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Medicinal Plant Moringa oleifera (Sahijan)


  Common Name
  Moringa oleifera Plant
  Chemical Constituents
  Moringa oleifera as Medicinal plant
  Moringa oleifera other uses
  Moringa oleifera fight malnutrition
  Recent research


   Moringa (botanical name “Moringa olefeira”) or Sahijan  (सहजन) also called Drumstick tree or Horseradish tree is a versatile tree useful not only for human beings but also for animals and also in various industrial applications. People in India have been using it as an item of their daily food for nearly 5000 years. It has been used in the Ayurvedic  for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans especially appreciated the healthy and cosmetic qualities of the oil that could be easily squeezed from its seeds.

      Moringa ( Sahjan) tree

   The Moringa plant  originated initially in the Northern part of India some 5000 years back and soon moved into the Southern parts as well, where it was known as ‘Murungai keerai’ (Moringa leaves) and ‘Murungai kaai’ (Moringa vegetable). The Moringa tree had spread to most part of Asia, nearly the whole of Africa, South America, southern part of North America and some pockets in Europe. It has been found useful in nutrition, agriculture, soil control, water purification, industrial applications, cattle feed etc and also for treating various types of illnesses in humans and livestock. People in India have been using it as an item of their daily food for nearly 5000 years.

    Moringa used as a vegetable and oil source. Moringa pods are an important commercial vegetable crop throughout India. The leaves have a high protein content of 27% and are rich in vitamins A and C, calcium, iron and phosphorus. The Bureau of Plant Industry, in its report, stated that weight per weight, Moringa leaves have the calcium equivalent of 4 glasses of milk, the vitamin C content of 7 oranges, potassium of 3 bananas, 3 times the iron of spinach, 4 times the amount of vitamin A in carrots, and 2 times the protein in milk.

  Common Name

 English -      Moringa, Drumstick tree, Horseradish tree
Latin  -         Moringa oleifera
Sanskrit -     Surajana
Hindi -         Sahjan  (सहजन)
Tamil    -      Murungai or murunga kaai
Kannada -    Keramaddinagaddi
Telgu       -   Mulakkaya
Malayalam-  Muringa.
Marathi     -  Shevga 
Gujarati    -  Saragvo
Bengali       Sojne danta
Oriya          Sajana or Sujuna
Punjabi       Surajana
Nepali         Sajiwan or Swejan
Assamese  Sojina
Sinhalese   Murunga
Chinese     La mu ( 辣木 )

(  Moringa Tamil name is Murungai or murunga kaai suggested by S Varadachary. Thanks)

  Moringa oleifera Plant

  The Moringa plant is a perennial, evergreen tree that grows up to 20 ft (6.1 m) tall, with a straight trunk with corky, whitish bark. It grows well in hot, semi-arid and humid regions and in well-drained sandy or loamy soils. The tree has tuberous taproot and brittle stem is with corky bark. The leaves are pale green, compound, tripinnate, 30-60 cm (11.8 to 23.6 in) in length, with many small leaflets. The lateral leaflets are elliptic in shape while the terminal one is obovate and slightly larger than the lateral ones.

The fruit pods are pendulous, green turning greenish brown, triangular and split lengthwise into 3 parts when dry. The pods are 1 to 4 ft (30-120 cm) long and 1.8 cm (0.7 in) wide and tapering at both ends.

  Moringa ( Sahjan) fuits

    Moringa ( Sahjan) fruits

  The pods contain about 10 to 20 seeds embedded in the fleshy pith. The seeds are dark brown and the kernel is surrounded by a lightly wooded shell with three papery wings.

  Chemical Constituents

   The main constituents of Moringa plant are : deic, palmitic and stearic acid, saponins, glycoside, gum, protein Vitamins: A (8855 IU per 100g), B1, B2, B3, C  Minerals: calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium

   The leaves, flowers and pods are used as significant sources of vitamins A, B and C, riboflavin, nicotinic acid, folic acid, pyridoxine, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, calcium, iron, and alpha-tocopherol (Dahot, 1988). The pods are considered good sources of the essential amino acids. A compound found in the flowers and roots of the moringa tree, pterygospermin, has powerful antibiotic and fungicical effects (Das et al., 1957). More recently the ben oil has also been shown to be particularly effective in the manufacture of soap producing a stable lather with high washing efficiency suitable for some African countries. The root bark contains two alkaloids: moringine and moringinine.


