“The General Nutritive”

Scientific name: Moringa oleifera (M. Oleifera Lam. (Shigru)

Common names: Horseradish tree, Mother’s Best Friend, Radish tree, Drumstick tree, West Indian ben oil tree, Benzoil tree, Subhanjan, Mukhabhanga, Sheeghrak, Krishnagandha, Teekshnagandha, Shwetak, Raktak, Mochak, Dansha, Shigruk, Ghanapallav, Swadugandhee, Moolakparnee, Shaigrav, Murangee, Moolakchchada, Shobhanjan, Avadanshaksham, Teekshnagandhak, Vidradhighna, Aksheev, Madhugndhik, Shwetamarich


M. Oleifera Lam. (Shigru) (Horseradish tree – syn.
M. Pterygosperma Gaertn. Indigenous northwestern sub-Himalayan India),
M. Arborea Verdc. (Kenya),
M. Peregrina (Forssk). Fiori (indigenous Horn of Africa and Sthn Sinai, Egypt),
M. Longituba Engl. (indigenous Ethiopia and Somalia),
M. Drouhardii Jum.- Bottle tree (indigenous southwestern Madagascar),
M. Rivae Chiov. (indigenous Ethiopia and Kenya),
M. Ruspoliana Engl. (indigenous Ethiopia),
M. Concanensis Nimmo (indigenous northern India),
M. Borziana Mattei (indigenous Somalia),
M. Hildebrandtii Engl. (indigenous southwestern Madagascar),
M. Ovalifolia Dinter & A. Berger (indigenous Namibian and Angola),
M. Pygmaea Verdc. (indigenous Somalia),
M. Stenopetala (Baker f.) Cufod (indigenous Ethiopia and Kenya).

