvo
Bengali Sojne danta
Oriya Sajana or Sujuna
Punjabi Surajana
Nepali Sajiwan or Swejan
Assamese Sojina
Sinhalese Murunga
Chinese La mu

Moringa oleifera Plant

The Moringa plant is a perennial, evergreen tree that grows up to 20 ft (6.1 m) tall,
with a straight trunk with corky, whitish bark. It grows well in hot, semi-arid and
humid regions and in well-drained sandy or loamy soils. The tree has tuberous
taproot and brittle stem is with corky bark. The leaves are pale green, compound,
tripinnate, 30-60 cm (11.8 to 23.6 in) in length, with many small leaflets. The lateral
leaflets are elliptic in shape while the terminal one is obovate and slightly larger
than the lateral ones.

The fruit pods are pendulous, green turning greenish brown, triangular and split
lengthwise into 3 parts when dry. The pods are 1 to 4 ft (30-120 cm) long and 1.8
cm (0.7 in) wide and tapering at both sides.

The pods contain about 10 to 20 seeds embedded in the fleshy pith. The seeds are
dark brown and the kernel is surrounded by a lightly wooded shell with three papery
wings.

Chemical Ingredients

The primary constituents of Moringa plant are : deic, palmitic and stearic acid,
saponins, glycoside, gum, protein. Vitamins: A (8855 IU per 100g), B1, B2, B3, C.
Minerals: calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium.

The leaves, flowers and pods are used as significant sources of vitamins A, B and C,
riboflavin, nicotinic acid, folic acid, pyridoxine, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene,
calcium, iron, and alpha-tocopherol (Dahot, 1988). The pods are considered good
sources of the essential amino acids.

Moringa oleifera as a Medicinal plant

The Moringa tree has great use medicinally both as preventative and treatment.
Sonjna (Moringa oleifera) bark, sap, roots, leaves, seeds, oil, and flowers are used in
traditional medicine in several countries. A folk fix for stomach complaints, catarrh,
cancer, gastric ulcers, skin diseases, lowering blood sugar levels, increasing bone
density, nervous conditions, diabetes, fatigue, increase lactation, hay fever,
impotence, edema, cramps, hemorrhoids, headaches, sore gums; to strengthen the
eyes and the brain, liver, gall, digestive, respiratory and immune system, and as a
blood cleanser and blood builder. A traditional folk remedy was to use the leaves as
a poultice on the abdomen to expel intestinal worms. An infusion of leaves is used
as an eye wash for treating conjunctivitis.

Soup prepared with drumstick leaves is very beneficial for the natural prevention for
tuberculosis, bronchitis, and asthma. The concoction of drumstick leaves are taken
as soup; for better taste lime juice, pepper, and salt can be added to it as per the
discretion of the patient.

A concoction made with fresh drumstick flowers and cow milk is a wonderful herbal
tonic for sexual weakness and functional infertility of both males and females. The
powdered form of the bark, as a medicine, improves quality of semen and cures
problem like premature ejaculation in male. The concoction of bark powder and
water treated by honey is the herbal medicine should be taken in curing the
problem of premature ejaculation.

Drumstick is a natural medicine for digestive disorder. The mixture of fresh leaf
extract, one teaspoon honey, and one glass of tender coconut water is a wonderful
herbal antidote for cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, jaundice, and colitis.

Fresh leaf-extract of drumstick leaves blended with cucumber or carrot juice is a
natural antidote for dysuria and high acid percentage in urine. Drumstick leafextract treated by lime juice is effective for the cure for pimples, black head, and
age spots. On regular use it adds natural radiance on skin tone.

According to Hartwell (1967-1971), the drumstick flowers, leaves, seeds and roots
are used for tumors. Roots are bitter, act as a tonic to the body and lungs, and are
expectorant, diuretic and stimulant in paralytic afflictions, epilepsy and hysteria.
The juice prepared from root is applied externally to heal irritation of skin.

