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Malunggay! Moringa! The People's Power Plant

The only way to take control of your life, raise your standard of living and move beyond merely surviving is to create your own unique product or service that you offer to increasing numbers of people in exchange for the things of value that you desire. This simple formula applies to countries as well as people. A self-sufficient economy has its own products or services of value to export to the world. Similarly, a self-sufficient individual has something of value to exchange in the global marketplace. That thing of value is based on your natural talent, skill, or interest—in other words, your passion!

So here’s what’s gotten me excited! About a week ago, a friend introduced me to the leaves and fruit of the Malunggay tree. I should say RE-introduced, as he’s mentioned it to me before. This time, however, after tasting some of it, I decided to do some research, and was astounded at what I found.

Many of you from the Philippines may be familiar with malunggay, but let me bring everyone else up to speed. (You’ll find much information searching online for “malunggay” as you will for its scientific name “Moringa oleifera,” or simply “Moringa,” so I’ll use both in this article.)

What it is

Moringa is a tree that grows widely in tropical and subtropical areas in Africa, Central and South America, Sri Lanka, India, Mexico, Malaysia and the Philippines. It’s also known as The Drumstick Tree, Horseradish Tree, Maroenga in Indonesia, Malungkai in Palau, Kaanaeng-doeng in Thailand, and by many other names depending on the region. (Search for “names of Moringa” at for a list of over 400 names worldwide)

Malunggay Nutrition

In your searches, you’ll also find the following information touted on numerous websites. The leaves of the Malunggay tree, dried or raw, are reputed to have

7 times the vitamin C in oranges

4 times the calcium in milk

4 times the vitamin A in carrots

2 times the protein in milk

3 times the potassium in bananas, among a host of minerals, amino acids, proteins and other nutrients. (search “Moringa” on

Medicinal Uses

Detoxification - Studies have shown Moringa’s ability to remove hazardous materials from water. Its usefulness in water purification has been demonstrated many times in university studies, in laboratories and in the field. This is now widely studied because it’s estimated that 1.3 billion people in the world use contaminated water for drinking and cooking.

-Antibiotic - Moringa is used as a topical treatment for minor infections. Its antibiotic property is identified as Pterygospermin, a bacterial and fungicidal compound. Studies have shown an agueous extract made from seeds was equally effective against the skin infecting bacteria Staphylococcus aureus as the antibiotic Neomycin.

-Skin Treatment - Moringa has great healing benefits for the skin. It has been used to cure cuts, scrapes, sores, and rashes as well as cracking and other signs of aging.

-Anti-inflammatory - The oral tradition of India has long praised Moringa as an anti-inflammatory for use in healing wounds. Moringa was also found to be effective in trauma-initiated chronic swelling.

-Diabetes - An extract from the Moringa leaf has been shown to be effective in lowering blood sugar levels within three hours of ingestion. The effects increased with larger doses.

Traditionally, Moringa has been used for years with no reports of negative side effects. The powder made from fresh Moringa leaves seems to provide a long-lasting energy boost when used regularly. People frequently report having much more endurance in their work, at home and at play. [from]

Other Uses

Moringa is considered to be one of the most useful trees, since almost every part of the tree has some beneficial property: the leaves, leaf powder, pods, seeds, flowers, roots and bark of the drought-resistant Moringa are edible or have some other healing property.

Also called “the miracle tree”, Moringa tree has many uses for people in Africa and also elsewhere it grows. Some parts of the Moringa tree can be used for animal feed, domestic cleansers, perfume, dye, fertilizer, medicine, rope fiber, and as an agent for tanning hides.

It’s being used around the world to combat malnutrition. It’s been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries and is said to be useful in curing hundreds of diseases.

The list goes on and on: biofuel, intestinal cleanser, and it can even prevent lethal radiation damage to living tissues and reduce the severe side effects of radiation therapy.


I use myself as test subject for anything I recommend, and can personally attest to Malunggay’s power and, ahem, potency. A few other men, and women on island whom I’ve introduced it to also now speak highly of their own increased energy, endurance, and libido. After eating the raw leaves for two days, one lady says she has so much energy she feels like flying! Men, take note: The pods are known to increase semen production. Women, take note: The leaves increase breast milk production.

