Malunggay – A Superfood Favored by Maitreya Meher

I first encountered the (most probably boiled) pods of the malunggay tree in the dining hall of Hostel D, Meherabad. The food there is heavily South Indian, and it’s the best food available locally, IMO. In general in India, for great food and medicine both, go south. In that first encounter with the then still unnamed malunggay, Bob Street, a “long-time Meherabad resident” and very competent and conscientious Homeopathic doctor, trained by Padri no less, was sitting at my table at Hostel D, watching me trying to decrypt where I had already seen the mysterious okra-esque substance that was sitting on my fork. He volunteered the information: “It’s common in South Indian food, and Meher Baba liked it. You strip the pulp out of the pod between your teeth.”

Cutting to the chase of a long gravitational process towards personal involvement with this herb over years, it turns out that malunggai is endemic not only to India but to the Phillipines and Hawaii as well, and I just know in my gut that it is found throughout the Pacific, SE Asia, and China. It grows wild with little water in very infertile soil (i.e., neglect doesn’t kill it)*, and by weight is one of the most nutritious things you can eat. It’s probably the most underutilized source of nutrition on earth at this point. Not only the pulp of the green pods but also the leaves are equally nutritious. (The younger the leaves are the better, but ALL of its leaves are edible.) I constantly use the leaves in Vishveshwar’s Super Sauce (Major Riff – 25 Apr 16).

*AMBPPCT, if had unused agricultural land that I wanted to plant with something that (1. ) has proven economic value, (2. ) can survive the periodic drought conditions in Meherabad, and (3.) is a tree that could add long-term value with only one planting , my choice would be malunggay. Absolutely. Processed into pills or a masala, the leaves and pulp have a high value/weight ratio, and this tree also grows extremely fast and produces an unbelievable amount of biomass that could be used to fuel the boilers for the electrical generator, or be composted into mulch/fertilizer for the innumberable young trees of various species on the property. Malunggay also happens to be a legume, meaning that it doesn’t deplete the soil.

Below is the beginning of one of the numerous articles from numerous sources that can be found online about malunggai. You can turn up as much more material by using common alternative spellings, like “marungai”, in your search string.

The wonders of ‘malunggay’
By: Rina Jimenez-David
Philippine Daily Inquirer
01:17 AM July 8th, 2015

It has seven times the Vitamin C of an orange, four times the Vitamin A of carrots, 13 times the Vitamin A of spinach, and four times the Vitamin B of pork. Even more astonishing, it has 63 times the potassium of milk (three times that of bananas), 30 times the R-Amino Acid of brown rice and 50 times the Vitamin B2 of sardines.

What is this wonder food and why isn’t it a part of everyone’s regular diet? The wonder food is the seemingly ordinary plant we know as malunggay, known throughout the world as moringa. In my youth, I knew only of malunggay and corn soup, which was recommended for lactating mothers because it reportedly enriched one’s breast milk supply. But otherwise, it was considered an ordinary backyard plant, and hardy figure in the everyday diet of the ordinary Filipino.

But these days, moringa or malunggay is all the rage, judging from the number of products being marketed here, ranging from malunggay chips, malunggay powder, malunggay tea, malunggay capsules and even malunggay oil used to treat gout and acute rheumatism, prostate and bladder problems, and as a tonic and purgative. Extracts from the seeds, say promotional materials, may even be used to “prolong sexual activity in women,” though I’m told even men can benefit from it for what one observer said was their “flag-raising ceremony.”

Who knew that from such a humble plant, whose leaves, flowers and pods grow on low-hanging branches of trees that are found most everywhere in tropical countries, would come what promises to be a cure-all for so many ailments?

* * *

Maria Elena – “Bing” Primicias van Tooren has been president of Moringaling Philippines Foundation Inc. since last year. Moringaling is a grouping of Filipino malunggay enthusiasts across the supply chain, from growing, production, marketing and consuming.

A classmate from high school, Bing discovered malunggay when she was afflicted with diabetes some years back. Prescribed the usual diabetes medications, she found that instead of making her feel better, the medicines would make her feel nauseous a few hours later. “My doctor kept assuring me that I would get used to it,” she said.

But soon tiring of the cycle, Bing decided to research on her own for alternative treatments. This was when she discovered, through the Internet, studies that had been done on the efficacy of moringa, particularly in lowering one’s blood sugar levels.

So she decided to give it a try, beginning with two spoonfuls of malunggay powder twice a day, which she mixed in juice and poured into a cup with a cover, “to disguise the smell of chlorophyll,” she says. After some time, after performing blood sugar tests on herself, she found her sugar levels stabilizing. “Now I don’t take any other medication,” she exults.

Having moved to Pangasinan after her retirement (her late father was a governor and congressman), Bing got involved in civic affairs (joining the provincial Namfrel and helping in the family orientation sessions for beneficiaries of the 4Ps program), and soon turned her eye on income generation for the rural families. This was when she decided to wed her civic mindedness and advocacy for malunggay.

In time, she established a malunggay-drying operation, buying malunggay leaves from community women and using solar power to dry the leaves so they could be transported. ….

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Maitreya Meher Namo Namo,
Vishveshwar, 24 Apr 16