Regarded for thousands of years in the East as a key to good health, happiness, and wisdom, tea has caught the attention of researchers in the West, who are discovering the many health benefits of different types of teas. Studies have found that some teas may help with cancer, heart disease, and diabetes; encourage weight loss; lower cholesterol; and bring about mental alertness. Tea also appears to have antimicrobial qualities. Although a lot of questions remain unanswered on how long tea needs to be steeped for the maximum benefit, and how much one need to drink, nutritionists agree that any tea; including those from herbs is good because of its medicinal properties. Recent research, for instance, suggests drinking herbal tea made from moringa may help to improve quality of life of a person with sickle cell disease. In the study, researchers found that extracts of the leaves, flower and seeds of moringa were able to reverse a red blood cell that had sickle back to its normal shape and as such could be an adjunct for care of people with sickle cell. Sickle cell disease (SCD) has become a challenge in the African continent with about 89 per cent of global sufferers of SCD. About 25 per cent of the SCD patients in the world are in Nigeria. Hence, this confers on Nigeria the highest population of sickle cell disease patients in the world. SCD is caused by a genetic abnormality in the gene for haemoglobin, which results in the production of sickle haemoglobin. When oxygen is released from sickle haemoglobin, it sticks together and forms long rods, which damage and change the shape of the red blood cell. The sickle red blood cells cause the symptoms of sickle cell disease. Children are born with sickle cell disease; it is not contagious. Symptoms of sickle cell crisis include: severe pain, anaemia, joint pain, chest pain and difficult in breathing. The findings, which suggested that Moringa oleifera
may play a role in the management of sickle cell disease, by incorporation of its fractions into recipes was carried out by Olufunmilayo E. Adejumo; Adelodun L. Kolapo, and Akintomiwa O. Folarin.
The 2012 study entitled “Moringa oleifera Lam. (Moringaceae) grown in Nigeria: In vitro anti-sickling activity on deoxygenated erythrocyte cells” was documented in the Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences.
Moringa tea is made by harvesting fresh leaves from the Moringa tree and drying them at low temperatures to preserve the vital nutrients that will be released into the tea water. Dried leaves are then shredded and either retained in their loose form or bagged as bags. The leaves are steeped in hot water for several minutes in a traditional tea-making process. In this study, which was a follow-up to use moringa tea in folk medicine as an analgesic and for the treatment of pain and inflammation, the researchers assessed the anti-sickling potential of methanol extract (ME), aqueous extract (AqE), ethyl acetate (EA) and butanol (BU) of the seeds, flowers and leaves of Moringa oleifera. For the study, blood samples were obtained in duplicate from a confirmed sickle cell disease patient (HbSS) attending the Haematology Day Care Unit of the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, Sagamu, Nigeria. The study’s finding included that extracts of the seed and flower fractions demonstrated a significantly higher antisickling activity than the leaf extract. In addition, they pointed out that the best tea from moringa plant is that made from its flowers and seeds. The researchers suggested that the antisickling properties of Moringa oleifera
could possibly be due to its innate antioxidants and phytochemicals, adding that the contribution of phytochemicals to the anti-sickling activity of any medicinal plant used in the management of SCD is not in doubt. According to them, Moringa oleifera has been reported to contain a rich store of elements like zinc, which possesses antisickling activity, as well as organic acids. The leaves are also rich sources of flavonols and Phenolic acids which could be responsible for the exhibited antisickling activities. However, they stated that considering their finding that both butanol and ethylacetate fractions of MO leaf could cause destruction (lysis) of red blood cells depending on the concentration used, is an important factor that must be taken into consideration in the inclusion of MO leaf in the recipes for SCD treatment. Usually, the mode of preparation of MO in traditional recipes, as stipulated by herb sellers, was by decoction with clean water. Meanwhile, they wrote: “The fact that Moringa oleifera exhibits antiurolithiatic properties(prevent kidney stone formation) may also advance its use in SCD patients, particularly to enhance renal (kidney)function. “ Given the findings, which suggested that Moringa oleifera may play a role in the management of SCD, by incorporation of its fractions into recipes, they said more extensive biological evaluations and further studies will be necessary for the chemical characterisation of the anti-sickling principles.
In addition, moringa oleifera
has been reported to contain a rich store of elements like zinc, which possesses antisickling activity, as well as organic acids as well as flavonols and Phenolic acids which could be responsible for the exhibited antisickling activities. However, they stated that considering their finding that both butanol and ethylacetate fractions of MO leaf could cause destruction (lysis) of red blood cells depending on the concentration used, is an important factor that must be taken into consideration in the inclusion of MO leaf in the recipes for SCD treatment. They explained that the observed significantly higher antisickling activity of aqueous extract in this study supports the herb sellers stipulated method of preparation. The Moringa tree has great use medicinally both as preventive and curative. Much of the evidence is anecdotal as there has been little actual scientific research done to support these claims. Its range of medicinal uses include prevention and treatment of cancer, protection against ulcer as well as in the lowering of blood pressure. Its healing ability and antibiotic properties have been demonstrated.
Additionally, the root bark has been used as an analgesic, worm expeller and treatment for heart complaints, as well as for eye diseases, inflammation and dyspepsia. For instance, people in India and the Philippines drink Moringa tea regularly for nutrition, clarity, and general wellness while it is used in African folk medicine to treat pain form rheumatism and arthritis.