Health Benefits of Moringa (Moringa Oleifera)Dr. Surya Bhagwati
Moringa has become increasingly popular as a superfood or nutraceutical in recent years, especially in the United States and Europe. Because of its rich nutritional profile and therapeutic value, the herb is often consumed in the form of supplements or powders. The moringa tree is native to India and it’s one that you’re probably familiar with. It’s widely used in cuisine, often included in popular South Indian dishes like sambar. It is simply better known to most of us as drumstick, which is actually the fruit of the tree. Ayurvedic physicians have been using almost every part of the tree, including the leaves and bark in herbal formulations to treat various ailments for millennia. However, it’s wider use and new found popularity is on account of numerous studies that have confirmed many of its health benefits.
Proven Health Benefits of Moringa
1. Protects Against Inflammation
While inflammation plays a protective role in the healthy body, prolonged inflammation is now known to be a major contributor to chronic diseases and other health conditions. It has even been linked with the development of heart disease and cancer. This is why foods that contain natural anti-inflammatory properties are highly recommended in diets to lower the risk of lifestyle diseases. Of course, not all foods are equal. Some are more protective because of the presence of compounds that have strong anti-inflammatory effects. When it comes to moringa, the leaves, seeds, and pods have been found to contain isothiocyanates, which are believed to protect against inflammation.
2. Helps in the Prevention and Management of Diabetes
With diabetes assuming epidemic proportions, it’s no wonder that scientists are extremely interested in exploring the therapeutic potential of moringa. What peaked their interest however, was the use of moringa in Ayurvedic treatments for diabetes. The ingredient has been used to regulate blood sugar levels, a benefit that has been confirmed in several studies. One study showed a reduction in blood sugar rise among diabetics by as much as 21%. This benefit is again linked to isothiocyanates, which are also thought to be the source of moringa’s anti-inflammatory benefits.
3. Promotes Heart Health
The efficacy of Ayurvedic remedies containing moringa for heart health has also been affirmed by several studies. The benefits of moringa for heart health are multi-faceted, with inflammation protection being just one aspect. Some studies have shown that moringa intake can help to lower cholesterol levels, addressing one of the major risk factors for heart disease. Additionally, research that appeared in the American Journal of Hypertension suggests that the daily intake of moringa seed powder could improve cardiac diastolic function within 8 weeks.
4. Detoxifies the Body
The buildup of ama or toxins in the body is regarded as an important risk factor in the formation of various diseases in Ayurveda. It recommends the use of moringa leaves and extracts to facilitate the detoxification of the body. Scientific investigations now suggest that these detoxification effects may be even more powerful than anticipated. Researchers found that both the leaves and seeds of moringa can offer some amount of protection against arsenic, one of the most dangerous toxins. Moringa extracts and oil have also been found to have hepatoprotective properties, even lowering the risk of liver damage and fibrosis.
5. Supports Brain Function
Dementia and other degenerative brain diseases are often regarded as an inescapable risk of aging. In truth, the risk is within your control and Ayurveda offers a number of suggestions to preserve and improve brain function as we age. Aside from herbs like brahmi and ashwagandha, moringa is also recognized as a brain health tonic. Preliminary studies that have investigated the herb’s effects on brain health and cognitive function found that it may even help in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. These benefits are connected with moringa’s antioxidant and neuro-enhancer effects. Moringa’s high nutritional content of vitamins E and C can also help restrict oxidation connected to neuron degeneration.
6. Supports Women’s Health
The antioxidant benefits of moringa are widely recognized, but they are particularly relevant for women’s health. Post-menopausal women suffer from a decline in estrogen levels, which also affects antioxidant enzyme systems. A study that tracked blood antioxidant levels in post-menopausal women found that daily supplementation with just 7 g of moringa powder brought about significant improvements within 3 months. With its high calcium and iron content, moringa supplements can also protect women from the risks of osteoporosis and anemia.
7. Treats Stomach Disorders
Moringa is often used as an Ayurvedic ingredient in medications to support digestive functions, including constipation, diarrhea, gastritis, and so on. Studies show that it may be just as effective as conventional medications like antacids and antihistamines. Moringa’s antibacterial properties can also help in the treatment of common gastric infections that cause diarrhea, such as helicobacter pylori and coliform. More impressively, moringa can also be useful in the management of more serious conditions like ulcerative colitis, as it has been shown to reduce ulceration.
As is true of many other Ayurvedic herbs, the potential benefits of moringa are plentiful. While these are some of the notable uses of moringa, it has also been shown to aid weight loss by improving nutrient absorption, digestion, and energy usage. It is also believed to improve skin, hair, and eye health, and may offer protection against kidney stone formation.
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