Moringa – Nutritional Value, Health Benefits, Side Effects

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Moringa (Moringa Oleifera), Moringa oleifera Lam (Moringaceae) is a highly valued plant, distributed in many countries of the tropics and subtropics. such as the Philippines, India, and Africa. Moringa is widely used as a vegetable ingredient in cooking, as herbal medicine for a number of illnesses,es, and other practical uses. Moringa contains proteins, vitamins, and minerals. As an anti-oxidant, it has an activity to help protect cells from damage.

Moringa Scientific Name: Moringa Oleifera

Also known as: Malunggáyin Philippines, “Sajina” in India, “Shojne” in Bengal, “Munagakaya” in Telugu, “Shenano” in Rajasthani, “Shevaga” in Marathi, “Nuggekai” in Kannada, “Drumstick Tree, Horse Radish Tree, Ben Oil Tree” in English, “La mu” in Chinese.

The Moringa plant can grow to as high as 9 meters with erect white trunks. The compound leaf has about 3 to 9 leaflets. Moringa has white fragrant flowers that produce long pods with 3-angled winged seeds.

malunggay leavesMoringa may be propagated by planting its seeds about an inch in the ground or matured Moringa stem cuttings of about 3 feet in length may also be planted into the ground. Planted Moringa cuttings grows faster compared to planted seeds.

Moringa (Moringa Oleifera) has been used as herbal medicine in many cultures for hundreds of years, Moringa is known as a very nutritious plant where it is used to combat malnutrition in third world countries especially for infants and nursing mothers.

Moringa has an impressive range of medicinal uses and health benefits, with high nutritional value. The Moringa plant provides a rich and rare combination of zeatin, quercetin, beta-sitosterol, caffeoylquinic acid and kaempferol. Moringa oleifera act as cardiac and circulatory stimulants, possess antitumor, antipyretic, antiepileptic, anti-inflammatory, antiulcer, antispasmodic, diuretic, antihypertensive, cholesterol-lowering, antioxidant, antidiabetic, hepatoprotective, antibacterial and antifungal activities, and are being employed for the treatment of different ailments in the indigenous system of medicine, particularly in South Asia.

Moringa Health Benefits and Traditional Medicinal Uses

Moringa in Traditional and Folkloric Medicine

Moringa is widely believed to contain high-value nutrients and consumption of which promotes general well-being. Moringa is also called a “miracle tree” primarily for the various health benefits it can provide for almost all kinds of diseases and medical conditions. More over almost all of its parts have been used – from its roots, pods, seeds, barks, flowers, and leaves. Listed below are some of the traditional health benefits of Moringa.

  • Decoction of boiled roots is used to wash sores, cuts, skin ulcers, wounds, and other skin diseases to alleviate pain and promote healing.
  • Moringa is also used for stomach and intestinal problems such as ulcers and constipation.
  • Moringa roots and bark have been used as abortifacients.
  • Moringa flower with soy milk is used as an aphrodisiac and promotes fertility for men.
  • While Moringa roots are believed to suppress fertility, chewed as a contraceptive by women.
  • Moringa roots are also used to treat snake bites,
  • The juice from Moringa roots is used to treat ear-related problems (otalgia).
  • Moringa leaves pounded and combined with coconut oil is used to treat scalp problems and to promote hair growth.
  • Boiled Moringa leaves contain immune-boosting nutrients used in sickness recovery.
  • Boiled Moringa leaves are used to promote milk production in nursing mothers.
  • Moringa leaves combined with honey and calamari to treat cough and asthma
  • Moringa is used as a skin restorer to promote skin rejuvenation.
  • Moringa soup is used to lower high blood pressure
  • Moringa tea from bark or leaves is used to treat insomnia and restlessness.
  • Moringa pod is chewed to treat and prevent intestinal parasites in children.
  • Moringa is also recommended for sufferers of diabetes
  • Moringa is consumed to strengthen the bones especially for growing children and older people due to ot high calcium content.
  • Moringa oil or poultice is used to treat bone and ligament-related conditions that involve inflammations such as gout, rheumatism, back pain, sprains, and all sorts of swelling.
  • Moringa is also used to improve eye problems. Believed to contain high amount of vitamin A, more than that of a carrot.
  • Moringa is used along with other herbal medicines to treat cancer.
  • Leaves and fruit are used for constipation and as diuretics.
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Science-Based Health Benefits from Moringa

