Medicinal properties of drumstick tree unravelled

Drumstick trees at a farm at Tamil Nadu’s Karur district.   | Photo Credit: M. Moorthy

Researchers have finally unravelled how each part of drumstick (Moringa oleifera), the “magic tree”, is nutritionally rich compared with other plants such as rice, papaya, spinach and cocoa. All the five tissues — stem, root, leaf, flower and seed — of drumstick studied were found to be rich either in certain vitamins or essential minerals.

A team led by Prof. Ramanathan Sowdhamini from the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bengaluru analysed the genes on complimentary DNA (cDNA) of all the five tissues.

The team found drumstick leaves, which are the most nutritious part of the tree, are rich in vitamins, while the roots are mineral-rich. The stem is rich in vitamin C and the flowers and seeds are rich in potassium. The pod and flower also have enzymes that help bring down cholesterol level.

Compared with spinach, drumstick leaves have 30 and 100 times more iron and calcium, respectively.

Secondary metabolites (kaempferol and quercetin) that contribute to anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and other medicinal properties are in abundance in the flower, seed and leaf.

The roots showed higher amounts of certain acids (ursolic acid, oleanolic acid and dibenzyl amine) which make it an anti-fertility agent and a cardio protector. However, it should be consumed in lower amounts due to its higher alkaloid content.

“Moringine, a compound discovered from the plant, is anti-diabetic in nature and thus initiate insulin secretion. It also helps in lipid metabolism,” says Prof. Sowdhamini, who is the corresponding author of a paper published in the journal Genomics.

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Printable version | Oct 15, 2021 1:43:01 AM |

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