What’s the deal with Moringa?

New year, new you, new superfood. That’s how it feels sometimes at least!

Back in January, Dr Oz said Moringa will be one of 2018’s top so-called “superfoods”. He claimed: “[Moringa] is an ingredient that will forever change how you make your smoothies! It is a mega boost of antioxidants and it will up your green intake substantially”. Now, I’m not one of Dr Oz’s biggest fans (or more accurately – I think it can be dangerous to believe anything he says).

Moringa oleifera is a plant that is often called the drumstick tree, the miracle tree, the ben oil tree, or the horseradish tree.

Many have jumped on the Moringa bandwagon, adding it to their green juices and making tea from the tree’s flowers and leaves, among other things. I wanted to find out; is Moringa really as wonderful as people claim? Is it just another fad? Or can it actually be harmful to your health?

I sat behind my laptop and turned to the internet for guidance.

Spins.com claims that “the bright green powder is a nutritional powerhouse, packed with protein, iron, Vitamin A, E, C and calcium, which is touted to help fight free-radicals, lower inflammation and protect the liver,” while other websites claim Moringa is the cure for anything from anemia to asthma; diabetes to diarrhoea. And even cancer (!) — the list keeps growing by the day.

After visiting 4 sites, my heart sank. Within the first five minutes of research, I found that no one could decide on the one-and-only country Moringa trees are exclusively found. This did not bode well for the other “facts” on these pages

I decided to knuckle down and try to find out whether any of the health claims were true. I found some scientific studies that showed that Moringa does have great nutritional value, and is often used to combat malnutrition. Another study researched the claims that Moringa can cure diabetes, and found that although Moringa can help prevent the side effects of diabetes such as retinopathy, nephropathy and atherosclerosis, the plant does not outright cure diabetes. The same study also investigated Moringa’s “anti-cancer properties” and concluded that more research should be done before any benefits can be verified.

I also spoke to a pharmacist, who confirmed what my research has shown, she says that the free radicals secreted by Moringa can have anti-inflammatory properties and that with more research more benefits may be discovered; but (to quote her) “Logically it does not make sense medically, that one active ingredient can cure such a wide variety of unrelated diseases.”

It seems that there may be some truth in the claims of Moringa being a wonder-cure or superfood, but many claims attributed to the plant are just that; baseless claims with little or no scientific evidence to back them up.

I did come across some interesting and valuable (verified) facts though:

Moringa is extremely nutritious and is used to combat malnutrition
Moringa may help control blood sugar and blood fats (more research is being done on this subject)
The bark, leaves, seeds and flowers are edible, in fact everything except the roots are edible!

It turns out that I was right to be sceptical, Moringa definitely isn’t an all-in-one super cure for any and every ailment around. It might be good for you, if your diet isn’t providing the nutrients you need to be healthy, and it could also be used for its anti-inflammatory properties — but always speak to a doctor, nurse or pharmacist before taking any supplements, especially herbal supplements that don’t have to go through rigorous testing!

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