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Moringa oleifera

Moringa oleifera is an economically important tree and vegetable, and preliminary evidence suggests that it has a respectable antioxidant and antiinflammatory potency. It contains compounds structurally similar to sulforaphane and appears to be protective when orally ingested.

Our evidence-based analysis on moringa oleifera features 140 unique references to scientific papers.

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Summary of Moringa oleifera

Primary Information, Benefits, Effects, and Important Facts

Moringa oleifera is a tree that is sometimes called the Tree of Life or a Miracle Tree, but rather than this being in reference to its potential medicinal usage this is actually refering to how it is a very valuable food crop (it is drought resistant, grows very fast, and is highly nutritive) and even beyond food it serves many benefits in third world countries such as having an ability to be used for some crafts (due to being a tree) and cleaning water.

For usage as a supplement, moringa oleifera is recommended mostly as being a highly nutritious antioxidant. While it is indeed nutritious, supplemental dosages are too low to acquire adequate nutrition from and this claim is not relevant; it is a relatively potent antioxidant, and while it seems to be less potent than other herbs when tested outside of a living system it does appear to be quite potent when tested in living models. The reason for the increased potency in living models is not known (although it is possible that it can induce cellular transcriptional changes similar to sulforaphane since the bioactives are similar in structure), but the antioxidant properties seem to underlie the vast majority of benefits associated with this supplement.

There are also antiinflammatory effects that, while less studied, seem to be quite effective. One of the bioactives, RBITC, is effective in suppressing macrophage activation in the nanomolar range and is worth some future research into. Beyond that, there does appear to be a nice anti-diabetic effect that has undergone preliminary human testing. This work suggested that this moringa oleifera may promote pancreatic health and reduce blood glucose secondary to this.

While both the antioxidant and antiinflammatory properties are somewhat interesting, until the exact mechanisms and relative potency to some other antioxidants or antiinflammatories are tested it is hard to recommend this supplement over other options.

It is important to note that although the plant is generally considered to be 'nontoxic', this does not appear to be the case at all times. While supplemental dosages listed below appear to be safe from all tested toxicity a, relatively small increase (3-4 times the recommended does) is known to cause genotoxic damage and may promote cancer formation whereas higher doses cause overt organ damage (mostly liver and kidneys). This effect is seen with the seeds while toxicity of the leaves seems to be a lesser concern. Beyond that, reasonable supplemental dosages appear to be able to induce abortions in pregnant rats and thus supplementation is contraindicated (not advised) in pregnant women.

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How to Take

Medical Disclaimer

Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details

There is not a lot of human evidence at this point in time, but the majority of animal evidence uses rats as the models and uses a water extract of the leaves. When those conditions are met, it appears that 150-200mg/kg oral intake is deemed as optimal in these animal models. It is important to note that due to differences in rodent/ human biochemistry, it is often difficult to directly extrapolate human equivalent dose-response on a mg/kg basis.

The human studies currently in existence have used either 500mg of the leaf extract or 3 grams of the seeds.

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Human Effect Matrix

The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies (it excludes animal and in vitro studies) to tell you what effects moringa oleifera has on your body, and how strong these effects are.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
grade-c Notable - See study
When 250mg of moringa oleifera is taken twice daily, there is a time dependent increase in milk production; the lone study noted that the increase relative to placebo on the third day of supplementation was to 265% of placebo (a 165% increase).
grade-d Minor - See study
Non-allergic asthmatic symptoms were reduced in a pilot study using the seeds of moringa oleifera
grade-d Minor Very High See 2 studies
There appears to be a decrease in postprandial blood glucose following a meal in type II diabetics (21%), and this hypoglycemia may apply to non-diabetics based on rodent research, and appears to increase with time.
grade-d Minor - See study
The reduction of HbA1c noted is minor, from 7.8% down to 7.4% with 90 days supplementation of the leaf extracts
grade-d Minor - See study
Respiratory capacity (as assessed by breath testing) in persons with nonallergic asthma (most of whom were smokers) appears to be enhanced following supplementation of the seeds of Moringa
grade-d Minor - See study
Topical application of a 3% moringa leaf cream for three winter months appeared to increase skin hydration status relative to control cream.
grade-d Minor - See study
Application of a 3% moringa leaf cream for three winter months in young adult males appeared to reduce visual wrinkles on the cheeks relative to control cream.
grade-d - - See study
The hypoglycemic properties of this supplement do not appear to be related to an increase in insulin secretion from the pancreas following a meal
grade-d - - See study
No significant alterations in Lymphocyte count following continued supplementation of the seeds of Moringa oleifera
grade-d - - See study
No significant alterations in white blood cell count following ingestion of the seeds of Moringa oleifera

Things to Note

Also Known As

Moringa pterygosperma, Ben Oil Tree, Horse Radish Tree, Tree of Life, Miracle Tree, Drumstick Tree, Jiksna gandha, Akshiva, Mochak, Sahijan, Zogale

Do Not Confuse With

Magnolia officinalis

Goes Well With

  • Oranges (citrus sinensis) in suppressing intestinal ulceration in a model of colitis

Caution Notice

Suspected anti-fertility properties (female)

Possible genotoxic effects (with overdosing only)

  • The leaves and roots are said to have a spicy/pungent/hot taste similar to radishes

  • While supplementation of moringa oleifera after childbirth may be a galactogogue, supplementation early in pregnancy appears to have the potential to induce abortions

  • Moringa oleifera has anticoagulant properties of unknown potency and biological significance

  • Supplementation of the seeds or one extract of the leaves (methanolic) at doses around 3-4 fold higher than the recommended dosages appears to be associated with genotoxicity and should be avoided; water extracts of the leaves do not appear to confer this risk

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Click here to see all 140 references.