   Seed must be relatively fresh to give a good germination. Warm temperatures are important for germination. Keep planted seeds well out of reach of mice and wood lizards, as the seed is nutty and considered a tasty morsel by these little scavengers. Stem cuttings, 10-60cm long, can also be struck in spring and summer.

Plant young trees in well-drained soil in a sunny, frost-free position. Trees are grown extensively in tropical, sub- tropical and warm temperature areas. It can be grown from seeds or stem cuttings about a metre long and 4cm in diameter.The seed can be sown directly on the spot or in a container and transplanted. If you are sowing directly, make sure to leave enough space and sunlight for the tree.

  Trees grown in temperate climates (particularly when small), need to be protected from strong winds and frost. Once trees have had 1-2 winters in cold climates, they do adapt, but may still go dormant in winter.

 The Moringa tree needs very little care, it is good to fertilize it periodically and water it regularly. If a tree lacks water, leaf harvest will be poor. The hairy caterpillar is a common pest. Seen in clusters on the bark, it defoliates the tree quickly. It can be controlled with soap and neem oil solution.

; Moringa Farming  Moringa oleifera is one of the worlds wonder crop, packed with nutrients in all its plant parts, especially in leaves, pods, flowers, seeds and roots are traditionally used by people to prevent many diseases.  The Moringa tree is also know as the horseradish tree or  drumstick tree.

  Moringa seed oil is popularly referred as ‘ben oil’ which has cosmetic and edible values and also used as lubricants. Besides, moringa oil is evaluated and proved as one of the potential biodiesel resource. Moringa is an exceptionally nutritious vegetable tree with a variety of potential uses.

 Moringa is a dietary food supplement
 In Moeinga leves or powder lots of health-ridden potents -antioxidants, phyto-nutrients, vitamin A, iron and vitamin C and other minerals are found.
 It's the Moringa leaf that's dried at low temperatures and then crushed and made into powder.

   Moringa oleifera as Medicinal plant

   The Moringa tree has great use medicinally both as preventative and treatment. .Sonjna (Moringa oleifera)  bark, sap, roots, leaves, seeds, oil, and flowers are used in traditional medicine in several countries.  A folk remedy for stomach complaints, catarrh, cancer, gastric ulcers, skin diseases, lowering blood sugar, increasing bone density, nervous conditions, diabetes, fatigue, increase lactation, hay fever, impotence, edema, cramps, hemorrhoids, headaches, sore gums; to strengthen the eyes  and the brain, liver, gall, digestive, respiratory and immune system, and as a blood cleanser and blood builder. A traditional folk remedy was to use the leaves as a poultice on the abdomen to expel intestinal worms. An infusion of leaves is used as an eye wash for treating conjunctivitis. 

  Soup prepared with drumstick leaves is extremely beneficial for the natural prevention for tuberculosis, bronchitis, and asthma. The decoction of drumstick leaves are taken as soup; for better taste lime juice, pepper, and salt can be added to it as per the discretion of the patient.

   Decoction made with fresh drumstick flowers and cow milk is an excellent herbal tonic for sexual weakness and functional infertility of both males and females. The powdered form of the bark, as a medicine, improves quality of semen and cures problem like premature ejaculation in male. The decoction of bark powder and water treated by honey is the herbal medicine should be taken in curing the problem of premature ejaculation.

  Drumstick is a natural medicine for digestive disorder.   The combination of fresh leaf extract, one teaspoon honey, and one glass of tender coconut water is an excellent herbal antidote for cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, jaundice, and colitis.

Fresh leaf-extract of drumstick leaves mixed with cucumber or carrot juice is a natural antidote for dysuria and high acid percentage in urine.  Drumstick leaf-extract treated by lime juice is helpful for the treatment for pimples, black head, and age spots. On regular use it adds natural radiance on skin tone.

