Beauty rituals and products have been around since ancient times. While some ancient beauty practices are too weird to catch on now (see: camel pee and crocodile poo), there are many amazing ones that have stood the test of time.
In fact, some of these ancient beauty products have been adapted to modern times and put to good use today — moringa, for instance.
An Age-old Beauty Secret
Moringa (Moringa oleifera), a native plant in India and other parts of Asia and Africa, is also known as the drumstick tree or horseradish tree. To us Filipinos, moringa is more familiar by its traditional name malunggay — the nutritious, leafy, green vegetable we add to soup and other dishes.
The use of moringa in beauty products goes back centuries. Moringa oil was highly valued in ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt as it was used to make perfumes, soften skin, and oil hair. Additionally, moringa’s high vitamins A and C content makes it excellent for improving skin elasticity and lightening the complexion, notes Moringa-O2, a local hair- and skincare brand that infuses its products with the wonder ingredient.
Ancient Egyptians, who were huge fans of the oil, used a mix of moringa, castor, and sesame oil to reduce their wrinkles and maintain a youthful appearance. They found further use for it when protecting and rejuvenating their skin from the harsh, sunny desert environment. Jars filled with moringa oil were also buried with the dead in ancient Egyptian tombs.
Health Benefits of the Miracle Tree
Moringa has been dubbed the “Miracle Tree” and the “Tree of Life” due to its numerous benefits. Aside from containing vitamins A and C for improving skin appearance, the plant also has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It can be used for treating minor wounds, abrasions, and cuts. It also provides relief from burns, rashes, and insect bites.
Ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and Indians used moringa as medicine, as well. Tea made from moringa leaves were used to treat colds and infections. Consuming the leaves fresh, on the other hand, purportedly improves the conditions of people with anemia, diarrhea, and gastric ulcers. Ancient cultures also used moringa seeds for depression while moringa root helped calm anxiety.
Today, moringa is used to treat an extensive list of ailments including cancer. Research shows that moringa extracts have properties and compounds, such as niazimicin, that may boost resistance to cancer and prevent the development of cancer cells.
A Return to the Spotlight
Moringa is enjoying its return to popularity. Different beauty products — from shampoos and soaps to moisturizers and hair masks — now are infused with moringa oil.
Moreover, moringa is touted as one of the new “superfoods.” It joins the likes of kale and matcha, which are also packed with vitamins and minerals beneficial to your health. It’s commonly taken as a health food supplement thanks to its high protein, vitamin A, potassium, and calcium content.
Years ago, when moringa was re-introduced to the public, it seemed like another passing beauty fad. If you dig a little deeper into its colorful history, you’ll find that it has many benefits that have helped solidify its use in the health, nutrition, and beauty industries. This is one beauty and nutrition ingredient with staying power!