I am always eager to learn about the new “it” herb or “superfood.” Admittedly, I am usually rather skeptical of all the claims until I see actual scientific research as opposed to anecdotes or sales pitches. I remember the craze over Garcinia Cambogia or about Green Coffee Beans as supposed weight loss miracles.
Here is what I found out about this new superpower on the block: Moringa Olefiera also known as Drumstick Tree, Ben Oil Tree, or Horseradish Tree. It truly sounds like an amazing cure-it-all, and luckily it is very pleasant tasting and easy to incorporate into daily use.
What is Moringa?
Moringa is a tree that grows in tropical and subtropical areas such as India, Africa, South America, Southwest Asia. The entire tree is edible and provides multiple health benefits: the bark and the leaves are used as sources of food and as a plant medicine.
Moringa leaves can be eaten fresh or cooked. Some people freeze them. Probably most commonly, moringa is used as a dried powder because in this form it can be stored for a long time without loss of its nutritional value.
Bark and roots of moringa are mostly prepared as an extract. Seeds can be eaten as well.
Nutritional Values of Moringa
Moringa is brimming with healthful nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants:
- Vitamin A,
- Vitamin B2 and B6,
- Vitamin C,
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K,
It almost sounds too good to be true, as some scientists have observed:
It is rare for a single plant to contain many essential nutrients and furthermore in high quantities. However, the Moringa on its own was reported to have a higher content of different nutrients compared to those found individually in several different types of food and vegetables.Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention
Just for comparison, 100g of organic moringa powder contain:
- 10 times the vitamin A of the same amount of carrots
- 12 times the Vitamin C of the same amount of oranges
- 17 times the Calcium of Milk
- 15 times the Potassium of Bananas
- 25 times the Iron of Spinach
- 9 times the Protein of Yogurt
To put it another way, a handful of fresh moringa leaves contains about 7 times the amount of Vitamin C in one orange, 4 times the amount of Calcium in one glass of milk, and 3 times the amount of Potassium in one banana.
What makes moringa super-nutritious is primarily its high protein content. This unimposing plant contains all 9 essential amino acids! No wonder it is often called the Tree of Life, as it provides an almost complete nutritional profile.
Moringa oleifera contains essential amino acids, carotenoids in leaves, and components with nutraceutical properties, supporting the idea of using this plant as a nutritional supplement or constituent in food preparation.Health Benefits of Moringa oleifera
Health Benefits and Uses of Moringa
So, we know now that Moringa is exceptionally nutritious. But there is still more to this tropical plant, as Moringa has very impressive therapeutic properties. According to research, organic moringa powder has been proven useful for the following issues:
- fights inflammation
- fights microbial infections
- boosts energy
- improves digestion
- reduces stress
- boosts immunity
- lowers blood sugar
- promotes hair growth
- nourishes the skin
- has anti-ulcer and anti-tumor properties
All parts of the Moringa plant have been used for centuries in folk medicine in the regions where it grows abundantly.
In its native land of India, it is used in ayurvedic medicine and is believed to be able to prevent some 300 diseases.The In Vitro and In Vivo Anticancer Properties of Moringa oleifera
Let’s dig into specifics for a handful of these therapeutic properties:
Moringa’s Anti-Cancer Potential
I was of course mostly intrigued by the claims of anti-cancer properties on Moringa Oleifera. Since the plant contains such high amounts of antioxidants, it makes sense that it might also exhibit anti-cancer effects. One of the main factors that cause cancer is oxidative stress, and including high amounts of antioxidants in our diet is crucial in keeping the free radicals in check.
The most important of these antioxidants for anti-cancer use are polyphenols.
Many studies have investigated that some naturally occurring phytochemical agents, such as phenolic compounds (e.g. alkaloids and flavonoids), specifically those ingested in the human beings diet, trigger cancer-cell death machineries and can be used as chemopreventive candidates against certain cancerous cell types.Moringa oleifera Root Induces Cancer Apoptosis
Researchers studied the extracts from moringa’s leaves, bark, roots, and seeds. Apparently, the leaves and the bark of the tree “showed remarkable anti-cancer properties.” A 2015 study on Moringa’s uses against certain specific breast and colorectal cancer cell lines demonstrated that bioactive compounds present in the extracts from this plant can in fact be extremely helpful in the fight against cancer.
…a striking reduction (about 70-90%) in colony formation as well as cell motility was observed upon treatment with leaves and bark. Additionally, apoptosis assay performed on these treated breast and colorectal cancer lines showed a remarkable increase in the number of apoptotic cells.”Moringa oleifera as an Anti-Cancer Agent against Breast and Colorectal Cancer Cell Lines
Another study looked specifically at the plant’s roots and concluded that the nanocomposites present in the roots may have the potential for use as a natural source of anti-cancer compounds, even more so than the leaves and the bark.
Unfortunately, cancer research on moringa has been conducted only in test tubes and in animal studies, but not in human clinical trials. Because humans are much more complex than mice, the in vitro and even the animal in vivo results can only be used as indications of the anticancer activity of the moringa plant.