  According to Hartwell (1967-1971), the drumstick flowers, leaves, seeds and roots are used for tumors. Roots are bitter, act as a tonic to the body and lungs, and are expectorant, diuretic and stimulant in paralytic afflictions, epilepsy and hysteria. The juice prepared from root is applied externally to heal irritation of skin.

  Moringa leaf powder is a powerful anti-cancer agent and a preventive against diseases such as the cardiovascular diseases, blood pressure regulation, blood sugar control, improving the immune and digestive systems and enhancing the mood. It can also be used to treat stomach ulcer, as it is capable of lining the stomach wall. It boosts the energy level of the body as it supplies tremendous amounts of energy to the human body.

  Moringa oleifera other uses

   Pod:  The Moringa fruit is a long thin pod resembling a drumstick.The Moringa pod is known as "drumstick" or saragwa or saragwe in India. In South India, it is used to prepare a variety of sambar and is also fried. It is also preserved by canning and exported worldwide.  It can be made into a variety of curry dishes by mixing with coconut, poppy seeds, and mustard. It can just be boiled until the drumsticks are semi-soft and consumed directly without any extra processing or cooking. It is used in curries, sambars, korm. Drumstick dal is also a very tasty version of the traditional 'toor dal'.

   Leaves:  The Moringa oleifera leaves are highly nutritious, being a significant source of beta-carotene, Vitamin C, protein, iron, and potassium. The leaves are cooked and used like spinach. In addition to being used fresh as a substitute for spinach, its leaves are commonly dried and crushed into a powder, and used in soups and sauces. Amino acids in green leaf vegetables vary considerably, and many that are staples, are low in the sulphur bearing amino acids methionine and cystine

  Flowers: The flowers are edible when cooked, and are said to taste like mushrooms.

     Moringa ( Sahjan) flowers

  Moringa ( Sahjan) flowers

  Ben Oil:  The Moringa seeds yield 38–40% edible oil (called ben oil from the high concentration of behenic acid contained in the oil). The refined oil is clear, odorless, and resists rancidity at least as well as any other botanical oil. The seed cake remaining after oil extraction may be used as a fertilizer or as a flocculent to purify water.Oil from the seed, called Oil of Ben, is used for earache and in ointments for skin conditions. The oil rubbed on the skin is said to prevent mosquitoes from biting. Flowers infused in honey are used as a cough remedy.

   Water treatment: Seeds crushed to a powder are used to clarify turbid, dirty water. The cleansing takes place by a process of electrical charges established between the muddy particles suspended in the water and the pulverized seeds, and gradually, after about an hour, the muddy particles are pulled to the bottom of the water by the force of gravity. Research shows that the seed not only settles the mud, but can carry with it over 90% of bacteria and viruses

   A great fodder for cattle:   Moringa tree has been of great use not only to the human beings in terms of their health in one form or the other but also for their livestock. Moringa makes a great fodder for cattle. The weight of livestock increased upto 32 per cent through moringa feed. And their milk yield of cows increased by 43 percent.
The dried leaves appear to be much more effective. One agriculturist fed his cows with just 2 kg of dry matter of Moringa per day in addition to the normal food he had been feeding them with and the milk production increased by 58 percent. Then he increased it to 3 kg per day, and the milk production increased by 65 percent.

    Bio-gas:  You can also produce methane out of the leaves. Experiments have established that it is possible to produce 4400 cubic meters of bio gas per hectare per year.

   Industrial uses:  The seed oil is used in arts and for lubricating watches and other delicate machinery, and useful in the manufacture of perfumes and hairdressings. The pressed cake obtained after oil extraction may be used as a fertilizer. The industrial uses of the drumstick tree include the use of its wood in paper and textile industries, bark in the tanning industry. The oil from the seeds contain a powerful flocculant of use in clarifying turbid water.

