Supplement Savvy: Moringa Oleifera

It's the newest supplement making headlines. Does moringa live up to the hype? More importantly, is it safe?
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117837770

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Photo by: James McQuillan

James McQuillan

It's the newest supplement making headlines. Does moringa live up to the hype? More importantly, is it safe?
What Is Moringa?

Also known as the "Drumstick Tree" moringa oleifera is grown in the Himalayas, as well as throughout India and Malaysia. The bark, leaves, fruit, seeds and root are edible and are used to make teas, oils, extracts and other supplements.

Peddlers of morgina products claim it can boost energy, suppress appetite, lower blood pressure and improve mood.

Morgina products range from teas and oils, to capsules and liquid extracts. And these supplements aren’t cheap! A bottle of 120 capsules costs about $30 to $40.

Is it Safe?

It's believed that the leaves and fruit of the moringa oleifera tree are safe to eat. The leaves are potent sources of antioxidants, protein and vitamins and minerals including A, C, calcium, iron and potassium. The fruit contains a similar panel of vitamins and minerals, plus fiber, carbs and healthy fats.

The root, bark and flowers (and any types of supplements made from these portions of the tree) can be fantastically dangerous. According to the Natural Medicines Database, substances within these parts of the tree can act as a cardiac stimulant. Large doses can result in kidney and liver dysfunction and fatal paralysis.

Pregnant women should also be cautioned since the root, bark and flowers can cause uterine contractions which could result in loss of pregnancy.

Bottom Line: Proceed with extreme caution before messing with moringa products. At this point there's insufficient evidence to support that medicinal use of this product is effective or safe.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana's full bio »

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