Moringa has been used for thousands of years to promote health. It's been referred to as the "miracle tree" and, more recently, as the "plant of the year."
Moringa leaf has become a popular supplement, and the many benefits of it have been researched in numerous studies. Many cultures have used (and still use) the leaf and other parts of the tree both medicinally and as a food source.
New mothers are especially becoming interested in moringa because of its potential benefits for increasing milk supply. Here's more about moringa leaf, how it can help you breastfeed, and the other benefits it has.
What Is Moringa?
Moringa (Moringa oleifera) is a tree native to parts of India, Bangladesh, Paskistan, Afghanistan, and the tropics. All parts of the tree- leaves, roots, bark, seeds, flowers, and fruit- are used for food and medicine. (1)
The tree itself is a fast-growing, leafy tree that can grow in dry and depleted soils where many other plants can't. This, along with it's incredible nutritional value, has made moringa an important plant to combat malnutrition. It's used especially in feeding programs in India and Africa. (1)
The moringa tree is also extremely beneficial from an environmental standpoint. It can replenish depleted soils and is used as part of reforestation projects.
Moringa seeds can be used to purify contaminated water and to remove salts from seawater. This is one incredible plant!
Medicinally, moringa has been used by traditional medicine practices, particularly Ayurveda, for at least 4000 years. It's more recently come to attention in western countries as an herbal supplement with "superpowers".
Although other parts of the tree like the seeds and fruit can be used medicinally, moringa leaf has come to the forefront for its health benefits.
Nutrient Benefits of Moringa Leaf
Many of the benefits of moringa leaf come from the high amount of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients packed inside. And for those of us without access to fresh moringa leaves, it's important to note that many of these nutrients are retained in the dried leaf.
Moringa leaves contain good amounts of vitamin C, beta carotene, potassium, iron, and all nine essential amino acids. They also have twice as much calcium and protein as milk when compared ounce for ounce. (2)(3)
The high concentration of vitamin A in moringa has made it an important supplement for children in third-world countries where about 670,000 die each year from deficiency. (2)
Other important compounds in moringa leaf are antioxidants and unique phytonutrients that all have medicinal value. (4)
Top Benefits of Moringa Leaf
Helps Milk Supply During Breastfeeding
While some women cannot breastfeed or choose not to, breast milk is still considered the best kind of food for infants. For those who do want to breastfeed but struggle with low milk supply, a natural galactagogue may be the answer.
Galactagogues are substances that increase the flow of milk. Moringa is an herbal galactagogue that has gained much more attention recently. The amount and type of nutrients it has are highly beneficial for boosting milk production.
The iron in moringa leaf can help with fatigue after pregnancy and prevent pregnancy-related anemia. It's calcium content is also beneficial for both the mother and the growing baby.
Many herbal galactagogues have yet to be studied in scientific trials. Moringa, on the other hand, has been studied, and the results are all positive. A review that analysed several trials found that moringa consistently increased the volume of breast milk with no negative side effects. (5)
May Reduce Inflammation
Moringa leaf contains many beneficial compounds, including antioxidants, that have an anti-inflammatory effect. (4)
Because many chronic diseases, including cancer, are largely caused by constant inflammation, moringa has the potential to promote overall health by reducing inflammation. (6) Its high level of antioxidants can also help with age-related disorders caused by oxidative stress.
One study done on menopausal women found that supplementing with moringa powder and amaranth significantly increased blood antioxidant levels and decreased markers of oxidative stress. (7)
Helps Blood Sugar Levels and Heart Health
Controlling blood sugar levels is a big factor in managing diabetes and lowering the risk of heart problems.
Moringa contains important compounds including chlorogenic acid and isothiocyanates that are antidiabetic and improve blood sugar levels. (4)
Although most studies done on moringa and blood sugar have been animal, a few human studies have shown positive results. One found that supplementing with 8 grams of moringa powder a day decreased both fasting and post-meal blood glucose levels. (8)
Research is still ongoing, but moringa leaf could prove a highly beneficial supplement for people with diabetes or who are pre-diabetic.
Benefits Skin Health
Along with its many other health benefits, moringa is also becoming known for its ability to protect and nourish skin.
Taking moringa leaf as a supplement provides your body with nutrients like vitamin C and antioxidants that are vital to skin health. Vitamin A, especially in the form of beta-carotene, is another nutrient that can prevent signs of aging, increase collagen production, and stimulate the regeneration of skin cells. (9)
Moringa oil is another way for you to get the benefits of the miracle tree for your skin. It has natural antibacterial compounds and forms a protective barrier that keeps moisture in skin.
Using Moringa Leaf
For those without access to the tree itself, the most common form of moringa to use is the dried leaves. The leaves are also available in powdered form as a more concentrated supplement.
Moringa does have a very distinct flavor, although the dried leaves are more toned down than the fresh ones. You may wish to combine it with other herbs and flavors or take in capsules if the taste is too much.
Here are a few ways to use moringa leaf:
- Use the dried leaves to make a tea by steeping them in hot, but not boiling, water.
- Add powdered moringa to smoothies, green juices, and meals.
- Take the dried leaf in capsules for breastfeeding and other health reasons.
Precautions and Side Effects
Moringa does not have any known side effects and has safely been consumed in large amounts for centuries.
However, high doses of moringa are not recommended during pregnancy or for those using diabetic medication. Speak with a health care professional before supplementing with moringa if you are pregnant or have a medical condition.
Have You Discovered the Benefits of Moringa Leaf?
If you have yet to try this new super-food, it might be time to find out why moringa is known as the miracle tree.
Moringa leaf has so many benefits for overall health, and can especially provide support for breastfeeding women. Try it out for yourself!