Moringa oleifera, commonly known as “Malunggay” among Filipinos, is a plant that is native to India but grows in tropical and sub-tropical climates such as the Philippines, South America and Africa. This plant can grow to as high as 9 meters with erect white trunks. Its compound leaf has about 3 to 9 leaflets and it has white fragrant flowers that produce long pods with 3-angled winged seeds. It’s because of these pods that hang from it during the major part of the year that moringa is also known as “Drumstick Tree.” Among its other widely known names include “Horseradish Tree” and “Ben Oil Tree.”
For years malunggay has been dubbed as the “poor man’s vegetable” until modern science recently discovered its value of imparting a multitude of health benefits, thereby gaining a new label as “Miracle Vegetable.” Malunggay was also promoted as the “Miracle Tree” of Africa because of its contribution in fighting malnutrition and offering seemingly miracle cures for various diseases.
Today, malunggay is known for its amazing health benefits and nutritional value. Its usage has been encouraged by various humanitarian organizations to combat malnutrition and its effects in poverty-stricken regions, due mainly to its economic viability and rapid growth.
In the Philippines, malunggay seems to be everywhere except when you live in the cities. In fact, you can simply pick malunggay from your backyard or ask from your neighbors. And if you prefer to buy, it’s way too cheap. Did you know that most of its parts have use – from its roots, pods, barks, leaves and flowers? So let’s take a look at some of the amazing health benefits of Malunggay.
Medicinal Uses and Health Benefits of Malunggay
1) Malunggay reduces hypertension.
Malunggay works well to maintain blood pressure and cholesterol levels because it contains the bioactive components isothiocyanate and niaziminin which prevent the thickening of arteries and reduce the development of pulmonary hypertension. Studies have also confirmed that malunggay has hypocholesterolemic effects that help to reduce high-fat rise in the liver, kidney and cholesterol levels.
2) Malunggay is rich in antioxidants which help fight various types of cancer.
Besides antioxidants Vitamins A, C and E, malunggay contains kaempferol, quercetin and rhamnetin. Antioxidants are essential to the prevention of cancer, which is one of the most dreaded killers among diseases. Malunggay turns out to have loads of them which makes it great for keeping cancer away. Coupled with a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise, you won’t have to worry about cancer at all throughout your life.
3) Malunggay helps improve immune function.
Regularly including malunggay in your diet helps increase immunity and offers protection against seasonal ailments. It also helps in enhancing the cellular immune response and has positive effects on various immune system values such as antibodies, hypersensitivity reaction and total leucocyte count.
4) Malunggay treats anemia and sickle cell disease.
Studies have provided supporting evidence that malunggay extracts are beneficial in the treatment of anemia and sickle cell diseases because it aids in facilitating the absorption of iron, increasing the red blood cell count and helping to maintain normal blood parameters. Recent studies have also validated the anti-sickling potential of malunggay plant extracts due to the presence of zinc and flavonols as well as phenolic acids.
5) Malunggay helps cure infertility and is also good for reproductive health.
Infertility has been a global challenge and it was shown from various research that herbal medicines can be applied to cure both male and female infertility. Based on the research, it was discovered that malunggay is the best herbal treatment because it is very rich in minerals, anti-oxidants and Vitamins A (Beta Carotene), B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B6 (Pyridoxine), B7 (Biotin), C (Ascorbic Acid), D (Cholecalciferol), E (Tocopherol) and K.
Aqueous extracts of malunggay exert estrogenic activity which are beneficial in the prevention of sexual implantation in the body. Malunggay also has been shown to have aphrodisiac properties that increase libido and enhances performance. Regular consumption of malunggay can also increase sperm count, thus making it great for couples who are looking to have a child.
6) Malunggay helps stimulate metabolism and aids in weight loss.
If you are trying to lose weight, you should definitely include malunggay in your diet. Aside from being nutritious, it can actually jump start your metabolism and helps you burn off that unwanted fat. Malunggay also has anti-inflammatory and diuretic effect which helps reduce water retention while its high fiber content reduces fat absorption in the gut.
Combining it with other foods that do the same and regular exercise will help you shed pounds in no time. Malunggay itself is low in fat and calories, so consuming it regularly should be alright.
7) Malunggay acts as antibacterial agent.
Scientific research has shown malunggay to possess antibacterial, anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties and is effective against the growth of disease-causing microbes. Malunggay extracts are shown to exert a wide spectrum of protective activity against food-borne microorganisms such as E. coli, Salmonella, Enterobacter aerogenus, Staphylococcus aureus and Proteus aeruginosa.
This defensive activity of malunggay extracts makes it perfect for sanitation and preservation purposes and its inhibitory effects prevent the growth of diseases that cause contaminant fungi such as Aspergillus and Penicillum species.
There are a lot more amazing health benefits of malunggay and its nutritional values are undeniable. Do you know that having a malunggay tree in your garden is sufficient to meet the nutritional requirements of your entire household?
Aside from being a store house of several vitamins and minerals, the green leaves of malunggay are excellent source of calcium, making it a must-eat for nursing mothers so they can give their babies more nutritious breast milk. It is also rich in protein; it contains four times more protein than what eggs provide and twice more of that in milk, it has thrice more potassium than bananas, seven times more Vitamin C than oranges and four times more Vitamin A than carrots.
Malunggay is a magnificent vegetable that is indeed heaven-sent for everyone because of its affordability and the amazing things it can do to everyone’s well-being. Having it at your dinner table is doing you and your family a favor.