Assamese: Sojina, Sajina, Sohjna
Ayurvedic: Shigru
Bangladesh (Asia): Sajina
Bengali: Sojne danta, Sejana, Sajina
Benin (Africa): Ewe ile, Patima
Brazil (Sth America): Cedro
Burkina Faso (Africa): Argentiga
Burma (Asia): Dandalonbin
Cambodia (Asia): Ben aile
Cameroon (Africa): Djihire, Paizlava
Chad (Africa): Kag n’dongue
Chinese: la mu (Mandarin); lat mok (Cantonese)
Colombia: Angela
Costa Rica (Central America): Marango
Côte D’Ivoire: Arjanayiiri (Dioula)
Cuba (Central America): Palo Jeringa
Dominican Republic (Central America): Palo de Aceiti
El Salvador (Central America): Teberinto
Ethiopia (Africa): Haleko, Aleko
Fiji: Sajina
French: Arbre radis du cheval, Benzolive, Ben aile, Ben oleifere
French Guiana (South America): Saijhan
German: Behenbaum, Pferderettichbaum, Behenussbaum, Behenbaum, Flugelsaniger Bennussbaum
Ghana (Africa): Ewe Yevu-ti, Zingeringende
Guadeloupe (Carribean): Moloko
Guatemala (Central America): Perlas
Guam (Oceania): Katdes, Malungay
Gujarati: Saragvo, Sargosha, Sekato
Guyana: Sijan
Haiti: Benzolive
Hausa: Samarin, Sijan
Hindi: Sahjan, Sahijan, Sajana, Munaga
Honduras (Central America): Maranga calalu
India: Murunga, Moonga, Sahjan
Indonesian: Kelor, Kalor
Italian: Sàndalo ceruleo
Javanese: Limaran
Kannada (Asia): Nugge kayi, Nugge mara
Kenya (Africa): Mborongi, Mronge
Konkani: Mushinga Saang, Mosing, Moosing
Malawi (Africa): Kangaluni, Cham’mwanba
Malayalam: Muringa, Sigru, Muringa, Murinna, Morunna
Malaysia: Kachang Kelur
Mali (Africa): Nevrede
Marathi: Shevaga, Sunja, Shevga, Shivga
Mooré (Burkina Faso): Arzan Tiiga – meaning ‘tree of paradise.’
Myanmar: Dandalun
Nepali: Sajiwan or Swejan
Nicaragua: Marango
Niger (Africa): Zogla gandi
Nigeria (Africa): Adagba Malero (Yoruba), Ewe ile, Bagaruwar maka
Odisha: Sajina, Sajana or Sujuna (Odia), Munigha, Sajina
Pakistan: Suhanjna
Palau (Oceania): Malungkai
Panama (Central America): Jacinto
Phillipines: Malunggay (Tagalog), Mulangai
Portugese: Acacia Branca, Moringuiero, Cedra (Brazil), Muringa, Marunga
Puerto Rico (Central America): Resada
Punjabi: Saajinaa, Sanjina, Soanjana, Surajana, Sohanjana
Rajasthan: Lal Sahinjano; Moringa pterygosperma Gaertn. (White var.) Siddha/Tamil Murungai; Moringa cancanensis Lamk Shigru (Red var.) Siddha/Tamil Kaatumurungai
Sanskrit: Shigru, Sigru Shobhanjan, Mongna, Sahijan, Monaga, Saijan, Shobanjana, Sobhan jana
Senegal (Africa): Sap-Sap
Sindhi (Asia): Swanjera
Sinhalese: Murunga
Somalia: Mlonge, Dangap
Spanish: Árbol del ben, Moringa, Arbol do los aspárago, Morango
Sri Lanka: Murunga
Sudan (Africa): Ruwag
Suriname (South Ameria): Kelor
Taiwan: La Mu
Tamil: M. oleifera – Murungai; M. cancanensis Lamk (Rajasthan and Peninsular India) Siddha Tamil- Kaatumurungai
Tagalog: Kalungai; Malunggay
Tanzania (Africa): Mlonge
Thai: ma rum
Togo: Mágurua maser
Tamil: Murungai Maram, Kaatumurungai, Murangi, Murangai, Murunkak-kai, Morunga
Telugu (Asia): Monaga Aku, Mulaga, Munagakaya, Munagachettu, Munaga, Sajana, Tella-Munaga
Thai: กาแน้งเดิง Ka naeng doen, Marum
Togo (Africa): Baganlua, Yovovoti
Trinidad (South America): Saijan
Tulu: Noorggaee
Urdu: Sahajana
Vietnam: Chum Ngay
Yoruba-Nago: Ewé oyibo (White man’s tree)
Zarma (Niger): Windi Bundu
Zimbabwe (Africa): Mupulanga

Family: Moringaceae

Approximate number of species known: 13 with M. oleifera, M. stenopetala, and to a much lesser degree M. concanensis and M. peregrina being the most common

Common parts used: Leaves, pods, kernels, oils, flowers, bark, sap, root


Annual/Perennial: Perennial

Height: up to 10-12m (32-40ft), diameter of trunk 1.5ft (50cm)

Actions: Insulinotropic, Anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, spasmolytic, bronchodilator, mast cell stabilizer

Known Constituents:

Beta carotene, Vitamin A (8855 IU per 100gm)
B Vitamins including B1, B2, B3
Vitamin C (185mg per 100g)
Vitamin K
Minerals – Iron (4mg per 100g), Calcium, sodium, phosphorous, manganese, potassium (337mg per 100g), magnesium, small amounts calcium oxalate, zinc.

Phenolics, saponins, quercetin, glycoside, beta-sitosterol, kaempferol, cholorogenic acids, alpha tocopherol, gum, essential oils, all amino acids with the three highest usually, arginine, glutamic acid, spartic acid.

Linoleic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, linoleic acid, stearic and deic acid, zeatin and caffeoylquinic acid.

Pterygospermin and spirochin.

Considered to have low levels of anti nutrients. Check burniva.com

Flowers, Pods & Leaves – High levels vitamins A, B and C, alpha-tocopherol, pyridoxine, riboflavin, folic acid, beta-carotene, nicotinic acid, calcium, iron and ascorbic acid.

Pods – Wonderful source of essential amino acids.

Leaf: Excellent levels of iron and protein; mustard glycosides; nitrile glycosides, niazirinin and niazirin; leaf Powder/Paste: Alkaloids 0.1%.

