Claimed to be one of the most potent superfoods, moringa (Moringa Oleifera Lam) supplements have become popular over the past decade, coming in several forms including moringa pills and moringa tinctures.1 So, exactly what is moringa and how can you benefit from it?
Moringa has roots in traditional Asian and African medicine, where it was used both for healing purposes, and as a food source. A highly nutritious plant, moringa includes essential amino acids, various vitamins, and protein.1
Throughout this article, you will learn more about where Moringa comes from, how it’s used, common benefits, side effects, and where you can buy it for yourself.
Also known as the drumstick or radish tree, the moringa tree has distinct long, drumstick-shaped pods that hang of the branches. Native to the Northwest region of India, the Moringa oleifera tree is medium in size, with winged seeds, elongated berries, yellow-white leaves, and fruit.2
Sometimes referred to as the moringa plant, this tree now grows across Egypt, Thailand, India, Philippines, Burma, Ceylon, Pakistan, Cuba, Nigeria, Jamaica, and West Indies.2
Moringa Oleifera Uses
There are many moringa uses, each tailored to the benefit you wish to experience. Moringa herb supplements can be taken in the form of tea, powder, oil, or capsule, and are made using the seed, leaf, and root. The seeds from the moringa fruit are also used to make moringa bitters, an antioxidant rich health drink infused with herbal nutrients. Below, Better Health Organization provides a breakdown of the most popular Moringa oleifera uses for each part of the moringa tree.
Moringa oleifera seeds are full of protein and are used in moringa supplements as a natural protein enhancing agent. Moringa seeds are also rich in the amino acids methionine and cysteine and have been noted to have levels comparable to eggs and milk.3
Moringa seed husks have also shown promise as a natural water purification system, being utilized in underdeveloped countries to effectively filter drinking water.3
Of the different moringa drinks available on the market, the most common is moringa tea. Used in both traditional and modern health practices, moringa tea is made by steeping moringa leaf in boiling water. Today, there are several different moringa recipes, each with its own unique flavoring agents.
You can make your own cup of moringa tea at home by steeping 1 Tsp. of dried moringa leaves in 16 oz. of boiling hot water. Add 1 tsp. of manuka honey and enjoy.
Moringa oleifera powder is made from dried, ground leaves and is often used as a functional food ingredient or as a flavoring agent for moringa drinks. Online moringa reviews report the powder having a pleasant, but sharp flavor like matcha.
For instructions on how to use moringa powder, most jars suggesting mixing ½ Tsp. of regular or organic moringa powder into any drink or liquid. You can add moringa powder to smoothies, soups, or water for a low-calorie flavorful drink.
Powdered moringa leaves are also used to make moringa supplements. Moringa leaves provide protein, amino acids, and vitamins that have been reported to help with conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and inflammation.1 Moringa is often used in cholesterol-lowering or antioxidant supplements. Moringa capsules contain approximately 300 -500mg of moringa powder per serving, depending on the brand and capsule size you use.
Also known as “Ben oil”, moringa oil is extracted from the seeds by solvent extraction or cold pressing. These oils are high in oleic acid, a healthy fat known to be rich in antioxidants, and helpful in the maintenance of cholesterol.3
Moringa oil is frequently used in the preparation of foods. Some users have suggested trying moringa oil on popcorn, or as a baking substitute for olive or vegetable oil.
Moringa oil can also be used topically as a carrier for essential oils, or a moisturizing moringa shampoo. As a natural alternative to harsh chemical shampoos, users report improved hair growth and scalp health. To use at home, massage 1-2 Tbsp. of moringa oil directly on to your scalp once a week, as a hair and scalp treatment.
Moringa leaves have been used as medicine and as a food source in traditional African and Asian cultures for centuries. They are loaded with protein, vitamins, and amino acids, which are high in phytoactives. Moringa leaves are also contain notable antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.1
Moringa leaf powder and tea made from the dried or fresh moringa leaves are the most common methods of use for the leaf of the moringa plant.
Moringa root is not a common ingredient in commercial powders or oils, however, research has shown that moringa root of has potent anti-inflammatory properties. When used in a 2008 animal study, extracts from moringa root reduced inflammation in injured subjects.5
While the root of the moringa plant is not often used in commercial supplements, it’s eaten in cultures around the world.
