Moringa is a super-food that has been utilized for thousands of years. Its medicinal and therapeutic value has recently gained notice, and it is now available for supplementation in capsule form and an addition to many blends of teas. Its powerful seed oil and the versatility of its dried leaf powder continues to earn it a place among other super-greens like kale and chlorella, but it also comes with an amazing list of benefits beyond its nutritional value.
What is Moringa?
Moringa oleifera is a genus of deciduous trees also known as the “drumstick tree,” “horseradish tree,” and “benzolive tree” in the Moringaceae family. The genus has thirteen species of trees which produce seed pods (called “drumsticks”), white flowers, and is cultivated for its fruit, leaves, and oil. The origin of the name Moringa is derived from “murungai,” which is a word in the Indian language of Tamil that means “twisted pod.”
Moringa is native to India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan in the sub-Himalayan regions. The largest cultivator of Moringa is India, and it is grown for food in West Africa, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Ghana. It is available in local produce markets in South and Southeast Asia and Africa. [1, 2]
Moringa can be used medicinally and is also commonly eaten in soups and salads. The leaves can be sun-dried or oven-dried and ground into a fine powder that is used to enhance breads, cereals, or added to any food for extra sustenance. Moringa is a great nutritional food that has kept many regions from experiencing malnutrition. 
Moringa seed oil content is very high, and the oil is known as “Ben oil,” “Behen oil,” and “benzoil.” It is often substituted for olive oil in the diet but is also used in cosmetics and non-food oil applications, such as biodiesel and commercial machine lubricant. 
What is the history of Moringa?
Moringa gained notoriety in 150 B.C. when it was included in historical records from ancient royalty who ate the leaves and fruit to gain mental clarity and improve their skin. It is presumed to have spread West from India into Greece and Italy.
- India: The ancient Maurian warriors of India drank an elixir of Moringa leaf extract for energy and pain relief. These warriors were credited with defeating Alexander the Great. In the first century A.D., documents that were written explained that the cultivation of Moringa had been practiced for thousands of years, and Indians have been using it as a food source for over 5,000 years. 
- Africa: In Nigeria, Moringa is known as “zogeli,” “ewe ile,” and “dogalla.” 
Common varieties include:
- Moringa arborea
- Grown in Kenya
- Moringa ovalifolia
- Moringa drouhardii
- Grown in Southwestern Madagascar
- Moringa longituba
- Moringa borziana
- Moringa rivae
- Moringa hidebrandtii
- Moringa corcanensis
- Moringa stenopetala
- Moringa ruspoliana
- Moringa pygmaea
- Moringa peregrine 
What is Moringa made of?
Moringa’s active constituents include vitamins, polyphenols, alkaloids, tannins, glucosinolates, saponins, isothiocyonates, gallic acid, ellagic acid, chlorogenic acid, ferulic acid, quercetin, kaempferol, and vanillin. [6, 7]
The leaves contain:
- 9-octadecenoic acid: 89%
- 14-methyl-8-hexadecenal: 11%
- L-(+)-ascorbic acid-2,6-dihexadecanoate: 66%
- 4-hydroxyl-4-methyl-2-pentanone: 0%
- Phytol: 24%
- 3-ehtyl-2, 4-dimethyl-pentane: 14%
- Octadecamethyl-cyclononasiloxane: 1.23%
- 3, 4-epoxy-ethanone: 78%
- 1, 2-benzene dicarboxylic acid: 46%
- N-(-1-mehtylethyllidene)-benzene ethanamine: 54%
- 3-5-bis (1, 1-dimethylethyl)-phenol: 55%
- 4, 8, 12, 16-tetramethylheptadecan-4-olid: 77%
- 1-hexadecanol: 23%
- 1, 2, 3-propanetriyl ester-9 octadecenoic acid: 23%
- 3, 7, 11, 15-tetramethyl-2 hexadecene-1-ol: 17% 
- Phenol: Gallic acid
- Flavonoid: Quercetin 
- Niaziminin 
The seeds contain:
- Oleic acid: 84%
- 9-octadecenoic acid: 88%
- L-(+) -ascorbic acid- 2, 6-dihexadecanoate: 80%
- Methyl ester-hexadecanoic acid: 31%
- 9-octadecenamide: 78% 
The leaves and bark of the root contain:
- Alkaloid: Moringinine (also known as benzylamine) 
The root contains:
- Aurantiamide acetate 
How is Moringa prepared?
