medicinal plants

Buddha Dog and Moringa oleifera

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Moringa oleifera seedlings meditating with the Buddha dog as they get ready for transplantation.

According to the herbalist who provided me with the seeds, moringa are pretty foolproof, can be cut back once they have one inch thick trunks.   These trunks are then cut down to 6-8 inch pieces and each planted, resulting in new trees.  Far from that point with my moringa forest, yet armed with that firsthand information I was startled to read that transplanting the seedlings often causes them to go into shock–thus a little help from the Buddha dog before the deed is done.

As many of you probably know, Moringa oleifera has an incredible bounty of nutrition in its leaves (8.3g protein, 424mg calcium, 404mg potassium, 738mg Vitamin A and 164 mg of Vitamin C per grams of raw leaves).  It is very easy to grow here in South Florida so purchasing supplements is far from necessary.  In fact, eating the quickly blanched or sautéed leaves may be preferable as it has magical sulforaphane just like broccoli and broccoli sprouts.  The act of chewing the leaves allows myrosinase to catalize the reaction which makes the isothiocyanate sulforaphane available.  Personally, I like to use the leaves to make a tea (not quite boiling hot water) and eat the leaves left in the cup to obtain the sulforaphane benefits.

Moringa also has another bioactive component (RBITC) that is more potent than sulforaphane in preventing inflammatory responses (source Pubmed extract).  This is much more interesting to me than the loss of Vitamin C that may occur in adding the leaves to the warmer water of a tea.   The addition of Amla (Indian Gooseberry) in a morning smoothie has that vitamin covered.

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American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) is a ubiquitous plant found on our hikes and needed to be explored further than taking pictures of its vibrant purple hued berries with a handsome fellow looking on.

Of interest was the possibility of making jelly with its berries, and an insecticide with the leaves.  However, upon a little deeper research, a plant growth induction concoction came to light.  The Callicarpa species have a natural plant growth promoter caller calliterpenone which can be extracted from the leaves.   I am familiar with making a Comfrey “tea” to use as a growth promoter on my plants (gibberellic acid at work here according to the herbalist who suggested utilizing it to me, a farming newbie) but now wish to try wild Callicarpa americana leaf tea as a side by side experiment on some Moringa oleifera seedlings.  An experiment documented online showed an increase in biomass in the case study of Mentha arvensis as well as an increase in the essential oil production.

AB Tea is brewing in the sun!