Moringa is a plant native to India. It is used in many cultures for the nutritional and health-giving benefits of the seed, bark, leaf and root. Moringa contains antioxidants to protect cells from damage caused by oxidative stress. The plant is used worldwide for many ailments such as asthma, diabetes, swelling caused by water retention (oedema), liver protection and digestive complaints. It is also known in traditional medicine to have a role in protecting and nourishing the skin and hair.
Moringa contains a wide variety of plant components beneficial to maintain health such as alkaloids, sterols, polyphenols, fatty acids, flavanoids and anthocyanins, to name a few [i]. The plant is said to have many properties such as being anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, cell-protective, liver protective, reducing chronically high blood sugar, neuro-protective (against development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s) as well as possessing blood lipid-reducing functions (such as high cholesterol).
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, they are required for many different processes in the body, essential amino acids cannot be manufactured by the body and must be obtained from food. In moringa, all the essential amino acids are provided, there are also carotenoids in the leaves, and components with nutraceutical (functional food) properties, supporting its use as a nutritional supplement or constituent in food. Moringa oleifera also has a very wide range of vital antioxidants, antibiotics and nutrients including vitamins and minerals. Almost all parts from Moringa can be used for nutritional benefits [ii].
Maintaining well controlled blood sugar in diabetes and pre-diabetes is necessary to prevent many health complications caused by the disease. In the studies included in a review, moringa leaves were shown to reduce high blood sugar in diabetes, without causing any adverse effects The mechanisms in which moringa has this effect were said to be due to increased glucose uptake in the muscles and liver, inhibition of glucose uptake from the intestine, decreased gluconeogenesis (production of sugar from stored materials in the liver) and increased insulin secretion and sensitivity. Insulin is the hormone which is produced in response to a rise in blood sugar, it governs how glucose is uptaken by the cells [iii].
Another review studied the evidence from animal studies and concluded it is promising and more human trials are needed to further explore the medicinal effects of this plant in diabetes [iv].
Moreover a study demonstrated that moringa leaf had a tendency to reduce blood pressure in type 2 diabetes mellitus [v].
The gastro-protective activity of moringa was seen in a study in mice, in which moringa showed protection against aspirin-induced stomach ulcers. It was concluded moringa may contain active agents to enhance the mucus lining of the stomach and gastrointestinal tract. Such discoveries could lead to moringa extracts gaining use as an anti-ulceration treatment [vii].
An animal study in rabbits showed that a standardised extract of moringa leaves (20%) significantly reduced total lipids, cholesterol and liver glycogen. It also exerted beneficial effects on antioxidant and immune status [viii].
Another study in rats found the positive effect on serum cholesterol was statistically significant. The study involved administration of the crude leaf extract of moringa along with high-fat-diet induced increases in blood, liver and kidney cholesterol levels. It was concluded that the leaves of moringa have definite activity in reducing cholesterol levels [ix].
Results from a study provide further evidence that the roots of moringa oleifera contain anti-inflammatory properties that may be useful in acute inflammatory diseases where oedema occurs. This mice study showed the moringa extract to significantly reduce oedema in short periods of time [xii].
One study in mice found that moringa showed liver- protective action. The mice studied had lead- associated injury to the liver. Administration of moringa extract significantly alleviated lead-induced adverse effects. The mechanisms involved were thought to be attributed to the antioxidant properties of moringa, which reduced oxidative stress-induced DNA damage via the alteration of several major inflammation-producing pathways in the body (namely involving NF-kβ and TNF-α). Thus, protecting the liver cells and liver enzyme activities to help maintain proper function of the organ [xiii].
Healthy Skin and Hair:
Moringa is used in supplement form because it contains vitamins A, C and E as well as calcium and protein [xiv]. Vitamins A and C are also well known in their role of supporting a healthy immune system. Moringa may also have anti-fungal properties so use in topical preparations applied to skin may be beneficial [xv]. Moringa applications have also been documented for use in cosmetics, folk medicines and skin care formulations [xvi].
Pregnancy and Breast-feeding:
There is insufficient reliable information to know if moringa is safe to during pregnancy and lactation. Please avoid use.
Moringa may worsen symptoms of hypothyroidism
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