If you haven't been living under a rock for the best part of the last 10 years, then you’ve probably heard of moringa. Moringa has been deemed a superfood due to the numerous health benefits it offers. It has now been incorporated into a variety of skin and hair care products, teas and supplements. If you’re not able to get your hands on fresh moringa leaves, moringa supplements may just provide you with the nutrients you might be missing.
What Is Moringa Oleifera?
Moringa oleifera is famous for the numerous applications it has in both external and internal health. It's even called the "miracle tree" because most of its parts can be put to use. Moringa seedlings may be fed to cattle and pigs, providing them with a surplus of nutrients, while moringa bark can be woven into fiber for ropes and mats.1
Moringa bark and roots are also used to help treat sexually transmitted diseases and infections due to their antibiotic properties. However, these properties are extremely potent, which means that caution should be exercised when planning to use it.2 However, the most utilized and most loved part of the moringa tree is its leaves. Moringa leaves are filled with various vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamins A and C, calcium, potassium and protein.
Moringa oleifera has been around for about 4,000 years, with earlier civilizations using it to help alleviate anemia, arthritis, joint pain and constipation. Today, numerous health products use moringa leaves as their main ingredient because of the concentrated amounts of nutrients it has. These products include moringa powder, leaf syrup and moringa supplements.
Moringa supplementation may help with improving cardiovascular health, glucose metabolism, and eye and pulmonary health. Studies are also suggesting that moringa may have anticancer properties, stopping cancer cell proliferation in melanomas, cervical cancer, pancreatic cancer and colon cancer.3
Where Can You Get Moringa?
The moringa tree originates from India, but is now grown in tropical or subtropical countries all over Asia, Africa and Latin America. To this day, India remains to be the biggest producer of Moringa oleifera in the whole world. Between January 2014 and October 2016, India exported approximately 16,000 tons of moringa. Moringa production is believed to increase 26 to 30 percent annually, which just ascertains its increasing popularity.4
This popularity has paved the way for the production of numerous moringa supplements and products. However, note that the best way to add moringa to your diet is to eat it in your meals to make sure all the nutrients remain intact. If you have a moringa tree, you can simply harvest some fresh leaves and toss them in a salad. You can also add them to smoothies or soups.
What Are the Benefits of Moringa Oleifera?
Moringa oleifera is one of the best supplements available in the market due to its powerful antioxidant properties. In addition, moringa has the ability to influence a variety of body processes positively, including eyesight, respiration, digestion and toxin filtration. Some of the benefits that you can get from moringa include:5
Helps protect diabetes patients from retinopathy. Retinopathy is caused by the inflammation of the blood vessels in the eyes, which may lead to fluid leakage. If left untreated, retinopathy may advance into complete blindness.
May help improve cardiovascular health. Studies show that moringa may help regulate blood pressure due to increased antioxidant potential and vasodilation.
May ease asthma. As a bronchodilator, moringa relaxes the bronchi and bronchioles, increasing air passage into the lungs. The antibacterial properties of moringa also help eliminate external materials that may trigger asthma.
Protects the kidneys from oxidative toxins. Your kidneys are responsible for filtering out toxins and dangerous materials in the body. When the kidneys are damaged, this means that the body's ability to detoxify becomes compromised.
Moringa can help shield the kidneys from nephrotoxicity caused by constant exposure to drugs, medications and heavy metals.
Shields you from liver damage. The high levels of polyphenols in moringa help protect the liver from oxidation and toxicity. It can normalize liver enzymes as well, increasing the protein content in the liver.
Promotes wound healing. Moringa oleifera contains blood-clotting properties, which may reduce the healing time of wounds, scrapes and scratches. In addition, the antibacterial and antiviral properties of moringa may also prevent possible wound infections.
What Do Moringa Studies Show Us?
Most of the studies done on Moringa oleifera focus on its ability to protect the body from numerous conditions and to assist in the treatment of many more. Studies have also been done to determine the exact composition of this herb to know the mechanisms that may influence internal health.
