What is Moringa?
Have you ever heard of moringa and do you know what it can do for you? If the answer is no, let me tell you that the plant has been widely used in Asia for centuries where it has earned the name ‘miracle tree’. It may not actually perform miracles, but it benefits the health in so many diverse ways that we think you would like to learn more.
Up to this point, there have been well over a thousand scientific studies into the health benefits of moringa many of which have confirmed its traditional reputation as a cure all. It is especially significant in parts of the world where nutritional deficiencies are more common but it may also have a significant impact on the health of people in the West.
Moringa supplements are mostly made from the leaves of the moringa tree but research has demonstrated that most other parts of the tree are edible. The leaves, the bark, sap and twigs all confer a variety of medical benefits and its leaves are commonly prepared in Asian delicacies.
The Moringa tree is known scientifically as Moringa oleifera and is sometimes referred to as the miracle tree, the drumstick tree or the Ben oil tree. It was originally a native of India but now grows in various parts of the world including Asia and Africa.
It has long been used to treat an incredibly wide range of medical complaints including inflammation and related illness, anemia. arthritis, asthma, digestive problems, headaches, skin health and bacterial infections.
According to scientific data, when taken gram for gram, this nutritional powerhouse contains:
- Three times the amount of potassium found in bananas.
- Twice as much protein as yogurt.
- Four times as much Vitamin A found in carrots.
- Four times as much calcium as you get from cow’s milk.
- An incredible seven times more vitamin C than oranges.
- Moringa is also full of natural antioxidants, various flavonoids, phenolic acids and isothiocyanates. As well as its antioxidant content, it also has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.
This amazing nutritional profile as well as its medicinal compounds makes moringa one of the most beneficial supplements you could take on a daily basis.
The Health Benefits of Moringa Oleifera
1) Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Benefits
Moringa oleifera contains a range of healthy antioxidants that help repair cellular damage done by those harmful free radicals that you hear so much about. Because free radicals are so difficult to avoid, it is essential that we counteract this damage by getting as many antioxidants into our system as possible.
According to studies, moringa contains a range of antioxidants including quercetin, carotenoids and also several amino acids. Research shows that moringa works in a very similar way to traditional anti-inflammatory medications but with far fewer potential side effects. (1)
The compounds found in moringa and its leaves like quercetin, kaempferol, vitamin C and various polyphenols help reduce the damaging effects of inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. Research tells us that inflammation and oxidative stress are the root cause of many serious illnesses including heart disease, brain disorders and cancer.
2) Hormonal Balance
Moringa can help to balance the hormones and research has found it was especially effective in treating menopausal women.
A study published in 2014 looked at the effect of moringa when combined with amaranth on oxidative stress and inflammation in 90 postmenopausal women. The level of certain antioxidant enzymes are affected after menopause because of the deficiency of hormones like estrogen. The researchers sought to find out whether moringa and amaranth could slow down these aging effects and balance the hormones naturally.
The results were very promising. The researchers found that moringa and amaranth supplements had a significantly positive effect on antioxidant status as well as causing a significant decrease in various markers related to oxidative stress.
The researchers also found the herbal supplements had other beneficial effects including a increase in haemoglobin and improved blood sugar. They concluded that moringa and amaranth had significant potential to prevent complications from age related hormonal change. (2)
Some studies have also showed that moringa may have aphrodisiac qualities to improve libido. It has been used as an aphrodisiac traditionally for centuries. It may also help improve the production of breast milk in nursing mothers and boost the immune system during pregnancy.
3) Blood Sugar Control
Moringa may also help control blood glucose making it especially useful for people with diabetes. It contains chlorogenic acid, a substance known to help manage blood glucose levels by allowing the cells to take on and release sugar efficiently. It also contains isothiocyanates which are linked to diabetes prevention.
One study found that moringa had a positive effect on insulin level and blood sugar in diabetics when it was eaten with a meal high in carbohydrates. The study also found that bitter gourd and curry leaves were beneficial and when all three plants were eaten with a meal, it produced very positive results. (3)
4) Skin Health
Moringa is great for the skin. It works of well because of its natural antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal compounds which can protect the skin from and treat a range of infections. It can be used to treat common issues like acne and blackheads but is also great for treating fungal conditions like dandruff and athlete’s foot.
Moringa can also help treat minor wounds, cuts, insect bites, and burns while it may also help with oral issues like gingivitis.
You can apply moringa oil topically to the skin. It has astringent properties that help to tighten the skin as well as moisturizing actions that help your skin stay hydrated. Not only does it help keep your skin healthy and kill infection but it can also help to eliminate nasty body odors.
5) Hair Health
The various nutritional and medicinal compounds found in moringa are also great for your hair. It can help to treat common issues like dandruff but you can also use it just to keep your hair looking healthy and strong.
The vitamin A found in moringa along with other important minerals like zinc can help keep your hair moisturized and strong. It also boost the circulation of blood to the scalp helping to strengthen the hair follicles and stimulating hair growth.
6) Heart Health
Several studies have found that moringa can help improve your heart’s health. According to research done at the University of Faisalabad, it can help reduce blood pressure while there is also evidence that it has an impact on cholesterol levels.
Both high blood pressure and high cholesterol are linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
7) Brain Health
Moringa is a rich source of tryptohan – which positively affects the function of neurotransmitters like serotonin. Because of this, it can have a positive effect in your mood and emotional health. Moringa is also a great source of antioxidants that improve thyroid health, This can help boost energy and libido while preventing fatigue, insomnia, depression and mood swings.
8) Other Health Benefits
Moringa is commonly used to boost the function of the liver and to help detox the body by helping it eliminate toxins and other harmful substances. Moringa may also help to treat kidney stones, urinary tract infections and edema.
Because of its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial actions, moringa has long been used by traditional practitioners especially in Asia to treat a wide range of conditions These include stomach ulcers, kidney complaints, liver disease digestive disorders, yeast infections like candida and various types of bacterial infection. It is also used to help boost digestive health and is a popular choice for common digestive issues like diarrhea and constipation.
How to Use Moringa
These days moringa is available in several different forms including capsules, dried leaves, tea, seeds and oil. You may also be lucky enough to find the fresh leaf available near you.
There is no recommended dose but it you are advised to start off with a low dose and gradually increase it over time. Doses up to 6 grams a day have been used in studies with no adverse effects.
A teaspoon of moringa in powdered form is around the equivalent of 3 capsules or about 3 grams of moringa leaf.
Moringa Powder: Try adding a teaspoon of the powder to your soup or casserole dishes for a healthy kick. You could also add a teaspoon to your smoothie or simply mix it into a glass of lemon water with honey.
Moringa Tea: To make moringa tea, just steep the leaves in hot water for about 10 minutes.
Moringa Oil: Oil made with moringa seeds is sometimes known as Ben oil. You can apply it topically to treat your skin or your hair. You can also add a little to your regular shampoos and skin care creams.
Side Effects and Precautions
- Moringa is generally regarded as safe and is well tolerated whether you take it orally or apply it topically.
- Make sure that you buy your supplements and extracts from a reputable supplier to avoid the risk of contamination.
- Pregnant women and breastfeeding moms should avoid using moringa since there is no data regarding its safety on the child.