  • Moringa: Combat Malnutrition, used to combat malnutrition, especially among infants and nursing mothers. Contains vitamins A, B, and C, calcium, iron, and protein.
  • Moringa oleifera exerts protective effects against STZ-induced diabetes. A study published in the Journal of Diabetes (2012) entitled “Evaluation of the antidiabetic and antioxidant activity of Moringa oleifera in experimental diabetes” has shown the significant antidiabetic and antioxidant activity of the extract in mice subjects.
  • Moringa: Anti infectious: Antibacterial; Anti Fungal – In late 1940s, The Department of Biochemistry at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore (PLN Rao) have found that Moringa or Moringa Oleifera leaves contain a compound “pterygospermin” that is known in medical science as having antimicrobial, antibacterial, anti-fungal properties.
  • Moringa: Treatment for Hyperglycemia and Dyslipidemia. A review relating to the “Therapeutic Potential of Moringa oleifera Leaves in Chronic Hyperglycemia and Dyslipidemia” was published in Frontiers in Pharmacology (2012) suggests the efficacy of Moringa leaves in the treatment of hyperglycemia and diabetes.
  • Moringa: Cancer Treatment and Prevention. Moringa or Moringa has been shown in studies to have an anti-tumor capacity. Moringa contains benzyl isothiocyanate. There are many studies that have shown this chemical and compounds derived thereof to have anti-cancer and chemoprotective capabilities. This chemoprotective aspect is critical for those who are battling cancer; this helps strengthen cells so that they can tolerate chemotherapy. Moringa is also considered in the treatment of prostate cancer and skin cancer. (Ref: Fuglie LJ (2000) New Uses of Moringa Studied in Nicaragua. ECHO Development Notes #68, June, 2000. http://www.echotech.org/network/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=194)
  • Moringa: Anti-Inflammatory Activity: Moringa has been found to inhibit inflammation in a controlled scientific study conducted by Philippine DOST Scientists (Amelia P. Guevara, Carolyn Vargas, and Milagros Uy). When an aqueous seed extract of Moringa has been administered to a carrageenan-induced inflammation, its was noted that the aqueous seed extract of the Moringa (Moringa Oleifera) inhibited the development of edema in the rat paw. The Moringa is traditionally used to prevent and treat inflammations associated with rheumatism, arthritis, and joint pains.
  • Moringa: Regulation of Thyroid hormone. A study regarding the “Role of Moringa oleifera leaf extract in the regulation of thyroid hormone status in adult male and female rats” as published in Pharmacological Research (200) suggests the possible health benefits of a lower concentration of moringa extract against hyperthyroidism.
  • Moringa – Reproductive health. Fuglie LJ (1999) The Miracle Tree: Moringa oleifera: Natural Nutrition for the Tropics has reported that Moringa or Moringa Oleifera is widely believed to have an aphrodisiac action that enhances the sexual activity. Moringa or moringa oleifera young leaves is also widely used to increase the flow of milk for lactating mothers.

Moringa Preparations, Usage, and Side Effects

Moringa Herbal Medicine Preparation and Usage

Moringa as food. Moringa pods may be eaten raw or may also be fried with peanut similar taste. Moringa leaves and flower may also be cooked together with other vegetables and meat to form soups or viands.

Moringa decoction for washing sores and wounds, Boil Moringa roots and let it cool to tolerable warm temperature and use it to wash wounds and sores. By gargling the Moringa decoction, it may also be used to wash mouth sores and sore throats.

Moringa poultice. Grounded Moringa seeds, leaves and bark may be applied topically as poultice onto swollen flesh to relieve inflammation.

Moringa oil may be taken internally as mixed with foods, it is known to be a powerful antioxidant even used by the early people from Egypt. Moringa oil also known as Ben oil is widely used as oil base for perfumes and cosmetics. The oil is extracted from Moringa seeds by pressing.

Moringa Tea Preparation
as shared by Ms. Rhea Rodrigo – from comments thread below

  • Pick out 4 to 5 branches from the tree. Choose those with lots of leaves.
  • Place them on a tray and leave in a dry place anywhere in your home for 3-4 days or until the leaves dry up and become crumpled. No need for sunlight.
  • Pick out the crumpled leaves from the twigs and place in a dry pan over a low fire. Do not place water or oil in the pan.
  • Cook the leaves, turning them over with a cooking spoon so that the leaves are cooked evenly. They are cooked when they are toasted but not burned.
  • Store the cooked leaves in any container with a cover.
  • To make the tea, take a tablespoon of the cooked leaves from the container and place in a cup of hot water. Let sit until the water absorbs the green color and nutrients of the leaves. It takes the same amount of time as making ordinary tea from tea bags.
  • Remove the leaves from the cup.
  • Option: add honey.

