The plant originates from India and was spread by humans in equatorial countries all around the world. Already in ancient Egypt, Greece and the Roman Empire, the moringa tree was highly valued because of its characteristics.
In 5000 years old Vedic records from India, Moringa Oleifera and its healing properties are documented for the first time. The plant obtained a high significance and was included into the traditional Indian medicine, the Ayurveda. The different parts of the tree which is called Sahjan, Murunga as well as Moonga in India are said to alleviate and cure 300 diseases. Even nowadays Moringa is still utilized in the holistic pathology and dietetics teachings and steadily gains recognition from the modern, academic medicine.
Egyptian hieroglyphics of the 6th dynasty (approx. 2475 B.C.) furnish evidence of importing oil named Baq or Baqet (Egyptian for ben oil) from northern Asia. The Egyptians employed this premium oil as admixture for cooking, as perfume (Kyphi), “unction cones” for embalmments and in medicine. Also in ancient Greece and the Roman Empire people knew the oil derived from moringa seeds and its versatility. It found application in cosmetics as basis for ointments and creams as well as cold extracts (mazerats) and in fragrance extraction (enfleurage) for essential oils and pomades.
The most rapid extension of moringa happened in the colonial era, as British rulers took along and resettled many species of herbs and plants from India to other areas. They called moringa horseradish tree, due to the pungent smell of its roots, and used it as a substitute for common horseradish.
The highly desirable moringa oil was used until well in the 19th century as precision mechanical lubricant in the watchmaking industry especially in Swiss and Germany. As aliment, ben oil was forced out the market around 1920 by much cheaper olive and palm oils. It is the most stable known plant oil on earth.
Over its geographical extension the plant family Moringaceae has adapted to new habitats and environments. It has developed into 13 species, whereupon it cannot be said for sure that all species have already been discovered. Interestingly, humans in different parts of the world and, for the most part, independently from each other, have found out about the Miracle Tree and learned to appreciate its properties.
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