English Name: Moringa
Arabic Name: Almurinja
Urdu Name: Suhanjhna
Distribution: Native to South Asia, Himalayan foothills
Parts used: Fruit, Seed
Medicinal Uses | Traditional medicine has a long history of serving people all over the world, and medicinal plants are an important element of indigenous medical systems Moringa is among such plants which have a role in traditional medicine in various parts of the world. Its leaves are to be chopped to mix with water to deliver human healthcare.
Cooking the leaves is an important step to avoid bitter taste and then consumed for several medical purposes in various parts of the world. It is reported that the leaves and roots are commonly used in folk medicines as antimalaria, antihypertensive, against stomach pain, antidiabetic, anticholesterol, antispasmodic, and to expel retained placenta during birth. The crude extracts from Moringa leaves, roots, pods, and seeds have widespread potential for the treatment of cardiovascular disorders like hypertension and cholesterol level.
In this regard, oil and ethanol extracts from leaves were found to be responsible for lowering blood pressure. Thus, the leaf extract causes a plausible increase in the urine volume and concentration of urinary electrolytes in rats since it possesses obvious diuretic activity, comparable to that of the standard loop diuretic Furosemide.
The leaves extracts have performed the action of cholesterol-lowering in the serum of high fat-fed rats. This indicates that the leaves of Moringa trees have beneficial physiological and biochemical effects by inhibiting pancreatic cholesterol esterase and pancreatic lipase activities. Similarly, the aqueous ethanol extract, as well as its chloroform and butanol fractions of Moringa leaves, have active compounds responsible for the reduction of serum glucose levels in diabetic persons. In addition, the n-butanol extract and hot tea infusion of leaves also possess anti-hyperglycemic and anti-hyperlipidemic properties and alleviate pancreatic damage in diabetic rats. Thus, the leaves compose active compounds possessing beneficial biochemical activities, inhibition of intestinal α-glucosidase.
Therefore a daily supplement intake of the leaves of Moringa trees particularly M. stenopetala may help in reducing hyperglycemia and hyperlipidemia. These all confirm the claim for the traditional antidiabetic use of these miraculous trees. Furthermore, Moringa plants appear to be a promising resource of bioactive principles in pharmaceutical industries. In this regard, the methanolic extract of M stenopetala leaves has a good scavenging activity by hydrogen peroxide when butylated hydroxytoluene as a reference compound. This radical scavenging potential of the tree can be used to overcome oxidative stress.
It is reported that chronic exposure to the leaves extract fractions does not lead to toxicity and did not produce adverse effects since these fraction does not significantly induce severe toxic effects on the gross and histopathology of the liver and kidneys of treated rats.
Fresh leaf extracts of M. stenopetala also possess an oxytocic-like function on guinea-pig ileum and mouse uteri. The crude extracts and fractions of leaves also have potential in vasorelaxant action against aorta precontracted. Thus, the leaf has the ability to perform very important physiological functions such as activation of guanylate cyclase and ATP-sensitive potassium channel. Ethanol extracts from leaves and roots exhibit antispasmodic effects possibly through calcium channel blockade. Acetone and ethanol extract from leaves and roots were found to be active against Trypanosoma brucei and have anti-leishmanial and anti-fertility effects.
It is reported that the leaves extracts (methanol, ethanol, and n-hexane) from Moringa trees have shown antimicrobial activities over certain human pathogenic microorganisms that cause water-borne diseases like Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, Salmonella typhi, Shigella species, and Candida albicans.
This potential is associated with the presence of benzyl isothiocyanate which is an active bactericide and fungicide. The leaf extracts of M. stenopetala exhibit substantial antibacterial and antifungal activity and management of leaf blight of sunflower. These all imply that the esteemed Moringa plants have promising potential for the development of antibiotic drugs.
Cancers and Tumors Prevention and Treatment
The most interesting property of Moringa trees is their ability to perform many biologically important functions like killing cancer cells by inducing apoptosis, depleting ATP, and leading the cells to oxidative stress. This anti-cancer activity of this plant is due to the presence of glucosinolates in their seeds. Moringa plants have been recognized by folk medicine practitioners as having a role in the medical treatment of tumors. In this regard, organic compounds (4-(4′-O-acetyl-α-L-rhamnopyranosyloxy) benzyl isothiocyanate and 4-(-L-rhamnopyranosyloxy) benzyl isothiocyanate) have been potential for the prevention of cancer. Niazimicin and benzyl isothiocyanate are chemical compounds that were revealed as potent inhibitors of phorbol ester (TPA)-induced Epstein-Barr. virus early antigen activation in lymphoblastoid (Burkitt’s lymphoma) cells. Niazimicin also inhibited tumor promotion in a mouse two-stage DMBA-TPA tumor model.
Studies showed that Moringa seedpod extracts have potential in the prevention of skin tumors. Nowadays modern practitioners have used crude extracts and isolated bioactive compounds with the aim of cancer prevention and therapy. However, it has not been given recognition by modern medicine since the required proof has not been realized because neither the prevention of cancer nor the modification of relevant biomarkers of the protected state has been adequately demonstrated in human beings. Therefore more rigorous investigation on the full biomedical endorsement of Moringa as cancer prevention and therapy is required in the near future to provide proof in the light of modern medicine. Complications associated with cancers and tumors prevention and treatment may be resolved with this miraculous plant.
Roles in Human Nutrition and Animal Feedstock
Nowadays Moringa trees become an important food commodity that has enormous attention as the ‘natural nutrition of the tropics. The most interesting point is all parts of the trees except the wood are edible and these edible portions are exceptionally nutritious. Therefore it can be served for human nutrition and animal feed. In this regards many tropical countries uses the leaves, fruits, ﬂowers, and immature pods as nutritive vegetable. Furthermore, the tree is in full leaf at the end of the dry season when other foods become scarce. These could play a much more important role in the nourishment of people and in the sustainable use of the environment with limited rainfall in tropical regions milk, more Vitamin A than carrots, more Vitamin C than oranges, more iron than spinach, and more potassium than bananas and its protein quality compete with that of milk and eggs. In West Africa lifesaving nutritional rescue is attributed to the Moringa tree. The leaf of M. stenopetala is one of the best vegetable food in Southern Ethiopia and Northern Kenya.
In fact, both fresh and older leaves are nutritious and edible, they can be cooked and eaten as vegetables. However, older ones are milder and tender and can be either cooked in soups or boiled. While dried powder can be stored for many months without loss of nutritional value as future soup or sauce supplements. Also like spice, a few spoonfuls of the powder can be added to other sauces to make the diet more nutritious. Generally, it is a good source of proteins, carbohydrates, and minerals needed for the normal physiology of the body and hence, it can be used as a food or feed supplement to enhance growth and health in humans as well as animals.