There is not enough evidence to support the use of Moringa oleifera (MO) to treat cancer.
MO is an edible plant 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 the herb are used to treat a variety of conditions including asthma, diabetes, ulcers, infections and cancer. MO has not been studied in humans as a cancer treatment.
The leaf and seed extracts of MOwere shown to stop the growth of bacteria that cause diarrhea in lab studies. Human data are lacking.
MO extracts have been shown to stop the growth of fungi in lab experiments. More studies are needed.
The seed extract of MO and compounds isolated from its fruits have the ability to prevent inflammation. Further research is needed.
MO can reduce blood glucose levels and may be a useful antidiabetic agent, but human studies have not been conducted.
Lab studies indicate that MO extracts can protect against stomach ulcers. More studies are needed.
Lab and animal studies show that MO extracts have anticancer effects. Human data are lacking.
Elevated lipid concentrations
A small study showed a mild positive impact on the lipid profile of patients with hyperlipidemia.
Although MOleaves are a part of the diet in some regions of the world, lab studies have indicated that parts of the plant, especially the bark and the pulp, may be harmful in large doses.
Do Not Take If
If you are taking drugs that are substrates of Cytochrome P450, including CYP3A4:MO may increase the risk of side effects of these drugs.
If you are pregnant:M. oleifera bark may cause contractions in the uterus, and has been used to induce abortion in some cases.
Sitagliptin: Chronic co-administration with MO decreases the anti-hyperglycemic effect of sitagliptin.
Alkaloids inMOcan lower blood pressure and slow heart rate.
MO bark can cause uterine contractions.
Phenylacetonitrile isolated from roasted MO seeds can cause cell mutations.
MO extracts may have antifertility properties.
MO leaves increased the risk of liver and kidney damage in rats.
Moringa oleifera (MO) is an edible plant that is native to Asia and Africa and also cultivated around the world. Its leaves and seed pods are nutritious and widely consumed as food; the bark and root are thought to have medicinal properties and are employed in folk remedies. Products derived from the herb 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).
In vitro and animal studies indicate that the leaf, seed, and root extracts of MO have anticancer (3)(4), hepatoprotective (10), hypoglycemic (12)(41), anti-inflammatory (13)(14), antibacterial (18)(19)(42), antifungal (20), antiviral (21), and antisickling (37) effects. They may also protect against Alzheimer’s disease (29) and stomach ulcers (24), help lower cholesterol levels (25), promote wound healing (30), and alleviate symptoms of ulcerative colitis (43). Clinical data are limited (36), and preliminary findings show that MO exerts positive, although a small, effect on lipid profiles (38); an MO leaf powder increases insulin secretion in healthy subjects (44); and improves the nutritional intake and nutritional status of AIDS patients undergoing antiretroviral therapy (45).
An MO extract demonstrated anti-fertility effects in a murine model. Whether similar effects occur in humans is not known (28).
MO leaves are eaten in many parts of the tropics where the trees are found.
Mechanism of Action
The antioxidant (7)(8), hypolipidemic and antiatherosclerotic activities of MO are thought to help prevent cardiovascular diseases (9). It also showed hepatoprotective effects (10) and protected the liver from acetaminophen toxicity by maintaining glutathione level (11). MO can reduce blood glucose levels as well, (12) which suggests hypoglycemic effects. The fiber content of the leaves can mediate quercetin-3-glucoside to improve glucose tolerance (7). In addition, 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 and may benefit those with arthritis (14). The ethanolic seed extract demonstrated immunosuppressive/anti-inflammatory effects by inhibiting leukocytes and splenocytes (15) and via inhibiting histamine release from mast cells (16). It also reduced airway inflammation suggesting it may benefit those with asthma (17). Phenolic components may be responsible for its antisickling activities (37). In an animal model, MO root extract demonstrated protective effects on the liver and kidney in a dose dependent manner (22). It reduced urinary oxalate and may help prevent urolithiasis (23). MO extract is also thought to have protective effects against stomach ulcers by modulating 5-HT3 receptors (24) and cholesterol-lowering ability by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase (25).
A water extract of MO showed hormone modulation properties, stimulated uterine and cervical epithelium metaplasia (26)(27), and exhibited antifertility effects (28). A leaf extract of MO exhibits protective effects against Alzheimer’s disease by modulating monoamines in the brain (29). It also may help promote wound healing by increasing collagen deposits (30).
Furthermore, MOexhibits anticancer effects via apoptosis in cancer cells (3)(4) and also by inhibiting NF-kappaB (5)(46). In an animal model, an MO extract helped prevent chemical-induced tumor formation by increasing glutathione activity (6).
MOwas found to be genotoxic at supra-supplementation levels of 3,000 mg/kg body weight in a murine model (39).
Alkaloids in MOhave hypotensive and bradycardiac effects (31).