Where to Get Moringa?

Moringa trees can be found in the wild as well as cultivate in warm tropical countries. The pods and leaves are harvested and are sold in wet markets and in the vegetable section in Asian grocery stores.

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For other countries where Moringa trees don’t grow, food-grade preparations in form of powder, tablets, syrups, and capsules can be bought in respected health stores and Asian stores. Liniments, creams, and lotions containing Moringa oil may also be available.

There are few online stores that sell Moringa tablets and capsules, Amazon is one, a sample product is Organic Moringa Powder 120 Veg Capsules. We do not endorse this product just for sample purposes only, and there are a ton of other related moringa products listed, we, therefore, suggest that you examine carefully the background of the manufacturer and analyze product reviews to be certain of the quality.

From Where To Buy

Organic Veda Moringa Capsules – 100% Pure Moringa Supplement Made from Organic Raw Dried Moringa Leaf - Non-GMO Whole Green Super Food Nutrition – 120 Veggie Capsules
644 Reviews
Organic Veda Moringa Capsules – 100% Pure Moringa Supplement Made from Organic Raw Dried Moringa Leaf - Non-GMO Whole Green Super Food Nutrition – 120 Veggie Capsules
  • OPTIMIZE YOUR LIFE WITH THE ULTIMATE MORINGA CAPSULES: Moringa oleifera capsules are the most effective and convenient way to enjoy all healthy benefits every day. Moringa leaf present in our capsules is packed with powerful, life-enhancing essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants. All the natural ingredients in our Moringa capsules have a high bioavailability so that your body can absorb and utilize them efficiently.
  • ENSURE HEALTHY LIFESTYLE NATURALLY: Our premium grade moringa leaves capsules a great source of bio-available vitamins and trace minerals which are ideal to sustain and boosts energy levels endurance, stamina, and vitality. Moringa leaf complements a healthy lifestyle with its great nutritional formula which is essential for the normal function of the immune system. Moringa supplement optimizes all your body systems!
  • NATURAL WEIGHT LOSS SUPPORT: Are you fed up with trying endless weight loss diets only to get disappointed at the end? These moringa capsules can help you break this vicious circle. Moringa is a natural way to suppress appetite and make your metabolism razor-sharp, which can ultimately help you lose weight naturally.
  • KEEP YOUR SKIN HEALTHY AND YOUNG: Get more radiant, youthful, and healthy skin than you can ever imagine with a natural Moringa. Our organic moringa capsules help beautifies the skin and promotes anti aging benefits. Potent antioxidants in these capsules help neutralize harmful free radicals. It also contains fiber which can help support a healthy digestive system and bowel regularity.
  • DIRECTIONS FOR USE: These moringa leaves capsules are 100% vegetarian and contain pure extracts of herbs sourced from Nature. As a dietary supplement take three (3) capsules daily, preferably with a meal or as directed by your healthcare professional.

Dosage, Warnings, and Side Effects of Malunggay

Malunggay is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth in food quantity. The long-term safety of its herbal preparation is unknown. Just like any herbal medicine, moderation in use is recommended.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding. There is no sufficient studies done to investigate the adverse or side effects of Malunggay herbal medicine during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It is recommended to avoid its use.

Toxicity data in humans is limited, although lab studies indicate that certain compounds in the bark and roots or their extracts may cause adverse effects when consumed in excess.[rx] Supplementation with M. oleifera leaf extract is potentially toxic at levels exceeding 3,000 mg/kg of body weight but safe at levels below 1,000 mg/kg.[rx] M. oleifera may interfere with prescription drugs affecting cytochrome P450 (including CYP3A4) and may inhibit the anti-hyperglycemic effect of sitagliptin.[rx]

Children: Moringa leaf is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth, short-term. Moringa leaf has been used with apparent safety in children for up to 2 months.

INTERACTIONS

LevothyroxineInteraction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.Levothyroxine is used for low thyroid function. Moringa might decrease how much levothyroxine your body absorbs. Taking moringa along with levothyroxine might decrease the effectiveness of levothyroxine.

Some brands that contain levothyroxine include Armour Thyroid, Eltroxin, Estre, Euthyrox, Levo-T, Levothroid, Levoxyl, Synthroid, Unithroid, and others.

Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Moringa might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking moringa along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking moringa, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some medications changed by the liver include lovastatin (Mevacor), ketoconazole (Nizoral), itraconazole (Sporanox), fexofenadine (Allegra), triazolam (Halcion), and many others.

Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination. Talk with your health provider.Moringa might lower blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking moringa along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

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Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (Diabeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), and others.

Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.Moringa might lower blood pressure. It has the potential to add to blood pressure lowering effects of antihypertensive drugs.

Some medications used to lower blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.

DOSING

The appropriate dose of moringa depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for moringa. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

Recipes to try

Corn and Malunggay Soup

Sometimes, it’s the simplest dishes that provide the most solace. This Corn and Malunggay Soup recipe is a perfect go-to for when you’re craving something akin to the comfort provided by Chicken soup, but with more health benefits. Whipping out 4 servings of this mild-flavored soup will only take you 30 minutes. And it should be the best food to have after a long day of work. You can also slice up some boneless chicken breast and sauté it to give the dish a bit more flavor. Alongside the malunggay and shredded white corn, the chicken slices will add some more texture and savor to your bowl.

Tinolang Tahong with Malunggay

If you’re an avid fan of Filipino food, you’re probably aware of how well the Chicken Tinola already works beautifully as it is. But have you ever thought of switching out that chicken for something a little closer to the sea? Because I’ve got just the thing! It is sure to add a saltwater-esque flavor to your soup. The Tinolang Tahong with Malunggay dish is a very popular tinola variant. And this is no surprise to anyone who’s tried it.

healthy moringa malunggay

The ginger broth and lemongrass mingle with the taste of the mussels flawlessly. And the malunggay leaves make the dish all the more nutritious. Not unlike the previous recipe, you’ll be making this soup with some ease. It doesn’t involve a lot of steps. and will only take about 25 minutes. It is also best for me with some fried or grilled fish. You can make it a seafood party all together with a great source of protein!

Chicken Sotanghon Soup with Malunggay and Sayote

Just like malunggay, you might know sayote for its special appearances in various Filipino soup dishes. And this is a lucky collaboration too because both vegetables are rich in nutrients and chock full of health benefits. Sayote similarly has a great amount of Vitamin C content. This is very helpful in defending the body from radicals causing cancer. It can also be beneficial in keeping bones and teeth strong because of its high Vitamin K content. This dish does it all in working best for your health, while being very tasty in its light, salty flavor.

Ginataang Alimasag with Malunggay

Moving on to recipes that make for great viands, this Ginataang Alimasag with Malunggay dish is delicious with some rice. It also makes use of a great seafood ingredient, the alimasag. This is a species of crab that gives a somewhat sweet and savory taste to this dish. And it mixes well with the texture of malunggay. And just like most ginataang dishes, the coconut-y flavor makes for a creamy taste you’ll want more and more of. This dish uses various ingredients with great flavor-adding properties. These include chili pepper, fish sauce and coconut milk. But even with all of these flavors at play, the dish makes use of the ingredients harmoniously. And together, they make an exciting, yummy Filipino meal.

Ginataang Langka with Malunggay and Daing

This dish and the previous one are similar in utilizing the creamy taste of coconut milk to integrate with a seafood ingredient. The combination, after all, is known to work extremely well. But the Ginataang Langka with Malunggay and Daing provides some special flavors. You can taste this in how it gracefully adds langka or jackfruit into the mix. You might be wondering how these might taste together. But the jackfruit actually adds a note of fruity sweetness to a dish. And it could benefit from this because of the yummy saltiness of the daing.

Cooking tips

Moringa offers such a bounty of vitamins and minerals that trying plenty of recipes that incorporate it will always sound like a great idea. But you might need a couple of tips in cooking it. And this is especially true if it is your first time encountering the leafy superfood. For one, the leaves and seed pods are best when tender. They can be hard to chew and digest if not! Make sure that you cook them through fully by boiling them so you end up eating them at their best.

moringa leaves

Also, make sure that if you get your hands on malunggay, you store them in a cool, dry place. Refrigeration could also help your malunggay last longer. But keeping it somewhere away from light and outside the refrigerator would still work.

What about Moringa powder?

As previously mentioned in this article, Moringa powder is also a smart way of incorporating the healthy food into your diet without having to boil the leaves and seed pods. It gives a somewhat nutty flavor to your dish of choice. And it is a great way of adding some mildly savory taste to your recipes. It might also add some green color to your dish. With this, use it in dishes wherein the color won’t be too important.
Let us know in the comments how you like to integrate malunggay into your dishes!

References

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