Update 4/9/22. Moringa oleifera is a tree people at it in various parts of the world. The tree is said to boost energy, help weight loss and reduce pain and help thyroid function. Even Dr. Oz has jumped on the bandwagon calling it an “energy blaster.” In this review, you'll learn the results of clinical studies on moringa including potential side effects to watch out for. This review will help you put the moringa oleifera claims and reputed benefits in a better perspective.
What Is Moringa Oleifera?
Moringa oleifera (pronounced “more-ring-ga oh-la-fair-a”) is the scientific name for a tree that grows in several places around the world. It has many names including:
- horseradish tree
- drumstick tree
- benzolive tree
Some even call it “miracle tree.”
Because it's rich in vitamins, minerals, fats, and proteins, moringa has actually been used to battle malnourishment in developing countries. This is likely why some might call it a “super food.” While some websites may tout that the plant grows in exotic locations like the Himalayan mountains or dead sea, Moringa can also be grown in more familiar areas, such as Florida.
Now, let's cover the evidence for some of the major health benefits of moringa with an emphasis on what the research conducted so far says.
Does It Boost Your Energy?
Can moringa boost your physical energy levels? There's no caffeine in in the leaves, roots or seeds so if it works it doesn't work the same as coffee or other caffeinated energy drinks.
For example, as Dr. Oz noted in this video, the plant has three times as much iron as spinach. Iron is a mineral that is needed to make red blood cells. Deficiency in iron can lead to anemia and one of the symptoms of this condition is lack of energy.
So, by reversing anemia, morninga might help some people. But it would really depend on whether or not you had anemia and what the cause of the anemia is.
So is there any evidence for this?
In one investigation when rats were put on an iron-deficient diet, giving them Moringa oleifera, reduced cholesterol levels ― but did not prevent anemia from occurring. What about people? Human studies could not be located.
Does Moringa raise thyroid hormone levels? There are two main thyroid hormones. They are called:
- T4 (Thyroxine)
The T4 hormone is converted to T3, which is the active thyroid hormone.
In one study that looked at this, rats were given an extract of Moringa for 10 days. In the female rats, the T3 hormone (active hormone) decreased while T4 levels increased. Oddly, no changes in thyroid hormones were seen in male rats. Human studies of this effect on thyroid function cannot be located.
What About Weight Loss?
Does moringa promote help weight loss? In one human study, researchers tested the effects of supplement extract called LI85008F” (also called Adipromin in 25 overweight people. The LI85008F compound was composed of
- Moringa oleifera
- Murraya koenigi
- Curcuma longa (black pepper)
It was reported the combination promoted more weight loss a placebo. But, because the supplement tested contained 3 different ingredients, we can't say the same effect would be seen if people took only moringa.
Another study also noted weight loss but here also it was combined with green coffee bean and vitamin D. Like before, it's unknown how much moringa contributed to the weight loss since researchers combined it with 2 different ingredients. This study was a review of an Advocare supplement called CraveCheck SR.
See the green coffee review for more information.
Video Review of Moringa Research
Watch on my Youtube channel if you prefer.
Moringa And Pain
Do moringa leaves have anti-inflammatory activity? If yes, they may be a natural pain reliever and help those with arthritis. While there is evidence the seeds may reduce pain and inflammation in mice, human proof could not be located.
Another study noted both the seeds and root extracts, when injected, alleviated pain in rats with arthritis. But again, human proof to to corroborate this could not be located.
Moringa And Cholesterol
What about moringa for high cholesterol? Does it work as well as other supplements like citrus bergamot or berberine? There are both lab animal and cell studies suggesting it works. But, the human proof is lacking.
Moringa And Diabetes
Can moringa lower blood sugar and A1c level and improve diabetes? Is it as good as metformin? While there is evidence this medicinal plant may help diabetes, most of the evidence involves mice and rats. There's not enough human evidence yet to say if it would improve diabetes.
Moringa And Asthma
At least one study has found moringa may help asthma.
