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Presented by: UT El Paso / Austin Cooperative Pharmacy Program & Paso del Norte Health Foundation

Moringa


Compilation by Armando Gonzalez Stuart, PhD.
Moringa

Scientific Name:

Moringaceae

Other Common Name:

Horseradish tree, drumstick tree, African moringa, radish tree, arango, badumbo, ben, bentree, ben oil tree, caragua, murunga, murinna, moringo, la mu shu, maranga- calalu, teberindo (Quattrocchi, 2012).

Common names in Spanish:

: Moringa, acacia, árbol de las perlas, brotón, caraño, chinto- borrego, flor de jacinto, jacinto, palo jeringa, paraíso, paraíso blanco, paraíso de España, perla, perla de la India, perla de Oriente, picante blanco, San Jacinto, sasafrás (Quattrocchi, 2012; Berdonces, 2009; White, 2002).

Where is it found?

This small to medium-sized tree grows in India, as well as in other parts of Asia. It is also cultivated in various parts of Africa, Australia, and the American tropics, including Mexico (Quattrocchi, 2012; Mabberley, 2008).

Parts of the plant used:

The leaves, bark, fruit, and root.

How is it used?

Moringa leaves, seeds, bark, roots, sap, and flowers are commonly used in the traditional medicine of various countries around the world, and the leaves and immature seed pods are used as food products in human nutrition (Stohs and Hartman, 2015). Various parts of the plant are decocted in water and taken as a tea. The bark, flowers, and leaves can be pulverized and applied topically for the treatment of various skin disorders. Moringa is reputed to possess important nutritional properties (Khare, 2007, 2004), and can be found in capsules, sold as a nutritional supplement in certain health food stores.

What is it used for?

Moringa is an important medicinal plant in the three main traditional medicinal systems of India: Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani, and is used alone or in combination with various medicinal plants. The plant is popularly used in African and Asian folk medicine for the treatment of infectious, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, hepatic, and various other ailments, including various types of cancer (Khare, 2016; Iwu, 2014, Quattrocchi, 2012).
In Mexico, the plant is used to treat anemia, asthma, brain tonic, lower blood pressure, as an endocrine regulator, as an anti-inflammatory, against alopecia, for weight loss, liver problems, and to strengthen the kidneys, (Mendoza-Castelán and Lugo-Pérez, 2011).

The flowers, leaves, and roots are used in folk medicine of various countries for tumors, while the seed is used for abdominal tumors. A decoction of the root is used for dropsy (retention of liquids in the body). The juice obtained from the root juice is applied topically as counter-irritant or rubefacient (to promote circulation to the skin). The leaves are applied externally as a poultice to treat sores, rubbed on the temples for headaches, and possess purgative actions. The bark, leaves, and roots have an acrid and pungent taste, and are taken to promote digestion. The oil obtained from the seeds can be toxic if ingested but is applied topically for skin diseases. The decoction made from the seed is a very strong laxative. Preparations made from the bark are used against scurvy (vitamin C deficiency). The bark exudes a reddish gum similar in properties to tragacanth; and is used for diarrhea. The roots have a bitter taste and are considered to have a tonic action on the body and lungs. They are also employed as emmenagogues (to promote menstruation), expectorants, mild diuretics and stimulants for paralytic problems, as well as epilepsy and hysteria. The seeds are used to purify water (Van Wyk and Wink, 2014; Berdonces, 2009; Iwu, 2014; Khare, 2007; Duke, 2002; Hartwell, 1984).

Various clinical studies using powdered Moringa whole leaf preparations have demonstrated its anti-hyperglycemic (anti-diabetic) and anti-dyslipidemic actions in humans. These actions have been confirmed using extracts as well as powdered leaves in animal studies. Alcoholic extracts obtained from the leaves possess a plethora of ancillary biological activities including antioxidant, protective effects on the liver, kidneys, heart, testes, and lungs, as well as analgesic, antiulcer, antihypertensive, radio-protective, and immune-modulating activities. The plant´s diverse active ingredients (phytochemicals), such as polyphenols and phenolic acids, as well as flavonoids, glucosinolates, and alkaloids have been mentioned as possibly being responsible for the observed effects (Stohs and Hartman, 2015).

A study by Yassa and Tohamy (2014) evaluated possible antioxidant and anti-diabetic effects of a Moringa leaf aqueous extract for the treatment of streptozotocin-induced diabetic albino rats. The results of the study showed that the aqueous leaf extract was a potent anti-diabetic agent.

