Is Moringa Really a Superfood?

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Is moringa really a superfood
Wellness Mama » Blog » Natural Remedies » Is Moringa Really a Superfood?

There is a simple tree known as “the drumstick tree,” or scientifically as Moringa oleifera, which is commonly touted as a superfood since it is rich in nutrients, antioxidants and other beneficial compounds. Unfortunately, there is also a dark side to this small tree that is native to India, and there are some important cautions to know before consuming it.

Here’s why:

What is Moringa?

The Moringa oleifera tree is a small tree that is native to India but that grows in many parts of the world. The entire tree is considered edible and it is known for its long twisted pods, from which it derives its name. “Murungai” means “twisted pod” in the Tamil language. (1)

The Moringa tree has several names in different parts of the world including its common name of “horseradish tree,” since its roots taste similar to horseradish root when raw. In Ayurvedic medicine it is known as shigru and in Spanish it is referred to as Jacinto.

Moringa is beneficial as a food because of its ability to grow in a variety of climates, especially subtropical climates. In fact, Moringa Oleifera grows in virtually all countries where malnutrition is widespread and may be a great part of a comprehensive plan to alleviate malnutrition throughout the world. In fact:

It is believed that the moringa tree originated in northern India and was being used in Indian medicine around 5,000 years ago, and there are also accounts of it being utilized by the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. This tree was, and still is, considered a panacea, and is referred to as the ‘The Wonder Tree’, ‘The Divine Tree’, and ‘The Miracle Tree’ amongst many others. (2)

It is also important to note that there are technically 13 different species of Moringa tree, though for simplicity, I’m referencing the Moringa oleifera tree in this post and using the common name of just “Moringa.”

Potential Benefits of Moringa

The same properties that make Moringa beneficial in fighting malnourishment lead many to believe that this plant is beneficial for everyone. It is well-documented for its nutritive abilities and there are even supplement companies based entirely around the benefits of Moringa, (though it is widely available in many forms including capsules, teas, and other forms at much lower prices).

The leaves are considered the most nutritious part and are most often used in supplements. Since a large part of the population is considered “overfed but undernourished,” Moringa may be a useful tea and supplement for many people, even in the developed world, but it is important to understand the cautions below, especially concerning the roots and stems of this plant.

These are a few of the benefits attributed to Moringa:

1. High in Nutrients

As mentioned, Moringa is a source of antioxidants and some vitamins, including:

  • B-vitamins
  • Vitamin C
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin A
  • Zinc

Perhaps you’ve seen some of the health claims that gram-for-gram, Moringa has more protein than yogurt, more potassium than bananas, more calcium than milk and more Vitamin C than oranges.(3) While this is technically true, it is important to note the distinction that this is “gram for gram,” and not by volume. Since Moringa leaves are relatively lightweight, 100 grams of Moringa leaves would be substantially more volume than 100 grams of an orange.

Consider this: a medium size orange is approximately 130 grams, or 4.5 ounces. Now consider a leafy substance like Moringa leaves. For simplicity, we’ll use a similar leaf, Spinach, for comparison. The FDA estimates that 1 cup of raw spinach is about 30 grams. This means that to get the same “gram for gram” comparison, a person would have to eat 4+ cups of fresh spinach leaves to consume the same number of grams as one orange.

This comparison becomes even more glaring with some of the other nutrients. For instance, it is claimed that “gram for gram” this plant contains two times the protein of yogurt, but 100 grams of yogurt is only about 1/2 cup, while a person would have to consume 3+ cups (or six times as much by volume) fresh leaves to get to 100 grams.

While I’m not discounting the nutrients in this plant, I show this comparison to point out that for those of us eating a balanced diet, Moringa may not be as beneficial as it is to those who are truly malnourished.

Additionally, while it is a good natural source of the nutrients listed above, 1 cup of fresh Moringa leaves provides only 10-20% of the RDA for these nutrients listed above, so a person would have to consume a lot to obtain “superfood” levels of these nutrients. Most Moringa supplements are dried, not fresh, which reduces the amount of certain nutrients and concentrates others.

2. May Reduce Inflammation

Though Moringa isn’t a spectacular source of nutrients for those already consuming a nutrient-dense diet, it may have another benefit that makes it helpful for those in the developed world. The levels of antioxidants present in the leaves may help reduce certain types of inflammation.

Moringa has been found to contain Flavonoids, such as quercetin, as well as beta-carotene, Vitamin C, and Chlorogenic acid. Quercetin is sometimes used as a natural antihistamine for its ability to stabilize histamine production in the body. Chlorogenic acid is also found (in higher amounts) in coffee and has been found to have a balancing effect on blood sugar in some lab trials. (4)

As blood sugar imbalances have been linked to diabetes, inflammation and other problems, balancing blood sugar may be an important step for reducing inflammation.


