Moringa oleifera commonly known as drumstick is a widely cultivated tree in India. It is a fast-growing tree and was once a very common tree in every kitchen garden. Our ancient ayurvedic studies have discovered the beneficial properties Moringa almost thousands of years ago. However, this knowledge was limited to only a few people. This plant gained commercial recognition as an ingredient of health supplement only after National Institute of Health declared this plant as the “plant of the year”, in 2008.
Multiple Medicinal Uses of Moringa
Every part of the tree - leaves, roots, seed, bark, fruit, flowers and even immature pods - offer some wonderful health benefits to us. Moringa is an excellent source of nutrients like vitamin A, potassium, calcium and vitamin C, and minerals like potassium and calcium. It is rich in essential amino acids that help in building up proteins. This makes it a nutritionally significant plant.
The phytochemicals and antioxidants present in the products of this tree help in treating widespread conditions like cancer, diabetes, anemia, inflammation-related diseases, arthritis and other joint pains, stomach disorders (constipation, diarrhea and cramps), epilepsy, allergies, asthma, chronic headaches, kidney stones, thyroid disorders, infections caused by bacteria, virus and fungi and low sex drive (Anwar et al).
The immature pods of this tree act as cardiac and circulatory stimulants. They can lower the cholesterol levels, thus showing antihypertensive properties. The roots show antispasmodic activity and thus help in suppressing muscle spasms. The roots also protect the liver and ensure its healthy functioning. Apart from roots, Moringa oil that is extracted from its seeds is also used to boost liver function and thus helps in the detoxification of the harmful substances, such as heavy metal toxins (Minaiyan et al). Methanol fraction of the leaf extract helps in curing ulcers.
Moringa leaves contain certain anti-aging compounds like polyphenols, vitamin C, beta-carotene, quercetin, and chlorogenic acid. They reduce the effects of oxidative stress and inflammation. They balance hormones and slow down the aging process (Abdull Razis et al). Moringa contains a high content of the amino acid, tryptophan which improves neurotransmitter functions and helps in the synthesis of the “feel good” hormone serotonin. This hormone stabilizes our mood and improves our brain health.
Weight loss with Moringa
Several studies have been conducted to study the efficacy of Moringa in weight management. Some of these studies suggest that a product of this tree inhibits differentiation of fat cells or adipocytes and potentiates lipid breakdown in mature adipocytes. It also reduces insulin resistance in mice thus showing anti-obesity and anti-diabetic properties (Krishnaraju et al)( Waterman et al). The oleic acid present in the seeds of this plant helps to break down saturated fats in our body. There are a few other mechanisms also through which it helps in weight management.
The health-enhancing nutrients energize the body in a regulated pattern and curb the craving for junk food. It is rich in fiber content that gives a natural feeling of satiety. This controls our food intake. The rich content of vitamins in moringa stimulates metabolism and helps the body to digest food faster. Moringa leaves offer a low-calorie diet and help in maintaining a healthy flow of glucose for the body to use. In many disease conditions people start gaining weight due to lack of mobility. In conditions like arthritis people can’t move due to painful joints and slowly start gaining weight. A bandage of Moringa leaves provides relief to arthritis patients and helps them to keep a check on their weight gain indirectly.
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