Most people living in the United states have limited knowledge of Moringa in general, much less Moringa oil and all the Moringa oil benefits! This page was written to give an overview of the amazing properties of this oil. We are excited to see what additional uses for this oil will be uncovered and documented as research continues! Moringa oil benefits are many and the list keeps growing as we learn more!
Just as with Moringa leaves, Moringa oil benefits are many! The oil has many amazing properties not typically found in a single source. In addition to the oil’s high levels of oleic and behenic fatty acids, the oil has antioxidant and antihepatotoxicity properties. This makes the oil a powerful and natural tool for a wide range of applications and also makes the oil highly coveted in the cosmetic and health and beauty industries!
The oil is actually known commercially as ben oil, and it’s for good reason! This name was derived from the high quantity of behenic acid (up to 9%) that the oil contains. No other oil even comes close to having this level of behenic acid–but more on that later.
The oil has a pale yellow color, has a very mild nutty flavor, is odorless, is non-sticking, is non-drying, is liquid at room temperature and resists rancidity lasting for several years after it’s produced.
Moringa oil comes from the seeds of the Moringa tree. Seeds have an outer hull protecting an inner seed kernel. The seed kernel, on average, contains 40% oil by weight. Oil is typically extracted by compressing the Moringa seeds in a screw press. Cold pressing the oil, which produces the highest quality product, also extracts the least amount of oil from the seeds. To extract more oil from the seeds, some manufacturers will heat the seeds and press or even use solvents. This practice increases the amount of oil obtained by nearly 50% but at the expense of the quality and purity level of the final product. Always be sure to look for cold pressed Moringa oil.
Approximately 500 Moringa seeds are required to produce 1 oz (29.6 mL) of cold pressed oil. This means it takes approximately 35 mature seed pods to produce 1 oz of oil! Now you know why cold pressed Moringa oil can cost as much as $10/oz for small quantities!
With vegetable oil costing about $0.05/oz, there is motivation for some less than moral individuals to dilute Moringa oil with cheaper oils, sell at a discounted rate, and still make tremendous profits. Please be sure to ask questions and know your source before buying.
Nutritional and Photochemical Properties of Moringa Oil
Moringa oleifera seed oil, like olive oil, contains high amounts of monounsaturated acids. The oil is made of up to 72% oleic acid (C18:1) which is a monounsaturated, omega-9 fatty acid. This high concentration of oleic acid gives the oil excellent moisturizing characteristics.
Of major significance is the fact that the oil also contains up to 9% behenic acid (C22:0). Behenic acid, a saturated fatty acid, is often used in moisturizers, hair conditioners and lubricating oils. It is the behenic acid’s conditioning properties that help to keep skin and hair soft and smooth. For comparison, peanut oil has the next highest concentration of behenic acid with up to 3%. Other oils contain very low levels (1% or less) of behenic acid if they contain it at all.
Moringa seed oil is a good source of vitamin E found in three different tocopherols (α-, γ- and δ-). The tocopherol concentrations are reported to be 98.82–134.42, 27.90–93.70, and 48.00– 71.16 mg/kg, respectively.
Moringa oleifera oil contains small amounts of many phytosterols and even cholesterol as well. It is reported that the sterol composition of Moringa seed oil differs greatly from those of most of the conventional edible oils. Many of the Moringa oil benefits come from these sterols.
The sterols that are found in the highest concentration are listed below:
β – Sitosterol
Beta-sitosteral is found in Moringa oleifera oil in concentrations of approximately 225mg/100g. According to WebMD:
Beta-sitosterol is a substance found in plants. Chemists call it a “plant sterol ester.” It is found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. It is used to make medicine.
Beta-sitosterol is used for heart disease and high cholesterol. It is also used for boosting the immune system and for preventing colon cancer, as well as gallstones, the common cold and flu (influenza), HIV/AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, tuberculosis, psoriasis, allergies, cervical cancer, fibromyalgia, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), asthma, hair loss, bronchitis, migraine headaches, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Some men use beta-sitosterol for enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH). Some women use it for symptoms of menopause.
Beta-sitosterol is also used for enhancing sexual activity. Marathon runners sometimes use beta-sitosterol to reduce pain and swelling after a run. Some people apply beta-sitosterol to the skin for treating wounds and burns.
Stigmasterol is found in Moringa oleifera oil in concentrations of approximately 115mg/100g. It possesses powerful hypoglycemic, antioxidant, and thyroid inhibiting properties.
Campesterol is found in Moringa oleifera oil in concentrations of approximately 75mg/100g. It is believed to be an anti-inflamatory and also has shown to help mediate osteoarthritis.
While much research is still being conducted, here is a summary of some research that has been already published on therapeutic properties of Moringa oil.
Moringa Oil Antioxidant activity:
A study completed in 2011 found Moringa seed oil had good antioxidant capacity. They summarized that:
…Moringa Oleifera gave high oil yield, which has good antioxidant capacity with potential for industrial, nutritional and health applications…
Moringa Oil Antimicrobial Activity
In 2012, research was conducted on the antimicrobial activity of oil extracted from Moringa peregrina seeds. The results showed the oil was effective against all types of microorganisms tested.
The antimicrobial activity of the oil extracted with n-hexane from the seeds of Moringa peregrina was tested against Staphylococcus aureus, S. epidermidis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli, Enterobacter cloacae, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Candida albicans, C. tropicalis and C. glabrata. The oil proved effective against all of the tested microorganisms.
While certainly possible, there have been no studies to date that show Moringa oleifera oil has the same antimicrobial activity. Some websites have claimed Moringa oleifera oil has antimicrobial activity. Their sources, however, show it is the crushed seeds that have the antimicrobial activity, not the oil.