Tiloke et al. (2016) investigated the antiproliferative effect of a Moringa cude aqueous leaf extract on a cancerous esophageal cell line. The results of the study showed that the plant extract exerted antiproliferative effects on the cancer cells by increasing lipid peroxidation, DNA fragmentation, and induction of programmed cell death (apoptosis).

A study by Tiloke et al. (2013) researched the antiproliferative effect of a Moringa aqueous leaf extract on cancerous A549 lung cells. The results of the study indicated that the plant extract affected the cancer cells by inducing apoptosis or programmed cell death.

Safety / Precautions

  • Moringa’s safety during pregnancy and lactation has not been established.
  • Extracts made from the root, leaves, and bark of the tree have abortifacient action in laboratory animals (Khare, 2016; Nath et al., 1994).

 Before you decide to take any medicinal herb or herbal supplement, be sure to consult with a health care professional first. Avoid self-medication and self-diagnosis: Always be on the safe side!

References:

Berdonces JL. Gran Diccionario de las Plantas Medicinales.
Barcelona, Spain: Editorial Oceano; 2009.

Duke J. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs 2nd ed.
Boca Raton, FL; CRC Press; 2002.

Hartwell J. Plants Used Against Cancer.
Lawrence, MA: Quarterman Publications ; 1984.

Khare C P. Ayurvedic Pharmacopeial Plant Drugs.
Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2016; pp. 241-243.

_______ Indian Medicinal Plants: An Illustrated Dictionary.
New Delhi, India: Springer-Verlag; 2007.

_______ Indian Herbal Remedies.
Berlin: Springer-Verlag; 2004.

Mabberley D. Mabberley’s Plant Book 3rd ed.
London: Cambridge University Press; 2008.

Madi N, Dany M, Abdoun S, Usta J. Moringa oleifera's Nutritious Aqueous Leaf Extract Has Anticancerous Effects by Compromising Mitochondrial Viability in an ROS-Dependent Manner. J Am Coll Nutr. 2016 Jun 17:1-10. [Epub ahead of print]

Michl C, Vivarelli F,, Weigl J, De Nicola GR, Canistro D, Paolini M, Iori R, Rascle A. The Chemopreventive Phytochemical Moringin Isolated from Moringa oleifera Seeds Inhibits JAK/STAT Signaling. PLoS One. 2016 11(6):e0157430. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0157430.

Mendoza-Castelán G, Lugo-Pérez R. Plantas Medicinales en los Mercados de México.
Chapingo, Estado de México: Universidad Autónoma Chapingo; 2011.

Nath D, Sethi N, Singh RK, Jain AK. Commonly used Indian abortifacient plants with special reference to their teratologic effects in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 1992;36(2):147-54.

Quattrocchi, U. World Dictionary of Medicinal and Poisonous Plants (4 vols.).
Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2012.

Sivarajan V, Balanchandran I. Ayurvedic Drugs and Their Plant Sources.
New Delhi: Oxford & IBH Publishing; 1994.

Stohs SJ, Hartman MJ. Review of the Safety and Efficacy of Moringa oleifera.
Phytother Res. 2015;29(6):796-804. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5325.

Tiloke C, Phulukdaree A, Chuturgoon AA. The antiproliferative effect of Moringa oleifera crude aqueous leaf extract on cancerous human alveolar epithelial cells.
BMC Complement Altern Med. 2013 ;13:226. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-13-226.

Tiloke C, Phulukdaree A, Chuturgoon AA. The Antiproliferative Effect of Moringa oleifera Crude Aqueous Leaf Extract on Human Esophageal Cancer Cells. J Med Food. 2016 ;19(4):398-403. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2015.0113.

Van Wyk E, Wink M. Phytomedicines, Herbal Drugs, and Poisons.
Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press: 2014.

White R. Elsevier Dictionary of Common Plant Names of North American Plants Including Mexico. London: Elsevier; 2002.

Williamson E (Editor). Major Herbs of Ayurveda.
London: Churchill-Livingstone; 2002.

Yassa HD, Tohamy AF. Extract of Moringa oleifera leaves ameliorates streptozotocin-induced Diabetes mellitus in adult rats. Acta Histochem. 2014;116(5):844-54. doi: 10.1016/j.acthis.2014.02.002.