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Moringa oleifera is the most widely cultivated species of the genus Moringa, which is the only genus in the family Moringaceae. It is an exceptionally nutritious vegetable tree with a variety of potential uses. Moringa is native to the sub-Himalayan tracts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. This rapidly-growing tree is known as the horseradish tree, or drumstick tree. It is a perennial softwood tree with timber of low quality, but which for centuries has been advocated for traditional medicinal and industrial uses.
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Botanical Names
Moringa oleifera
Indian Names
Sanskrit : Surajana Marathi : Shevaga Hindi : Sahjan Gujarati : Saragvo Tamil : Murungai Maran Telugu : Munagachettu Kannada : Nuggekayee Bengali : Shojne danta
Chemical Constituents
Moringa oleifera is very nutritious plant. It possesses different chemical constituents. The leaves are highly nutritious, being a significant source of beta-carotene, Vitamin C, protein, iron, and potassium. The tree is a good source for calcium and phosphorus. Leaf provides protein, calcium, iron and vitamin A. The bark, sap, roots, leaves, seeds, oil, and flowers are used in traditional medicine in several countries. In particular, this plant family is rich in compounds containing the simple sugar, rhamnose, and it is rich in a fairly unique group of compounds called glucosinolates and isothiocyanates. While these compounds are relatively unique to the Moringa family, it is also rich in a number of vitamins and minerals as well as other more commonly recognized phytochemicals such as the carotenoids including β-carotene or pro-vitamin A (1). The leaves of M. oleifera are a good source of protein, vitamin A, B and C and minerals such as calcium and iron. Different parts of this plant contain a profile of important minerals, and are a good source of protein, vitamins, β-carotene, amino acids and various phenolics. The Moringa plant provides a rich and rare combination of zeatin, quercetin, β-sitosterol, caffeoyl quinic acid and kaempferol.
Pesticide Limits
A limit for pesticide is one of the major issues in standardization of medicinal plants and products in view of the worldwide widespread use of pesticides in cultivated plants. The presence of pesticides in extracts increase the health risk by many folds. The pesticides can be extremely irritant on skin as well as in the internal organs, it is essential to monitor its concentration as a part of GMP. Various analytical methods for the quantitative determination of pesticides by gas chromatography coupled with mass-spectrophotometer are in use. Konark Research Foundation (KRF), a NABL certified lab is well equipped with the latest technology and instruments and monitors the pesticide limit as part of its GMP.
Chromatographic Profile
From the pharmacopoeial perspective, a better quality control of raw material can be achieved by specifying quantitative test procedure for the determination of the range or a minimum content of the active ingredient or marker substances. A chromatographic finger profile represents qualitative/ quantitative determination of various components present in a complex plant extract, irrespective whether or not their exact identity is known. Thin layer chromatographic technique is the simplest and least expensive method that provides plenty of information on the composition of raw herbs and its preparation. For quantitative analysis of active ingredients or marker substances with simultaneous separation and detection High Pressure liquid chromatography is the best technique. We use the latest model of HPLC for all its analysis.
Limits of Impurities
A test requirement for foreign organic matter would ensure the extent of contamination of extraneous matters such as filth and other parts of botanicals not covered by the definition of the herbal drug. Since sand and soil are predictable contaminants of botanicals, test requirements for ‘total ash’, water soluble ash’, ‘acid soluble ash’, residue on ignition and sulphated ash would be expected to limit such contaminants. Test requirement for heavy metals in botanical raw material are probably more relevant for parts of plants growing under ground than for the aerial parts of the plant. The presence of high levels of minerals interacts with the final product there by affecting its keeping quality.
Microbial Limits
If the raw herbs are to be used directly without boiling in water prior to consumption, restrictive limits on microbial contaminants are required for pathogens such as Salmonella sp. Enterobacter and E. coli which are causative agent for various gastrointestinal diseases. A lower level of yeasts and molds and a limit on total aerobes are considered appropriate in plant material for topical use. The presence of aflatoxins detected by chemical means is generally independent of the number of viable molds that are detected using microbiological methods. Aflatoxins in microgram quantity are capable of giving serious hypersensitivity reactions which can be extremely harmful to human health.
