‘Super Tree’ Offers Excellent Nutritional Supplement
The complementary supplement currently hyped as the next ‘super food’ is starting to get exposure in the wellbeing media. Monringa oleifera is an extract from the ‘horseradish tree’ native to several tropical countries. All parts of the tree are edible and have been credited for centuries with medicinal and wellness benefits. It is especially important as a nutrition supplement, as the leaves of the horseradish tree are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, potassium and protein. It is also an exceptional source of iron, known to contain three times the amount of iron as spinach. As such, M. oleifera is highly valued in countries where malnutrition is rife, and the leaves, nuts, seeds and roots have traditionally been used as complementary medicines.
Though M. oleifera is being hyped in some quarters as the next ‘super food’, it is well that we should be wary. It hasn’t actually been through the process of randomized or double-bind human trials, so claims are being made solely on the basis of laboratory studies. Based on the observation of cells in the lab, it is hoped that M. oleifera will prove to have anti-inflammatory, anticancer and antioxidant effects when given to human subjects. The supplement has already shown anticancer effects in ovarian cancer cells, and the lipid-lowering action already demonstrated in the lab may well help to prevent cardiovascular disease. An animal study indicated that M. oleifera may reduce blood glucose levels and it is hoped that further studies may lead to its eventual use among diabetes patients. A further animal study showed a seed extract of M. olefiera to be quite effective in reducing airway inflammation, indicating a potential opportunity to help sufferers of asthma.
It is important to be careful with complementary supplements that have not been fully tested. M. oleifera has recently been recommended on American TV, with the insinuation that it is a highly effective supplement. Given the nutritional profile of the plant, we can accept that it may be a useful food supplement. However, we must be very clear about the fact that it has not been adequately tested for safety in human use, nor have the other wellness benefits been satisfactorily proven. As with all complementary supplements, be sure that you inform your doctor which you use.