Moringa is not your typical plant tree. It is packed with so many nutrients, which makes it a superfood. Amazingly, recent studies have shown a great connection between moringa and colon cancer. Researchers show it could be the answer in preventing, as well as curing cancer.
It is amazing, at the same time, surprising how nature seems to be very equipped with all the necessary things the human body needs. Nature provides us not just protection from the weather or means to build a home, but more so, it provides us different means to keep our bodies strong and healthy.
There are so many herbs, plants, and trees, fruits, and vegetables that nature freely gives us to help provide us with all essential vitamins and minerals to fight off common and even chronic diseases, as well as very serious illnesses like cancer.
Let’s admit it, over the years, more and more people are getting sick particularly developing what others call as the Big C. In fact, cancer has been one of the typical causes of death among people. One of the most common types of cancer that usually hits a lot of people is colon cancer.
Surprisingly, the latest studies show that there is a very promising connection between moringa and colon cancer. Moringa is found to be very helpful in preventing cancer cells from developing. Further studies are also being conducted to check moringa’s efficacy in terms of curing not just colon cancer but cancer in general.
Now, before we fully discuss the promising relationship between moringa and colon cancer, let us first understand what colon cancer is in the first place, as well as get to know what moringa is all about.
What is colon cancer?
According to the Mayo Clinic website, colon cancer is defined as “a type of cancer that begins in the large intestine (colon)”. The colon, just in case you do not know yet, is the last part of the digestive tract.
Usually, colon cancer is common among older adults. However, it does not take away the fact that it can still happen to anyone regardless of age, lifestyle, and status in life.
As stated in the website, colon cancer usually starts “small, noncancerous (benign) clumps of cells called polyps that form on the inside of the colon. Over time some of these polyps can become colon cancers.”
Since the polyps are typically small in size, it only produces very few or sometimes it doesn’t even show any symptoms. That is why doctors recommend regular screening tests to help prevent colon cancer. Prevention happens by identifying and removing the polyps before they even turn cancerous.
When the unfortunate happens, which means the colon cancer develops, the patient has several options to help control it from spreading in the body. There are various treatments available like radiation therapy, surgery, as well as drug treatments such as targeted therapy, chemotherapy, as well as immunotherapy.
Colon cancer is also sometimes called colorectal cancer, which basically pertains to cancer in both colon and rectum.
What are the symptoms of colon cancer?
Based on the Mayo Clinic website, here are some of the usual signs and symptoms of colon cancer:
- A persistent change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool
- Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
- Persistent abdominal discomforts, such as cramps, gas or pain
- A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely
- Weakness or fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
A lot of people diagnosed with colon cancer experience no symptoms within the early stages of the disease. That is why it is very common among colon cancer patients to get diagnosed with having such disease at a later time.
Normally, when symptoms appear, it varies depending on cancer’s size as well as location within your large intestine.
Furthermore, according to Colorectal Cancer Alliance, the following are the common signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer:
– A Change in Bowel Habits
Including diarrhea, constipation, a change in the consistency of your stool or finding your stools are narrower than usual
– Persistent Abdominal Discomfort
Such as cramps, gas, or pain and/or feeling full, bloated or that your bowel does not empty completely
– Rectal Bleeding
Finding blood (either bright red or very dark) in your stool
– Weakness or Fatigue
Can also accompany losing weight for no known reason, nausea or vomiting
Once you experience any of these, make sure to immediately see your doctor. Remember, just like in any circumstance, prevention is always better than cure.
What is moringa?
Moringa is considered as one of the many superfoods. However, unlike other superfoods, moringa has only become popular recently – at least in the global arena.
There are 13 species of moringa that vary in different sizes (from leafy shrubs to tall trees). But of all the species, the most commonly harvested is what we call as the moringa oleifera. It is a small, fast-growing tree that has been used to prevent many diseases.
Moringa oleifera or more commonly known as moringa is a plant tree that is native to India but has also cultivated worldwide particularly in tropical and subtropical regions like the rest of Asia, Africa, South America, and Oceania.