The Moringa plant can sprout and grow without irrigation but is often irrigated in commercial cultivation. The seeds are sown during the wet season. The fruits ripen three months after the flowers appear, and the pods (“drumsticks”) dry when they are mature. Each pod contains up to 35 seeds. The varieties of Moringa that flower can produce pods within the first six months, whereas other varieties may not produce pods for over a year.
The oil from Moringa seeds is commercially extracted primarily by solvent extraction because cold press extraction does not produce the high yield that is accomplished with n-hexane solvent extraction. Traditionally, the oil was extracted after boiling the seeds in water and collecting the oil that rises to the top of the water.
The fatty acid composition of the oil is not degenerated through the solvent extraction method. Moringa oil is structurally similar to other high-oleic oils and contains a high ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fatty acids (MUFA/SFA). This ratio is found in olive oil. 
Powdered Moringa is prepared by drying and grinding the leaves which produces a fine, green powder.
What are the benefits of Moringa?
Moringa is a super-food
The leaves of Moringa provide 20-30% protein in its dry weight. Per 100 grams, raw Moringa leaf provides the following daily values of vitamins and minerals: Vitamin A (47%), Vitamin B1 (22%), Vitamin B2 (55%), Vitamin B3 (15%), Vitamin B5 (3%), Vitamin B6 (92%), Vitamin B9 (10%), Vitamin C (62%), Calcium (19%), Iron (31%), Magnesium (41%), Manganese (17%), Phosphorous (16%), Potassium (7%), Sodium (1%), Zinc (6%), and water (78.66 g). 
Moringa is an antioxidant
Moringa inhibited cancer cell growth
Moringa leaf extract inhibited cell growth in ovarian and prostate cells.
Moringa is anti-inflammatory
A Moringa concentrate reduced inflammation in vitro studies in a chronic disease model.
Moringa lowers cholesterol
In vitro studies demonstrated that Moringa extract blocked the formation of cholesterol.
Moringa lowers blood pressure
Animal research has suggested that Moringa is hypotensive (can lower blood pressure).
Moringa lowers blood sugar
Animal studies determined that Moringa leaf powder lowers blood glucose levels.
Moringa may treat Alzheimer’s Disease
The leaf extract of Moringa improved symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease by modifying monoamines in the brain (norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine).
Moringa can protect against liver injury
Moringa seed oil can protect against acute liver damage from chemically-induced toxicity.
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects protect against liver injury and liver fibrosis in a study with rats.
Moringa reduces the effects of arsenic toxicity
In mice, Moringa leaf was protective against arsenic-induced toxicity.
Moringa revitalizes skin
Moringa revitalizes the condition of the skin and reduces skin aging.
Moringa Oil is moisturizing for hair and scalp
The high oleic acid content of Morniga oil make it a popular choice to add moisture to the hair and scalp.
Moringa is antibacterial
Moringa leaf demonstrated antibacterial properties against S. aureus, E. faecalis, V. parahaemolyticus, and A. caviae.
How to Use Moringa
Moringa is available in capsules, powder, oil, raw seeds, and tea blends.