In 2008, a study was published titled In this investigation, 20 people with mild to moderate asthma were given 3 grams of dried seed kernels of Moringa, twice per day (6 grams total) with water for 3 weeks. The seed kernels appeared to improve asthma symptoms.
This study had no placebo group so this is a weakness of the investigation. Various lab animal research studies also indicate a possible beneficial effect on asthma as well.
Moringa And Cancer
Preliminary evidence suggests extracts from Moringa oleifera may kill cancer cells. The types of cancer that might be most affected include ovarian cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, and skin cancer. While the leaves seem to be most popular, this study noted moringa root extract was effective at killing about 80% of liver cancer, colon cancer, and breast cancer cells.
Most of the research involves lab animals and test tubes. Human clinical studies involving cancer cannot be located.
Can Moringa Lower Blood Pressure?
If you have high blood pressure, can moringa help? One study says it might. Here, 41 people were given either 120 g (4 oz) of cooked moringa oleifera leaves each day and compared to people who did not eat the leaves. Before and after blood pressure measurements were taken.
Those eating cooked leaves had lowered systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. This was not seen on those who did not eat the leaves. This is good news because some animal research has noted moringa might raise blood pressure. While encouraging, keep in mind none of the people in the study had high blood pressure so more research is needed.
Moringa And AIDS
Can Moringa be a supporting treatment for HIV/AIDS? There's no doubt it's popular for this. According to a survey of HIV positive patients in Zimbabwe, at least 80% of people with HIV have used Moringa to boost their immune systems. But, does it work? Can it improve CD4 cells, immune cells affected by HIV? What about someone who is showing symptoms of AIDS?
One investigation showed moringa improved body mass index (BMI) in people with HIV/ AIDS. This was a small study of only 30 people who were given either a placebo or moringa for 6 months. Still, the ability to improve body weight in people with HIV/AIDS is significant and worthy of more research. Those with HIV/AIDS may want to discuss using with their doctor first.
Some test-tube and lab animal studies suggesting that extracts of the tree might have an immune inhibiting effect. Since HIV also inhibits the immune system, does this mean it would be bad for HIV/AIDS? It's too soon to know.
See the Black Seed HIV Review for more information.
How Much Works?
So if you were to take moringa supplements how much should you take? It's difficult to say. There's not enough human research yet. It's possible the dosage used may be different depending on the health condition. On the Dr. Oz segment I saw, he recommended taking 400 mg per day in a supplement drinking the tea twice a day. What's not known is where Dr. Oz came up with his dosage suggestion.
The good news is that supplements are not expensive.
Moringa Side Effects
Moringia is likely safe in most healthy people. It's been used for many years in developing countries who don't get enough to eat, so I think it is safe for most people. Given the lack of research on health conditions, here are some general things to consider before taking this supplement. This list is not complete so always check with your doctor.
- If taking supplements, start with less than recommended for the first week
- If you take any medications talk to your doctor
- Talk to your doctor first if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Some lab animal evidence that it might cause an abortion. Human evidence of this has not been confirmed but avoid while pregnant, just to be safe.
- Stop taking supplements at least 2 weeks before surgery. Moringa may have a blood-thinning effect.
Does Moringa Work?
There's no doubt the moringa tree is nutrient-rich. If you want to add a scoop to your smoothies, great. As for it helping people with health problems, I think its too soon to tell.
Thank you for your impartial review and I agreed with your overall view. A year ago I started eating steamed (mostly greens) vegetables and bone broth for breakfast daily. This included spinach, turnip greens, broccoli leaves, straight from the garden to the pan.
As my morenga bushes have grown I have been adding more to my diet. I feel it is a good vegetable and is one of many that can give strength and energy. Power up on veges and not junk food!!!
Hi Kim, thanks so much Im glad my moringa review was of value to you! That’s great it sounds like you are eating some great stuff for breakfast! I often start my day with a big fruit/veggie smoothie 🙂
Mark E. says
Thank you for an impartial review. I had a hard time finding an impartial review. It seems money was more important than the science concerning ZIJA products. I could find little science, mostly testimonials or people wanting you to sell their product or try their product.
