Scientific name: Moringa oelifera
Malunggay leaves was once considered a "poor man's vegetables" but now it is known as a "miracle tree" or "nature's medicine cabinet" by scientists and health care workers from around the world because it is loaded with vitamins and minerals that can be an effective remedy against many kinds of ailments.
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 small, oval, dark-green leaves are famous vegetable ingredient in soup, fish and chicken dishes. The leaves can actually be eaten raw, but best added in meals due to its high concentration of nutrients. The roots is used to make tea, while the trunk, after it's scraped and squeezed for its juice is used to clean wounds.
- Malunggay leaves helps strengthens the immune system.
- Malunggay can help restores skin condition, controls blood pressure, relieves headaches and migraines.
- Malunggay tea can help strengthen the eye muscles.
- Malunggay tea can help heal inflammation of the joints and tendons.
- Malunggay tea can prevent intestinal worms.
- Malunggay can help increase semen count.
- Malunggay help normalize blood sugar level therefore preventing diabetes.
- Malunggay has anti-cancer compounds (phytochemicals) that help stop the growth of cancer cells.
- Malunggay helps relax and promotes good night sleep.
- Malunggay tea is used to treat fever and asthma.
- Malunggay help heals ulcers.
- Malunggay is high in calcium (four times the calcium in milk), therefore lactating mothers are advised to consume malunggay leaves to produce more milk for their babies. The young malunggay leaves are also boiled and taken as tea.
- Malunggay contains three times the potassium in bananas.
- Malunggay contain four times the vitamin A in carrots.
- An ounce of malunggay has the same Vitamin C content as seven oranges.
- Malunggay leaves contain two times the protein in milk.
- Malunggay seed is used to clean dirty or polluted water.
Malunggay as medicine
Studies have shown that malunggay can be used to treat a number of illnesses.
“Malunggay leaves are good for headache, bleeding from a shallow cut, bacterial and fungal skin complaints, anti-inflammatory gastric ulcers, diarrhea, and malnutrition,”
This is one reason why the government has used malunggay in its feeding and nutrition programs.
Internal organs are said to benefit from the vegetable. “Malunggay pods are dewormers, good for treating liver and spleen problems, pain of the joints, and malnutrition. Likewise, malunggay seeds treat arthritis, rheumatism, gout, cramp, STD, boils and urinary problems, and is a relaxant for epilepsy,” the senator added.
According to philippineherbalmedicine.org, the plant is anti-diabetic and anti-tumor: "There have been claims that malunggay can be used to lower blood pressure ... as well as its being an anti-tumor plant."
“Malunggay’s young leaves are edible and are commonly cooked and eaten like spinach or used to make soups and salads. They are an exceptionally good source of provitamin A, vitamins B and C, minerals (in particular iron), and the sulphur-containing amino acids
methionine and cystine," said Senator Loren Legarda.
Filipinos use malunggay (Moringa oleifera) in making halaan or clam soup or a vegetable dish called ginataang malunggay.
But adventurous cooks and chefs have started adding malunggay to pasta dishes, as well as to muffins, bread and polvoron.
According to Legarda, even malunggay seeds can be used for seasoning. “The dry seeds can be ground to a powder and used for seasoning sauces," she said.
And the roots and flowers have uses too. "The roots from young plants can also be dried and ground for use as a hot seasoning base with a flavor similar to that of horseradish. The flowers can be eaten after being lightly blanched or raw as a tasty addition to salads," added Legarda.
The senator revealed that malunggay can also be used as a vegetable cooking oil.