- Horseradish tree
- Drumstick tree
- Benzolive tree
- Ben oil tree
For Patients & Caregivers
How It Works
Moringa oleifera is traditionally used for a variety of conditions, but studies in humans are limited.
Moringa oleifera is an edible plant that is cultivated worldwide. The leaves and seed pods are consumed as food. Extracts from its leaves, bark, seed pods, and pulp are also used in a variety of folk medicine treatments, either given by mouth or as a topical agent applied to the skin. Products derived from this botanical are used to treat a variety of conditions including asthma, diabetes, ulcers, infections, and cancer. However, data is quite limited and it has not been adequately studied in humans.
Lab studies suggest that various moringa extracts may stop the growth of bacteria and fungi, but human data are lacking.
Lab studies suggest moringa seed extract and compounds isolated from the fruit may prevent inflammation. Further research is needed.
Lab studies suggest moringa may reduce blood glucose levels and have potential as an antidiabetic agent, but well-designed human studies are needed.
Lab studies suggest moringa extracts can protect against digestive ulcers, but human studies are needed.
A small study showed a mild positive impact on lipid profiles in patients with hyperlipidemia.
Do Not Take If
- You are taking CYP450/CYP3A4 substrate drugs: Lab studies suggest moringa may increase the side-effect risks of these drugs. Clinical relevance has yet to be determined.
- You are taking the diabetes medication sitagliptin: In an animal model, moringa decreased the antihyperglycemic effects of sitagliptin. Clinical relevance has yet to be determined.
- You are pregnant: Moringa bark may cause uterine contractions, and has been used to induce abortion in some cases.
Stevens-Johnson Syndrome: In a 53-year-old man with diabetes and hypertension who was admitted with fever, rash, painful blisters and swallowing difficulties. Onset was about 14 hours after consuming food containing moringa leaves. A similar episode occurred 3 months prior after consuming curry containing moringa leaves.
For Healthcare Professionals
Moringa oleifera (MO) is an edible plant native to Asia and Africa that is also cultivated around the world. The leaves and seed pods are nutritious and widely consumed as food while the bark and root are used in folk remedies for their perceived medicinal properties. Products derived from this botanical are used to treat a variety of conditions including asthma, diabetes, ulcers, infections, and cancer. In addition, the plant extracts are used in primitive water filtration systems to remove pollutants and algae (1).
Preclinical studies suggest various properties with MO leaf, seed, and root extracts, including anticancer (3) (4), hepatoprotective (10), hypoglycemic (12) (41), anti-inflammatory (13) (14), antibacterial (18) (19) (42), antifungal (20), antiviral (21), and antisickling (37) effects. Models suggest potential to protect against Alzheimer’s disease (29) and digestive ulcers (24) (43), promote wound healing (30), and lower cholesterol levels (25).
Studies in humans are quite limited. Preliminary findings suggest MO exerts a small positive effect on lipid profiles (38). An MO leaf powder increased insulin secretion in healthy subjects (44), and improved nutritional status and intake of AIDS patients undergoing antiretroviral therapy (45). A systematic review determined that well-designed human studies on safety and utility of moringa in diabetic or prediabetic patients are needed (48).
Mechanism of Action
Moringa is a nutritionally rich botanical with a high polyphenol content, including phenolic acids, flavonoids, and glucosinolates (48). In preclinical studies, fiber content of MO leaves mediated quercetin-3-glucoside to improve glucose tolerance (7) (12). Phenolic glycosides from the fruit show anti-inflammatory effects by inhibiting nitric oxide (13). Dipeptide and urea derivatives from MO roots also have anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive effects (14). The ethanolic seed extract produced immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory effects by inhibiting leukocytes and splenocytes (15) as well as histamine release from mast cells (16).
In an animal model, MO root extract demonstrated protective effects on the liver and kidney in a dose-dependent manner (22). Hepatoprotective effects from acetaminophen toxicity may occur by maintaining glutathione levels (11). MO extract may protect against stomach ulcers by modulating 5-HT3 receptors (24) and lower cholesterol by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase (25).
Lab experiments suggest an array of other properties in this botanical. A leaf extract exhibited protective effects against Alzheimer’s disease by modulating brain monoamines (29). It also may help promote wound healing by increasing collagen deposits (30). Anticancer effects may occur via apoptosis (3) (4) and NF-kappaB inhibition (5) (46). In an animal model, an MO extract helped prevent chemically-induced tumor formation by increasing glutathione activity (6).
A moringa water extract showed hormone-modulating properties, stimulation of uterine and cervical epithelium metaplasia (26) (27), and antifertility effects (28). In a murine model, MO was genotoxic at supra-supplementation levels of 3,000 mg/kg body weight (39). In a case report of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome linked to ingestion of moringa, pathogenesis may be related to an immunomodulatory effect such as a delayed Th1-mediated hypersensitivity reaction (49).
Stevens-Johnson Syndrome: In a 53-year-old man with diabetes and hypertension who was admitted with fever, rash, painful blisters and swallowing difficulties. Onset was approximately 14 hours after consuming food containing moringa leaves. A similar episode occurred 3 months prior after consuming curry containing moringa leaves (49).
- Cytochrome P450 substrates, including CYP3A4: In preclinical models, moringa increased the bioavailability of rifampin (34) and inhibited CYP3A4 (35). Clinical relevance has yet to be determined.
- Sitagliptin: In an animal model, chronic co-administration with moringa decreased antihyperglycemic effects of sitagliptin (47). Clinical relevance has yet to be determined.