Moringa Oleifera ResearchNovember 3, 2015 Written by JP [Font too small?]
One of the hottest new supplements in the natural health marketplace is Moringa oleifera. The leaves of this “miracle tree” are frequently described as an exotic “super food” because of their nutrient density and subtropical origin. So, on the one hand, you’ll often find organic, powdered forms of M. oleifera leaves in high-end health food stores. And, at the same time, a lesser processed version is sometimes used as an ingredient in the diets of poor communities where malnutrition is common.
This is the heyday of M. oleifera (MO) research. There are literally dozens upon dozens of studies on MO extracts in animals and in vitro models of disease. But, until recently, there have been relatively few human trials. A review in the June 2015 edition of Phytotherapy Research summarizes the human data up to this point. The authors note that a one time, high dose of MO leaf powder (50 grams) lowers blood sugar in type 2 diabetics by 21%. A lower dosage of 8 grams/day taken for 40 days reduces both fasting and post meal blood sugar by 28% and 26%, while simultaneously lowering LDL (“bad”), total cholesterol and triglycerides. Based on preliminary testing, it appears that smaller amounts of MO (4.6 grams/day) are not as effective. In addition to benefiting blood sugar and lipid profiles, MO intake also improves oxidative status in non-diabetics by increasing the levels of serum glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase and ascorbic acid or Vitamin C.
MO leaves are documented as containing a number of essential vitamins, including pro-vitamin A, niacin (B3), riboflavin (B2), thiamine (B1) and a variety of minerals. However, the exact amounts of nutrients, especially the minerals, are largely dependent on soil conditions and where the trees grow. For this reason, it’s vital to examine product labels for natural variations. Also, further testing reveals that MO is a rich source of non-nutritive antioxidants and phytochemicals with known therapeutic activity. Some of the better known phytochemicals found in MO are: ferulic acid, kaempferol, lutein, quercetin and salicylic acid. Several of the nutrients and phytochemicals listed above are fat soluble. Therefore, if you eat or supplement with MO, I suggest combining it with a healthy source of fat such as extra virgin olive oil, unrefined coconut oil or wild caught salmon, as an example.
Apart from using MO as a supplement or vegetable, there are several other evidence-based applications for this traditional medicine. A study from May 2014 discovered that a cream formulation containing 3% MO leaf extract enhanced several parameters of skin health, such as smoothness and wrinkling. Another trial reports that washing hands with 4 grams of powdered MO is an efficient way to reduce pathogenic bacteria. There is even some research showing that supplementing with MO stimulates the production of breast milk in mothers who have difficulty breastfeeding. Food manufacturers are, likewise, interested in the potential of MO. Recent experiments report that adding MO to everything from buffalo and pork meat to eggs is a viable way to reduce bacterial contamination and spoilage in meat, while improving egg output and quality.
Overall, the future of the MO leaf as a food and supplement looks bright. The reason I keep emphasizing the leaves alone is that there are some MO products that include “drumsticks” or pods and seeds in their formulations. The research presented above is based solely on MO leaves and their extracts. MO pods and seeds may, in fact, possess some medicinal potential as well. But, since the amount of research on the pods and seeds is extremely limited, I chose not to include them in today’s column.
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:
Study 1 – How to Use Local Resources to Fight Malnutrition in Madagascar? … (link)
Study 2 – Review of the Safety and Efficacy of Moringa Oleifera (link)
Study 3 – Health Benefits of Moringa Oleifera (link)
Study 4 – Therapeutic Potential of Moringa Oleifera Leaves in Chronic … (link)
Study 5 – Effect of Supplementation of Drumstick (Moringa Oleifera) and … (link)
Study 6 – Drumstick Leaves As Source of Vitamin A in ICDS-SFP … (link)
Study 7 – Bioavailability of Thiamine, Riboflavin & Niacin from Commonly … (link)
Study 8 – Nutrient Content of the Edible Leaves of Seven Wild Plants from … (link)
Study 9 – Nutritional Characterization and Phenolic Profiling of Moringa … (link)
Study 10 – Soil Type Influences Crop Mineral Composition in Malawi … (link)
Study 11 – Xanthophyll Content of Selected Vegetables Commonly Consumed … (link)
Study 12 – Effect of Dehydration Methods on Retention of Carotenoids, … (link)
Study 13 – Enhancement of Human Skin Facial Revitalization by Moringa Leaf … (link)
Study 14 – Efficacy of Moringa Oleifera Leaf Powder As a Hand-Washing Product … (link)
Study 15 – Moringa Oleifera As a Galactagogue (link)
Study 16 – Quality of Cooked Ground Buffalo Meat Treated w/ the Crude Extracts … (link)
Study 17 – Effect of Incorporation of Moringa Oleifera Leaves Extract on Quality … (link)
Study 18 – The Nutritional Effect of Moringa Oleifera Fresh Leaves As Feed ... (link)
Study 19 – Antiasthmatic Activity of Moringa Oleifera Lam: A Clinical Study … (link)
Study 20 – Fruit Pod Extracts As a Source of Nutraceuticals and Pharmaceuticals … (link)
The Growing Number of Moringa Studies
Source: Front Pharmacol. 2012; 3: 24. (link)
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Food and Drink, Nutritional Supplements