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‘Miracle tree’ in demand

Maria Bradshaw

‘Miracle tree’ in demand

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Barbadians are going nuts over the Moringa oleifera tree, also known as “The Miracle Tree”.
Grown mainly in India and Africa, it is believed to be one of the most useful trees in the world.
The bark, sap, roots, leaves, seeds, oil and flowers are used in traditional medicine, but people are also using them in food and brewing them as tea to cure a variety of ailments.
Moringa oleifera leaves are said to be highly nutritious and are rich in vitamins and minerals. They are said to contain seven times the Vitamin C found in oranges, four times the beta carotene of carrots, three times the iron of spinach, four times as much calcium as milk, three times the potassium of bananas and more fibre than oats.
Since word started to spread about the amazing benefits of Moringa, Barbadians have been flocking to health food shops to purchase the expensive teabags and capsules while dry leaves are also being sold in packages.
But many are also heading to the St Philip farm of Tyrone Power, who has had a tree growing on his land for seven years. He is among a handful of Barbadians who can boast of having the tree.
Power, who swears by the benefits of this tree, has been utilizing the pods, leaves and bark by cooking them with his meals, swallowing three seeds a day as recommended or boiling the leaves to make tea.
Because so many people, especially elderly folks, have been asking him for the Moringa pods, he has decided to plant the trees on an acre of land. And he is being assisted in this venture by his six-year-old son Amari, a farmer in the making, who is also very knowledgeable about the tree.
Seven years ago when Power was given the tree by an official of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, he was not aware that he was planting a treasure.
“I?knew of some of the benefits of the tree, but it was my friend Ernest Jackman, who used to come here every day to pick some of the pods, who started telling me about all the things that it could do. He told me that he used to cook it in his food but I was still very sceptical.”
It was only about four years ago when faced with a medical problem that Power started utilizing the tree, and in no time he began to feel like a new man.
“It helps the brain and you feel very energized,” he explained.
After realizing how good the tree was, Power said he planted 20 on his farm but the cows ate them all.
“I guess they liked them because the leaves are very high in protein,” he joked.
Now that Barbadians are aware of its high nutritious value, Power and his grandson are on a mission to plant more trees and undertake a Moringa project, which he believes will benefit several people.
“A lot of elderly people are coming to me for the pods and the leaves. People say it can cure diabetes, high blood pressure and even cancer. This has not been scientifically proven but people who are using it are talking about how good it is.”
Power added that it was also sought after by men who were using it as an aphrodisiac.
“It is not like the noni; it has more substantial value,” he stressed.
Given that the tree thrives in the tropics, he believes that the Ministry of Agriculture should start exploring the Moringa and how Barbados can take advantage of it since it was sought after worldwide.
“People are using it to make lotions, soaps, hair products and almost anything you can think of. They say if you have a Moringa tree you are a millionaire, and I?believe this can be great for Barbados.”