Moringa oleifera has been around for over 4,000 years. And you must have heard of moringa and health benefits of moringa if you’ve not been living under the rock.
Moringa oleifera is a plant native to India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, and it has been praised for its great health benefits for centuries. It’s very rich in healthy bioactive plant compounds and antioxidants.
So far, scientists have investigated some of the health benefits of moringa and you are going to learn the health benefits of moringa, supported by scientific research in this article.
What is Moringa Oleifera?
Moringa is a plant with many medicinal properties. It also has lots of helpful compounds. Some of the helpful compounds in Moringa are:
- B2 (riboflavin)
- B3 (niacin), B-6
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
- Folate and ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
Moringa is also extremely low in fats and has no harmful cholesterol.
Moringa oleifera is popular for its several applications for both internal and external health. Most people even call it “miracle tree” because almost all its parts are useful. You can feed its seedlings to pigs and cattle to provide them with lots of nutrients. The bark of Moringa can also be woven into fiber for mats and ropes.
Moringa roots and bark can also help treat infections and sexually transmitted diseases because of their antibiotic properties. But the most loved and utilized part of the moringa tree is its leaves because its leaves are filled with lots of minerals and vitamins such as calcium, protein, potassium and vitamin A&C.
People have been using moringa to alleviate joint pain, constipation, anemia, and arthritis for many centuries. Today, you will find a lot of health products using moringa leaves as the main ingredient. That is because moringa has a concentrated amount of nutrient. Few of the products that use moringa leaves include moringa supplements, leaf syrup, and moringa powder.
Where can you get moringa?
The moringa mainly originates from India, but now grown in both tropical and subtropical countries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. To this day, India is still the biggest producer of Moringa oleifera in the entire world. India exported about 16,000 tons of it between January 2014 and October 2016.
Moringa production is increasing every year because of its increasing popularity. That is why you can now find numerous moringa supplements and products on the market.
Health benefits of Moringa oleifera
There are numerous health benefits of Moringa oleifera. Here are the health benefits of Moringa oleifera backed by science:
#1. Moringa oleifera is nutritious
Native to North India, moringa is called different names including ben oil tree, horseradish tree, and drumstick tree. Its tree is fairly large and almost all parts of it are used as traditional herbal medicines ingredients.
Its leaves and pods are commonly eaten in parts of Africa and India. Moringa leaves are a good source of many minerals and vitamins. A cup of fresh, chopped moringa leaves (21g) contains:
- Iron: 11% of the RDA
- Vitamin C: 12% of the RDA
- Vitamin A (from beta-carotene): 9% of the RDA
- Vitamin B6: 19% of the RDA
- Protein: 2g
- Magnesium: 8% of the RDA
- Riboflavin (B2): 11% of the RDA
In Western countries, moringa leaves are dried and sold as dietary supplements, in the form of capsule or powder.
Although moringa leaves contain more vitamins and minerals, its pods are exceptionally rich in vitamin C. Just a cup of its fresh, sliced pods (100g) will give you 157% of your daily vitamin C requirement.
In developing countries, their diet sometimes lacks protein, minerals, and vitamins. So moringa oleifera can be a great source of protein and minerals in these countries. Take note that Moringa oleifera supplements in capsule won’t give you a large number of nutrients.
The nutrients you will get in Moringa oleifera supplements in the capsule are almost the same as what you will get from a balanced diet based on whole foods.
#2. It reduces inflammation
Although inflammation is your body’s natural response to injury or infection, the protective mechanism may become a major health problem if it continues over a long period of time.
In fact, sustained inflammatory is linked to several health issues such as cancer and heart disease. Scientist found that isothiocyanates are the main anti-inflammatory compound in Moringa seeds, pods, and leaves.
#3. Moringa helps lower blood sugar levels
High blood sugar is a serious health issue. In fact, it is the main diabetes characteristic. Over time, high blood sugar levels begin to raise the risk of health issues, including heart disease. That is why it is vital to keep your blood sugar within healthy limits.
The good news is that many studies have shown that Moringa oleifera can help lower blood sugar levels. A study in thirty women showed that consuming 1.5 teaspoons (7g) of moringa leaf powder daily for 3 months reduced fasting blood sugar levels by an average of 13.5%.
Another study in 6 people with diabetes showed that adding 50g of moringa leaves to a meal reduced the rise in blood sugar by 21%. So there is evidence that Moringa oleifera can help reduce blood sugar levels.
#4. Moringa oleifera is rich in antioxidants
If you don’t already know the work of antioxidants, they are the compounds that act against free radicals in our body. When free radicals are on high levels in the body, they may cause oxidative stress that is associated with chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Scientists have found many antioxidant plant compounds in Moringa oleifera leaves. Aside from beta-carotene and vitamin C, scientists have found more antioxidant plant compounds, including:
- Chlorogenic acid: This may help moderate blood sugar levels after a meal.
- Quercetin: It can help lower blood pressure.
Moringa leaves extract may also be used to preserve food as it increases the shelf life of meat.
#5. Moringa can protect against arsenic toxicity
In several parts of the world, arsenic contamination of water and food is a major problem. Over time, exposure to high levels of arsenic may cause health issues. For example, studies have linked long-term exposure to arsenic to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.
Thankfully, many studies in rats and mice have shown that the seeds and leaves of moringa may help protect against lots of effects of arsenic toxicity.
#6. Moringa oleifera can lower cholesterol
Studies have shown that high cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease. Thankfully, several plant foods can help reduce cholesterol. Such plants include oats, almonds, and flaxseeds.