In one study, 30 women took seven grams of moringa leaf powder every day for three months. This reduced fasting blood sugar levels by 13.5% (5).

Additionally, a small study in six diabetic patients found that adding 50 grams of Moringa leaves to a meal reduced the rise in blood sugar by 21% (6).

I personally wouldn’t use Moringa just for its blood sugar balancing abilities, as quite a bit must be consumed regularly to see the benefits, but for some people it may be helpful as part of an overall diet and lifestyle plan (though certainly check with a doctor or specialist to make sure it is safe and won’t interact with any medications before taking it).

3. Positive Effects on Cholesterol

Moringa has also been studied for its ability to reduce cholesterol levels in human trials. This may be significant with the emerging research discounting the effectiveness and safety of Statin drugs. From Chris Kresser:

  1. Statin drugs do not reduce the risk of death in 95% of the population, including healthy men with no pre-existing heart disease, women of any age, and the elderly.
  2. Statin drugs do reduce mortality for young and middle-aged men with pre-existing heart disease, but the benefit is small and not without significant adverse effects, risks and costs.
  3. Aspirin works just as well as statins do for preventing heart disease, and is 20 times more cost effective.(7)

Many foods that help reduce inflammation in the body may also have positive effect on blood cholesterol levels and eating a diet high in antioxidant rich foods and vegetables and low in sugar may also be beneficial, but Moringa seems to be especially beneficial in human and animal studies. (source)

4. Help for Breastfeeding Mothers

Another often-cited use for Moringa is to help increase milk supply in breastfeeding mothers. In fact, certain supplement companies regularly recommend their Moringa-based supplements as a prenatal vitamin and during breastfeeding (although see please see the cautions below before taking this supplement if you are a woman of childbearing age!).

The only scientific backing I could find for the use of Moringa as a galactogogue (to increase milk supply) is in an old study from the Philippines that looked at the use of this plant for mothers with pre-term babies in the first three days of breastfeeding only, and found:

In women during postpartum days 3-5 (after giving birth to preterm infants), supplementation of 250mg moringa oleifera leaf extract twice daily appears to increase milk production in a time dependent manner on the first day of supplementation (31% increase over placebo) as well as the second (48%) and third (165%) day. (8)

Though there are some anecdotal accounts of women using Moringa to increase milk supply, I couldn’t find enough research to back this up, and perhaps any increase in milk supply would just be due to increase nutrient consumption, which is important during breastfeeding. Hopefully more data on Moringa will be available soon!

5. Possible Arsenic Protection

Though it hasn’t been studied in humans, there is some evidence (from studies on rats and mice) that certain compounds in the leaves of the Moringa plant may be protective against arsenic poisoning.

Observational studies indicate that long-term exposure to arsenic may increase the risk of cancer and heart disease (9, 10).

Several studies of mice and rats show that the leaves and seeds of Moringa oleiferamay protect against some effects of arsenic toxicity (11, 12, 13).These studies are promising, but it is not yet known whether this also applies to humans.

6. Natural Energy Booster

This is one benefit of Moringa that definitely seems to have a large amount of anecdotal evidence and this may be due to the amino acid profile of this plant. Many people in online forums and discussion boards claim that they have seen a noticeable increase in energy levels from taking Moringa, though I found relatively little science to back this up and “energy levels” are one of the most difficult factors to measure objectively. (14)

Simply consuming more vitamins, minerals and amino acids may lead to an increase in energy in many people, so it would be difficult to know if this benefit is specific to Moringa or just a result of consuming more nutrients in general.

Cautions about Moringa

Like many herbs and plants used as remedies, certain parts of the plant are beneficial while others can be harmful in some way. This is true with elderberries, which are excellent at helping boost the immune system, but whose leave and stems should be avoided because of the natural Cyanogenic glycoside content, which is toxic to humans.

The leaves of the Moringa oleifera tree are generally considered to be safe and edible, but there is some controversy regarding the roots and stems and their potentially harmful effects, especially in women. These parts of the plant may not only act as a contraceptive (both temporary or permanent) but may also lead to miscarriage and other problems. (15)

There is research showing a potentially immunosuppressive and cytotoxic effect of the seeds of the plant, and extracts or supplements that contain the roots, seeds and stems should be avoided for this reason until more research is done. (16)

Additionally, the leaves of the plant have been shown to have a mildly laxative effect and may cause digestive disturbances in some people.

