Moringa Oleifera: benefits and contraindications

This content is part of the Alternative Medicine category and may contain information that lacks scientific studies and/or medical consensus.

Moringa oleifera is a small tree very common in Brazil and other countries in the Americas. It gained a lot of attention due to its therapeutic potential in the treatment of problems such as anxiety , diabetes and even cardiovascular diseases.

Much of this fame comes from the vast array of vitamins such as vitamins C and A, minerals and even essential amino acids and phytochemicals that are found in the leaves of this tree.

Another point is that the species, also known as white wattle, can be used in human consumption, being used in some countries in the preparation of a food supplement for malnourished children, or in the preparation of teas, which are consumed for purposes medicinal.

10 health benefits of moringa oleifera

1. Protects heart health

One of the main benefits of moringa is related to heart health protection and this is primarily due to the herb’s ability to reduce levels of bad cholesterol (LDL or Low Density Lipoprotein – Low Density Lipoprotein in free translation).

This action is linked to the presence of a phytocompound known as beta-sitosterol, which promotes not only the control of cholesterol , but another type of harmful excess fat, triglycerides.

Thus, the consumption of the species can prevent the accumulation of fat in the liver, aorta and heart, in addition to increasing the disposal of this nutrient through feces. ( 1 )

White wattle leaves are also able to reduce blood pressure , especially at night, mainly due to the effect of increasing urine production, which favors the disposal of salts that influence the increase in blood pressure.

Thanks to this, it is considered a protective agent against heart diseases related to these two problems, such as atherosclerosis (formation of fatty plaques in the arteries) and heart attack . ( 2 )

2. Controls anxiety

Another use for moringa tea, or capsules, is in controlling anxiety. This benefit is derived from the plant’s potential to reduce the excitation of the central nervous system.

It does this by stimulating the release of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, biochemical substances directly linked to the control of anxiety, mood and sleep.

Therefore, what happens is that the brain is able to communicate more effectively and is “calmer”, promoting an increased sense of well-being and also “stimulates intellectual development”, as it improves brain connections, according to with the herbalist, Danilo Ramon. ( 3 )

3. Protects the body from disease

“The consumption of moringa also prevents diseases and infections”, explained the herbalist. He further explained that this is because of the potential to strengthen the immune system found in the tree.

This immunomodulatory action occurs because the leaves are rich in compounds called isothiocyanates, which activate the release mechanisms of macrophages and neutrophils, defense cells . ( 4 )

Furthermore, the plant is a potent antimicrobial. In other words, it prevents the proliferation of microorganisms that cause infections. ( 5 )

The leaves have a high amount of vitamin C, at levels much higher than in orange juice , defended the professional. This nutrient actively participates in the production of defense cells, thus promoting even greater protection for health.

4. Reduces blood glucose level

Isothiocyanates may even have a name that’s pretty tricky to remember, but they make moringa used as a method of controlling blood glucose. That’s right, leaf tea helps control diabetes .

These compounds act by decreasing the transformation of ingested carbohydrate into glucose by the liver and also by decreasing insulin resistance. This way the pancreas does not need to overload itself, as a small amount of the hormone is already enough to regulate the amount of sugar in the blood.

Polyphenols, phenolic acids and flavonoids, other phytochemicals found in leaves, increase the rate of sugar use by cells. Thus, they stimulate burning and, consequently, there is a greater reduction in the nutrient. ( 6 )

IMPORTANT ! Moringa should never be used to replace drug treatment, as interrupting it can have health consequences. Therefore, always talk to your doctor or herbalist to assess whether it can be used as a complementary treatment.

5. Strengthens bones

Do you know another benefit for this, which was classified as a type of “superfood” by the specialist? To strengthen the bones. Well, the professional explained that a portion of moringa leaves has almost four times more calcium than the same amount of milk.

This makes it help to replenish the reserves of this mineral and increase bone density, which helps to stimulate growth in children and adolescents and prevent fractures in adults and the elderly.

The leaves are also rich in other nutrients important for bone health: vitamin E, a type of antioxidant that acts by regulating bone mass, and D, which acts by regulating the amount of calcium that the body absorbs and even increases the rate of absorption of this mineral by the small intestine. ( 6 )

6. Helps in wound healing

According to the herbalist “the powder made with the leaves helps to heal ulcers (superficial lesions) on the skin” and a fraction of this is derived from the tree’s ability to stimulate the clotting process .

