Moringa, a Miracle Plant Growing in Alor Islands
Moringa Plants (Image credit: Petr Cosina [CC BY-NC 2.0] via Flickr)
Some of you might think the title above is super exaggerated. Honestly, just reading this article you could change your mind.
Marrungga is the local name for Moringa (Moringa oleifera Lam). It is a vegetable tree that has been cultivated and used widely as vegetable for many people in Alor Islands, Indonesia, including me. We cook the leaves and flowers as vegetable.
Nothing unusual with the appearance and taste, it is similar to spinach, except the nutritional content is extraordinary high. Similarly, the plant is tolerant to drought and poor soil condition, and has exceptional adaptation to different climatic conditions2.
Moringa is a multipurpose plant, utilized as food sources for many people in Asia and Africa. All parts of the plant are usable such as root, trunk, flower and seed for different purposes. A group of scientists studying about this plant speculates that the plant is native to Asia, but grown worldwide in tropic and sub tropic regions. Moringa is also used to produce oil, cosmetics, medicine, and feed animal1.
The magic is not stopped there; African people use the seed to purify water. Hence, it is a substantially important plant. Back in my hometown, Alor Islands, many people grow the plants in their garden because it is believed to have “spiritual power” to draw away evil spirit.
Moringa “drumstick” (Image credit: Karen [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0] via Flickr)
Some people even use moringa as household remedy. The sap from young pods, known as “drumstick”, could heal wounds3.
“I remember I’ve got drunk the other day and become tipsy and unconscious, my friends took marungga leaves, put into water and washed my hair. I become conscious and felt better”.
A short story from Kari, an Alorese who used moringa as remedy, shows another benefit of the plant for the local people.
Moreover, a series of research conducted by Melo and his colleges in 2013 and 2014 found that the plant has exceptional nutrient contents. Moringa has medical and healing properties such as anti fungal activities, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidants, anti-tuberculosis and analgesic effects 1,2.
Nowadays, there are many products of moringa tea in market. Anyway, it is easy to make a cup of moringa tea. Grab a handful of dry leaves and brewed with hot water. The tea is rich of vitamins and antioxidants to boost your daily activities4.
Enormous Nutritional Compounds
Dr. Monica Marcu, an expert of moringa, argues that most of the plants are famous for particular types of nutrients such as orange, carrot, spinach are famous for their Vitamin C, A, and iron, respectively. Moringa is “unusual” because it contains all the nutrients in a high amount3.
Tiny leaves but enormous benefits (Image credit: www.miracletrees.org)
Moringa, amazingly has all the nutritional compounds in a decent concentration on its leaves. Professor Mehmet Oz from Columbia University, who is an expert in nutritional food and is famous for the Dr. Oz show on Oprah Winfrey Show, claims that moringa is an energy blaster food. The plant contains three times more iron than spinach and is rich of Vitamin A, C, calcium and antioxidants5.
Dr Oz said: “Taking 400mg as supplement or tea daily can blaster your energy”.
That’s not just rhetoric! Moringa is claimed to have 92 Nutrients, 46 Antioxidants, 36 Anti-Inflammatories, 18 of the 20 Amino Acids, 9 Essential Amino Acids1,2. The United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) records substantial amount of protein, minerals and vitamins in the plant.
Moringa plants can be grown monoculture, multi-cropping or as hedgerow in farm. It is suitable for urban garden due to having distinctive flower colors, white and yellow. The seeds or cuttings planted are cultivated 50cm in row and 1 m apart. The plant can produce leaves and flowers for consumption in short time, 8 to 12 months4.
Moringa flower (Image credit: Mauricio Mercadante [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0] via Flickr)
A moringa tree can grow up to 12 m high. The plant can survive and produce well in marginal land, making them a viable and an inexpensive option for the villages. Additionally, the plant requires low maintenance and input such as fertilizers and pesticides.
So, do you believe in miracle moringa?
- Melo, V., N. Vargas1, T. Quirino1 and C. M. C. Calvo. (2013). Moringa oleifera L. – An underutilized tree with macronutrients for human Health. Journal of Food Agric. 25 (10), 785-789.
- Hussain, S., F. Malik, and S. Mahmood. (2014). An exposition of medicinal preponderance of Moringa oleifera (Lank.). Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. .27(2), pp.397-403.
- Discovery Channel Documentary Moringa. Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cqwk9KFLTI0
- How to plant and grow Moringa. Retrieved from: http://miracletrees.org/growing_moringa.html