Some sources recommend avoiding Moringa entirely as the nutrients it contains can be easily obtained from other sources and a well-balanced diet.

How to Use Moringa

Moringa seems to be most potent when fresh, and since the tree readily grows in most climates, it is possible to cultivate the plant for use as an herbal remedy. Dr. Mercola reports that he has done this but doesn’t recommend it because the leaves are very small and time consuming to harvest. (17)

It is also available in many forms like dried leaves and capsules, though due to its possible effects on hormones and cholesterol, it is important to check with a doctor or specialist before using.

Bottom Line

There are definitely some potential benefits to Moringa, especially in countries where malnourishment is widespread, but it isn’t as exceptional of a nutrient source as it is often claimed to be and there may be much better sources of these important nutrients for those who live in the developed world.

Additionally, the potentially negative effects on hormones and fertility warrant caution and are the reason I avoid using this plant, at least until more research is done.

This article was medically reviewed by Jessica Meyers, MPAP, PA-C, RH(AHG), who specializes in herbal protocols and functional medicine. You can also find Jessica on Instagram. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

Have you ever used Moringa? What was your experience?

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


118 responses to “Is Moringa Really a Superfood?”

  1. Crystal Slabaugh Avatar
    Crystal Slabaugh

    I took powdered mornings for about 2 weeks. I had the worst diahrea and stomach cramps when taking it.

  2. Grace Avatar

    Hi Wellness Mama, I see Moringa leaf in Garden of Life prenatal vitamin. As a woman of childbearing age, do you stay away from Moringa leaf as well as the other components of the plant or would you feel comfortable consuming some? I see you’ve said you avoid it for now. Just want to confirm. Thank you.

  3. Stephanie Avatar

    This is a great article!
    From my personal experiences after, I tried several kinds of Moringa Oleifera products the All Moringa products By were the best quality I could find.
    I think that All natural remedies are making a comeback leading by CBD oil! always try and consider natural resources before you get what your doctor subscribes

    Go natural remedies!

  4. Bonnie Avatar

    I’m so bummed because moringa really helped me with a number of things but it makes me exhausted. Even at half a teaspoon taken before bed I am a zombie all day. I’ve tried taking less but it’s not enough to counteract the side effects for me. I am assuming due to the tryptophan. I’m so sad because it’s been a God send but I literally can’t function. I’m foggy and unable to do much of anything the next day besides sleep for hours even after 12+ hours of sleep and tons of coffee.

  5. Ken Avatar

    I have a couple of moringa trees growing and use the leaves regularly in stir fries and soups, adding them at the last minute. They’re a useful summer green here in the subtropics when not much else is growing. I can’t say I’ve noticed any effect on my health. I’m still of two minds about the immature (i.e. still green) seeds. They are very tasty and keep their crunch when cooked, which is nice, but they sometimes seem to cause me unconfortable stomach cramps the next day. Then again it may only be the combination with okra, which is usually part of the same meal. Or the breakfast guavas, which are full of tiny hard seeds! I’ll have to do some proper trials of each one alone and in combination to get a better understanding.

  6. Tina Avatar

    Please share your anti inflammatory diet as i have torn meniscus with arthritis, lots of stiffness, swelling and pain

  7. Bessie Avatar

    I don’t know if I overdose with boiled moringa leaves. Someone is giving me fresh moringa daily. He said that everyday he boils the moringa leaves together with the stems (around 10 stems or 7 handfuls of leaves) in a pitcher of water and that’s what he drinks. He said he was doing it for almost a year already since he suffered stroke. The boiled moringa is his daily dose of vitamins. As soon as he gave me the moringa leaves (around 10 stems), I boiled them in a liter of water. I drank a glass and felt very sleepy after. I told my daughter to drink a glass as well. We were both asleep in the afternoon that day. After realizing that moringa gave me a good sleep. I started drinking the boiled leaves before I sleep. I have difficulty sleeping at night so I am thinking that moringa will do wonders and it did! I always woke up in the middle of the night to pee and I always have problem getting myself back to sleep. Whenever I drink the boiled moringa, that is not the case. I feel very sleepy as if I took Iterax antihistamine. I continued drinking boiled moringa every night and after more than a week, my breasts started to have pain. I remember the pain. It was like I am lactating again. My breasts were so tender. I feel pain in my nipples and my breasts as if they were swollen and the milk would like to burst. I realized it was the moringa so I stopped drinking it. In about 3 days the pain subsided but my sleep was abnormal again. Now, I’m still boiling moringa leaves because I still have a supplier but I no longer drink it. I use the water when we bath. My daughter said that her skin itchiness was gone maybe because of Moringa. Moringa could be boosting something, an estrogen maybe. Is there someone in here who experienced the same thing?