Anyway, I could go on and on about the benefits, citing research and providing anecdotes, but perhaps the best testimonial will be your own. Give it a try for a week. Eat the leaves, try the pods, and see what happens. (If your diet isn’t typically really healthy, you may notice a little discomfort as your body adjusts to the infusion of all those nutrients, throwing off and expelling toxins, rebalancing itself, rejuvenating, and reversing years of neglect. Don’t fret, you’ll be going through a “healing crisis” which should subside in a few days. Remember, it’s just a vegetable. You don’t need anyone’s permission to eat a vegetable.

Saipan? It just might work!

So here’s where I’m going with this. In my own personal, perpetual quest for natural products and practices to complement my naturalist, minimalist lifestyle, while offering the same as assets to be used as examples of the health=wealth argument, I am getting a vision of a business idea: Preparation and export of Moringa could easily be done with existing resources and minimal expenditure!

Here are some encouraging, and exciting observations:

We’ve got it here! You can already find the pods on sale at vegetable stands at the Sabulu Market. We’ve got Malunggay growing just about everywhere here on Saipan!

It can be grown and harvested rather quickly—Moringa trees grow easily from seeds or cuttings. They grow quickly even in poor soil and bloom 6-8 months after planting. It could be developed as a cash crop in months rather than years.

The market is there. Worldwide attention is ever turning toward healthy alternatives, supplements and treatments.

Not a lot of processing is required. It’s simply a matter of drying and packing the leaves, or pressing the seeds for oil.

Others are already doing it and showing it can be done. Check out the following excerpt from the Philippine Daily Inquirer website about a malunggay tea business:

It was Rosemarie’s daughter, Imee N. Ramos-Garcia, who initiated it. The mother-daughter business was born out of a simple need to breastfeed Imee’s firstborn. In 2004, 26-year-old Imee was a new mother trying brewer’s yeast to almost anything just so she could optimize her breast milk production for her daughter. After trying several natural combinations, she was still producing only two ounces of breast milk.

Rosemarie, who was fond of boiling vegetables as broth, introduced Imee to “pinakuluang malunggay” [boiled malunggay]. She observed with amazement that 10 minutes after consuming one cup of the concoction, “my breasts started to feel engorged and I was able to pump out four to six ounces (of milk).”

The result also sparked the mother and daughter team’s entrepreneurial spirit, as well. After noting malunggay’s numerous other health benefits, they hired a chemist and worked on how to make the concoction available to busy urban dwellers. (Search for “malunggay tea” on the website for the full story)

So, in my vision, I see noni, daok oil, coconut oil, malunggay leaves, pods and oil being processed and shipped from the CNMI to a waiting world. I see this as one aspect of the “Powered by Paradise” brand identity I’ve mentioned before. In addition to the wind, solar and wave power our paradise can offer us here at home, resources like the Moringa “power plant” can power people, too, here and abroad!

And think how many people, who already have Moringa growing right in their back yards, could benefit!


I know what some of you are thinking: Here I am touting business ideas, encouraging entrepreneurship, and painting a picture of a prosperous Saipan, when there’s not even reliable electricity. Am I crazy? Naïve? Perhaps. But I recently heard an NPR report about developers in war-torn Karachi, which may give you something to consider.

Karachi, a city in Pakistan, recently had the dubious distinction of being named “the fourth worst livable city in the world,” of 132 big cities researched. In other words, they were fourth from the bottom (position 129) with only Lagos (130), Dhaka (131) and Algiers (132) being worse places to live. Despite this, there are companies erecting residential and commercial towers along the coast in anticipation of a prosperous future.

According to the report [from]:

Skeptics might ask why the company is doing business in a place that lacks reliable electricity and clean drinking water and suffers terrible violence.

“Well, you’ve got to start somewhere,” [the developer] says. “You wish you had a power grid that was constant, you wish that you didn’t drink bottled water, but the more you build these markets into an international market, the more those things will go away because they [will] have the resources to bring in the infrastructure that works.”

[Search for “Karachi builders” on]

Sure, there are numerous differences between Karachi and Saipan, but the point remains: You’ve got to start somewhere!

Therefore, I’m inviting one and all to join me on this bandwagon (as partner or competitor) in preparation for future prosperity. Let’s start somewhere!

Note: Meanwhile, it seems at least one reader was inspired to follow through on an idea from my May 14, 2008 “101 Business Ideas for the Saipanpreneur” Saipan Tribune column. I’ll follow his progress and report back to you all! Stay tuned for details.

Note: Next week I’ll be featuring an overview of The Marianas Trades Institute.

Note: For more tips on acting on your ideas, changing the game, and creating a passion-centered lifestyle, visit!

Until next week, remember, success is a journey, not a destination!

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