Moringa Side Effects
There have been no scientifically documented moringa powder side effects, however, users with sensitivities or allergies to certain herbs and plants may experience adverse symptoms. If symptoms occur, consult your physician immediately.
As with any herbal supplement, you should consult your physician regarding the combination of moringa and pregnancy. Research has shown that pregnant women who consume moringa powder may have babies with higher birth weights, and produce more milk.4
Thanks to the various benefits of moringa this plant has become increasingly available in recent years. Moringa contains natural antimicrobial, antifungal, and anticancer properties, among others.8,9,10
According to a 1991 study, moringa seed and leaf extract is a strong antimicrobial agent and can inhibit growth of Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium often found in the respiratory system.9
The antifungal properties of moringa have also been successful against a range of dermatophytes, including Trichophyton rubrum (the cause of ringworm).10
Moringa leaf extract has shown promise as an anti-cancer agent, as noted in a 2011 human cell study. Cells which were treated with the extract slowed in growth, and cancerous cells deteriorated.8
In a 2007 animal study, moringa extract was shown to significantly improve hair growth, confirming its traditional use as a natural beauty product.7
There is also speculation that moringa weight loss supplements could be effective. According to a 2012 animal study, moringa pod extract may decrease serum glucose levels and increase the production of natural insulin.6 Regulating these markers may help support an overall healthy weight.
Where to Buy Moringa Leaves and Products
For users wondering where to buy moringa, products are available through online health and wellness retailers, as well as third-party retail channels like Amazon and eBay. You can also purchase moringa powder, capsules, leaves, and oil through a variety of health food stores, as well as some grocery stores and pharmacies.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- North Carolina State University. Moringa leaves. Plants for Human Health Institute. Retrieved on November 23, 2017 from – View Reference
- Ramachandran, C., Peter, K. V. & Gopalakrishnan, P. K. (1979) Drumstick (moringa oleifera): A multipurpose Indian vegetable. Economic Botany. 34(3), 276-283. Retrieved on November 23, 2017 from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02858648
- Leone, A., Spada, A., Battezzati, A., Schiraldi, A., Aristil, J. & Bertoli, S. (2016) Moringa oleifera seeds and oil: Characteristics and uses for human health. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 17(12), 2141. DOI: 3390/ijms17122141
- Fuglie, L. J. (2001) Combating malnutrition with moringa. Development Potential for Moringa Products. Retrieved on November 24, 2017 from http://npvital.com/npvital/artikel/moriveda/studien/bekaempfung%20mangelernaehrung.pdf
- Ezeamuzie, J. C., Ambakederemo, A. W., Shode, F. O. & Ekwebelem, S. C. (2008). Anti-inflammatory effects of moringa oleifera root extract. International Journal of Pharmacognosy. 207-212. Retrieved on November 24, 2017 from tadonline.com/doi/abs/10.1076/phbi.18.104.22.16811
- Gupta, R., Mathur, M., Bajaj, V., Katariya, P., Yadav, S., Kamal, R. & Gupta, R. (2012) Evaluation of antidiabetic and antioxidant activity of Moringa oleiferain experimental diabetes. Journal of 4(2), 164-171. DOI: 10.1111/j.1753-0407.2011.00173.x
- Builders, P. F., Mbah, C. C., Iwu, I. W., Builders, M. I. & Audu, M. M. (2014) Moringa oleifera ethosomes a potential hair growth activator: Effect on rats. J Pharm Biomed Sci. 04(07), 611-618. Retrieved on November 24, 2017 from http://www.jpbms.info/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_details&gid=1088&Itemid=48
- Sreelatha, S., Jeyachitra, A. & Padma, P. R. (2011) Antiproliferation and induction of apoptosis by Moringa oleifera leaf extract on human cancer cells. Food and Chemistry Toxicology. 49(6), 1270-1275. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2011.03.006
- Caceres, A., Cabrera, O., Morales, O., Mollinedo, P. & Mendia P. (1991) Pharmacological properties of moringa oleifera. 1: Preliminary screening for antimicrobial activity. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-8741(91)90078-R
- Chuang, P.H., Lee, C. W., Chou, J. Y., Murugan, M., Shieh, B. J. & Chen, H. M. (2007) Anti-fungal activity of crude extracts and essential oil of moringa oleifera lam. Bioresource Technology. 98(1), 232-236. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biortech.2005.11.003