Moringa Oil Anti-hepatotoxicity activity:
The oil is hepatoprotective which means it has the ability to prevent damage to the liver. In a test conducted in 2013, it was determined that Moringa oil actually brought about recovery of the liver in rats who had experienced induced liver damage.
We can thus infer from this study that M. oleifera seed oil possesses a very high therapeutic potential which underlines its ability to bring about recovery from CCl4-induced hepatic damage. It also appears M. oleifera seed oil is capable of reversing or inhibiting lipid peroxidation in liver cells; further studies are therefore needed.
Moringa Oil Antifungal Activity
The extract from crushed and powdered seeds have been shown to have anti-fungal properties.
In recent years, many people in Taiwan or China have been using the seed of Moringa as an herbal medicine to treat athlete’s foot and tinea and found that it is effective. For the first time, in this communication we provide the evidence that extracts of M. oleifera have antifungal properties.
It isn’t yet documented if pure oil contains antifungal properties. Several websites have listed Moringa oleifera oil as having antifungal properties; but upon checking their sources, it seems they have mistaken studies on the crushed seeds for seed oil.
- Other therapeutic properties:
The Moringa seed oil has been documented to externally treat rheumatism and gout with success.
Moringa oleifera oil is a light oil that is non-sticky and absorbs quickly into the skin.
- Moisturizer: With the oil’s high oleic acid content, it makes for an excellent, non-sticky, skin moisturizer. It can also be used on skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema and chapped lips.
- Skin and Hair Care: Again because of the very high behenic acid concentration, the oil exhibits conditioning properties that help to keep skin and hair soft and smooth. The oil is very thin and spreads further than would be expected. Simply rub into skin or wash into wet hair.
- Cleanser: Oil is reported to help eliminate acne and blackheads. It may also help remove spots from acne when used on a long-term basis.
- Anti-aging oil: Due to the high anti-oxidant and behenic oil concentrations, the oil helps improve and rejuvenate the appearance of aging skin.
- Carrier oil for homemade massage oils: With the properties described above, the oil makes for a great carrier oil in homemade massage oils.
- Base for homemade perfume: Since the oil resists rancidity and has such a high oleic acid level, it makes an ideal choice for a perfume base. It also has the ability to absorb and retain scents and fragrances!
- Enfleurage Oil: Enfluerage is a traditional method of extracting essential oils and perfumes from flowers with an odorless plant or animal fats.
- Base for homemade soaps: The oil has been reported to make a good base for homemade soaps.
- Other uses: Livestrong published an article on Moringa uses and Moringa oil benefits. They stated the following about the oil from Moringa seeds:
Moringa has also traditionally been a topical ointment for treating several different ailments. When applied to the gums, it’s said to eradicate gum disease. As an astringent, it kills germs on the skin, heals abscesses in the teeth, cures athlete’s foot, and heals warts and wounds.
We can’t attest to accuracy of the “Livestrong” article, but it’s worth a try!
There are many reports on the internet of Moringa oleifera oil being used in ancient Eqypt, Greece, Rome, etc. Although the oil has certainly been used for centuries, I would be leery of some claims that can’t state any references. An example of such a claim follows:
A tomb in Egypt was found to contain 10 jars of ‘Sweet Moringa oil’ thought to have been used in the funeral procession of Maya.”
Dr. Mark Olson, plant biologist and word renowned Moringa authority, gives us some insight to the history of Moringa oil. He states Moringa oleifera oil was likely not used in ancient Egypt. The oil was rather from another species of Moringa tree known as Moringa peregrina.
Purveyors of moringa will tell you all sorts of stories to get you to buy their products. Many of them try to get you to buy their Moringa pills by spinning stories of the Romans and the Egyptians anointing themselves with Moringa oil or energizing themselves with dried Moringa leaves, not unlike the very pills they are selling.
As often the case, these vendors haven’t quite gotten the story right. The folks selling Moringa pills and other products are selling Moringa oleifera from India and Pakistan. The Romans and Egyptians used oil from Moringa peregrina, which is found from the Dead Sea area south on both sides of the Red Sea, around the southern Arabian Peninsula as well as in northern Somalia (but not, oddly, on Socotra).
Having said that, Dr. Olsen goes on to say:
There is abundant archaeological evidence of the use of M. peregrina in Egypt and around the ancient Mediterranean.
According to Theophrastus, oils were used as bases that could receive and retain the scents. [Moringa peregrina oil], extracted from nuts growing on bushes in the Syrian and Egyptian deserts, was the most valuable, being the least viscous and the most receptive [to absorbing perfume scents].
Clapham and Rowley-Conwy (2007) give an interesting record of the presence of M. peregrina samples at Qasr Ibrim, once a major city in what is now Lake Nasser, Egypt. They show that traces of M. peregrina fruits are present over a period comprising as early as the 7th century BC to as late as 650 AD, a stunningly long period of documented use.
In much more recent history, records do actually exist of Moringa oleifera oil. Dr. Sutherland, Moringa researcher from the University of Leicester states the following:
In 1817 a petition containing particulars relating to the oil from M.oleifera was presented to the Jamaican House of Assembly. The petition described the oil as being useful for salads and culinary purposes and to be equal to the best Florence oil as an illuminant giving a clear light without smoke. A subsequent paper presented to the Jamaica Society of Arts in 1854 described how samples of oil had been tested by two watch making establishments in Kingston and had been reported to be equal to the expensively imported ‘watch oil’. Subsequent reports indicated that the oil was used extensively as a lubricant until being replaced by sperm-whale oil.
Today there is a global market for Moringa oleifera oil. Unique properties and benefits of the oil have also made it increasingly popular as a base for many cosmetic products.