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The origins of the Tree of Life oil: Moringa
Moringa oil is native to the Himalayas in India and has a long list of celebrated benefits and uses.
It is also known as Nebedaye, which means 'never die' in several African languages. The name relates to the fact that the oil can keep for years before turning rancid.
The Moringa Oleifera tree, also known as the 'Tree of Life', now grows in over 82 countries. It is one of the most widely cultivated plant species throughout the world.
The tree is mentioned in more than 300 folk medicinal remedies.
The Moringa Oleifera tree produces vegetables and seeds that are highly nutritious and contain many vital proteins. Most parts of the tree contain high levels of anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins.
The tree is largely thought to have the highest protein ratio of any studied plant species.
The first reference to the Moringa tree came at around 2000 BC, which described the use of the tree's leaves for medicinal purposes.
It has been claimed by Indian medicine's oral tradition, Ayurveda, that the Moringa can prevent hundreds of diseases.
Moringa oil is produced by pressing the seeds of the tree. The oil contains a high concentration of beheric fatty acid, which makes it unsuitable for consumption as humans cannot absorb the oil easily. It is, however, highly valued for cosmetic purposes.
The oil has been celebrated throughout history as it spread from India to areas in Southeast Asia, China and the Philippines. Moringa has also been used throughout Africa, Egypt, the Mediterranean and America.
Moringa oil has been used throughout many ancient cultures and for a variety of reasons.
Maurian warriors in ancient India were fed an extract of the Moringa leaf whilst at war. It was believed that the leaf extract could provide more strength to the warriors and improve their stamina in battle.
Moringa oil had many uses throughout ancient Egypt, including the extensive use in pharaonic medicine. It was also used as a skin lotion. Jars of Moringa oil have been found frequently in the tombs of ancient Egyptians including the tomb of Maya, which contained ten jars.
The placement of the oil in tombs shows its importance in ancient Egypt, as tombs were filled with items that were deemed valuable so the deceased could use them in the next life.
The oil was used as a base for perfumery by the Romans, who were introduced to it by the Greeks. It was prized within the making of perfume for its ability to work as a natural fixative that is able to stabalise fragrances.
Moringa oil has been used by numerous cultures as a form of skin protection from sun and desert weather. In some cultures it was also believed to work as a deterrent for mosquitoes.
A petition related to Moringa oil was presented to the Jamaican House of Assembly in 1817 that described the oil as having many culinary purposes. It was also described as an equal to Florence oil when used as an illuminant, as it gives clear light but no smoke.
Moringa oil is still widely used within cosmetic products and hair products and other parts of the Moringa Oleifera are still utilised for food and medicinal purposes.