- Make a drink by mixing Moringa powder with honey, lemon, and warm or cold water
- Add powder to a smoothie
- Make a tea or add to a tea
- Add to any liquid recipe, like soups
- Mix into guacamole for added green color
- Add to baked goods
- Add to salads and salad dressings
- Add the oil to foods and salad dressings
- Use the oil as a hair-conditioning treatment
- Add to moisturizers and facial creams
- Apply to dry and chapped lips
- Take encapsulated Moringa powder
Safety and Side Effects of Moringa
Moringa appears to be safe in clinical research but may interact with some medications, herbs, supplements, and medical conditions. In animal toxicity studies, the LD50 of Moringa seeds are 446.5 mg/kg in bodyweight. 
Moringa may cause a moderate interaction with antidiabetes drugs, such as insulin, Amaryl, Micronase, Glynase Pres Tab, Diabeta, Actos, Avandia, and others. 
Moringa may cause a moderate interaction with antihypertensive drugs, such as Capoten, Diovan, Vasotec, Cozaar, Norvasc, Carizen, Lasix, and HydroDIURIL, and others. 
Moringa may cause a moderate interaction with CYP3A4 substrate drugs, such as Mevacor, Nizoral, Sporanox, Allegra, Halcion, and others. 
Moringa may cause a moderate interaction with Levothyroxine (Levothroid, Synthroid, Levoxyl, and others). 
Herbs and supplements which may lower blood glucose levels and increase the risk of hypoglycemia include Panax ginseng, Siberian ginseng, psyllium, guar gum, alpha-lipoic acid, garlic, bitter melon, devil’s claw, chromium, and fenugreek. 
Herbs and supplements which may lower blood pressure and enhance the hypotensive effects of Moringa include theanine, lyceum, L-arginine, stinging nettle, fish oil, Andrographis, cat’s claw, coenzyme Q-10, casein peptides, and others. 
- “Moringa Oleifera.” Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moringa_oleifera.
- Ademiluyi, Adedayo O., et al. “Drying Alters the Phenolic Constituents, Antioxidant Properties, α‐Amylase, and α‐Glucosidase Inhibitory Properties of Moringa (Moringa Oleifera) Leaf.” Food Science & Nutrition, vol. 6, no. 8, 10 Oct. 2018, doi:https://doi.org/10.1002/fsn3.770.
- Leone, Alessandro et al. “Moringa oleifera Seeds and Oil: Characteristics and Uses for Human Health.” International journal of molecular sciencesvol. 17,12 2141. 20 Dec. 2016, doi:10.3390/ijms17122141
- BK, Sujatha. “Moringa Oleifera – Nature's Gold.” Imperial Journal of Interdisciplinary Research, vol. 3, no. 5, Jan. 2017, p. 1175., www.researchgate.net/publication/317930958_Moringa_Oleifera_-_Nature's_Gold.
- Paikra, Birendra Kumar, et al. “Phytochemistry and Pharmacology of Moringa Oleifera Lam.” Journal of Pharnacopuncture, www.journal.ac/sub/view/222.
- Vergara-Jimenez, Marcela et al. “Bioactive Components in Moringa Oleifera Leaves Protect against Chronic Disease.” Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland)vol. 6,4 91. 16 Nov. 2017, doi:10.3390/antiox6040091
- Singh, BN, et al. “Oxidative DNA Damage Protective Activity, Antioxidant and Anti-Quorum Sensing Potentials of Moringa Oleifera.” Food Chem Toxicol., vol. 47, no. 6, June 2009, doi:10.1016/j.fct.2009.01.034.
- Aja, P.M., et al. “Chemical Constituents of Moringa Oleifera Leaves and Seeds from Abakaliki, Nigeria.” American Journal of Phytomedicine and Clinical Therapeutics, www.imedpub.com/articles/chemical-constituents-of-moringa-oleiferaleaves-and-seeds-from-abakaliki-nigeria.pdf.
- Mbikay, Majambu. “Therapeutic Potential of Moringa oleifera Leaves in Chronic Hyperglycemia and Dyslipidemia: A Review.” Frontiers in pharmacologyvol. 3 24. 1 Mar. 2012, doi:10.3389/fphar.2012.00024
- “Moringa.” Foods, Herbs, & Supplements. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=1242#adverseEvents