You are well aware of the various health benefits of moringa, also scientifically known as Moringa oleifera. After all, the moringa plant is hailed as the Miracle Tree with a mind-boggling nutritional profile of vitamins, minerals, and bioactives.
But some skeptics feel it’s all too good to be true. Surely, moringa has a few downsides to it. Read on for the possible side effects of moringa and what you can do to avoid them.
Is It Safe To Take Moringa Daily?
Yes, it’s generally safe to take moringa daily so long as you don’t go overboard with it. As with any dietary supplement, moderation is key. Let the product’s dosage recommendations (with input from your primary doctor) guide you on how much moringa you should take every day.
If you’re interested in the maximum amount of moringa you can take without side effects, one study showed no adverse reactions when participants consumed seven grams of moringa leaf powder every day for 90 days.
The bottom line is, as long as you stay within the reasonable limits of moringa supplementation, you’re unlikely to experience its side effects.
The Typical Side Effects of Moringa
If you over-consume moringa or just started supplementing with it, you may experience some side effects such as:
- Stomach upset: Because moringa is scientifically proven to possess laxative compounds, it can cause diarrhea, bloating, and even heartburn when consumed in large quantities.
- Nausea and vomiting: Thanks to the herb’s bitter taste (a cross between matcha and spirulina), moringa has an acquired taste. For that reason, it can induce a slight gag reflex, especially if you’re tasting it for the first time. At high doses, moringa can lead to nausea and vomiting.
As you can see, moringa has very few side effects. Generally, these adverse reactions only occur when you take too much of the herbal supplement.
Potential Side Effects of Moringa Based on Different Plant Parts
So far, you’ve learned that too much moringa ingestion incurs unwanted side effects. But that’s not the whole story. Another factor that determines the likelihood of moringa’s side effects is the plant part you consume.
Even though the entire herbal plant is edible, different plant parts vary in nutrient composition and cytotoxicity level (how toxic it is to the human body when ingested). For example, moringa leaves have the highest antioxidant activity. Meanwhile, the roots and bark are cytotoxic at certain dosages, which you’ll see later.
Compared to moringa seeds, roots, and bark, the scientific literature noted that moringa leaves have relatively low levels of cytotoxicity and no side effects. A small-scale study involving type 2 diabetic patients found that 50 grams of moringa leaf powder in one sitting was safe for human consumption without adverse effects.
Side effects only occur when moringa leaves are used at excessively high doses that far exceed normal food intake. And it takes a lot of moringa leaves to go over the maximum limit for oral ingestion. To illustrate, when researchers gave mice a single dose of 5000 milligrams of aqueous moringa leaf extract per kilogram of body weight (mg/kg), on top of a daily dose of 1000 mg/kg for two weeks, there were still no extreme side effects. For reference, that’s more than 30 times the typical 400 mg dose for an individual who weighs 80 kg, far more than what can be realistically consumed.
Similarly, a 2012 study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that it takes 20mg/kg of aqueous moringa leaf extract to incite cytotoxicity in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Take note that this concentration of moringa leaf far exceeds the typical dosages for human ingestion.
While human studies are needed to confirm the maximum limit of moringa seed extract, animal studies show that this part of the tree is relatively safe for consumption, too.
In one study, mice were fed 2000 mg/kg of aqueous moringa seed extract for 14 days. Researchers noted that this extreme dosage “did not cause systemic toxicity.” However, the study cautioned that while the seed extract may not be toxic to mammalian cells, it may be potentially cytotoxic to immune cells.
Another 2013 study in the Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine highlighted that “signs of acute toxicity” were observed at a dosage of 4000 mg/kg, with mortality induced at 5000 mg/kg. Because no adverse effects were observed at dosages lower than 3000 mg/kg, the researchers concluded that moringa seed extract is “safe both for medicinal and nutritional uses.”
Roots and Bark
When it comes to the roots and bark of the moringa tree, scientists are wary of using them as a supplemental aid in humans.
To illustrate, methanol extracts of moringa root at doses of 3.6, 4.6, and 7.0 mg/kg were injected into the abdomens of test guinea pigs. All three groups showed ballooning degeneration of the liver (which indicates liver disease), with worsening kidney inflammation at higher doses.
Mouse models also showed that the moringa bark stimulates uterine contractions that may prove fatal at high intensities. In fact, this part of the plant is used as an abortifacient agent to induce abortion in Bengali, India. For that reason, it’s best for pregnant women to avoid moringa bark and its risk of a miscarriage.
That being said, moringa supplementation during pregnancy still has its benefits, as long as you steer clear of moringa bark. New research in the Journal of Public Health Research discovered that when pregnant women supplemented with moringa extract, it helped prevent the risk of stunted growth in children.
If you'd like to reap similar benefits for your growing bump, check in with your doctor on whether it’s safe for you to take a moringa supplement first.
P.S. Breastfeeding mothers struggling with low milk supply may find the answer to their woes in moringa leaf powder.
Possible Side Effects of Moringa in Terms of Drug Interactions
Other side effects of moringa lie in its potential interactions with specific drugs. According to a 2020 review in the Journal of Advances in Traditional Medicine, “there are some studies suggesting that M. Oleifera cannot be used in combination with other modern medicines in humans.”
For instance, moringa is often used in alternative medicine to regulate high blood sugar levels. If a diabetic patient takes both moringa and diabetes medication, this could lower their blood sugar levels to dangerously low concentrations. Consequently, the individual may feel weak, dizzy, and lightheaded.
On top of that, moringa is proven to help with thyroid issues like hyperthyroidism in mice models. In that sense, certain bioactive compounds that act on the thyroid may interact with thyroid drugs if both are taken together, leading to adverse reactions.
Last but not least, moringa can potentially decrease blood pressure. Those on anti-hypertensive drugs should consult their healthcare provider before supplementing with moringa. This way, you can avoid lowering your blood pressure too much.
With that said, a 2018 study in the Journal of Oriental Pharmacy and Experimental Medicine suggested that moringa leaves may improve the effectiveness of the hypertensive drug, lisinopril. The researchers explained that moringa enhanced the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitory properties of lisinopril, which helps relax the blood vessels to reduce blood pressure.
Use Moringa Appropriately To Steer Clear of Its Side Effects
While more research is needed on the exact doses of moringa that incite unwanted side effects, existing human and animal studies give us a good idea of the reasonable amounts of moringa to take.
The first step to minimize the likelihood of moringa’s side effects is to keep within the appropriate dosage recommendations. Next, choose moringa leaves over its roots, seeds, and bark. Remember, science has proven the leaves are the safest parts of the herb for human consumption.
In which case, check out Zen Principle’s Organic Moringa Leaf Powder. Using organic moringa leaves sourced from small farms in the Himalayan foothills, each bag of the herb promises freshness in every scoop. To downplay the side effects of moringa, like its laxative properties, we recommend starting with half a teaspoon per day to see how your body reacts to it. If you’re currently on medication, speak with your primary doctor first before supplementing with our moringa powder.
Once you use moringa appropriately, you can partake in its many health benefits without suffering from its side effects. If you’re interested in knowing the exact details of moringa’s benefits for optimal wellness, hop over to our post on “What is moringa good for?”