More research is needed and it’s a real shame that there are not more human trials for such a potentially powerful alternative to chemotherapy. Compared to chemo, plant derives medicines have much lower, or non-existent, toxicity and minimal or no adverse effects.
Moringa for Beauty
There are plenty of benefits of this miracle plant for various ailments and health conditions, but I want to move here to another use of moringa: moringa for beauty.
Moringa for Hair
Being native to India, Moringa Olifera has been used for centuries by Ayurvedic practitioners there. One of the most popular uses is due to Moringa benefits for hair.
Here are three major benefits of using organic moringa powder for hair growth and health:
- it will help make the hair grow faster and healthier: The vitamins, minerals and amino acids in the plant can not only help against hair loss, but can also make the existing hair thicker and more lush. High Vitamin A content in Moringa is fundamental in reducing hair fall.
- it will boost the Keratin content: The high protein content in Moringa can increase the amount of protein in the hair. The complete amino acids and antioxidants present in Moringa will nourish your hair. Likewise, the Omega 3 fatty acids present in Moringa provide hair strands with healthy fats, which promotes hair growth and general hair health.
- it makes the scalp healthy and the follicles stronger: High content of vitamin B, Zinc, and Iron in Moringa plays a vital role in producing red blood cells that act as carriers of oxygen and nutrients to your scalp. This promotes in turn healthy and strong follicle growth.
How to use Moringa for Hair Health?
Aside from taking moringa tea or moringa extracts internally, the powder can be easily incorporated into beauty products.
Moringa Hair Masks
You can mix Moringa powder with some water or Aloe Vera or Yogurt and apply it to the hair as a mask. Another option would be adding organic moringa powder to some organic coconut milk and a spoonful of honey. This mask would be super nourishing and moisturizing. Keep it on the hair for 20-30 minutes, then rinse off and shampoo well.
Moringa Hair Spritzer
You can also make a spritzer with Moringa powder and distilled water or a hydrosol. I started doing it and I spray each night before the hair wash day. It revitalizes the scalp and promotes hair growth.
Moringa Oil Massage
And of course, there is also Moringa oil which has many anti-inflammatory properties, perfect for dealing with itchiness, redness, and rashes on the scalp. It is also used as a popular remedy against dandruff as it can greatly moisturize the scalp. It’s best when it is massaged into the scalp, left for 30 minutes to an hour, and then washed off with shampoo.
Moringa for Skin
For the same reasons it is such a hit when it comes to hair care, Moringa oil can benefit the skin by hydrating it and preventing dry skin conditions. Other benefits of moringa oil for the skin include:
- offers protection against pollution
- anti-aging properties thanks to all the antioxidants and minerals
- helps build up collagen in the skin
- reduces excess sebum production
- fights inflammation and microbial infections
- soothes skin conditions such as allergies, rashes, acne, eczema.
How much Moringa Should You Take Daily?
Ready to plunge into moringa routine? I certainly am. Question is, if taken internally as a supplement, how much Moringa should you use?
According to one source, “Consuming moringa powder is proven to be safe, even at higher levels. Daily dosage should be limited to the equivalent of 70 grams of moringa leaves per day or 11 teaspoons of moringa powder.”
That is certainly a lot. Another source suggests that “the optimal amount of moringa for a 150 lbs adult is 1,600-2,200 mgs a day. However, she recommends a daily serving size of 500-1000mg (5-10 grams).“
This amounts to somewhere between 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon daily.
How To Use Moringa?
How to get this amount into your diet. It might not be easy to find fresh moringa leaves unless you live in the area where moringa is grown (for example, here in the USA, Florida). If you’re lucky to score fresh moringa leaves, it is easy to incorporate them into salads or smoothies. Just make sure to remove them from stems as stems tend to be very bitter.
Personally, I find the organic moringa powder to be the easiest way to incorporate this superfood into my diet. To find the best moringa powder, look for reputable sources that can be trusted.
Who Should NOT Use Moringa?
Moringa is a powerful medicinal plant. Due to alkaloids in the plant, it is possible that longer-term dietary supplementation may lower blood pressure, which can be a problem for those with already low levels.
If you have very low blood pressure, it might not be the best idea to supplement with Moringa.
Also, pregnant women might be better off not supplementing with Moringa as it might cause premature uterine contractions. In fact, in the past, folk medicine practitioners used moringa to induce miscarriage.
Moringa Powder Recipes
Here are a few ways I use moringa:
Hot or iced moringa tea (1/2 to 1 tsp of moringa powder)
Moringa Smoothie (blend 1 tsp of moringa powder with your choice of veggies and fruits)
Moringa Baked Goods (add moringa powder to rolls, brownies, and cookies)
Moringa Guacamole (add ½ teaspoon of moringa powder to your guacamole)
Moringa Cheese Spread (make it a St. Patrick day and green up your cream cheese)
Moringa Nice-Cream (blend frozen bananas with some coconut cream and organic moringa powder)
No-Bake-Nut-Ashwagandha-and-Moringa Energy Balls (so good, so energizing, with two superfoods!)
You can see, it is pretty easy to get your recommended amount of moringa per day. The taste of moringa is similar to another superfood – matcha: a bit grassy, with a touch of sweetness. I love it! I hope you will too.