The Efficacy and Side Effects of Moringa Leaf Powder

The Efficacy and Side Effects of Moringa Leaf Powder
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Why don’t I recommend moringa?

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Clearly, in spite of the widely held ‘belief’ in the health benefits of [moringa], the interest of the international biomedical community in the medicinal potential of this plant has been rather tepid”—“spectacularly hesitant[, in fact,] in exploring its nutritional and medicinal potential. … other “superfoods” such as garlic and green tea have enjoyed better reception,” but they also have more scientific support. There are thousands of human studies on garlic and more than 10,000 on green tea, but only a few hundred on moringa.

The most promising appears to be the effects of moringa on blood sugar control. If you have people eat about five cookies, this is the kind of blood sugar spike you get. Add about two teaspoons of moringa leaf powder into the cookie batter, and even with the same amount of sugar and carbs, the blood sugar surge is dampened.

Just having having people drink one or two cups of moringa leaf tea before a sugar challenge “suppressed the elevation in blood [sugar] in all cases compared to [those who drank plain water instead].” Here’s the spike after sugar with no moringa, and here’s the reaction to the same amount of sugar 30 minutes after drinking moringa tea. No wonder moringa is used in traditional medicine practice for diabetes. But you don’t really know if it can help until you put it to the test.

Diabetics were given about three-quarters of a teaspoon of moringa leaf powder every day for 12 weeks and got significant improvements in measures of inflammation as well as long-term blood sugar control. But the reason they call it a quasi-experimental study is because there was no control group. The researchers just took measurements before and after, and we know just being in a dietary study can lead some people to consciously or unconsciously eat more healthfully, so we don’t know what effect the moringa itself had. Even in moringa studies with a control group, it’s not clear if the subjects were randomly allocated. And in this study, the researchers didn’t specify how much moringa people were even given. What does one tablet’s worth mean? No significant improvement in this study; maybe they didn’t give enough? This study used a tablespoon a day, and not only saw a significant drop in fasting blood sugars, but a significant drop in LDL cholesterol as well. Two teaspoons a day didn’t seem to help, so was it just that a whole tablespoon is needed? Apparently not, since finally, a randomized placebo-controlled study using a tablespoon of moringa a day failed to show any benefit on blood sugar control in type 2 diabetics.

So, we’re left with a few studies showing potential, but most failing to show benefit. Why not just give moringa a try to see for yourself? That’s a legitimate course of action in the face of conflicting data when we’re talking about safe, simple, side effect-free solutions. But is moringa safe? Probably not during pregnancy, as about 80 percent of “women folk” in some areas of the world use it to abort pregnancies, and its effectiveness for that purpose has been confirmed, at least in rats––though breastfeeding women may get about a half-cup boost in milk production based on “six randomized, placebo-controlled, blinded, clinical trials”.

Just because moringa has “long been used in [folk medicine traditions]” in no way proves that the plant is safe to consume. Lots of horribly toxic stuff, like mercury and lead for instance, have been used in traditional medical systems the world over. But hey, at least “no major harmful effects of [moringa] … have been reported by the scientific community”, or more accurately, “no adverse effects were reported in any of the human studies that [had] been conducted to date.” In other words, no harmful effects had been reported, until now.

“Stevens-Johnson syndrome … following [moringa leaf] consumption”: Stevens-Johnson syndrome is probably the most dreaded drug side effect, a rare but potentially fatal condition characterized by “epidermal detachment.” In other words, it can make your skin fall off. Fourteen hours after consuming moringa, a guy broke out. The same thing had happened three months earlier, the last time he had eaten moringa, causing him to suffer “extensive lesions with blister formation over [his] face, mouth, chest, abdomen, and genitalia.”

“This case report suggests that consumption of Moringa leaf is better avoided by individuals who are at risk of developing [Stevens-Johnson].” Although it can happen to anyone, HIV is a risk factor.

