Health from your own gardens.

There are many plants and trees with great potential to promote good health, prevent diseases and even cure some diseases. Many are rich in some macronutrients like carbohydrates, proteins or even fats and far too many in several micronutrients like vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. And in a few trees/plants almost all the parts like leaves, flowers, fruits, barks and even the roots have lots of medicinal properties. One such real all-rounder is the common Drum Stick tree. Let us see the features of this tree and its beneficial effects for human health.

Drum Stick Tree:
Its botanical name is MoringaOleifera. Word “Moringa” is said to be derived from Tamil word “murungai”, also known as “murungakai” inTamilnadu& Kerala. (Indian name “Sanjana”). It is a fast growing, ever green, deciduous tree. It can reach a height of 10-12 meters, but it is recommended that it should be cut back annually and allowed to regrow so that pods and leaves are easy to harvest. The tree has an open crown of drooping, fragile branches and the tripinnate leaves form a feathery foliage. Flowers are fragrant and bisexual, usually starting in 6 months after planting. Flowering and fruits may occur from April to June, or can happen twice yearly or even all-round the year. The fruit is a mildly ribbed stick like green or brownish green colored growing to a length of 20 to 45 cms. Dark brown globular seeds of about 1 cm diameter inside the fruits have three whitish papery wings which help dispersal by wind and water. The fruits contain the seeds in a soft delicious edible and nutritious pulp.
Drum stick tree is said to be a “powerhouse of minerals & vitamins” since almost all parts like leaves, fruits (Pods), flowers, barks and seeds have various medicinal properties.

Drum stick tree with plenty of pods

Micronutrients in Drum stick leaves

Nutrition Values of Drum Stick:
Nutrition values of 100 gms of Drum stick pods’ pulp are as follows:

Proteins – 2.5 Gms
Calorific value – 26 Kcal
B Complex Vitamins – traces
Water content – 86.9 Gms
Fibres – 4.8 Gms
Carbohydrates – 3.7 Gms
Fat – 0.1 Gm
Phosphorus – 110 mgs
Vitamin C – 120 mgs
Minerals – 2.0 Gms
Calcium – 30 mgs

Drum Stick leaves per 100 Gms :
Proteins – 6.7 Gms
Carbohydrates – 12.57Gms
Vitamin C – 220 mgs
Vitamin B Complex – Traces
Fat – 1.7 Gms
Minerals – 2.3 Gms
Fat – 1.7 Gms
Water content – 75.9 gms
Fibres – 0.9Gms
Calorific Values – 92 Kcals
Calcium – 440 mgs
Phosphorus – 70 mgs

Moringa leaves are highly nutritious and is a good source of beta-carotene, Vitamin c, protein, Iron, potassium, calcium & phosphorus. One tablespoon of leaf powder (leaves dried and powdered) has 14% proteins,40% calcium, 23% iron and rich in vitamin A. Six tablespoons of the powder would provide nearly all the needs for iron and calcium in a pregnant or lactating mother. It is claimed that Moringa leaves contain more Vitamin A than carrots, more Calcium than milk, more iron than spinach, more Vitamin C than oranges,more potassium than bananas and good quality proteins like that in milk & eggs.

Drum stick leaves are also believed to be having medicinal properties as tonic for children and pregnant and lactating mothers, as medicine in respiratory disorders, some infections, sexual disorders, digestive disorders, urinary disorders and also a beauty aid.

How to use:
Ripe drum stick pods are commonly used in various Indian dishes like Sambar, Avial, MorKozhambu, palyas etc. Pulp extracted after cooking the drum stick can be used for making a soup.

Fresh leaves can be used alone or added to any other leafy vegetable like spinach, palak, methi leaves etcto make any dish like PalakPaneeror can be added to any dry vegetable preparation to enrich it. It can be added either raw or after frying a little with some ghee to any chutney like the common coconut chutney or any other. It may be added on top on anyDosa, Adaidosa or Pesaratti etc. Adding drum stick leaves to Uppittu( Uppuma) makes it more nutritious without altering the taste. In Uppuma preparation the Rawa is initially roasted and at this time the leaves may also be added as much as one desires.


Drumstick in Avial

Drum stick leaves parota

Drum stick & leaves Soup

Drum stick leaves are also marketed as powder and this may be added to any vegetable dish to enrich it. Or the powder may be taken as it is or mixed with honey and taken.

In conclusion :
Drum stick tree is a power house of minerals and vitamins and nutrients. It is easy to grow and hence it is worthwhile for each one of us to grow or have a Moringa tree near our homes. Its pods and especially leaves can be used in many of our daily dishes to make the food more nourishing and healthy.

Best Wishes,
Dr M Mohan Rao,
Director & SeniorS urgeon (Retired),
Dr U Mohan Rau Memorial Hospital, Chennai.
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