In a 2016 animal study, moringa was found to have antidiabetic properties, influencing both Types 1 and 2 diabetes. Insulin-resistant rats were given aqueous extracts of moringa to treat streptozotocin-induced diabetes, which yielded positive results.7
Meanwhile, its neuroprotective capabilities were tackled in a 2013 study, showing that moringa's antioxidant properties can help reduce the increased reactive oxygen species inside the brain, decreasing the risk of infarction and subsequent brain damage.8
How Much Moringa Supplement Can You Take?
Moringa supplements usually contain about 300 to 500 milligrams of moringa leaf powder, depending on the size of the capsule.10 The recommended amount for adult supplementation is two capsules per day, one in the morning and one at night.
However, it would be best that you consult a doctor or health practitioner before taking the supplement. This will ensure that the dosage is advisable for you or that the supplement will not interact with any medications you may currently be taking.
Possible Side Effects and Drug Interactions of Moringa Oleifera
While moringa offers impressive health benefits, it's also important that you're aware of the possible side effects moringa supplementation may cause. For pregnant mothers, it's best that you avoid the use of Moringa oleifera supplements, as there are insufficient studies that show moringa is safe for pregnant women. There are also a few studies that suggest moringa, when taken during the early stages of pregnancy, may cause miscarriage due to its ability to cause uterine contractions.11
Moringa supplements may also interact with different medications, affecting their absorption or magnifying their effect on the body. Some of these medications include:12
- Diabetes medications. Taking moringa with certain diabetes medications may cause your blood sugar levels to drop to critical levels. Closely monitoring your blood sugar is especially important to avoid possible complications.
- Medicine for high blood pressure. Moringa's ability to lower blood pressure may amplify your blood pressure medications. Some of these medications include valsartan, captopril, enalapril and amlodipine.
A High-Quality Moringa Supplement May Help You Achieve Peak Health
Moringa remains to be one of the most promising herbs in the human diet due to its impressive nutritional components. However, because of limitations in the plant's growth requirements, not a lot of people can get their hands on a steady supply of fresh moringa leaves. If you're one of those people, your best bet would be to take a moringa supplement. Supplementing with this herb may help regulate blood sugar, improve cardiovascular health and protect you from free radicals.
But before you do take this supplement, make sure that you’re aware of the side effects and contraindications of moringa to protect yourself from possible drug interactions and complications. Also, ensure that you get it from a trustworthy supplier to prevent any possible repercussions from subpar supplements.
Frequently Asked Questions About Moringa Oleifera
Q: How can I grow moringa?
A: Note that the moringa tree thrives best in tropical, subtropical or semiarid regions. You can grow your own through direct seeding or by seedling. You just need to find a sunny patch of land with neutral or loamy soil.13
While this plant loves the sunlight and warmth, it can still grow in places with cold climates, although it entails a more challenging growth process. If you live in an area with temperatures that go below freezing, it's best that you grow this tree in a greenhouse-type setting. You can also grow it as an annual, starting it indoors and bringing it out when the weather becomes warmer.14
Q: What is Moringa oleifera good for?
A: The high levels of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in moringa promote the smooth functioning of numerous body organs, improving your overall health in the process. It helps protect you from free radicals, or molecules that may trigger numerous chronic diseases. It also has the ability to suppress inflammation and support brain health.15
Q: How do you use moringa?
A: It depends on the kind of moringa product you have on hand. For fresh moringa leaves, you can add it to salads, soups and other dishes to boost your meal's nutritional content. If you have the powdered form, you can add a few teaspoons to smoothies or make your own moringa tea. You can also take moringa supplements to give your body the health boost that you need.
Q: Is taking moringa supplements safe during pregnancy?
A: It's best not to take moringa during pregnancy due to the limited number of studies confirming its safety for pregnant women. There have also been reported cases where moringa caused premature contractions, which may be extremely dangerous for both the mother and unborn child.