May 21, 2017 News
By PAT DIAL
In this offering of Consumer Concerns, we had intended to touch on three foods cum drugs of the ancient world which are now being re-discovered by western science though they were very much still in use in the non-Western world. But each of them is so important with so voluminous a literature that it would not have done justice to our readers if we had tried to deal with all three.
The one we will be considering today is the Saijan whose botanical name is Moringa Oleifera. Today, many people, even drug stores, have imported Saijan products which are called “Moringa” by foreign pharmacists, and local people have begun using the foreign name “Moringa” not being aware that it is their own Saijan.
Many years ago, Dr. Ptolemy Reid, a Minister of Agriculture in President Burnham’s Government, and an Agricultural scientist, had discovered the value of Saijan and had began to enthusiastically promote it for the benefit of the population. But Dr. Reid’s efforts at educating people as to the nutrition of and curative qualities of Saijan fell on deaf ears.
Saijan was known and widely used by the Romans, Greeks and Egyptians as a cure for a wide range of ailments. It is a tree which originated in the foothills of the Himalayas in India and about 5000 years ago become part of the Ayurvedic Therapy for an impressive range of therapeutic uses including its anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-depressant, and anti-inflammatory properties. Ayurvedic is of course the ancient system of medicine still in use today in India and South East Asia.
Today, Saijan’s health benefits are widely recognized. It has, for instance a rich blend of powerful antioxidants and is a beneficial treatment to many diseases some of which we will mention below:-
Edema: Its use has been effective against Edema and its root extract possesses anti-inflammatory qualities.
Liver Protection: Eating Saijan Leaves (Saijan Bhaji) because of the effective phytochemicals it contains protects against damage by anti-tubercular drugs.
Stomach Disorders such as constipation and gastroenteritis and also conditions such as diarrhea. It combats obesity because of its low fat qualities and converts food into energy rather than storing it as fat.
It promotes healthy hair and skin; slows up premature aging. For this reason it is used in production of cosmetics and skin care products.
Cancer: It is an Anti-Cancer agent and is much valued in tumor therapy. It has shown particularly effectiveness in certain types of cancer such as ovarian cancer.
Neurodegenerative Diseases: The effectiveness of Saijan has been very valuable in the treatment of Neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia.
Cardiovascular protection and diabetes: Saijan extracts are helpful in the protection of Myocardial or Cardiac damage, due to the presence of powerful antioxidants. They also exert anti-diabetics effects in the treatment of diabetes mellitus.
There are several other diseases which Saijan could be used to treat or counter but once one gets interested in Saijan, there is the internet to turn to for more guidance and information.
In addition to its medical value, Saijan has great nutritional value and is used as a food. In Guyana, the young Saijan sticks are boiled in soups or in dhal or cooked in curries. The leaves are also used as a leafy vegetable (bhaji). As a food, it contains a great range and amounts of essential proteins and vitamins. Vitamins it contains include: Vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B6 and C. Its mineral wealth includes calcium. It also contains very low amounts of fats and offers no harmful cholesterol.
In poverty stricken regions where malnutrition is endemic, it is promoted by various humanitarian organizations, one of the reasons being that it grows easily and rapidly.
We understand that NAREI is seriously cultivating and researching into it since it could be an important nutritional input to Guyana and could also be an important crop to export. Anyone could however easily grow a Saijan tree in his/her backyard.
The effective curative and medical uses of the tree as well as its great nutritional value and its great versatility has resulted in the Saijan being known as “The Miracle Tree”.
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