Archive for the ‘Medical & Health’ Category


February 8, 2011

Sophie Oppenheimer, MS, MPH












Sophie Oppenheimer will act as Moringa research collaborations coordinator for TFL in several developing Moringa projects. Sophie will coordinate the development of three Moringa projects: (1) the study of the links between Moringa leaves and type II diabetes mitigation, (2) the study of the biosorbent removal of effluents from ground water, (3) the use of bioactive Moringa seed cake extract in goat and goat milk production.

Sophie earned her dual Master’s degrees in Public Health (Epidemiology/Giostatistics) and Food Policy and Applied nutrition from Tufts University, and her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Colorado in Bolder. Sophie has worked with Trees for Life International since 2001. She also spent one year as a Behavior Interventionist for Inclusive Education and Community Partnership (IECP), has worked for two years as an intern with the Positive Deviance Initiative, and recently completed a program evaluation for a fuel-efficient cook stoves program in Kenya with the International and Small Group Tree Planting Program (TIST). She is interested in a variety of health issues, with particular focus on international nutrition interventions, food security, community-driven health initiatives , and behavior and social change models.

The work of Trees for Life is made possible by the generosity of individual donors. Please consider making a donation to support this important Moringa research.


January 18, 2011

Lately I have been wondering why, why it has taken so long for Moringa to be noticed by western cultures and for those cultures to become interested in adopting the plant for use in their diets. In most of its 26 years Trees for Life has been a proponent of the Moringa Tree. During this time we have seen it spread to numerous countries in the plus or  minus 10 degree belt of the equator where it thrives. Internationally, there are now hundreds of Moringa organizations and networks around the world with thousands of members dedicated to the planting, growth and consumption of the Moringa tree.

 In “developed” countries in Europe and the US awareness of the Moringa tree really started to expand after the Discovery Channel aired its special documentary approximately 10 years ago. That prompted numerous articles in newspapers and magazines. Within the past couple of years the expansion of the internet and social media sites which now have daily postings of Moringa updates from around the world attest to the public awareness of Moringa. On Earth Day 2008 the National Institute of Health (NIH) named Moringa as plant of the year. In naming the Moringa as plant of the year NIH again pointed out the great nutritional benefits of the Moringa tree: 7 times the vitamin C of oranges, 4 times the calcium of milk, and twice the protein of yogurt and all of the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents the body requires plus all essential amino acids.

So, where am I going with this? In about this same time period the Journal of the American College of Nutrition published a research article noting the changes in USDA Food Composition Data for 43 Garden Crops. The article mentions considerable loss of nutrient levels in the 43 garden crops over a 50 year period but an even greater loss in farming crops such as wheat, corn and rice. The authors (Davis, Epp and Riordan) stated, “refined sugars, separated fats and oils and white flour and rice have all suffered losses much greater and broader than the losses suggested here for garden crops …. thus, for those concerned about nutrient losses, the most important measure is to partly replace these known-depleted staples with more nutrient-dense whole foods, especially vegetables, fruits, whole grains and nuts”. It has also been published in articles that in the past 40 years our average adult caloric intake has gone from 1500 calories a day in the 1970’s to over 3600 a day in 2010 in this country (NIH). We have become a nation, over-fed and under-nourished; with a national obesity problem that is having a growing an economic and health impact on our society. 

To me one of the best solutions is Moringa. Monica G. Marcu, Phar.D., Ph.D., points out in Moringa:  An Introduction, in looking at what Moringa would bring to the Westerners’ Table: “Concentrated vitamins, minerals, all necessary protein constituents, beneficial fats, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory substances, all in a readily absorbable form and easy to digest = an energy food. Tasty but with very little sugar and salt”. Moringa is as Dr. Marcu points out is a “super-food”, it is unique because in even small amounts it can supply all of the vital nutrients the body needs with very few calories. This may be starting to sound like a commercial “lose weight – feel great” use Moringa. In reality Moringa does offer the western diet a nutritional balance that is too often missing.

The Honorable Agnes Ndetei: Politician to Moringa Herbalist

November 30, 2010


Agnes Ndetei – From Politican to Moringa Herbalist

Trees for Life is happy to report on the journey of  Ms. Ndetei, from a member of parliament, to Moringa herbalist. Her journey began in 1997 when she lost her seat in parliament.  As part of the process of charting a new life and reinventing herself Agnes moved to the United States where in 2003 she learned that she had breast cancer.

“I was diagnosed with cancer, and it was a terrifying experience. I did not know who to turn to. I called my parents back in Wote — my rural home — and they told me about some herbs that could help cure my condition. I asked them to mail the herbs to me.” Ms. Ndetei said.

Meanwhile she underwent surgery to remove the tumor in her breast. “The Moringa herbs arrived and after I took them, believe you me, I was tested, and the cancer was gone.” she said. Moringa became the second part of her treatment and the one which Agnes believes was the final victory over her cancer.  This experience and her belief in Moringa started Ms. Ndetei to found the Solace Self Help Group in 2008. Ms. Ndetei relates that in Kenya Moringa products have been accepted by the ministry of Health for their medicinal properties. In March of 2010 the Solace Self Help Group was funded by the African Medical Research Foundation to administer the Moringa herb to people living with HIV/Aids.

 In her mission to expand the awareness and knowledge of the benefits of Moringa, the Solace Group, has planted more that a half million Moringa oleifera trees. This action grew out of her passion about growing back trees that have been lost. In desperation, people can’t see past their next meal and have been cutting down trees to sell at any price, not realizing that the price they are paying will be devastating for them. Their “meal today, none tomorrow” mentality brought about by famine and starvation has shortened their vision. 

Agnes has now moved the Solace Self Help Group into the next phase of service to her community, providing water wells. These well are the foundation of her program to support the people’s need for access to water for themselves and their plants. Her group has completed the first well and is now working on its second. The wells will sustain an initial field of green peas and mango trees. Her future dream is to create a permanent funding source by marketing the organic mangoes on the international market.