He even announced in the national press that the country was going to "massively produce" moringa, "which are also inexhaustible sources of meat, eggs and milk", referring to the "dozens of medicinal properties" of the plant.
Now Venezuelan politicians have put it back on the table, after both the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, and the president of the National Assembly, the opposition Henry Ramos Allup, recommended its use.
In effect, Venezuelan politicians alluded to the "magic plant" that Castro defended so much, in this case regarding its relaxing properties, and with a much more ironic tone.
But moringa has, in fact, many other properties.
Some properties of moringa
- Vitamins A, B and C
- High in Calcium and Iron
This is what is known about the "magic herb", as many know it.
Where does it grow?
Moringa is native to northern India, Ethiopia, the Philippines and Sudan, although it is abundant in many tropical and subtropical countries.
The plant is grown in Africa, tropical Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Florida, and the Pacific islands.
Moringa oleifera, also called "moringa", is the most economically valuable species and grows around the Himalayas, but is widely cultivated in the tropics, explains the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO, en English).
"As more is known about its many uses, the greater the importance it has had in the development of many poor areas of developing countries," explains John Sutherland of the University of Leicester, UK.
In some places it is known as a "drum stick" because of the shape of its pods.
It is also known as "horseradish" because of the flavor of its roots, and in some parts of East Africa it is called "mom's best friend."
In Latin America it can be found mainly in Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Also in Paraguay and Argentina.
According to the International Center for Agroforestry Research (ICRAF), moringa is a deciduous tree that can be up to 8 meters tall.
It usually opens in the shape of an umbrella and produces sweet-smelling flowers throughout the year.
Its fruit is long and distinctive.
Almost all parts of the plant can be used in medicine.
"Interest in its medicinal properties has grown as a large number of scientific studies have been developed," explains Sutherland.
The FAO says that its leaves "are rich in protein, vitamins A, B and C, and minerals: highly recommended for pregnant and lactating women, as well as young children."
The leaves, high in calcium and iron, are used as the equivalent of spinach, adds ICRAF.
They also contain high doses of cystine and metonin, a type of amino acids that are often in short supply.
The young pods are edible and their flavor is reminiscent of asparagus.
Green peas and the material surrounding the skin can also be cooked and the flowers can be eaten or used to make tea, and also as a cold remedy.
According to the FAO, products derived from moringa have antibiotic properties, against trypanosome and hypotension or low blood pressure.
It also heals spasms, ulcers, and inflammations, and has hypocholesterolemic and hypoglycemic properties.
The seeds and barks are used to treat circulatory problems.
"It is an amazing species and has multifunctional properties," declared Fernando Arancibia, of the Chilean Foundation for Agrarian Innovation (FIA).
Popular knowledge says that it cures and prevents up to 300 diseases, including diabetes, headaches, or acne, although there are no scientific studies to prove this theory.
Perhaps that is why many refer to it as "the tree of life".
However, experts warn about moderation in its consumption, as its side effects include loss of sleep, excess red blood cells and heartburn.
Naturopathic physician Reinaldo Reyes assured on Dominican television that moringa can be dangerous if consumed in large quantities and said that its use is not new.
"This plant has been under investigation for a long time, more than 50 years," explained Reyes.
"It has been used for many years to combat famine in poor countries, what happens is that people now want to use it indiscriminately because they think it is harmless," the expert said in a television interview.
In addition, the doctor and naturist Arcenio Estévez Medina maintains that he has "nothing against" the consumption of moringa "but warned that it should not be consumed" happily, neither this plant nor any other.