    1. Bonnie Avatar

      Yes! I just posted but my comment is awaiting moderation. I can’t speak to the hormones but it made me so tired. I normally sleep awful and like you I pee a lot. I have a urinary disorder. Moringa helped me so much with this and I slept soundly but I’m so exhausted the next day to the point of feeling drugged and non functioning. I’ve tried taking less but then it doesn’t have the positive effects and I’m still tired. Less tired but still tired. And if she more than just tired. Like you said it’s a drugged tired like you took an antihistamine. It’s tired but I also had burning eyes, sluggishness and a cloudy foggy feeling as if I wasn’t in my body fully. I am using an organic powder and tried a couple different brands.

  8. Lashonda Avatar

    We’ve been adding moringa powder to smoothies for a few weeks and it has a strange effect on me and my son. It seems go give us a bit of a headache (I thought I noticed it the last time I took it and then my son told me tonight). Am So, temporary nausea. I reduced the amount to 1/2 TBSP for me and my husband and 1.5 tsp for the kids. My husband and daughter don’t have any negative effects. What gives?

    1. Michele Avatar

      Lashonda, I’ve found that a little goes a long way with moringa. I too experienced headaches at first so I stopped consuming it for a few days. I started again with a teaspoon. That was ideal! No headache. I continue to use a teaspoon and am satisfied with the benefits I receive from that amount.

  9. William Marvin Avatar
    William Marvin

    I hesitate to waste my time writing this review because I see you dont post them anyway. And based on your
    review post policy, I am surmising you have removed all comments because you didnt like them pointing out how much you actually did NOT include regarding the beneficial contents of this tree. Its not only sad, it’s a disservice to your readers, of which I used to be one.

    To begin, you ONLY look at the dried leaves..which has some beneficial properties, but form a small part of the nutrient profile you get from including seed extracts and fruit cake extracts. A simply search of contradicts about all of the times you say you wouldn’t use moringa because of ….X reason……

    On a monthly basis id run across somebody looking for a healthier version of themselves and id recommend a few sites for them to peruse…. this site being one of them.

    While I still think there may be some value in your site (minus this review for sure), I cannot risk the loss of credibility by recommending people subscribe to your site and see something so blatantly incorrect such as this.
    You should reconsider redoing this if only for your credibility.

    I’ll let you follow up and ask what you have wrong before going through the trouble of typing it all out..just to see if you actually do follow up and/or care enough to post accurate content or correct your content.

    Otherwise, thanks for the memories!

  10. Harish Avatar

    Moringa is the miracle tree that could cure almost 300 diseases including cancer, tumor and diabetes. Due to its reach nutrient density it call miracle tree. The seeds of the moringa tree are used to purify the water.

  11. Joanne Avatar

    Katie, with all due respect and understanding that this is YOUR blog, I don’t understand why you include your personal comments/bias about MLM/networking marketing as a way to totally discount a company’s products. Like Kevin, I do not sell Zija’s products but have been a consumer for about 5 years now. If I were to choose to get into a small business, I would definitely look at MLM/network marketing. The same that I would look at franchising, online business, real estate etc – as a business model with both strengths and weaknesses, to determine how that model would best fit with my needs. From that, I would certainly look at product line. Like you, I would bring personal opinion and biases (that’s human nature) but I would like to think that I would not write off an entire business model simply because of those biases. You are very widely read; I think you need to be somewhat circumspect, then, when introducing personal bias especially when responding to readers’ views.

  12. Heshani Avatar

    I grew up eating Moringa leaves and flowers in curries back in Sri Lanka. My Aunty has a Moringa tree in her backyard there. In US, my mother in law brought Moringa powder from Sri Lanka and she use it in her cereal. I give Moringa powder to my puppy mixed with his food. I did not know it was not safe for pregnancy so thank you Katie for sharing that. Take Care.

  13. Thomas Avatar

    Looking for an antitoxin for this berry. My brother in law is suffering with paralysis of the tongue on the left side and running temperatures o 175 to 195. Other problems are lack of appetite, balance problems and being lethargy. Can someone please help. He has been in and out of the hospital for about six weeks.

  14. Alicia Avatar

    Hi Katie! First of all, I love your blog. I am reading your newer blogs, and listening to your podcasts. I noticed on they talk about some people not having the ability to convert beta carotene into vitamin A – so for some people, they can’t get vitamin A from moringa, as it is beta carotene in moringa, not vitamin A.

  15. Rik Avatar

    I love moringa Especially added in mung bean soup, and chicken soup, so good for breastfeeding mothers, and so good for everyone as well!

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