   Herbal Tea:  The Republic of Tea, a US-based maker of teas, herbal blends, books and nature-inspired sip ware, is set to unveil new products: Iced Tea –Large Tea Pouches and a line of SuperHerb Teas on 20-22 January 2013.

  Moringa oleifera fight malnutrition

   The Moringa or drumstick tree is an important food source in some parts of the world. Because it can be grown cheaply and easily, the leaves retaining lots of vitamins and minerals when dried, the drumstick tree is used in India and Africa in feeding programmes to fight malnutrition.

  The most nutritious part of the tree is the leaf, which has the highest amount of protein and is extremely rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, ribo-flavin, calcium, iron and magnesium. Three spoonfuls of moringa leaf  powder contain 272 per cent of a typical toddler’s daily Vitamin A  requirement, along with 42 per cent of the protein, 125 per cent of the calcium, 71 per cent of the iron and 22 per cent of the Vitamin C, as well as a full complement of minerals and all the amino acids of meat. Moringa has four times the vitamin A in carrots, seven times the vitamin C in oranges, and four times the calcium in milk.

   From the pure moringa tree leaf constitutes the organic, natural, endurance and energy supplement of health. Of all the common green leafy vegetables, drumstick leaves have the highest amount of protein. Moringa is used in many parts of the world to prevent malnutrition and to combat several diseases, such as childhood blindness associated with vitamin deficiencies and other essential dietary insufficiencies.
 According to researchers, Moringa oleifera has been reported to contain a rich store of elements like zinc, which possesses antisickling activity, as well as organic acids. The leaves are also rich sources of flavonols and Phenolic acids which could be responsible for the exhibited antisickling activities.


   India is the largest producer of Moringa, with an annual production of 1.1 to 1.3 million tonnes of tender fruits from an area of 380 km². Among the states, Andhra Pradesh leads in both area and production (156.65 km²) followed by Karnataka (102.8 km²) and Tamil Nadu (74.08 km²). In other states, it occupies an area of 46.13 km². Tamil Nadu is the pioneering state insomuch as it has varied genotypes from diversified geographical areas and introductions from Sri Lanka. It will support the farmers to improve their livelihood.

 Moringa seed contains 40% by weight of oil. Laboratory tests confirmed that the presscake remaining after oil extraction still contains the active coagulants. It can be used to treat water. Presscake can also be dried and stored. It may be obtained without cost as a by-product of oil extraction.

 Thus Moringa seeds can be used first for oil extraction, without reducing their effectiveness for water treatment. Moringa oil is of high quality and potentially has a high market value. The oil is of equal value both for cooking oil and as the main ingredient for the  manufacture, powder, soap, creams, hand and dish washers, pills, tea bags, toothpaste and other products. Additional benefits include its ornamental character, its high rate of growth, its easy cultivation, and the ability to withstand severe pruning.

  Recent research

   Indian scientists have discovered an even more tantalising application of Moringa oleifera, the drumstick plant "murunga", liquid extracted from its leaves can prevent lethal radiation damage to living tissues. The discovery by radiobiologists at the Jawaharlal Nehru Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, Bhopal, raises fresh hopes that compounds from medicinal plants might emerge a major source of natural drugs that could prevent the harmful effects of radiation damage to living tissues.

  The drumstick  might one day find use in improving the efficiency of cancer treatment with radiation because it can reduce the severe side-effects of radiotherapy. Radiation damage to normal tissues in the body lead to the adverse effects associated with radiotherapy.  Researchers in Japan and elsewhere had shown that Moringa Oleffera extracts had antitumour and anti- inflammatory agents..

  In preliminary research, moringa seed powder is being assessed for its potential to make river water potable  Research showed that filtering with seed powder may diminish water pollution and bacterial counts.

   A new findings, which suggested that "Moringa oleifera"  may play a role in the management of sickle cell disease, by incorporation of its fractions into recipes was carried out by Olufunmilayo E. Adejumo; Adelodun L. Kolapo, and Akintomiwa O. Folarin. The 2012 study entitled “Moringa oleifera Lam. (Moringaceae) grown in Nigeria: In vitro anti-sickling activity on deoxygenated erythrocyte cells” was documented in the*Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences.


