Agreed. Moringa is a wonderful plant. Almost magical. It has been used traditionally for thousands of years as food and as medicine. And called “The Tree of Life”. Almost every part of it is useful – for food or as medicine: Moringa leaves, bark, flower, seeds, roots, etc. And, now science and medicine are beginning to get interested in it.
It is called “Zogale” in Hausa; “Okwe Oyibo” in Igbo, and “Ewe Igbale” in the Yoruba language. There are several other names for Moringa in each of these languages.
Many people, even those who know little or nothing about medicine or nutrition, make bold claims about Moringa. There are some truths in what they say – yes! Moringa has amazing health benefits; but, many of what is being said are unverified statements, white lies, and exaggerations – just to sell you some stuffs to customers!
In this article today, I will give a detailed, balanced, scientific view of Moringa. And, as a Medical Doctor, what I tell my patients about using Moringa for food and as medicine.
The Lies and Exaggerations about Moringa
I see a lot of traditional people, business people, and marketers paint Moringa as the ultimate plant and drug for many diseases. A lot of exaggerations. In fact, the list of what it is being used for is endless: anemia; arthritis and other joint pain (rheumatism); asthma; cancer; constipation; diabetes; diarrhea; epilepsy; stomach pain; ulcers; headache; heart problems; high blood pressure; kidney stones; and bacterial, fungal, viral, and parasitic infections, and so on… .
Moringa is also used to reduce swelling, increase sex drive, prevent pregnancy, boost the immune system, and increase breast milk production. Some people use it as a nutritional supplement.
It is also used on the skin for treating boils, dandruff, gum disease, snakebites, warts, and wounds.
Apart from that, the oil from Moringa has been used for perfumes, and hair care products, and as lubrication for engines!
Truth is: some people have enjoyed some of these benefits, but many of these are simply baseless exaggerations. Reliable research done so far doesn’t find evidence for most of these claims.
That notwithstanding, we have found amazing health benefits. [And some health dangers too o!]
Health Benefits of Moringa
#1: Moringa is highly nutritious and helps treat Malnutrition
Moringa, especially the leaves are rich in protein – and have high amount of wonderful vitamins and minerals. It makes it especially great if you want to prevent malnutrition or treat it, especially in these parts of the World. Since Moringa is cheap and easy to grow, it is a life-saver!
#2: Moringa is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Big grammar ko? Yes, I know; don’t worry! It simple means it has some things in it that protect cell damage and are important in preventing serious diseases and chronic diseases. These makes Moringa very helpful for people with hypertension and for preventing cancer.
#3: Moringa may help in control of blood sugar and blood fats
Some studies (with animals) has shown that Moringa could reduce the amount of blood sugar (thereby helping people with diabetes) and, also, control the amount of blood fats (thereby reducing the risk of heart diseases). However, more reliable researches using humans as samples have to be done for use to be very sure about this.
There are several other minor health benefits of Moringa. But, quickly, let’s see some potential dangers
Health dangers of Moringa
#1: The roots (and products made from the roots) should be avoided as much as possible. Don’t eat it. It is said to contain a dangerous substance that could cause paralysis and even death!
#2: If you are pregnant, avoid taking Moringa roots, bark, or flowers. They could cause contraction of the womb – causing miscarriage! We are not too sure of the leaves and seeds too; so, if I were you, I would avoid Moringa completely during pregnancy.
#3: Even though it is not yet quite clear, it is possible that Moringa can be secreted in breast milk and we are not bold about its safety in newborns and infants. So, if you are breastfeeding, it is advisable to avoid taking Moringa.
#4: Some people have strange body reactions and allergy after taking Moringa. It is simply your body telling you it doesn’t like it. It is best to avoid it; it could become life-threatening at times.
Based on several reliable laboratory and clinical studies, there are no substantial evidence yet that Moringa can be used to treat or cure any major health disease or condition. [I know I have stepped on some toes!] However, since we have seen wonderful health benefits, it will be best to eat Moringa as a food (and especially the leaves and seeds) and not to depend on it as a medicine; at least, for now. And, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, hmm…just be careful and very observant.