According to the studies carried out on human and animals, Moringa oleifera has similar cholesterol-lowering effects.
#7. Moringa may help ease asthma
Moringa is a bronchodilator, so it helps to relax the bronchi and bronchioles, thereby increasing the air passage into the lungs. Its antibacterial properties can also help eliminate any external materials that may trigger asthma.
#8. Moringa protects diabetes patients from retinopathy
Retinopathy is caused by inflammation of the blood vessels in the eyes that may lead to fluid leakage. If it is not treated, retinopathy may lead to complete blindness.
Moringa regulates blood sugar levels in diabetes patients, so it may help stop retinopathy and protect your retina from inflammation. The high antioxidant content of moringa is responsible for this.
#9. Moringa promotes wound healing
It contains blood clotting properties that may help reduce the wounds healing time, scratches and scrapes. Also, antiviral and antibacterial properties of Moringa oleifera may help prevent possible wound infections.
#10. Moringer can shield you from liver damage
Moringa is high in polyphenol, which can help protect the liver from toxicity and oxidation. It can increase the protein content in the liver and normalize liver enzymes.
#11. Moringa protects and nourishes hair and skin
Moringa seed oil can help protect your hair from free radicals and keeps it healthy and clean. It also contains protein, which can help protect skin cells from damage. Moringa also contains detoxifying and hydrating elements, which boost the hair and skin. It can help cure both sores and skin infections.
#12. Moringa helps to treat mood disorders
It can help treat anxiety, fatigue, and depression.
Moringa uses are numerous as it can be taken by mouth and applied to the skin. The following are the moringa uses:
TAKEN BY MOUTH
- To increase breast milk production: Study showed that taking 250mg of a certain moringa supplement (Natalac) two times a day after childbirth will increase breast milk production.
- Asthma: Study showed that consuming 3g of moringa two times a day for 3 weeks reduced not only the asthma symptoms but also the severity of asthma attacks in adults.
- Birth control
- Anemia (tired blood)
- Stomach and intestinal ulcers
- Heart problems
- Stomach pain (gastritis)
- Kidney stones
- High blood pressure
- Thyroid disorders
- Swelling (inflammation)
- Increasing sex drive
- Stimulating immunity
- Nutritional supplement
- And much more conditions
APPLIED TO THE SKIN
- Gum disease (gingivitis)
- Skin infections
- Athlete’s foot
- And other conditions
Moringa side effects
Although there have been only a few reported moringa side effects, you should consult a healthcare professional before taking it. You should always read the label on moringa extract and follow dosage instructions strictly.
Is moringa safe?
When taken by mouth and used correctly, moringa is safe. The seeds, fruits, and leaves might be safe when consumed as food. For safety purpose, you may avoid eating its root and extracts because these parts may contain toxic substances that can cause death or paralysis.
If you are pregnant, you may want to avoid moringa bark, flowers, and root. Chemicals in its bark, flowers, and root can make the uterus contract, which might lead to a miscarriage. There is not enough information available about the safety of taking or using other parts of moringa during pregnancy.
When you are using moringa, you should be aware of using the following medications with it:
- Medications that might be broken down by the liver: How fast this happens may be decreased by moringa extract and this could lead to complications or side effects
- Levothyroxine: This is used to alleviate thyroid problems. Compounds in moringa leaf help aid thyroid function, which is why you shouldn’t use levothyroxine with moringa. That could result in an overdose.
- High blood pressure medication: Moringa helps lower blood pressure, so medications that lower blood pressure should not be taken alongside moringa.
- Diabetes medications: Moringa lowers blood sugar, so it shouldn’t be used with diabetes medications.
3 grams of moringa two times a day for 3 weeks has been shown to work perfectly. However, the appropriate dose depends on many factors such as user’s health, age, and many other conditions. Be sure to check the direction of use or consult a physician.
However, moringa supplements usually contain 300 – 500 milligrams of Moringa oleifera leaf powder, depending on the capsule’s size. So it is recommended for an adult to take two capsules per day – one capsule in the morning and another one capsule at night.
It is best to consult a health practitioner or doctor before you take the supplement to be sure you are taking the correct moringa dosage.
Moringa tea side effects
You can use moringa leaves in tea, but be sure to consult your doctor if you have specific health problems. Here is how to make moringa tea:
- 1 cup of hot water
- 1 tablespoon of dried moringa leaves and stalks or 3 to 4 stalks of fresh moringa
- Honey (as per taste)
- Lemon (optional)
- Take 3 to 4 stalks of moringa and use the mature leaves to make tea
- Air-dry the leaves and the stalks till they become crisp.
- Scoop the dry Moringa leaves into a blender and grind thoroughly
- Add hot water and allow the leaves to steep for 3 to 5 minutes or until its color changes
- Add honey and mix to taste. You can also add lemon if you like.
You can drink it hot or cold.
Moringa tea side effects include:
- Risk of miscarriage in a pregnant woman
Moringa leaf side effects
Moringa leaves are not toxic. So it has no known side effects and can be eaten or used to make tea.
The bottom line
Moringa is in existence for thousands of years and has been used in traditional medicine for many years. Studies showed that Moringa oleifera may help reduce blood sugar levels and cholesterol. It also offers anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and protects against arsenic toxicity.
There have been few or no moringa side effects, so it is safe to consume, except in specific cases. Health benefits of moringa leaves are numerous, which is why people are demanding for it throughout the world every day. In fact, it can help you lose weight.
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