Moringa is a very nutritious food that has been a staple in some areas of the world for years now. Moreover, it has also been used for medicinal purposes for centuries.
This superfood is also known as the “miracle tree” or the “tree of life” because of it has been found to contain vitamins and minerals that are essential to keep the human body strong and healthy. Needless to say, it contains necessary nutrients to help prevent and/or fight off certain types of diseases like asthma, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, and many more.
A study that has been published in 2017 in the Asian Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention found that moringa leaves extract can act as an anti-cancer agent as it helps reduce the growth of cancer cells and also helps promote cell death in various types of cancer.
By the way, it has been found that almost all parts of the moringa tree are very useful, and in fact, edible. From its leaves to the tree’s flowers, seeds, and fruit, as well as its back and even the roots! But of all these, moringa leaves were found to be the most nutritious of all. Although the other parts contain their respective nutritional value too, moringa leaves are the richest in vitamins and minerals content. Needless to say, based on studies, the leaves, when shade-dried properly increase its value by 300% to 500%. Not that is very outstanding!
What is the nutritional profile of moringa?
Moringa, also known as “drumstick tree” or “horseradish tree” in other parts of the world contains a very impressive set of nutrients. No wonder why moringa and colon cancer has been associated with one another – because really, moringa’s nutritional profile is quite remarkable.
Some of the common vitamins and minerals present in moringa are as follows:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
- Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin K (Phylloquinone)
In the 2018 National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, it has shown in there that a cup of chopped moringa tree leaves contains the following:
- 2 grams of Protein
- 11% of Recommended Daily Allowance or RDA of Iron
- 9% of RDA of Vitamin A
- 12% of RDA of Vitamin C
Moringa contains high levels of antioxidants, referring to vitamins A and C, which is great in protecting cell damage that is usually caused by chemicals in the body or better known as free radicals. Free radicals can play a role in the development of cancer, which is definitely not ideal.
Furthermore, vitamin C also helps keep a healthy immune system. As vitamin A is very important for normal growth, bone development, as well as normal vision. Needless to say, vitamin A is also useful in terms of maintaining the mucous membrane that helps protect the body against infections in the digestive tract and the respiratory system.
Apart from being rich in antioxidants, moringa leaves in particular also contain essential amino acids, which is responsible for boosting a person’s immunity. Having a good and healthy immune system is very important especially when undergoing certain cancer treatments like chemotherapy. The drugs that are being used during chemo can wreak havoc on the person’s immune system. Thus, it is vital that the body gets to combat such side effects to be able to fight back.
In the National Institute of Nutrition’s 1989 book entitled, “Nutritive Value of Indian Foods,” it shows in there that a handful of moringa leaves do have the following nutritional value (written as is):
- Seven times the amount of vitamin C in an orange
- Three times the amount of iron in spinach
- Four times the amount of vitamin A in a carrot
- Four times the amount of calcium in one glass of milk
- Three times the potassium in one banana
- Two times the protein found in regular, plain yogurt
Having such a very promising nutritional profile, it is no wonder why it has been recognized as the September 2014 Traditional Crop of the Month by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.
How to incorporate moringa in your daily diet?
Moringa leaves, in particular, comes in different forms. There are raw or fresh ones, dried, powdered, as well as in tea form. But the most commonly used and also the most commonly seen in the market is the powdered form.
Now, there are many ways to incorporate moringa into your day to day diet. You can eat the leaves fresh, cooked, or crushed. You can even dry it and store it for several months. Do not worry because it does not lose its nutritional value. As mentioned earlier, it eve increases when dried.
While some people find it great as an ingredient to a dish, others find it more delicious when mixed with fruit or vegetable smoothies. Some people would rather go for moringa juice or tea instead. Regardless of how it is served though, one thing’s for sure, it is nutritious and it does bring a “miracle” especially to the sick ones.
What are moringa’s anti-cancer benefits?
