Moringa Oleifera Research

November 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

6 Comments & Updates to “Moringa Oleifera Research”

  1. JP Says:

    Updated 11/03/15:

    Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2015;2015:709628.

    Anti-Aging Potential of Phytoextract Loaded-Pharmaceutical Creams for Human Skin Cell Longetivity.

    The exposure to ultraviolet radiations (UVR) is the key source of skin sunburn; it may produce harmful entities, reactive oxygen species (ROS), leading to aging. The skin can be treated and protected from the injurious effects of ROS by using various pharmaceutical formulations, such as cream. Cream can be loaded with antioxidants to quench ROS leading to photo-protective effects. Moreover, modern medicines depend on ethnobotanicals for protection or treatment of human diseases. This review article summarizes various in vivo antioxidant studies on herbal creams loaded with phyto-extracts. These formulations may serve as cosmeceuticals to protect skin against injurious effects of UVR. The botanicals studied for dermatologic use in cream form include Acacia nilotica, Benincasa hispida, Calendula officinalis, Camellia sinensis, Camellia sinensis, Nelumbo nucifera, Capparis decidua, Castanea sativa, Coffea arabica, Crocus sativus, Emblica officinalis Gaertn, Foeniculum vulgare, Hippophae rhamnoides, Lithospermum erythrorhizon, Malus domestica, Matricaria chamomilla L., Moringa oleifera, Morus alba, Ocimum basilicum, Oryza sativa, Polygonum minus, Punica granatum, Silybum marianum, Tagetes erecta Linn., Terminalia chebula, Trigonella foenum-graecum, and Vitis vinifera. The observed anti-aging effects of cream formulations could be an outcome of a coordinating action of multiple constituents. Of numerous botanicals, the phenolic acids and flavonoids appear effective against UVR-induced damage; however the evidence-based studies for their anti-aging effects are still needed.

    Be well!


  2. JP Says:

    Updated 11/03/15:

    Food Chem. 2015 Nov 15;187:53-7.

    Effect of the refining process on Moringa oleifera seed oil quality.

    We evaluated the physicochemical properties and oxidative stability of the oil extracted from the seeds of Moringa oleifera during its refining process. Refining is accomplished in three stages: neutralization, degumming, and bleaching. Four samples were analyzed, corresponding to each step of the processed and crude oil. Increases in the density, viscosity, saponification value and oxidation of the oil were detected during the refining, while the peroxide value and carotenoid content diminished. Moreover, the refractive index and iodine content were stable throughout the refining. Nine fatty acids were detected in all four samples, and there were no significant differences in their composition. Oleic acid was found in the largest amount, followed by palmitic acid and behenic acid. The crude, neutralized, and degummed oils showed high primary oxidation stability, while the bleached oil had a low incidence of secondary oxidation.

    Be well!


  3. JP Says:

    Updated 11/03/15:

    J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 May 26;166:200-4.

    Herbs and herbal combinations used to treat suspected malaria in Bo, Sierra Leone.

    ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: Most adults in West Africa treat acute febrile illnesses with local herbs, but the patterns of herbs used for malaria have not been recently described in Sierra Leone.

    MATERIALS AND METHODS: We used a population-based cross-sectional approach to interview 810 randomly-sampled rural and urban adult residents of Bo, Sierra Leone, in December 2013 and January 2014 about their use of herbal remedies when they suspect they have malaria.

    RESULTS: In total, 55% of the participants reported taking one or more of seven herbs to treat symptoms of malaria. Among herb users, the most commonly used anti-malarial herbs were Moringa oleifera (moringa, 52%) and Sarcocephalus latifolius (yumbuyambay, 50%). The other herbs used included Senna siamea (shekutoure, 18%), Cassia sieberiana (gbangba, 18%), Uvaria afzelii (gone-botai, 14%), Morinda chrysorhiza (njasui, 14%), and Craterispermum laurinum (nyelleh, 7%). Combination herbal therapy was common, with 37% of herb users taking two or more herbs together when ill with suspected malaria.

    CONCLUSIONS: Indigenous medical knowledge about herbal remedies and combinations of local herbs remains an integral part of malaria case management in Sierra Leone.

    Be well!


  4. G. Paul F. Says:

    Hi JP,

    It is encouraging to find benefits available to us in plants grown in other continents that thanks to the Internet we can put to good use all over the world. I think your research helps many people!

    Keep up your great work!


  5. JP Says:

    I agree. There is so much to learn from culinary and traditional healing practices from all parts of the world. Stay tuned as I’ll continue to look for and report on new/old remedies that need a broader spotlight!

    Thank you for you kindness and support!

    Be well!


  6. JP Says:

    Updated 06/27/16:

    J Med Assoc Thai. 2016 Mar;99(3):308-13.

    Moringa Oleifera Leaf Increases Insulin Secretion after Single Dose Administration: A Preliminary Study in Healthy Subjects.

    BACKGROUND: Herbal medicine has long been used as an alternative medicine for treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Recently, Moringa oleifera (MO or ma-rum in Thai) leaf has been widely used in T2DM patients. Several studies in diabetes rat model have shown that MO had effect on glucose metabolism. However study in humans is lacking.

    OBJECTIVE: Examine effects of MO on plasma glucose and insulin secretion.

    MATERIAL AND METHOD: Ten healthy volunteers were enrolled in this study (mean age 29 ± 5 years; BMI 20.6 ± 1.5 kg/m2; FPG 81 ± 5 mg/dl). After an overnight fast and every two weeks, subjects received an oral dose of MO at increasing dosages of 0, 1, 2, and 4 g. Plasma glucose (PG) and insulin were collected at baseline and at 0.5, 1, 1.5, 2, 4, and 6 hours after each MO dosage administration. Insulin secretion rate was measured using area under the curve (AUC) of insulin and AUC of insulin/glucose ratio.

    RESULTS: After doses of 0, 1, 2, and 4 g MO, mean plasma insulin increased (2.3 ± 0.9, 2.7 ± 1.0, 3.3 ± 1.4, and 4.1 ± 1.7 μU/ml, respectively) despite there being no differences in mean PG (77 ± 6, 78 ± 5, 79 ± 6, and 79 ± 5 mg/dl, respectively). AUC of insulin was greater after high-dose MO (4 g) than after baseline or low-dose MO capsule (1 g) (24.0 ± 3.5 vs. 14.5 ± 1.8 or 16.1 ± 2.0, respectively; p = 0.03), while there was no difference in AUC of glucose. Accordingly, insulin secretion rate represented by AUC of insulin/glucose ratio after high-dose MO was significantly increased by 74% (P = 0.041), as compared with that of baseline.

    CONCLUSION: We concluded that high-dose (4 g) MO leaf powder capsules significantly increased insulin secretion in healthy subjects. These results suggest that MO leaf may be a potential agent in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Further studies of MO in patients with T2DM are needed.

    Be well!


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