Malunggay grows in Africa, Latin America, and Asia and it has earned many names. Thanks to its various benefits and uses, it is often called the ‘miracle tree’. For centuries its leaves, fruit, sap, oil, roots, bark, seeds, pod, and flowers have been used in folk medicine.
What is Malunggay?
Malunggay (Moringa oliefera) can be grown from seeds and branch cuttings. Its trunks often have whitish-gray color. Young shoots, on the other hand, have purplish or greenish-white, hairy bark. Its leaves are made up of tiny leaflets and also vary in color from light to darker hue of green as they age.
Flowers can bloom within the first six months after planting. Malunggay’s blossoms are fragrant and surrounded by white-yellowish petals. These flowers develop into edible green elongated pods when young while mature fruits turn brown. The seeds inside are powdered and are used for several medicinal applications.
Health benefits of malunggay
Malunggay leaves are a staple in Filipino cuisine. They easily blend with other ingredients in tinola, soup, and ginataan. It is not mere garnishing but also a very nutritious ingredient. Here are some of the health benefits of malunggay.
- Malunggay leaves boost our immune system. A cup of malunggay leaves has more vitamin C or ascorbic acid than oranges. Vitamin C facilitates the proper functioning of the immune system. This helps protect you from foreign invaders (bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi) that cause infection, illness, and disease. It helps repair and strengthen our bodies.
A tablespoon of powdered malunggay leaves contains three grams of protein. Protein helps repair our muscles. Vitamin C, on the other hand, aids in forming collagen which boosts joint and bone health and enhances skin health. Ascorbic acid also contributes to wound healing and the maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.
It normalizes blood sugar levels. Moringa leaves have insulin-like proteins. These help the body process sugar better and improve how the body naturally releases insulin. Therefore, having malunggay-based coffee may help you prevent diabetes and its complications.
Malunggay helps you relax. A cup of malunggay leaves contains 8% RDA of magnesium, a chemical element that helps the body relax. This nutrient reduces stress and helps you sleep longer. A cup of malunggay tea hours before bedtime may help you gain your much-needed sleep.
- It may improve digestion. Fibers comprise 33% of malunggay leaf. Eating fiber-rich foods like malunggay helps move the food we eat along the large intestine more quickly. Fiber also absorbs water, therefore it promotes regular bowel movements.
- Malunggay may prevent diseases caused by free radicals. Free radicals are responsible for many chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart problems, and Alzheimer’s. Malunggay leaves are rich with antioxidants which reverse the effects of free radicals present in the environment.
- Malunggay helps you keep your good eyesight.
Vitamin A in malunggay plays a crucial role in vision by maintaining a clear cornea, which is the outside covering of your eye.
- Good for the skin and hair. Moringa improves skin elasticity, keeping it supple, and also helps lighten the skin because of its rich Vitamins A and C content. The same vitamins and nutrients are also needed to keep the scalp and hair healthy to reduce hair loss.
- Malunggay may reduce inflammation. Inflammation is a natural response of our bodies to infection or injury. However, prolonged inflammation is linked to many chronic health problems, including heart disease and cancer. Scientists found that there are anti-inflammatory compounds in malunggay leaves, pods, and seeds.
- It may treat arthritis. Early studies show that malunggay leaf extract may lower fluid swelling, redness, and pain among people experiencing rheumatoid arthritis.
- It is believed to improve memory. Some experts believe that antioxidants and other substances may promote memory. Go on and chow down on that brainpower!
- It helps mothers produce more milk. For many years, malunggay leaves are given to mothers who have just given birth to increase the flow of their milk. Studies proved that indeed malunggay leaves are a natural galactagogue or lactation inducer.
After learning these health benefits of malunggay, you will no longer ask why it is called a miracle tree.