Moringa oleifera is a plant native to northern India that can also grow in other tropical and sub-tropical places, like Asia and Africa. Folk medicine has used the leaves, flowers, seeds, and roots of this plant for centuries.
It’s traditionally been used as a remedy for such conditions as:
- Long-lasting inflammation
- Bacterial, viral, and fungal infections
- Joint pain
- Heart health
Are There Health Benefits?
Moringa has many important vitamins and minerals. The leaves have 7 times more vitamin C than oranges and 15 times more potassium than bananas. It also has calcium, protein, iron, and amino acids, which help your body heal and build muscle.
It’s also packed with antioxidants, substances that can protect cells from damage and may boost your immune system. There’s some evidence that some of these antioxidants can also lower blood pressure and reduce fat in the blood and body.
Uses of Moringa
So far, much of the research on moringa has used animals as test subjects. We don’t know if the results would be the same with humans. Researchers are working to find out exactly how extracts from this tree affect people,but early studies show it may help with.
Rheumatoid arthritis: Moringa leaf extract may lower fluid swelling, redness, and pain.
Diabetes: Several early studies show that insulin-like proteins found in moringa may help lower blood sugar. Plant chemicals found in the leaves might help the body process sugar better, and it may affect how the body releases insulin.
Cancer: In lab tests, leaf extracts slowed the growth of pancreatic cancer cells and helped chemotherapy work better. Other lab studies show that moringa leaves, bark, and roots all have anti-cancer effects that might lead to new drugs.
Memory: Some experts think the antioxidants and other health-promoting plant chemicals may heal stress and inflammation in the brain.
Scientists are also trying to see if it might help with:
- High blood pressure
- Liver damage caused by medicines
- Stomach ulcers
- Wound healing
- Ulcerative colitis
- Weight Loss
Is It Safe?
Research shows that it’s generally OK to eat the leaves or young seed pods, and leaf extracts made from powder and water may also be safe. But it can be dangerous to eat bark or pulp, especially for pregnant women. Chemicals in the bark may make the uterus contract and lead to a miscarriage.
Though you can buy it as a powder, pill, oil, or tea, supplements and powdersmade from moringa aren’t regulated by the FDA. That means there isn’t a standard dose you should take for health benefits. And companies don’t have to prove that their product is safe or that it works as advertised.
Don’t use it if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Talk to your doctor before taking moringa or any supplement, especially if you take any medications.