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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Moringa, the Tree of Life: Discover this Fast-Growing Miracle of Nutrients and Health

Feb 29, 2012 10:34PM ● By Lee Walker

Gene and Daryl Salerno

Naples residents Gene and Daryl Salerno are very passionate about the moringa oleifera, a tree they learned about last summer while touring the Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization (ECHO), in Fort Myers. As do many malnourished residents of Burma, India, the Philippines and Thailand, the Salernos now look upon the tree as a miraculous source of nutrition and healing.

“The leaves are high in vitamins A and C, as well as calcium and potassium, and the protein quality of moringa leaves is said to rival that of milk and eggs,” says Gene, noting that it is unusual for a plant protein to contain all the essential amino acids. Every part of the tree is either edible or can be used for medicinal purposes. The leaves, flowers, seedpods and seeds can be eaten, and oil extracted from cold-pressed seeds can be used for cooking, as a body and hair conditioner and as a healing agent—ayurvedic practitioners say the oil has antifungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities. The seed casings that remain after oil extraction are also capable of purifying water.

“These nutritional assets and water purification capabilities are life-saving qualities,” advises Daryl, who cites a study that was conducted in western Africa’s Republic of Senegal. “Pregnant and nursing mothers saved the lives of their severely malnourished children by sprinkling moringa powder on their toddlers’ food,” she says, “and moringa also increases the volume and quality of breast milk.”

After their visit to ECHO, a Christian-based missionary group with a goal to eliminate malnutrition and hunger in Third World countries, the Salernos began growing young trees on their property in Golden Gate Estates. “We bought more than 100 seeds at ECHO because we believed that everyone in Southwest Florida, particularly low-income families, can benefit from growing the tree as a source of nutrient-dense food,” says Gene.

The Salernos, who are planning an educational seminar and planting day to help the needy families of Grace Place of Naples, are grateful that they learned about the tree. “The moringa powder, which we make from the leaves, improved the health of our baby grandson, Liam,” remarks Daryl. “He was sick for two months last winter and the doctor put him on four different rounds of antibiotics, which resulted in severe diarrhea and vomiting for two weeks. Moringa is a whole food, so he easily absorbed the nutrition.”

The couple turned their passion into a business, and now sells Moringa trees locally. They also distribute the powder in bulk and as a vegan encapsulated vitamin supplement. “If you live in Southwest Florida, these fast-growing trees can flourish in your backyard or in a pot on your lanai,” the couple enthuses.

For more information, call 239-455-7681 or visit

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