Seed – (common name – Benjamin). The seeds are about 35% protein, 15% carbohydrates and 15% fat. Vitamin C, B and minerals. Sometimes roasted like nuts. Contain oil used in hair oils and suntan lotion.

The seed oil is able to be used for cooking. 40% contains high amount of behenic? Acid also called ben oil which is clear, colourless and impossible to become rancid.

Bark – moringine, moringinine
Bark Powder- Glycosides >5%
Stem – 4-hydroxy-mellein?, vanillin, b-sitostenome, b-sitosterol
Roots contain high amounts of poly phenol methone can be released from the leaves, beta sitosterol, zeatin, kaempferol, copper, fiber, caffeyquinic acid, pterygospermn (anti fngal)

Constituents Explained:

Pterygospermin and spirochin (antibacterial principles) valuable in fighting both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. Pterygospermin, benzylisothiocyanate and spirochin in roots are also considered antiviral and anticholeric.

Mustard oil glycosides demonstrate spasmolytic activity along with bracycardiac and hypotensive outcomes so leaves are some times used in gastrointestinal motility complaints


It is native to the Himalayas and north west India, originally from Tamil Nadu and now found in many tropical areas in the world. It is prone to caterpillars that feed on the bark and fruit flies, and termites.

As the taste of the leaves is similar to horseradish, it has been called ‘Horseradish tree.’ The long, thin triangular seed pods have earned the tree the name ‘Drumstick tree’. It is also known as ‘Ben oil tree’ from the seed oil.

It is a graceful, fast growing small to medium, drought friendly tree with sparse foliage that is evergreen in tropical areas but temperate climates. Prefers neutral to slightly acid and tolerates poor soils.

Branches fragile and droop. It grows often with a fork near the base. The trunk is straight and up to 40cm diameter, growing up to 2 metres before lateral branches develop. The crown is umbrella shaped open and wide. There are spreading slim cylindrical branches.

Bark : Dark grey, soft, corky and yellowish producing white gel. Wood is soft.

Leaves : Foliage is sparse. Leaves tri-pinnate, alternate and 30.5-61cm and possibly up to 90cm long are spaced about 5cm apart up the centre stem. Small leaflets usually under 2.5cm long are often rounded-elliptic, dark green above and pale on the underside, and in opposite pairs, are arranged spirally around branches. Old leaves fall off quickly.

Flowers : The tree flowers throughout the year, either annually or biannually depending on climate such as rainfall. Flowers are 25mm diameter, laxly arranged in panicles 10−30 cm long that droop. They are pentamerous and zygomorphic, sweetly fragrant, creamy white in colour with 5 petals of unequal size. Sepals are finely hairy, pale green and 12cm in length. There are 5 stamens each with and without anthers. They are bisexual and insect pollinated.

Pods: Pods are 1.0-1.5cm diameter, distinctive with longitudinal furrows and from 22.5-50cm, possibly up to 90cm -120cm long, tapering to a point. Each side of the triangular, cylindrical, pendulous greenish-brown pod has 2 grooves.

Seeds: Slightly bitter, blackish oily seeds trigonus 0.3–.5 wide x 0.5-1cm long, with 3 papery wings are exposed when the pod splits along each angle.

Root: − White covered with light grayish-brown thin, rough bark which peels off in small pieces. Transverse row of lenticels mark the reticulated external surface.

Moringa hildebrandtii resembles the baobab tree (Adansonia) that also grows in Madagascar, but is unrelated. The trunk of the tree is extremely ballooned, grows up to 20 meters tall and stores water. The leaves up to a metres long are pinnately compound. It has red leaf rachis and tips on the stems of young plants. There are large sprays of small whitish flowers.

Traditional Use:

A traditional Indian vegetable, medicinal plant and a source of vegetable oil, the name Moringa come from the Tamil word “Murungai” referring to the twisted pod. It is mainly produced in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, although it has spread worldwide.

It’s high nutritive value, and purported many and varied aspects of health benefit have made it highly used in the developing world particularly for mothers and children. In the developing world it has been referred to as the “immortal fruit” or the “tree of life.”