   1. Roloff, A.; Weisgerber, H.; Lang, U.; Stimm, B.(2009), "Moringa oleifera" 
   2. L.J. Fuglie (1999). - Moringa: Natural Nutrition for the Tropics
   3. Lea, Michael (2010). - Bioremediation of Turbid Surface Water Using Seed Extract from Moringa oleifera Lam.
(Drumstick) Tree 
   4. Jed W. Fahey (2005). "Moringa oleifera: A Review of the Medical Evidence for Its Nutritional, Therapeutic, and
Prophylactic Properties. Part 1.". .
   5. Sanford Holst (2011).- Moringa  (2 ed.).Santorini Publishing.
   6. Water Purification with Moringa Seeds, African Journal of Agricultural Research,

 Substitute for many foods

Moringa contains benzyl isothiocyanate that have chemoprotective and anti-cancer properties. Moringa is also said to balance sugar levels, hence it is helpful in the fight against diabetes.

It contains more than 90 nutrients and 46 types of antioxidants. Antioxidants are imprint in health because they fight and kill free radicals which are the main culprits in many diseases including cancer.  Also, there are no side-effects of moringa tree leaves which have been proven up to this time. 


Castro Shares Thoughts On Medicinal Values Of Moringa Plant

  The leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro has praised Moringa Oleifera and mulberry plants for their medicinal and nutritional values
  "Originally from India, Moringa is the only plant that has every kind of amino acid. With proper planting and management, its green-leaf production can exceed 300 tonnes per hectare in a year. It has dozens of medicinal properties," Castro said in an article posted at the Cubadebate website.
 "Its effects on the digestive system are very good as with all plants, apart from its high protein qualities, but people should not eat more than 30 grammes per day, depending on intestinal motility," he wrote.

Food Value
According to a study a Moringa leaf is more than 25 percent protein, which is as much as in eggs and twice the amount of milk. It has four times the amount of vitamin A of carrots, four times the amount of calcium in milk, seven times the vitamin C of oranges, three times more potassium than bananas, and significant amounts of iron, phosphorus and other minerals.
  It has begun to proliferate in recipes such as Moringa tea, Moringa corn stew, yellow rice with Moringa, scrambled Moringa; sautéed onion, peppe r and buttered Moringa; and Moringa salad. 

  Moringa tea
 Moringa tea is made by harvesting fresh leaves from the Moringa tree and drying them at low temperatures to preserve the vital nutrients that will be released into the tea water. Dried leaves are then shredded and either retained in their loose form or bagged as bags. The leaves are steeped in hot water for several minutes in a traditional tea-making process. In this study, which was a follow-up to use moringa tea in folk medicine as an analgesic and for the treatment of pain and inflammation, the researchers assessed the anti-sickling potential of methanol extract (ME), aqueous extract (AqE), ethyl acetate (EA) and butanol (BU) of the seeds, flowers and leaves of Moringa oleifera. In addition, they pointed out that the best tea from moringa plant is that made from its flowers and seeds.

Moringa Oleifera Seeds

 Moringa oleifera seeds has been discovered to be a primary, natural coagulant for purifying water without side effects observed when we use alum or other chemicals. Because of this attribute of moringa oleifera seeds, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria has built a functional water treatment plant based on the moringa oleifera seed principle. At home,the seeds can be used just like alum.

  Drumstick leaf porial Recipe
  The Ingredients for the preparation of Drumstick leaf porial Recipe are:
  Oil - 2 tsp, ½ tsp mustard, 
 2 tsp urad dal,  3 dry chillies, broken,  
 4 pods garlic, chopped, 
 ½ cup onion, chopped
  2 cups drumstick leaves
  1/3 cup water
  2 tbsp grated coconut
  3 tbsp roasted groundnut, crushed salt for taste
  The Method: 
  First heat the oil in a pan and fry the mustard, urad dal, chillies, garlic and onion, in that order. Add drumstick leaves and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add salt and water. Cook till water evaporates. Add coconut and groundnut and mix.

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