Update 2/18/20. Moringa oleifera is a tree and eating the various parts of the world. The tree is said to boost energy, help weight loss and reduce pain. 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. 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.
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.