In India it is mainly produced in Andhra Pradesh, Karmataka and Tamil Nad.

In addition to medicinal application it’s been used as an anti septic and to purify water.

Traditionally it’s been used to treat up to three hundred diseases by native populations. The Ayurvedic Indian system has linked it with helping almost too many conditions to mention.

It’s been suggested it may be beneficial for the lungs, to increase breast milk productivity, anaemia, joints, a very mild sexual stimulant, thyroid regulation, and to make the bones more resilient to infections perhaps by immune modulation.

All the parts of the tree have been reported to be of benefit to health including as a circulatory and cardiac stimulant. Chronic inflammation has benefited from use of the extract which also has antipyretic activity.

Other people have linked as an anti inflammatory, as an anti-hyperglycaemic, it’s been linked to a reduction in blood sugar levels, and as an anti-oxidant.

Moringa has been linked to a reduction in cholesterol levels. In 2008 the NIH called Moringa the botanical of the year for its potent nutritional potential for humanity to stave of malnourishment in impoverished countries.

It’s been linked to being useful in hypertensive care and gastric ulcers. It’s been suggested women who have Moringa during pregnancy will have a baby with higher body weight and during lactation will produce more milk.

Most parts of the plant have been used in cases of fistula piles and internal abscess.

It’s been suggested to be useful for tape worms.

It’s also been used for bone density, sore gums, to strengthen the eyes and the brain. The oil has been rubbed onto the skin to function as a mosquito repellent.

Thought to be useful to check diarrhoea as well as improve semen quality and sperm count.

It’s been used for an electic purpose in Indian medicine as diverse as lowering cholesterol and losing weight, eyes, thyroid, fertility, aphrodiasiac, leucorrhea, meanstrual pain, spleenomegaly, jaundice, bloating, constipation, worms, skin tumours, dibetes, heache ache, spinal cord pain

In the Ayruvedic system they divide it into black, red and white varities.

In Niger the wood of Moringa oleifera is used for fence posts and hence is called ‘Windi Bundu.’

Further specific parts of the tree have been believed to benefit specific conditions:

Bark is thought to be antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.

Moringa in food

The seeds and leaves have been used in food extensively and as soups and curries.

The leaves are considered the most nutrient dense part of the plant. The leaves are used in salad very much like Spinach. It’s been used to restore the body in times of malnourishment.

It’s not used as much as a natural medicine, more as a food with all parts of the plant being eaten raw or cooked, including the seeds which are eaten when cooked. A south Indian soup (Sambar) and also chutney is made from the leaves.

The drum stick fruit meat along with seeds being used for soup in Myanmar. The young leaves may be fried with shrimp and used atop fish soup.

In Niger, the Zarma word for leaf is tantamount to that of cooked moringa leaves as it is the primary part eaten.

The leaves are used for tea and can be a replacement for milk as it has 4 times the amount of calcium. It also has double the protein of yoghurt.

Moringa as a water purifier

In Fiji and Africa it’s been used a water purifier, just as women in ancient Egypt reportedly used, where they rubbed the seed on the clay water pots. It is noted that over time, the crushed seed has been utilised as a handwash.

The Moringa seed is used as a low-cost water treatment due to its positively-charged protein called the Moringa Oleifera Cationic Protein (MOCP which kills some microbes and makes them clump together, after the crushed seed is added to water. Water treated this way cannot be stored as the organic matter remaining from the seed is a food source for bacteria.

This treatment obviates the need for chemicals. It is both anti-microbial and removes turbidity (coagulant). The seeds are removed from the pod. The coating of the seeds are removed to reveal the kernel. The discoloured seeds are discarded. One seed is used for one litre of water, if water is very contaminated. If water is mildly contaminated, 1 seed for every two litres of water.

The seed is then crushed, mixed with water, and the powder now in water is sometimes filtered through a mesh. The seed powder, now mixed with water to make it a liquid, and sometimes filtered is added to water to improve the water, then allowed to settle at bottom by the force of gravity,

It’s not just bacteria its been linked to reducing in drinking water, but also heavy metals. It also reduces total solids, and total dissolved solids.