This means that the injured area is covered with a heap (clot) of fibrin, a type of protein produced by the blood and used to stop bleeding and prevent excessive loss of fluid. As a result, a kind of protective layer is formed that favors the multiplication of the cells that make up that region and there is a consequent acceleration of the healing process. ( 1 )

In addition, white wattle is a source of phytosterols and phenolic compounds, both organic substances that increase the multiplication of these cells that form the skin. The result is that the healing process is accelerated, and it even reduces the chances of having any complications related to the injured area. ( 7 )

7. Protects eye health

The large amount of vitamin A found in its leaves makes this plant an ally of vision. By way of comparison, moringa has about four times more of this vitamin than found in the same amount of carrots.

Much of this value is present in the form of carotenoids, natural pigments of yellow, orange and red tones such as beta-carotene and lutein, and are metabolized into this vitamin after being ingested. ( 6 )

Due to this nutritional property, the consumption of leaves is associated with the prevention of eye problems related to vitamin A deficiency, such as night blindness , since the nutrient is part of the production of light-sensitive elements located in the inside the eyes and activated in places with low light.

Furthermore, the protective effect extends to the prevention of degenerative problems, for example cataracts . ( 7 )

8. Stimulates weight gain

Especially because it is considered a “superfood”, moringa can “help fight malnutrition ”, this is what the expert confirms.

Its leaves are composed of vitamins, minerals and several types of amino acids, such as arginine and histidine proteins, which are generally found in animal foods. ( 5 )

Even the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization recommends the consumption of white wattle leaves for children and pregnant women with malnutrition.

Both for being an easy and effective source of nutrients, and for being a tree that is resistant to hot climates and that gives leaves throughout the year, which is ideal for regions that suffer from the impact of the lack of rain. ( 8 )

9. Reduces fluid retention and swelling

Another benefit that makes moringa tea so popular is its ability to reduce water retention . That’s right, and this happens because of the efficiency of the herb in increasing the disposal of all the excess through the urine, due to the action of the high amounts of potassium present in the leaves.

Danilo explained that each serving of white wattle has as much of this mineral as three bananas and in a format that is well absorbed by the body.

Not only that, as the improvement in blood circulation is also a favorable factor in reducing swelling caused by fluid retention. Especially what reaches the lower part of the body, something very common in people who need to stand for long hours. ( 1 )

10. Prevents and treats anemia

The consumption of moringa also helps to prevent and combat iron deficiency anemia , since “the leaves of the tree have almost three times more iron than the leaves of spinach”, defended the professional.

As a source of vitamin C, on average 100 mg per serving, this mineral, which participates in the production of red blood cells (blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen to tissues), is even better identified and absorbed by the body. ( 6 )

Are there contraindications?

As Danilo explained, there are no records of contraindication or toxic effects in the consumption of moringa. However, pregnant and lactating women should only use it after release and under strict medical supervision , as there is also no evidence of possible side effects for the fetus.

As for the recommended amount, the professional informs that “the dosage is relative and it is the job of the herbalist to determine the amount according to the person’s needs. But, on average, to use it in the prevention of diseases, it is recommended to consume 400mg/day”.

Food products with it, however, were banned in Brazil in June 2019 by the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) because there is still no assessment to prove the safety of the herb in food.

The ban was also due to the fact that food products are being marketed under therapeutic claims.

With promises of being a natural treatment that cured chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer, a practice that is prohibited by national laws, especially because it can mislead consumers into abandoning treatments in search of something miraculous, which does not exist. ( 9 )

But versions of it in capsules or dehydrated leaves, suitable for making teas, can be found on sale at herbal product stores or open markets.

How to use the moringa correctly

“Moringa can be consumed with foods such as salads , in juices or in capsules ”, indicated the professional.

As for tea, he teaches that it should be made using 1 tablespoon of plant leaves, which should be infused in 1 cup of boiling water for at least 10 minutes and can be drunk up to three times a day, always after meals.

Ellie Lauderdale

My name is Ellie Lauderdale, MD and I am USA based professional Nutritionist .

I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and board certified specialist in sports dietetics who is trained in integrative medicine. I have worked with hundreds of clients, from those suffering with chronic disease to professional and olympian athletes. My goal is to help optimize you from the inside so that you can feel, perform, and look your best on the outside.

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