Pull quote: Research shows that the plant can be used to treat any topical infection, be it viral, parasitic or fungal, as it has both anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.
While the Seychellois might not know its scientific name of Moringa oleiferaa, all homes are familiar with the plant as one of the main ingredients in popular culinary dishes. Commonly known as ‘bred pti fey’, it is a plant that can be found growing in the garden of most homes.
Mr Ferdinand Vidot, a local medicine man in the Seychelles, states that all parts of the plant – from its leaves and flowers, to its bark, fruit, roots and even seeds – can be used to make treatments for various ailments. He says that no pregnancy should go by without the woman taking a daily dose of an infusion of the leaves, as it is very rich in nutrients.
Modern medicine tells us that the Moringa provides a rare combination of zeatin, quercetin, beta-sitosterol, caffeoylquinic acid and kaempferol. He explains that the plant has restorative powers that can be beneficial to everyone and will easily boost one’s energy levels while keeping common ailments at bay. While Mr Ferdinand also promotes the use of a daily dose of an infusion of the leaves to treat anaemia, modern medicine explains this is because the plant has high iron content.
He advocates the use of a paste made from the crushed leaves of the plant as a means of preventing infections of wounds and drying it. Research shows that the plant can be used to treat any topical infection, be it viral, parasitic or fungal, as it has both anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.
According to Mr Ferdinand he also makes a special tea for women who have trouble producing milk for breastfeeding; the flowers are placed in hot water and allowed to simmer, the extract is then consumed. He gives the pods to children to eat for de-worming. And the bark and roots are also used to create a tea that he uses to treat digestion issues. He also uses it to treat flatulence, pains, ulcers and diarrhoea. The seeds he boils and crushes to encourage urination. He believes that the Moringa really can be used to cure most ailments.
Finally, our local herbalist swears that a tea made from the leaves can help men with erectile problems and also help increase the sex drive of women. Research shows that the Moringa is being investigated for its aphrodisiac properties, so he is spot on.
In Seychelles the plant can be found growing in most backyards and most families will consume it at least once a week. A dish called “bouyon bred’’ (soup from its leaves) is a particular favourite. The nutritious value of such a dish per serving would be around 9.8g of protein per 100g of the fresh raw leaves. That is around 17.5% of the daily-required levels. The growing tips and fresh leaves are known to be the richest source of vitamin A and a 100g provides 252% of the daily-required levels. Vitamin A aids mucus membrane repair, maintenance of skin integrity, vision and immunity. There is also vitamin C at 86.5 mcg, which is 86% of the daily-required amount. This vitamin helps remove harmful substances from the body. There is also calcium 6.25 mg, iron 425 mcg, magnesium 1.84 mg, zinc 16.45 mcg, copper 675 mg and potassium 9 mg. The fine sources of minerals like calcium, iron, copper, manganese, zinc, selenium, and magnesium have specific roles. Iron alleviates anaemia, calcium is required for bone strengthening and zinc plays a vital role in hair-growth and skin health.
The fresh pods and seeds are a good source of oleic acid and good amounts of vital B-complex vitamins like folates, vitamin-B6, thiamine (vitamin B-1) at 13.2 mcg, riboflavin 102.5 mcg, niacin 41 mcg, and pantothetic acid, which function as co-enzymes in carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism.
As a whole, it is not strange that the moringa has been pegged as a plant that is to be used to improve the dietary requirements in many third world countries.
Sesel Sa ! and Mr Ferdinand Vidot