When treating with the seed the alkalinity reduces at a rate of 50mg/l then increases at 100-150mg/l.

Moringa however decreased the chlorine, so it has been suggested to use chlorine and Moringa together.

A natural way to process the water is to attach the MOCP to sand grains, causing the bacteria to stick to the sand in the unsafe water, then when the water is removed it is able to be stored and the sand rinsed and used again.

Clinical Studies:

Moringa oleifera as an antimicrobial

Aqueous seed extracts above 56 deg.C as well as fresh leaf juice have been shown to impede the growth of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus in studies of the antimicrobial effects of Moringa O. Seeds, bark, leaves and roots, against helminths, dermatophytes as well as other pathogens to man such as yeast and bacteria.

Moringa Oleifera antibacterial and antifungal

Components including 4-(a-L-rhamnopy-ranosyloxy) benzyl glucosinolate plus its cognate isothiocyanate especially were found to be effective against bacteria and fungi levels. Moringa Tree Foundation, Seeds of Hope, www.Moringatreefoundation.org

Moringa Oleifera as a water purifier

Streptococcus faecalis and clostridium perfringens, vibrio cholerae bacteria removed in water purification at 30 deg.C with Moringa O. using seed material to coagulate, similarly to that employed in Sudanese villages. Bacterial reduction of 90-99% was achieved within 2 hours although Salmonella typhimurium and Shigella sonnei regrew consistently in the supernatant water.

Moringa O. was used by flocculation to remove Schistosoma mansoni cercariae from both clear and turbid water, reducing levels by more than 90%.

Moringa O. leaf nutrients

Moringa O. leaves were shown to have nutrients of value able to supplement daily diets. Results using standard analytical methods were: calcium 2,009mg/100g, iron 28.29 mg/100g, crude fat 2.23%, moisture content 76.53%, crude protein 27.51%, crude fibre 19.25%, ash 7.13%, carbohydrate 43.88%, calories 1296kj/g.

Moringa O. and oxidative damage

Leaf extract of Moringa O. of both tender and mature leaves showed potent antioxidant activity necessary to prevent infection and degenerative disease with strong scavenging effects on 2,2-diphemyl-2-picryl hydrazyl (DPPH) free radical, nitric oxide radical, superoxide and inhibition of lipid per oxidation in in vitro models.

Moringa O. and prevention of hepatic injury

Pre-treatment with Moringa O. restored levels of glutathione similarly to treatment with silymarin in the face of acetaminophen (APAP) overdose (3g/kg body weight) in rats. Levels of aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) were also reduced, showing the hepatoprotective ability of Moring O.

Administration of Moringa O. extract and silymarin, decreased liver lipid peroxidation, and hepatic marker enzymes while improving antioxidant levels in rats who had been given antitubercular drugs (isoniazid, rifampicin, and pyrazinamide).

Moringa O. as chicken feed

Broilers could be fed up to 5% Moringa leaf meal as part of a cassava based diet without a negative effect.

Olugbemi, T., Mutayoba, S., & Lekule, F. Effect of Moringa (Moringa oleifera) Inclusion in Cassava Based Diets Fed to Broiler Chickens. International Journal of Poultry Science 9 (4): 363-367, 2010 ISSN 1682-8356.

Moringa in the diet of laying hens. The results, therefore, suggest that MOLM could completely replace SSC up to 20% without any detrimental effect in laying chickens. However, for better efficiency 10% inclusion level is optimal and an addition of MOLM above 10% high energy based feeds are required for better utilization.

Moringa O. as an anti-inflammatory

Moringa O. root showed best effects in acute inflammation and is useful in chronic inflammatory conditions. It showed the ability to inhibit cellular accumulation and fluid exudation when tested on carrageenan-induced oedema in rats.

Mahajan, S., et al. Protective Effect of Ethanolic Extract of Seeds of Moringa oleifera Lam. Against Inflammation Associated with Development of Arthritis in Rats. Journal of Immunotoxicology. Published online: 9 Oct 2008

Moringa O. as an insulinotropic

Acetone extract of Moringa Oleifera has an insulinotroic action via the KATP-dependent pathway of insulin release.

