Called drumsticks in the popular parlance, Moringa is nothing foreign to Sri Lankans from all walks of life. With its pods used as a vegetable that make some delicious curries and its leaves used both as a ‘mallum’ and an essential ingredient in cooking crab and prawn curries and its bark used in many a concoction of indigenous medicine, Moringa is one of the most useful variety of trees grown in the relatively dryer regions of Sri Lanka.
Scientifically termed Moringa olefeira, it’s a plant native to the Indian subcontinent bearing such distinct features as a light - coloured knotty trunk and highly branched compound leaves. While it’s been generally hailed as a commonplace plant, now there’s strong research evidence emerging that Moringa offers substantial health benefits. Moringa tea, a unique herbal tea, is rich in nutritious content that Moringa inherently possesses.
Let’s explore the specific health benefits of Moringa tea.
While being a rich source of calcium, it also contains a number of vitamins and minerals. Speaking about the amount of calcium Moringa contains, 100 grams of Moringa leaves contain 17 times more calcium than milk and 25 times more iron than the spinach. Their beta carotene content is 10 times as much as that of carrot. Besides that, it’s also rich in such minerals as potassium, protein, zinc, vitamin A, C, E & B-complex vitamins.
High blood cholesterol is the cause behind many chronic heart problems some of which can be life-threatening. Moringa comes as a god-send here in that, according to laboratory tests carried out on the rabbits, it can bring down the serum cholesterol level and the formation of atherosclerotic plaques by 50% and 86% respectively in 12 weeks of administering the Moringa extract. While it’s still in an experimental stage, it has the potential to be developed into an effective cure for high blood cholesterol.
Moringa is known to be rich in antioxidants such as flavonoids, polyphenols, and ascorbic acid which fight free radicals-molecules that result in exhaustive stress, cell damage and inflammation, which, over time, leads to cancers. In particular, one study has found that leaf extracts had higher anti-oxidant activity, free radical fighting capacity and higher inhibition of lipid, protein, & DNA oxidation than flowers or seeds.
The bottomline is that thanks to the antioxidant activity, Moringa helps prevent the damage and degradation that free radicals cause in the cells of different organs in the body, keeping them healthy and functioning at their best.
Moringa tea could lower lipid and glucose levels and regulate oxidative stress in diabetic patients; thus, it decreases blood sugar & cholesterol and also improves protection against cell damage. A few small studies have found that as little as 7 grams of Moringa tea taken daily for 3 months on end is known to have indicated promise of improvement.
The antioxidant and neuro-enhancer activities of Moringa support your brain health and proper cognitive function. Particularly, high Vitamin E & C content in Moringa combats oxidation which causes neuron degeneration.
Also, there’s strong research evidence supporting the claim that Moringa can normalize the neurotransmitters - serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline - in the brain, which play a pivotal role in memory, mood, organ function, responses to stimulus such as stress and pleasure, and mental health, for instance, in depression and psychosis.
Further, it's been tested as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, which has yielded favorable preliminary results.
Moringa contains high concentrations of polyphenols in its leaves and flowers that protect the liver against oxidation, toxicity, and damage.
Moringa can reduce liver damage and fibrosis and reverse oxidation in the liver. Moringa oil can also restore liver enzymes to normal levels, reducing oxidative stress, and increasing protein content in the liver.
The liver is responsible for blood detoxification, bile production, fructose metabolism, fat metabolism, and nutrient processing, and it can only fulfill these functions with the aid of liver enzymes, so it's vital they stay at normal levels. For instance, lower levels of hepatic enzymes can impair its ability to filter the blood.
Moringa has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties that fight infections. It's been effective against types of fungi that cause infections on skin and strains of bacteria responsible for blood and urinary tract infections and digestive problems.
Moringa has blood-clotting properties in its leaves, roots, and seeds that benefit wound healing and can reduce clotting time, which means it reduces the time it takes for scratches, cuts, or wounds to stop bleeding.
Those who consume Moringa leaf extract and leaf powder often report weight loss. This beneficial effect may stem from a number of factors. The anti-inflammatory and diuretic effect helps bring down water retention. The high fiber content cuts fat absorption in the gut. The reduction in insulin resistance may also preclude excess fat accumulation.
Particularly in the economically weaker sections of Indian communities, this is recognized as one of the most significant health benefits of Moringa tea. It’s because breast milk is the staple feed of infants in the first year of life. Moringa leaves toasted in a spoonful of butter are given every day to lactating mothers as part of conventional postnatal care. If any illness or general tiredness results in a decline in breast milk production in the ensuing months, Moringa leaves are added to the diet again. This ensures not only plenty of milk supply, but commendable weight gain and good health for the infant.
It’s evident that Moringa tea offers an abundance of health benefits, some of which are emerging only now and some of which are yet to be discovered. Considering the wide range of benefits it offers, Moringa is a commercially important crop to be cultivated in Sri Lanka.