Apart from being rich in nutritional value, moringa has also been beneficial for medical purposes. In fact, in its native country and other parts of the world, it has been used to address different types of health conditions like hypertension, diabetes, stomach disorders, asthma, and more.
In India, for instance, moringa leaves, flowers, seeds, fruit, and even its roots are used for medicinal reasons particularly as an anti-inflammatory, as well as anti-tumor medicines.
While moringa has been widely recognized by folk medicine practitioners as an effective herbal medicine, scientists have only started researching it especially its anti-cancer properties in recent years.
In a study published at the US National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health, it says that “the extracts of moringa leaves and bark showed remarkable anti-cancer properties while surprisingly, seed extracts exhibited hardly any such properties.”
The researchers also found that “cell survival was significantly low in both cell lines when treated with leaves and bark extracts. Furthermore, a striking reduction (about 70–90%) in colony formation, as well as cell motility, was observed upon treatment with leaves and bark.”
For your reference, here is the rest of the abstract of the study conducted:
“The apoptosis assay performed on these treated breast and colorectal cancer lines showed a remarkable increase in the number of apoptotic cells; with a 7 fold increase in MD-MB-231 to an increase of several-fold in colorectal cancer cell lines. However, no significant apoptotic cells were detected upon seeds extract treatment. Moreover, the cell cycle distribution showed a G2/M enrichment (about 2–3 fold) indicating that these extracts effectively arrest the cell progression at the G2/M phase.
The GC-MS analyses of these extracts revealed numerous known anti-cancer compounds, namely eugenol, isopropyl isothiocyanate, D-allose, and hexadecanoic acid ethyl ester, all of which possess long-chain hydrocarbons, a sugar moiety, and an aromatic ring. This suggests that the anti-cancer properties of Moringa oleifera could be attributed to the bioactive compounds present in the extracts from this plant.
This is a novel study because no report has yet been cited on the effectiveness of Moringa extracts obtained in the locally grown environment as an anti-cancer agent against breast and colorectal cancers. Our study is the first of its kind to evaluate the anti-malignant properties of Moringa not only in leaves but also in the bark. These findings suggest that both the leaf and bark extracts of Moringa collected from the Saudi Arabian region possess anti-cancer activity that can be used to develop new drugs for the treatment of breast and colorectal cancers.”
To be honest, the result of this study brings a lot of hope not just to cancer patients in general, but also to their families. Needless to say, this study is a perfect proof of the association of moringa and colon cancer. How this so-called “miracle tree” or “tree of life” can indeed make miracles happen by adding more years to a person’s life.
Furthermore, in another research, it has also been found that moringa may help reduce some of the common symptoms of cancer, which include:
- Chest congestion
- Difficulty breathing
- Joint pain
- Respiratory complications
- Skin irritations
- Sore throat
- Weight loss
With all that’s been said, it is no wonder why moringa is considered as one of the best superfoods to date.
What are the side effects of moringa?
Generally, moringa is found to be safe for consumption. However, some studies found that moringa may potentially have the following side effects:
- Moringa contains alkaloids that may further lower blood pressure and slow heart rate if taken alongside medication for high blood pressure.
- Moringa bark contains certain compounds that can cause uterine contractions, thus making it not safe for pregnant or suspected to be pregnant women.
- There is a chemical isolated from roasted moringa seeds that causes cell mutations.
- Moringa tree extract may obstruct with fertility.
To be safe, before taking moringa in any form, make sure to consult your healthcare provider first.
As you can see, there is indeed proof of how significant moringa and colon cancer are to one another. Moringa, with its richness in essential nutrients, has yet again proven that it is worthy to be called the “miracle tree” or the “tree of life”.
If you come to think about it, should researchers continue to conduct more scientific research and clinical studies on what moringa can do especially among cancer patients in general, who knows, maybe moringa is the key to fighting off all sorts of cancer after all.
But for now, it is safe to say that moringa is very promising particularly in addressing cancer. While further studies have yet to be made, it is best to consult your healthcare provider first before getting yourself or your loved one into moringa diet or supplementation. Let’s hope for the best.