Ojo, O., & Ojo, C. Insulinotropic actions of Moringa oleifera involves the induction of membrane depolarization and enhancement of intracellular calcium concentration. J Exp Integr Med. 2015; 5(1): 36-41. doi: 10.5455/jeim.080115.or.117

Moringa O. as an anti-asthmatic

Moringa Oleifera was shown to have a bronchodilating effect comparable to ketotifen fumarate on guinea pigs exposed to histamine aerosol or acetylcholine with a lengthening of pre-convulsion time with pretreatment of Moringa O. showing that the seed kernels anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and mast cell stabilization effects underlie its anti-asthmatic effects.

Mehta, A., & Agrawal, B., Investigation into the mechanism of action of Moringa oleifera for its anti-asthmatic activity.  Oriental Pharmacy and Experimental Medicine 8(1):24-31 • March 2008  DOI: 10.3742/OPEM.2008.8.1.024

Moringa Oleifera and cholesterol

The hypolipidaemic effect of Moringa O. Was shown in a study that found it increased excretion of faecal cholesterol.

Moringa O. and cholesterol and diabetes

M. oleifera treatment was effective to improve plasma glucose disposal only in diabetic rats. It had a hypoglycemic effect comparable to administration of 2.5mg/kg-bw of the anti-diabetic drug Glipizide. Increased insulin secretion was no involved in the hypoglycaemic effect. M. oleifera medication can induce better glucose tolerance over time.

Rabbits fed a high cholesterol diet which caused caused extensive plaque formation in carotid arteries as well as overall increased cholesterol levels, had a reduction in total cholesterol of around 50% and 75% for carotal artery plaque formation when Moringa O. aqueous leaf extract was added at 100mg/kg-bw with similar results using Moring O. aqueous fruit extract. Result was comparable to the protective effect given by anti-cholesterol drug simvastatin at 5mg/kg-bw.

In human hyperlipidemic subjects given 4.6gm dehydrated leaves at a dose of 2 x 550mg tablets twice a day results indicated that the treatment induced a lesser atherogenic lipid profile.

Mbikay, M. Therapeutic Potential of Moringa oleifera Leaves in Chronic Hyperglycemia and Dyslipidemia: A Review. Front Pharmacol. 2012; 3: 24. Published online 2012 Mar 1. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2012.00024

Moringa Oleifera and Anticancer, Antibacterial and Hypotensive properties

Moringa Oleifera was shown to have rich amounts of a simple sugar, rhamnose as well as glucosinolates and isothiocyanates which reportedly had anticancer, antibacterial and hypotensive activity.

Fahey, J. Moringa Oleifera: A Review of the Medical Evidence for its Nutritional, Therapeutic and Prophylactic properties. Part 1. (Vols. Copyright 2005 Jed. W. Fahey, Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences, Lewis B. And Dorothy Cullman Cancer Chemoprotection Center, 725 N. Wolfe Street, 406 WBSB, Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21205-2185)

Rhodiola protecting cells against H202 damage

Rhodiola helps protect cells against h2o2 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0891584909003219


Khare, C. Indian Medicinal plants. 2007. Springer: N.Y
Leone, A., Spada, A., Battezzati, A., Schiraldi, A., Aristil, J., & Bertoli, S. Cultivation, Genetic, Ethnopharmacology, Phytochemistry and Pharmacology of Moringa oleifera Leaves: An OverviewInt J Mol Sci. 2015 Jun; 16(6): 12791–12835. doi: 10.3390/ijms160612791

Jerri, H., Adolfsen, K., McCullough, L., Velegol, D., & Velegol, S. Antimicrobial sand via adsorption of cationic Moringa oleifera protein. Langmuir. 2012 Jan 31;28(4):2262-8. doi: 10.1021/la2038262. Epub 2011 Dec 22

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© 2017 Will Shannon – Pinnacle Encyclopedia of Botanical Pharmacology