Pharmacology
Moringa oleifera is a highly valued plant, distributed in many countries of the tropics and subtropics. It has an impressive range of medicinal uses with high nutritional value. M. oleifera is very important for its medicinal value. Various parts of this plant such as the leaves, roots, seed, bark, fruit, flowers and immature pods act as cardiac and circulatory stimulants. It possess anti tumor, antipyretic, antiepileptic, anti inflammatory, antiulcer, antispasmodic, diuretic, antihypertensive, cholesterol lowering, antioxidant, anti diabetic, hepato protective, antibacterial and antifungal activities (3). Specific components of Moringa preparations that have been reported to have hypo-tensive, anticancer, and antibacterial activity include 4-Benzyl isothiocy-anate, 4-benzyl isothiocy-anate, niazimicin, pterygospermin, benzyl isothiocyanate, and 4- benzyl glucosinolate. In addition to its substantial uses and nutritional benefits, M. oleifera also has a great potential as a medicinal plant. The flowers, leaves and roots are used for the treatment of ascites, rheumatism and venomous bites and as cardiac and circulatory stimulants in folk remedies. The roots of the young tree and also root bark are rubefacient and vesicant. The seeds also have antimicrobial activity.Leaves of Moringa or drumstick tree (Moringa oleifera) have shown the anticancer activity against leukemia and hepatocarcinoma cells in vitro. The extracts could kill majority of the abnormal cells among primary cells harvested from 10 patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and 15 with acute myeloid leukemia as well as a culture of hepato carcinoma cells. Thus M. oleifera may have potential for use as source of natural treatment for diseases such as cancer.
Health Benefits
Moringa oleifera possesses medicinal properties and also very nutritious in nature. Moringa trees can be used to combat malnutrition especially among infants and nursing mothers. Three non-governmental organizations advocated Moringa as “natural nutrition for the tropics.” Moringa leaves contain more Vitamin A than carrots, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach, more Vitamin C than oranges, and more potassium than bananas. Moringa oleifera is esteemed as a versatile plant due to its multiple uses. The leaves, fruits, flowers and immature pods of this tree are edible and they form a part of traditional diets in many countries of the tropics and sub-tropics. In addition to its substantial uses and nutritional benefits, M. oleifera also has a great potential as a medicinal plant. The flowers, leaves and roots are used for the treatment of ascites, rheumatism and venomous bites and as cardiac and circulatory stimulants in folk remedies. The roots of the young tree and also root bark are rubefacient and vesicant in nature. Moringa oleifera leaves possess many beneficial health benefits. It is used to treat piles, fevers, sore throat, bronchitis, eye and ear infections, scurvy and catarrh. Leaf juice is believed to control glucose levels, applied to reduce glandular swelling. Flowers of Moringa oleifera possess high medicinal value as a stimulant, aphrodisiac, abortifacient, cholagogue. It is also used to cure inflammations, muscle diseases, hysteria, tumors, enlargement of the spleen, and lower the serum cholesterol.
Application in Cosmetics
The seed extract of moringa herb is popular for its therapeutic skin care benefits and skin purifying properties. Moringa can be used as a natural skin care products which help in natural environmental protection of skin and anti-aging properties. Also, moringa is also called as purifying tree because of the highly remarkable quality purifying seed extract that is obtained from moringa seeds.
Research References
1. W. Fahey. Moringa oleifera: A Review of the Medical Evidence for Its Nutritional, Therapeutic, and Prophylactic Properties. Part 1 Trees for Life Journal a forum on beneficial trees and plants Jed 2. Foidl N., Makkar H.P.S. and Becker K. THE POTENTIAL OF MORING OLEIFERA FOR AGRICULTURAL AND INDUSTRIAL USES 2001. Dar Es Salaam 3. FAROOQ A. AND UMER R. PHYSICO-CHEMICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF MORINGA OLEIFERA SEEDS AND SEED OIL FROM A WILD PROVENANCE OF PAKISTAN 4. Brett C. J. Clinical Perspectives on the Health Effects of Moringa oleifera: A Promising Adjunct for Balanced Nutrition and Better Health KOS Health Publications 2005 5. Farooq A., Sajid L., Muhammad A. and Anwarul H. G. Moringa oleifera: A Food Plant with Multiple Medicinal Uses PHYTOTHERAPY RESEARCH Phytother 2007 (21): 17–25