Mother's best friend, that's what it's called in Africa. If a nursing mother adds it to her daily diet, more milk is produced. A malnourished child eating it daily can regain his weight. This plant brings many benefits for the body and is easily grown in tropical locations.

The name of the plant is Moringa Oleifera, sometimes called the miracle tree because all of its parts; leaves, flowers, seeds, bark and roots has nutritional and medicinal uses. Not only that, oil extracted from the plant can be used as lubrication for delicate machineries like mechanical watches and clocks. It's oil, which does not become rancid can also be used for cooking.

Moringa Oleifera is native to India, Arabia and Africa. It also widely cultivated in tropical America, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Malabar Malaysia and the Philippine Islands.

It's also called with different names in different places. Malunggay or kamunggay in the Philippines, drumstick tree in India, benzolive in Haiti. Others also call it the horse radish tree because of its roots.

The nutrients, antioxidants from phytochemicals and medicinal constituents of this plant are too numerous to mention. A major aspect of this plant is that it is low in fat and carbohydrates. A gram for gram comparison to some of its nutrients with popular nutritious foods are listed below:

- Vitamin C: 7 times more than in oranges
- Vitamin A: 4 times more than in carrots
- Calcium : 4 times more than in milk
- Protein : 2 times more than in milk
- Iron : 3 times more than in spinach

Vitamin C can provide you with water soluble antioxidants and vitamin A provides you with fat soluble antioxidants.

According to a research done in Tanzania by Optima of Africa, Ltd., daily ingestion of 25 grams leaf powder of this plant will give a child the following percentage of recommended daily allowance:

- Protein 42%
- Calcium 125%
- Magnesium 61%
- Potassium 41%
- Iron 71%
- Vitamin A 272%
- Vitamin C 22%

In places where food is scare or if the cost of food is economically high, this plant can provide a good alternative considering it is easily grown in poor soil and can be planted in the backyard.

Some folk lore medicinal uses which scientists are beginning to confirm are the following:

- Juice from the leaves stabilizes blood pressure
- Flowers are anti inflammatory
- Pods can ease joint pains
- Roots can to treat rheumatism
- Bark can be chewed for digestive remedies

Other properties of this plant include: anti-fungicidal, anti-microbial and anti-cancer. The Phytochemicals glucosinolates and isothiocyanates helps in preventing lung and esophageal cancer and can also lower the risk of other cancer forms.

To treat minor cuts and sores, the leaves can be applied as a poultice because of its anti-microbial properties.

This plant can be propagated by either planting the seed or cutting a branch, 2 feet or longer, and then shoving about one third of the length to the ground. It can thrive even in poor soil.

This plant has little commercial use since anybody can plant it in their backyard. Only after a few months from planting, leaves can be harvested and ready to be eaten with all its nutrients and benefits for the body.

Plants where green tea and herbal teas come from needs to be taken care of and cultivated properly and the final product costs more. Whereas Moringa Oleifera can be planted almost anywhere. Truly it can be considered a poor man's food source of essential nutrients.

Nature has provided us with this miracle plant, why not plant one of our own in our backyard?

Author's Bio: 

The author blogs about antioxidants where you can find a topic on herbal green tea. You may also want to learn more about green tea extract.