Health Benefits of Moringa Oil

Moringa oil comes from the seeds of the Moringa oleifera tree, Marie Hayag, MD, a New York-based dermatologist, told Health. 

The moringa plant is native to the Himalayan mountain range in Asia and grows abundantly throughout Africa. Moringa oil has a pale yellow color and a nutty taste. Research has found that moringa oil has several cosmetic and nutritional purposes.1

Some deem the moringa plant a "miracle tree" due to its many uses and possible health benefits. For example, evidence suggests that moringa oil can reduce premature aging, help manage diabetes, and stave off heart disease.231

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Benefits of Moringa Oil
Research has found that the moringa plant, including the oil, has several possible health benefits. To reap those benefits, you can apply moringa oil topically or use it instead of other oils in your diet.

Helps Reduce Premature Aging
Some evidence suggests that oleic acid reduces premature aging by smoothening fine lines and wrinkles. 

For example, one study published in 2014 in Advances in Dermatology and Allergology tested the effects of moringa leaf extract on the skin. The researchers asked 11 men to apply either a cream containing moringa leaf extract and a base cream. The men used both creams twice daily for three months.

The researchers found that compared to the base, the moringa leaf extract improved skin texture and reduced the appearance of wrinkles.2

Moisturizes the Skin and Hair
One feature of moringa oil that can benefit the skin and hair: oleic acid, a fatty acid in many plant and vegetable oils.

"The high oleic acid content found in moringa oil suggests it would benefit dry, more mature skin types due to its significant moisturizing properties," said Dr. Hayag.

The oleic acid in moringa oil acts as a barrier to help seal in moisture. So, the oil may be ideal for people with dry skin.1 What's more, moringa oil is gentle and safe enough for all skin types, including those prone to acne breakouts, pointed out Dr. Hayag.

Also, moringa oil may be beneficial for people with dry hair. Similar to its effects on the skin, applying moringa oil to the still-damp hair after washing helps lock in moisture.

Might Treat Infections
Moringa oil might protect against and treat infections. Specifically, the compounds found in moringa seeds prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi that cause illnesses. 

Research has found that the moringa plant may be a good alternative therapy for treating infections since it has few side effects.4

Reduces Inflammation
A review published in 2020 in Frontiers in Pharmacology found that the moringa plant helps reduce inflammation. The researchers noted that the moringa plant has some regulatory effects on the immune system. 

With autoimmune diseases, the immune system mistakenly targets and destroys healthy cells. As a result, many autoimmune diseases, like atopic dermatitis and multiple sclerosis (MS), cause chronic inflammation.

By helping control the immune system response, moringa oil might reduce inflammation. In fact, the researchers noted that moringa oil may stave off long-term tissue damage.5

Helps Manage Diabetes
Moringa oil may help control blood sugar levels. Although, researchers have mainly studied the effects of the moringa plant on blood sugar in animals. 

Still, in one review published 2020 in Nutrients, researchers suggested that the moringa plant might lower blood sugar due to its fiber and antioxidant content. The researchers noted that few studies have shown that fiber and antioxidants help the body absorb glucose, also known as sugar.3

With diabetes, the body has trouble absorbing glucose due to low to no insulin levels. As a result, glucose builds up in the blood, which raises blood sugar. Uncontrolled high blood sugar can negatively impact health, including nerve and kidney damage.6

May Lower Heart Disease Risk
The unsaturated fatty acids in moringa oil may protect against heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S.7 Research has found that the concentration of oleic acid in moringa oil is over 80%, which is more than in olive oil. Unsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid may help lower total cholesterol.1

High total cholesterol is a risk factor for several types of heart disease, like coronary artery disease (CAD). With CAD, plaque collects in the arteries, blocking blood flow to the heart. CAD increases the risk of a heart attack. So, monitoring your cholesterol levels helps mitigate that risk.7

Might Protect Against Some Cancers
Some evidence suggests that the moringa plant might have anticancer properties. Usually, the body gets rid of abnormal cells with a process called apoptosis, also known as programmed cell death. However, if apoptosis does not happen, abnormal cells grow out of control, leading to cancer. 

In one study published in 2015 in PLoS One, researchers found that the moringa plant helped reduce cancerous cells by as much as 90%. Also, the researchers found that the moringa plant improved the apoptosis of breast and colorectal cancerous cells.8

The moringa plant has several compounds, like eugenol, that induce apoptosis. Still, more research is needed to understand the effects of moringa oil on cancer wholly.

How To Use Moringa Oil
The moringa plant is known as a "miracle tree" for its several uses and potential health benefits.9 For example, you can use moringa oil topically to moisturize the skin and treat premature aging. 

Not only does moringa oil help the skin, but you can also add it to your haircare regimen. Massage moringa oil into your scalp to restore moisture levels and improve the overall health of your hair, recommended Dr. Hayag.

Beyond its cosmetic uses, you can substitute olive oil for moringa oil in many dishes. What's more, due to its antimicrobial properties, some people use moringa oil in water purification or as a fertilizer. 

In addition to the oil, moringa leaves, roots, bark, seeds, and seed cake also have possible health benefits. For example, moringa seed powder is available in capsules.4 Also, people have used Moringa leaves in teas.10

Is Moringa Oil Safe?
The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate moringa oil. Therefore, ensure that moringa oil is third-party tested before using it. 

Generally, moringa oil is safe to consume. However, more research is needed to know whether moringa oil is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding people and children. So, consult a healthcare provider before adding moringa oil to your skincare and haircare regimens or diet. 

Some evidence suggests that the moringa plant may improve breast milk production. Still, other studies have refuted that point. Also, the Department of Health and Human Services advises against using the moringa plant for breastfeeding.11

People with a high risk of blood clots should avoid moringa oil. Research has found that the moringa plant promotes blood clotting.11

There is insufficient evidence to know whether moringa oil interacts with certain medicines. So, talk to a healthcare provider about whether moringa oil is safe. 

Still, one study published in 2016 in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that the moringa plant might inhibit the effects of Januvia (sitagliptin). Januvia is an anti-diabetic medicine that increases insulin and stops the liver from making too much glucose. However, the researchers studied the moringa plant's effects on Januvia in animals. So, more human studies research is needed.12

Side Effects of Moringa Oil
Some evidence suggests that moringa oil has little to no side effects. Still, more research is needed to know the full impact of moringa oil.

One study published in 2014 in the Journal of Toxicology found that consuming large amounts of the moringa plant may elevate iron levels in the blood, known as hemochromatosis. Excess iron may cause gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms like nausea and diarrhea.13

However, those side effects are not present in standard doses of the moringa plant. Consult a healthcare provider about how much moringa oil is safe.