"Nebedaye" ... "The one which never dies." The beautiful original name, the moringa tree, is used in many African languages.
Moringa was first discovered around 2,000 BCE in northern India, where it was referred to as ‘The Miracle Tree’ by traditional physicians. They quickly became aware of its therapeutic value, a result of the tree’s abundance of valuable organic substances such as calcium, iron, ascorbic acid, protein, antioxidants, and vitamins A, B, and C. Moringa was found to have beneficial effects on maintaining mental sharpness as well as healthy skin, so it wasn’t long before members of royal families and other aristocrats were enthusiastic users.
Moringa is also known as ‘The Tree of Life’, and was to become an essential part of Ayurvedic tradition on the Indian subcontinent for thousands of years. Maintaining a state of internal and external balance and harmony is fundamental to the practice of Ayurvedic medicine, which emphasises disease prevention and treating its causes over the conventional medical approach of treating the symptoms of disease once it has taken hold.
On the battlefields of ancient India, Moringa extract (with its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties) was frequently administered to iron-age Mauryan soldiers who believed that by taking it they’d have the stamina to fight. It was also thought to take away the stress of combat and relieve the pain from their wounds.
The ancient civilizations of Greece, Rome, and Egypt placed a high value on Moringa oil which was used to produce perfumes, skin lotions, sunscreen and hair oils. Due to its high concentration of vitamins A and C, the nutritious leafy green plant was discovered to be excellent for increasing skin elasticity and brightening the complexion. The Ancient Egyptians, in particular, used a mixture of Moringa, castor and sesame oils to reduce wrinkles and keep their skin looking young. In fact, Moringa oil was so highly valued that jars of it have been found buried with the dead in ancient Egyptian tombs.
In 1817, Moringa became a topic of discussion in the Jamaican Chamber of Commerce, when the island was still a British colony. Business professionals presented Moringa oil as a healthy ingredient capable of providing additional nutrition to salads as well as having other culinary uses. Consequently, Moringa spread throughout the British Empire, eventually reaching many other countries around the world.
Today, tropical and subtropical regions such as the Caribbean, Africa, the Philippines, eastern India, China, and Southeast Asia all cultivate high-quality Moringa. It’s also used in the Himalayas and, as the Moringa tree is an exceptionally low-maintenance plant, it thrives even in sandy soils that are dry and at higher elevations.