Ah, the malunggay tree. You just cannot not love it.
The multi-purpose malunggay tree (its scientific name is Moringa Oleifera), once considered “the poor man’s veggie,” has been touted as a “miracle tree” or “nature’s medicine cabinet” by scientists and health care workers from around the world. As clinical pharmacologist Monica Marcu explains in this video interview, this single plant “contains a wide variety of nutrients in high amounts.”
Dr. Marcu, who has made some extensive research on the significant nutritional potency of malunggay, says that the “miracle vegetable” is an ideal energy food — the leaves can actually be eaten raw, but best added in meals as a special ingredient — or diet supplement that “can help offset a typically unhealthy Western diet” due to its high concentration of nutrients combined with low calories and low sodium content. The author of the recently published book Miracle Tree adds that “most Westerners are deficient in antioxidants mostly found in plants.”
Findings of a study made in India, which were used as the basis of many news reports on malunggay as a wonder plant, states that malunggay contains anti-cancer compounds (phytochemicals) that help stop the growth of cancer cells. Malunggay is said to be effective in treating ovarian cancer, among a host of other diseases like arthritis, anemia, heart complications, kidney problems, scurvy, asthma, and digestive disorders (ulcer, gastritis, diarrhea, colitis, dysentery).
Aside from these, malunggay helps lactating mothers produce more milk. So a breastfeeding mother, say, in poverty-stricken areas in Africa, where cases of malnourishment are quite rampant, can curb malnourishment in her family if she eats malunggay-filled soup or salad, or just about any meal with malunggay ingredients.
According to the Los Angeles Times article written by Mark Fritz way back in March 2000, an ounce of malunggay leaves is worth four glasses of milk (calcium), seven oranges (vitamin C), three bananas (potassium).
The malunggay plant is also a proven water purifier with its remarkable antiparasitic, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. Its seeds can be used to clean dirty or polluted water.
So, basically, having malunggay trees planted in your garden is like having your ready pharmacy that offers free medicines in your own backyard. (Note: If you want to know how to plant and harvest a malunggay tree, click here. Two American volunteer workers, who are part of the Moringa Project in an African community, show you how it’s done in this video.)
Hawaii-based farmer Vicky Domingo, who has been planting malunggay trees for more than 25 years now, reportedly harvests malunggay twice a week all year round. She says that all parts of the malunggay tree are usable for nutritional and medicinal purposes — from the roots, trunk, and branches to the leaves, flowers, and seeds. The roots, for instance, can be used to make tea, while the trunk, after it’s scraped and squeezed for its juice, can be used to clean wounds.
Malunggay trees thrive in countries that have hot and dry climates. These plants grow wildly and do extraordinarily well in such tropical conditions. They can be found mainly in Southeast Asia, Central and South America, and Africa. It is said that these plants are “low maintenance,” requiring little to no care, which makes it so easy for cash-strapped people to gain health without thinking of budget concerns.
In the Philippines, anything malunggay-related has become an “in thing” ever since the mainstream media reported the plant’s medical wonders on TV and in print.
The Philippine Department of Education had initiated the planting of malunggay in school yards. Moreover, it had promoted the serving of malunggay meals (using 40 original malunggay recipes its health and nutrition center had created) in public elementary schools, where there are lots of undernourished school children. Malunggay recipes, featured in the cookbook, include polvoron, fish balls, buchi-buchi, lumpia, malunggay con caldo, mal-pinakbet, and malunggay laing, plus malunggay-based shakes and juices.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Department of Agriculture had urged the planting of malunggay as a “revenue-generating industry” under its biotechnology program and had encouraged households to plant malunggay in vegetable gardens for personal consumption.
According to this opinion column, Sen. Loren Legarda, an environment advocate, is giving away free malunggay seedlings to those who ask for them.
Today, there is a wide array of malunggay products manufactured in the Philippines and being sold in local and international markets — malunggay tea, malunggay pan de sal, malunggay polvoron, malunggay oil (for cooking and cosmetic purposes), malunggay noodles, malunggay food powder, malunggay supplement capsules, malunggay shampoo and conditioner, and yes, even malunggay ice cream. You name it, the people of the malunggay industry have it, or are currently manufacturing it.
It’s almost too good to be true, this ‘malunggay magic.’ But it is true, and scientific findings can prove it. The malunggay hype is not without basis.
So, if you can plant a malunggay tree or two in your backyard, why not start now? It can save your life and help you cut down on medical costs in these trying financial times. (Source: YouTube video courtesy of the Youmanitas Energy Farms in Holland)