Abby Langer a Canadian nutritionist seemed impartial and did not try to sell you anything, just an honest assessment based on the science or lack of science.
Reminds me of all the hype in the early 90’s concerning a product called Formula One. Had ephedrine as the main ingredient.
Hi Mark, thanks so much, I appreciate you saying that! I like to stick to the science for all my reviews. Zija has been on my list to review specifically for a long time. I do want to dedicate an entire review to just that Supplement.
Do you remember who made Formula One with Ephedrine? I have a review of Herbalife Formula One but I don’t think that was what you referred to.
Joe, I have a great source! Dr. Joshua Plant has researched this plant extensively, as well as PubMed research containing vital information on this! The best moringa oleifera that you can get is from a company called Zija International. Watch the video on their website of how they source and test. I ingest the product every day and it’s phenomenal. The people eating the plant are in mostly poverished areas. They won’t have studies on these people, but it helps them stay healthier than many.
Hi Nikky, you are the 2nd person this week to tell me about Zija. I am going to review them and their research. I’ve not heard of Dr. Joshua Plant but he’s got a really good name for someone who researches natural compounds. I see from his online profile he works at Zija. I hope to have something on Zija posted soon.
Hello, Joe Cannon. I sure do appreciate the thorough and un-biased report you have presented. I have recently begun a daily dose of one tablespoon of maringa powder and will let you know of any effects that I experience.
Hi Valerie, thanks so much for saying that! Let me know what you think of the moringa powder. I always like to learn about this stuff and discuss what happens when people do their own experiments 🙂
Tim White says
Like all information, should be taken with a grain of salt, or rather with the understanding that there is very little proof of causality and even when there is it applies to statistical conclusions for the particular subject population and never for any single individual. What convinced me to try it was the information that Moringa contains some of the same or related active constituents as sprouted broccoli seeds.
Hi Tim, that’s very interesting. I hope you have much success with Moringa. Do keep me updated on how you are liking it.
Trish Hooper says
Geek, you are my go-to site when researching supplements. Thank you for your hard work.
I researched moringa before starting on it. Be ware of any India moringa as it has Prop 65 warnings, indicating possible lead content due to fluctuating auto air pollution in that country.
For that reason, lactating mothers should refrain. I am almost 70 years old, look 55 (not because of moringa), but did decide to stop taking multi-vitamins and replace with moringa. Take daily with tumeric. I feel and look great. Credit it with healthier hair and increased growth, and beautiful fingernails, not to mention great annual physical results.
Am going to start giving some to my aging mini poodle to see if it helps. Will keep you posted.
Hi Trish, thanks for sharing, glad you are enjoying my site and yes do let us know how it goes with your poodle 🙂
Joe Cannon you have contributed a well written article. But, you did not encourage my 1.5 years of taking Moringa three times daily.
I am not now or will ever be a Dr. OZ guy, and his endorsement really discouraged me a bit. I will continue to use Moringa and look for the HUMAN study that even you might recommend.
Hi Ray, if you find those human studies, do let me know. I’d love to add them to the review! 🙂
“It might work” isn’t enough reason to recommend taking a course of action. “It might harm you” is enough reason to suggest refraining.
So your criticism is that evidence based information on whether or not moringa is beneficial is limited to lab animals yet you turn around and use the same animal based information to warn pregnant women against using moringa and even use some other information tested on lab animals to further push your reasoning as to why moringa “may” not be the superfood its touted to be,…. you’re contradicting yourself you either dont find the lab animal based evidence useful or you do find it useful … you cant use it to your benefit to push your biased argument……you fail
Hi Terrence, I appreciate your feedback. About the side effects section, since there is a lack of human research on moringa supplements, what else – other than lab animal and test tube studies – would you have me use? I hear what you are saying, but when I can’t find human studies, animal/testtube studies may be the only option.
I do feel I was clear when I pointed out that the side effects listed were based on animal and isolated cell studies (“test tube studies”). I also said I felt moringa was likely safe in healthy people given that people have been using it for a long time.