The miracle, multipurpose herb known as Zakalanda in Tonga is a drought-resistant deciduous tree botanically referred to as Moringa Oleifera. This Horseradish tree is native to Northern India and the Arabian subcontinent. In Zimbabwe, moringa has been found to house many nutritional and health benefits, which has brought into perspective the need to research more about its capabilities.
Moringa is an indigenous natural tree native to parts of Africa and Asia. It falls under the Moringaceae family with 13 species which vary in morpho- logical appearances based on climate differences. From where moringa most likely originated, it has exhibited cultivation characteristics that point to fair toleration towards a wide range of soil conditions suiting it for dry regions with minimal need of water as soggy lands negatively lead to rotting of the roots thus again elaborating to favor environmental conditions inclined to its desert thriving properties.
Although almost all parts of moringa are edible, in Zimbabwe, Moringa- Zakalanda has aided the local community of the third world country in various uses that can be identified based on the three most cultivated parts of the drumstick tree which are roots, leaves, and fruit pods. Based on traditional and historical evidence derived from the local Bantu people, recently Moringa has gained international attention which has seen preliminary scientific research studying to prove whether Moringa-Zakalanda has any effect on health or diseases.
Traditional medicinal and nutritional properties.
Moringa-Zakalanda leaves, flowers, fruits, bark, and roots are used in the preparation of several delicacies in Zimbabwe. Though some of the early practices by the African people may have not exemplified a safer way of administering herbs for medicinal use due to lack of governance and health legislation, the resulting health benefits however cannot be dismissed since the evidence of their efficacy is positive. Further research is required to assist the knowledge of the safer and effective practical application of the herb in both home and clinical setups.
The edible portions of Moringa are associated with a high nutritional value and this nutrition availability widely varies according to the region of the plant used. The remarkable range of nutritional properties makes this plant diverse in terms of its uses. Largely, the sub-Saharan region has been prone to malnutrition. According to M. oleifera’s nutritional content, it can be taken as a Malnutrition relief dietary supplement in infants. The mobilization of the early Zimbabwean local communities to administer Moringa to nursing mothers and infants has been an effective method of combating malnutrition in the presence of poverty and droughts that lead to poor protein and nutritional nourishment in daily diets.
Regional Scope of Moringa Nutritional value
In Zimbabwe, Binga area, and other parts of the country residents consume moringa- zakalanda leaves to boost their immune system. Compared to the rest of the plant, Zakalanda leaves host a significant value as a high source of nutritional content. The leaves of moringa- zakalanda are rich in nutrients such as B vitamins, vitamin C, Vitamin A, and several minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and manganese and proteins, amino acids. People who suffer from scurvy are encouraged to take moringa leaves since it is a good source of vitamin C. With regards to Vitamin A, Moringa is widely known to be rich in Vitamin A that is important for developing good eyesight, protecting and nourishing of skin and hair.
Citizens are adding moringa powder in their diet to maximize the abundance of magnesium and calcium in Moringa that can promote the formation of strong bones and teeth. The leaves have a slightly bitter flavor with grass-like and can often have a horseradish-like heat taste if one takes them raw but if cooked produces an aroma scent. Moringa zakalanda has essential amino acids that the body cannot manufacture on its own, making it a vital dietary supplement in everyday meals. It is also believed that the leaves are a good source of vitamin B6 and vitamin C which helps to enhance one skin.
Zakalanda has many culinary uses in Zimbabwe and at most the seeds are also being consumed as snacks either roasted or raw. Moringa seeds are also a good source of fiber that enhances the smooth movement of the bowel in the digestive system. When chewed raw the seeds taste sweet followed by a tingling bitter afterward.
Brief Medicinal Uses of Moringa
Moringa has various potentials to combat different health problems. Having several vitamins and minerals, Zakalanda has many medicinal properties that can protect the cardiovascular system, protect tissues, aid in fighting against bacterial diseases, and alleviate inflammation with its anti-inflammatory properties. The use of moringa in Zimbabwe is widely common within the HIV/AIDS community. It is recommended in traditional and herbal institutions because of its properties. In Zimbabwe the use of moringa as a medication is usually favored by consuming it as a part of the daily diet, making Moringa a useful culinary ingredient. Moringa leaves are the most commonly used part of the plant to combat flu, asthma, skin disease, headaches, ear infections, and blood pressure.
One can take fresh leaves or dried as a tea or use them as a spice. When ground, the powder from the leaves can be mixed with porridge or added to meals, soups, and sauces as a spice. The local Zimbabwean community used to prepare the leaves for medication by crushing or boiling the leaves and then use the resulting products to reduce symptoms of aches, pains, and help to combat sores. Moringa root has antimutagenic as well as antioxidant properties. Also, the plant seeds contain a range of phytochemicals, that include antioxidants such as vitamin C that help in preventing and treating cancer. Moringa seeds can help to combat sexually transmitted diseases, gout, epilepsy can also act as an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agent.
One can chew the seed or take it as a pill. The mature seed of moringa is rich in oil, containing crude oil which can be used to protect and nourish the skin and hair in people with skin conditions. The oil has a high proportion of monounsaturated fatty acid, which is has backing evidence that demonstrates that a having diet that is rich in monounsaturated fatty acid will reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Moringa seed consumption helps in treating diabetes. The presence of minerals like magnesium and manganese in the root bark of Moringa neutralizes the acid and increase gastric juice pH. This has seen Moringa housing the ability to cure gastric ulcers. To mitigate Ulcer pain, one can grind the bark and roots into the powder then dissolve the substance into the water or mix the powder with porridge before ingesting.
Moringa tree is indeed a multi-purpose tree, a gift from God, a miracle tree as it is termed in Zimbabwe. All parts of the moringa oleifera tree are said to possess vital elements that can help humankind. With vast uses, but yet little research and less clinical study, Moringa Oleifera remains to be fully explored in the clinical and food industry.
M.K. Nair, C. Varghese, R. Swaminathan Cancer current scenario, intervention strategies, and projections for 2015 Burd. Dis. India (2005), pp. 219-225 4on page 3
I. Oduro, W.O. Ellis, D. Owusu Nutritional potential of two leafy vegetables: Moringa oleifera and Ipomoea batatas leaves Sci. Res. Essays, 3 (2008), pp. 57-60 3.1 on page 2
A.L. Al-Malki, H.A. El Rabey The antidiabetic effect of low doses of Moringa oleifera Lam. seeds on streptozotocin-induced diabetes and diabetic nephropathy in male rats Biomed. Res. Int., 2015 (2015), pp. 1-13 4on page 4
T.G. Monera, C.C. Maponga Prevalence and patterns of Moringa oleifera use among HIV positive patients in Zimbabwe: a cross-sectional survey J. Public Health Africa, 3 (2012), pp. 6-8 4 on page 3
M.K. Choudhary, S.H. Bodakhe, S.K. Gupta Assessment of the antiulcer potential of Moringa oleifera root-bark extract in rats JAMS J. Acupunct. Meridian Stud., 6 (2013), pp. 214-220 4 on page 4