Moringa leaf powder is a powerful anti-cancer agent and a preventive against
diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, hypertension regulation, blood sugar
control, boosting the immune and digestive systems and improving the mood. It can
also be used to treat stomach ulcer, as it is effective at lining the stomach wall. It
boosts the vitality of the body as it supplies tremendous amounts of energy to the
human body.

Moringa oleifera other uses

Pod: The Moringa fruit is a long thin pod resembling a drumstick. The Moringa pod is
referred to as "drumstick" or saragwa or saragwe in India. In South India, it is used

to prepare a variety of sambar and is also fried. It is also preserved by canning and
exported worldwide. It can be made into a selection of curry dishes by mixing with
coconut, poppy seeds, and mustard. It can just be boiled until the drumsticks are
semi-soft and consumed directly without any extra processing or cooking. It is
utilized in curries, sambars, korm. Drumstick dal is also a very tasty version of the
traditional 'toor dal'.

Leaves: The Moringa oleifera leaves are highly nutritious, being a significant source
of beta-carotene, Vitamin C, protein, iron, and potassium. The leaves are cooked
and used like spinach. In addition to being used fresh as a substitute for spinach, its
leaves are commonly dried and crushed into a powder, and used in soups and
sauces. Amino acids in green leafy vegetables vary considerably, and many that are
staples, are low in the sulphur bearing amino acids methionine and cystine

Flowers: The flowers are edible when cooked, and are said to taste like mushrooms.

Moringa oleifera for Fighting Malnutrition

According to a study a Moringa leaf is more than 25 percent protein, which is as
much as in eggs and twice the amount of milk. It has 4 times the amount of vitamin
A of carrots, 4 times the amount of calcium in milk, seven times the vitamin C of
oranges, 3 times more potassium than bananas, and significant amounts of iron,
phosphorus and other minerals.

It has begun to proliferate in recipes such as Moringa tea, Moringa corn stew, yellow
rice with Moringa, scrambled Moringa; sautéed onion, pepper and buttered Moringa;
and Moringa salad.

The most nutritious portion of the tree is the leaf, which has the highest amount of
protein and is extremely rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, ribo-flavin,
calcium, iron and magnesium. Three spoonfuls of Moringa leaf powder contain 272
per cent of a typical toddler’s daily Vitamin A requirement, along with 42 per cent of
the protein, 125 per cent of the calcium, 71 per cent of the iron and 22 per cent of
the Vitamin C, in addition to a full complement of minerals and all the amino acids
of meat. Moringa has 4 times the vitamin A in carrots, seven times the vitamin C in
oranges, and four times the calcium in milk.

Recent Research

Indian scientists have discovered a far more tantalizing application of Moringa
oleifera, the drumstick plant "murunga", liquid extracted from its leaves can prevent
lethal radiation damage to living tissues. The discovery by radiobiologists at the
Jawaharlal Nehru Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, Bhopal, raises fresh hopes
that compounds from medicinal plants might emerge a major source of natural
drugs that could prevent the harmful effects of radiation damage to living tissues.

The drumstick might at some point find use in improving the efficiency of cancer
treatment with radiation because it can reduce the severe side-effects of
radiotherapy. Radiation injury to normal tissues in the body leads to the side effects
connected with radiotherapy. Researchers in Japan and elsewhere had shown that
Moringa oleifera extracts had antitumour and anti- inflammatory agents..

In preliminary research, Moringa seed powder is being assessed for its potential to
make river water safe and clean. Research demonstrated that filtering with seed
powder may diminish water pollution and bacterial counts.

A new finding, which suggested that "Moringa oleifera" may lead to the therapy for
sickle cell disease, by incorporation of its fractions into recipes was carried out by
Olufunmilayo E. Adejumo; Adelodun L. Kolapo, and Akintomiwa O. Folarin. The 2012
study entitled “Moringa oleifera Lam. (Moringaceae) grown in Nigeria: In vitro antisickling activity on deoxygenated erythrocyte cells” was documented in the*Journal
of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences.