(a) A tree of Moringa oleifera, (b) Moringa flowers and leaves.
Moringa oleifera Lam. is a miracle plant, native to the Indian subcontinent, where its various parts are valuable for food and medicine. Moringa is also called
plant that never die, due to its ability to survive harsh weather and drought. In Indonesia, moringa is known as kelor. Kelor, in Javanese tradition, is often to be connected with its magical, or supranatural properties.
Moringa is also known as drumstick tree, horseradish tree, clarifier tree, ben oil tree, and benzoil tree. Other common names of moringa, includes, Kalor, Merunggai, Sajina (Malay), Chùm ngây (Viet), Ma-rum (Thai), Malunggay (Tagalog), Sahjan (Hindi), Surajana (Sanskrit), Sajiwan, Swejan (Nepali). Moringa can grow either, in lowland, or highland up to 1000 m above sea level, and reach a height of 7–12 m.
The seed of moringa is said to be eaten like a peanut, in Malaya. Thickened root used as substitute for horseradish. Foliage eaten as greens, in salads, in vegetable curries, as pickles, and for seasoning. Leaves pounded up, to be used for scrubbing utensils, and also for cleaning walls.
In Africa, commonly planted as a living fence tree. Moringa trees planted on graves are believed to keep away hyenas, and its branches are used as charms against witchcraft.
Moringa is called miracle plant, because it has many active substances, or bioactive compounds, such as:
- Anti-anxiety, or Anxiolytic.
- Anti-hyperthyroidism (substance that inhibits hyperthyroidism, an excessive production of thyroid hormone by the thyroid gland).
- Anti-progestational (disturbing the phase of the menstrual cycle).
- Antiscorbutic (rich in vitamin C).
- Antispasmodic (substance that relieves, prevents, or lowers the incidence of muscle spasms).
- Counter-irritant (applied to the skin to provoke a mild inflammation, and relieve deeper pain, either by improving the blood supply, or by interfering with the passage of sensory nerve impulses).
- Diuretic (promotes the increased production of urine, to help reducing the amount of water in the body, and to lower high blood pressure).
- Emmenagogue (substance that stimulate blood flow in the pelvic area, and uterus, to promote menstrual discharge).
- Estrogenic (substance which acting like estrogen).
- Galactagogue (promotes lactation, in humans and animals).
- Hypocholesterolemic (substance that promotes hypocholesterolemia, condition of abnormally low levels of cholesterol in the blood).
- Hypoglicemic (substance that promotes hypoglycemia, or insulin reaction, or low blood sugar).
- Purgative (substance that makes you empty your bowels).
- Rubefacient (substance for external application that produces redness of the skin, by causing dilation of the capillaries, and an increase in blood circulation, to relieve acute, or chronic pain).
- Stimulant (substance that induce temporary improvements in either mental, or physical functions, or both).
Moringa History as Folk Medicine
According to NCI's Jonathan L. Hartwell's works of study from 1967–1971, the roots of moringa are used in folk remedies for tumors. In Nicaragua, the root decoction is used to treat dropsy.
Moringa roots are bitter, acrid, and pungent, which act as a tonic to the body and lungs, are taken to promote digestion. Moringa roots are also act as an expectorant, mild diuretic, and a stimulant in paralytic afflictions, epilepsy, and hysteria
Moringa leaves, which have purgative properties, applied as poultice to relieve sores, and rubbed on the temples for headaches. Moringa leaves are used as poultice on the abdomen to expel intestinal worms.
In Guatemala, moringa leaf is used for skin infections and sores. In Malaysia, Puerto Rico and Venezuela, it is used as a cure for intestinal worms. In Nicaragua, moringa leaves are used to cure headache. In Philippines, it is used to cure anemia, glandular swelling and lactation. In Senegal, moringa leaves are used to treat diabetes.
Moringa leaves are rich in vitamins A and C, ß carotene, potassium, calcium, iron and phosphorus. Moringa leaves have the calcium equivalent of four glasses of milk, the vitamin C content of seven oranges, potassium of three bananas, three times the iron of spinach, four times the amount of vitamin A in carrots, and two times the protein in milk.
The decoction of moringa flowers, combined with cow's milk, is an excellent herbal tonic for sexual weakness, and functional infertility of both males, and females. Powdered moringa bark is used to improve quality of semen, and premature ejaculation in male.
Moringa is a natural medicine for digestive disorder. The combination of fresh leaf extract, one teaspoon honey, and one glass of coconut water is an excellent herbal antidote for cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, jaundice, and colitis.
Moringa leaf extract mixed with cucumber, or carrot juice is a natural antidote for dysuria, and high acid percentage in urine. Moringa leaf extract mixed with lime juice is helpful for the treatment for pimples, black head, and age spots. On regular use it adds natural radiance on skin tone.
An ointment which is made from moringa leaves mixed with whiting (calcium carbonate) is used to treat rheumatism. The decoction of fresh leaves extract mixed with one teaspoon honey, and one glass of water is used to treat nyctalopia (night-blindness). An eye drops which are made from moringa leaves extract is used to treat eye-ache.
Moringa in Javanese Tradition
Dunia Tak Selebar Daun Kelor
Above quote translates in English as
The world is not as wide as moringa leaf. Other common English quote, which is similiar to above quote,
The world is bigger than your backyard. The meaning is quite simple, that is, the world is not as small as you think it is. Open up your view, and not just being shallow minded people! We all have different parts to make this world a better place. Start from your little place called home.
Moringa or kelor in Javanese tradition, as I have mentioned earlier in this post, is connected with its magical, or supranatural properties. Just like in Africa, which kelor branches are used as charms against witchcraft, Javanese people believed, that kelor trees planted on homeyard, are also used as charms against witchcraft.
Kelor branch with some leaves attached is used to remove supranatural thing inside
near death, or coma patient, by hitting the patient's body with the branch. Supranatural thing, or
susuk in Javanese term, that I mentioned before, is a kind of silver, or gold needle. Susuk is planted below the skin of elbow, shoulder, foot, arm or face, to use it as charms, for labor job, in sports, for health and longevity.
My Great Grandfather, which I had mentioned about him in my earlier post, who died at the age of 95 years, was also had to be hit with a branch of kelor leaves, to remove the susuk inside his body, in order to give him a peaceful death, in his bed.
Kemade kelor, or in English is known as moringa parasite, is a kind of parasite which is seldom be found on moringa branches. Javanese people believed that kemade kelor have more healing effects than any other parts of moringa tree. Only for those who needed the most, for healing purpose, could found it.
My friend was once told me a story about his neighbour who searched for kemade kelor on a metre of height moringa tree, near his house. His neighbour could not find it anywhere on the tree. But an hour later, his brother searched again the kemade kelor for his brother's friend. His brother managed to find this amazing kemade kelor for his friend. I couldn't find any image in the internet about this magical, and miraculous moringa parasite.
Mustika galih kelor, or in English known as moringa bark fossil, is a stone which is made from moringa bark fossil. The stone could also be found on a 12 m height of hundreds years old moringa tree. Javanese people believed that by wearing the stone, it will gain several magical effects, such as unlimited health, body armour, and charms against witchcraft.
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- Image from ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Hartwell, J.L. 1967–1971. Plants used against cancer. A survey.
- Duke, J.A. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops.
- Patel, S. et al 2010. Moringa oleifera: A Review of There Medicinal and Economical Importance to the Health and Nation.
- Tanaman obat Indonesia. Sentra Informasi IPTEK.