Moringa is a small, thin tree that is indigenous to northwestern India, particularly the southern foothills of the Himalayas, and grows primarily in tropical, subtropical, and semiarid climates (1). It is cultivated extensively in Central and South America, Africa, Indonesia, Mexico, Malaysia, the Philippines, and India.
Popularly known in many countries as a miracle plant, Moringa species are used both as food and in folkloric medicine (2). Moringa trees are commonly planted in Africa as a living fence and on graves to keep away hyenas, while its branches are used as charms against witchcraft.
The pounded leaves are used for scrubbing utensils and for cleaning walls. The wood yields a blue dye. The fiber obtained from the bark is used to make ropes and mats. The bark and gum are used for tanning hides. The leaves and young branches are fed to livestock. The seeds yield ben oil, which is used to lubricate delicate machinery. The oil is used in the manufacture of perfumes, cosmetics, and hairdressings. The mash left over from the oil extraction is used as a fertilizer.
Moringa oleifera seeds are used as an inexpensive and natural way to purify drinking water in developing countries (3;4;5;6). Moringa oleifera seeds have been used as a water softener (7;8).
Parts of moringa plants are used in traditional and folk medicine to treat a wide variety of conditions. The seeds have been used to treat allergies, inflammation, bacteria, neuralgia, abdominal tumors, and fever (9;10;11). The flowers have been used as an abortifacient and to treat tumors and colds (12). The fruit pods have been used to treat tetanus and paralysis (12). Moringa bark has been used to treat diarrhea and as an abortifacient (10). Moringa leaves have been used to treat hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, pain, stomach pain, diarrhea, sores, headaches, eye diseases, hallucinations, tumors, and scurvy, and as a digestive aid, purgative, and emetic (10;11;13;14;15). Moringa leaf has also been used traditionally for enhancing breast milk production (36;37). Moringa roots have been used to treat dropsy, rheumatism, paralysis, epilepsy, hysteria, cancer, inflammation, tumors, fevers, cough, cold, bronchitis, pectoral diseases, asthma, and gout, and as an anthelmintic, antispasmodic, anodyne, abortifacient, digestive aid, emmenagogue, antifertility aid, expectorant, and mild diuretic (10;11;12;16).
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