My take on moringa is that the evidence of benefit wasn’t compelling enough to justify shopping online for something special when you can get healthy vegetables in your local market like broccoli, which has yet to be implicated in any genital blistering.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Video production by Glass Entertainment

Motion graphics by Avo Media

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Clearly, in spite of the widely held ‘belief’ in the health benefits of [moringa], the interest of the international biomedical community in the medicinal potential of this plant has been rather tepid”—“spectacularly hesitant[, in fact,] in exploring its nutritional and medicinal potential. … other “superfoods” such as garlic and green tea have enjoyed better reception,” but they also have more scientific support. There are thousands of human studies on garlic and more than 10,000 on green tea, but only a few hundred on moringa.

The most promising appears to be the effects of moringa on blood sugar control. If you have people eat about five cookies, this is the kind of blood sugar spike you get. Add about two teaspoons of moringa leaf powder into the cookie batter, and even with the same amount of sugar and carbs, the blood sugar surge is dampened.

Just having having people drink one or two cups of moringa leaf tea before a sugar challenge “suppressed the elevation in blood [sugar] in all cases compared to [those who drank plain water instead].” Here’s the spike after sugar with no moringa, and here’s the reaction to the same amount of sugar 30 minutes after drinking moringa tea. No wonder moringa is used in traditional medicine practice for diabetes. But you don’t really know if it can help until you put it to the test.

Diabetics were given about three-quarters of a teaspoon of moringa leaf powder every day for 12 weeks and got significant improvements in measures of inflammation as well as long-term blood sugar control. But the reason they call it a quasi-experimental study is because there was no control group. The researchers just took measurements before and after, and we know just being in a dietary study can lead some people to consciously or unconsciously eat more healthfully, so we don’t know what effect the moringa itself had. Even in moringa studies with a control group, it’s not clear if the subjects were randomly allocated. And in this study, the researchers didn’t specify how much moringa people were even given. What does one tablet’s worth mean? No significant improvement in this study; maybe they didn’t give enough? This study used a tablespoon a day, and not only saw a significant drop in fasting blood sugars, but a significant drop in LDL cholesterol as well. Two teaspoons a day didn’t seem to help, so was it just that a whole tablespoon is needed? Apparently not, since finally, a randomized placebo-controlled study using a tablespoon of moringa a day failed to show any benefit on blood sugar control in type 2 diabetics.

So, we’re left with a few studies showing potential, but most failing to show benefit. Why not just give moringa a try to see for yourself? That’s a legitimate course of action in the face of conflicting data when we’re talking about safe, simple, side effect-free solutions. But is moringa safe? Probably not during pregnancy, as about 80 percent of “women folk” in some areas of the world use it to abort pregnancies, and its effectiveness for that purpose has been confirmed, at least in rats––though breastfeeding women may get about a half-cup boost in milk production based on “six randomized, placebo-controlled, blinded, clinical trials”.

Just because moringa has “long been used in [folk medicine traditions]” in no way proves that the plant is safe to consume. Lots of horribly toxic stuff, like mercury and lead for instance, have been used in traditional medical systems the world over. But hey, at least “no major harmful effects of [moringa] … have been reported by the scientific community”, or more accurately, “no adverse effects were reported in any of the human studies that [had] been conducted to date.” In other words, no harmful effects had been reported, until now.

“Stevens-Johnson syndrome … following [moringa leaf] consumption”: Stevens-Johnson syndrome is probably the most dreaded drug side effect, a rare but potentially fatal condition characterized by “epidermal detachment.” In other words, it can make your skin fall off. Fourteen hours after consuming moringa, a guy broke out. The same thing had happened three months earlier, the last time he had eaten moringa, causing him to suffer “extensive lesions with blister formation over [his] face, mouth, chest, abdomen, and genitalia.”

“This case report suggests that consumption of Moringa leaf is better avoided by individuals who are at risk of developing [Stevens-Johnson].” Although it can happen to anyone, HIV is a risk factor.

My take on moringa is that the evidence of benefit wasn’t compelling enough to justify shopping online for something special when you can get healthy vegetables in your local market like broccoli, which has yet to be implicated in any genital blistering.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Video production by Glass Entertainment

Motion graphics by Avo Media

Doctor's Note

If you missed the previous video, see The Benefits of Moringa: Is It the Most Nutritious Food?.

How Not to Die from Diabetes is a good introduction to the dozens of videos I have on safer ways to improve blood sugar control.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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