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Moringa Oleifera: A Potent Antioxidant That Slows Ageing?

Posted on 13 May 2024

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A supplement called moringa has recently been trending as an anti-ageing supplement. But is there any scientific evidence to back this up? Let’s take a look.

What is it?

Moringa Oleifera is a tree native to the Indian subcontinent. It’s known as the ‘miracle tree’, though this has more to do with its value as a food source than its medicinal properties. Moringa trees are resistant to drought, and produce edible roots, leaves and pods with good nutritional value. It can even be used to help purify water. Moringa supplements are usually taken in the form of ground leaves or powder.

What does it do?

Moringa contains compounds similar to sulforaphane, which is a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticancer molecule found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli. Moringa appears to have similar antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and may also have the ability to lower blood sugar. It’s not yet entirely clear how moringa achieves these effects.

We know that inflammation plays an important role in the development of age-related diseases. Many scientists also believe that reactive oxygen species, which are harmful byproducts of our metabolism, contribute to the ageing process to some extent by inflicting damage on our cells and their DNA. Antioxidants like moringa have the ability to neutralise reactive oxygen species, thus protecting our cells from damage. This could in theory delay the ageing process.

Moringa oleifera flowers
By Venkatx5 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

What’s the evidence?

While moringa might in theory delay the ageing process, there is very little evidence for this in practice – just a single study from 2016 showing that moringa significantly extended lifespan in worms and made old worms appear healthier. These benefits were seemingly related to the activation of certain known ‘longevity genes’.

Evidence for health benefits in humans exists, but is similarly meagre. One study in diabetics found that blood sugar was reduced by about 20% following a meal33(word order) in participants taking moringa, but this was not a proper clinical trial. Another study found that moringa significantly reduced fasting blood sugar in people with prediabetes. However, this study looked at both blood sugar and cardiovascular risk factors in diabetics and found that while some metrics like blood pressure did improve in the group taking moringa, none of the changes were statistically significant.

Overall, the amount of research being done on moringa is small compared to other supplements with similar effects. Throughout the whole of 2023, there were only three new publications testing the effects of moringa in humans. For comparison, there were 60 studies that year investigating the effects of green tea.

Is it safe?

Moringa is not a toxic plant, but taking moringa supplements above the recommended doses may cause kidney and liver damage and may damage DNA, which could increase cancer risk.

The take-home message

While moringa is potentially beneficial, there are other dietary supplements that have similar mechanisms and effects, but with much more scientific evidence to back up their safety and efficacy.

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    Title image by Matcha & CO, Upslash

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    Effect of some Indian vegetables on the glucose and insulin response in diabetic subjects

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    Effects of Moringa oleifera leaves on the blood glucose, blood pressure, and lipid profile of type 2 diabetic subjects: A parallel group randomized clinical trial of efficacy Moringa Safety and Toxicology

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