Moringa oleifera Lam - The Miracle tree

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Syn: Horseradish tree, Drumstick tree, Never Die tree, West Indian Ben tree, and Radish tree

Plants have played a significant role in maintaining human health and improving the quality of human life for thousands of years and have served humans well as valuable components of medicines, seasonings, beverages, cosmetics and dyes. Herbal medicine is based on the premise that plants contain natural substances that can promote health and alleviate illness. In recent times, focus on plant research has increased all over the world and a large body of evidence has collected to show immense potential of medicinal plants used in various traditional systems. Today, we are witnessing a great deal of public interest in the use of herbal remedies. Further more many western drugs had their origin in plant extract. There are many herbs, which are predominantly used to treat cardiovascular problems, liver disorders, central nervous system, digestive and metabolic disorders. Given their potential to produce significant therapeutic effect, they can be useful as drug or supplement in the treatment / management of various diseases. Herbal drugs or medicinal plants, their extracts and their isolated compound(s) have demonstrated spectrum of biological activities. Such have been used and continued to be used as medicine in folklore or food supplement for various disorders. Ethnopharmacological studies on such herbs/medicinally important plants continue to interest investigators throughout the world.

One such plant, Moringa oleifera Lam., invites attention of the researchers worldwide for its pharmacological activities ranging from anti-inflammatory to anticancer activities. Moringa oleifera Lam. (Family: Moringaceae) is a small or middle sized tree, about 10 m in height, cultivated throughout India. It is a multipurpose tree, used as vegetable, spice, a source of cooking and cosmetic oil and as a medicinal plant. It is known as Drumstick in English, Saragvo in Gujrati, Soanjna in Hindi, Sajna in Bengali, Nugge in Kannada, Sigru in malyalam, Shevga in Marathi, Shobhanjana in Sanskrit, Munaga in Telgu and Murungai in Tamil.

It is reported to contain alkaloids, flavonoids, anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins and cinnamates. It is used in abortion 1-3, diabetes 4 and as an antipyretic 5, anthelmentic 6 and antiherpes simplex virus type I (HSV-I) 7. All parts of the tree are considered to possess medicinal properties and used in the treatment of ascites, rheumatism, and venomous bites and as cardiac and circulatory stimulant. The root is laxative, expectorant, diuretic, and good for inflammations, throat, bronchitis, piles, cures stomatitis, urinary discharges and obstinate asthma 8. The root bark is useful in heart complaints, eye diseases, inflammation, dyspepsia, and enlargement of spleen. The root and bark are abortifacient 9. The leaves are anthelmintic, aphrodisiac, cures hallucinations, dry tumors, hiccough and asthma. Dried powder of leaf extract produces abortifacient activity in rats 3. The flowers cure inflammations and muscle diseases. The fruit cures biliousness, pain, Leucoderma and tumor. The seed cures eye diseases and head complaints. Oil is useful in leprous ulcers and as external application for rheumatism 8. The roots and seeds are prescribed for the treatment of snakebites and scorpion stings 9. Seeds extracts have been proposed as an eco-friendly alternative, due to their traditional use for the clarification of drinking water.



Figure: Structures of selected phytochemicals from Moringa oleifera. 4-(4'-O-acetyl-α-L-rhamnopyranosyloxy) benzyl isothiocyanate [A] and 4-(-L-rhamnopyranosyloxy) benzyl isothiocyanate [B].

Phytochemical constituents isolatedfromMoringa oleifera Lam.


Phytochemical constituents


4-(α-L-rhamnopyranosyloxy)-benzylglucosinolate and benzylglucosinolate 10


4-hydroxymellein, vanillin, β-sitosterone, octacosanic acid and β-sitosterol 11


4-(α-L-rhamnopyranosyloxy)-benzylglucosinolate 10

Whole gum exudates

L-arabinose, D-galactose, D-glucuronic acid, L-rhamnose, D-mannose, D-xylose and leucoanthocyanin 12-13


Glycoside niazirin, niazirinin and three mustard oil glycosides, 4-[4’-O-acetyl- α -L-rhamnosyloxy) benzyl] isothiocyanate, niaziminin A and B 14-15

Mature flowers

D-mannose, D-glucose, protein, ascorbic acid, polysaccharide 16

Whole pods

Nitriles, isothiocyanate, thiocarbanates, 0-[2’-hydroxy-3’-(2’’-heptenyloxy)]-propylundecanoate, 0-ethyl-4-[( α -1-rhamnosyloxy)-benzyl] carbamate, methyl-p-hydroxybenzoate and β-sitosterol 14-15

Mature seeds

Crude protein, Crude fat, carbohydrate, methionine, cysteine, 4-(α-L-rhamnopyranosyloxy)-benzylglucosinolate, benzylglucosinolate, moringyne, mono-palmitic and di-oleic triglyceride 10

Seed oil

Vitamin A, beta carotene, precursor of Vitamin A 17-18

Traditional uses of Moringa oleifera Lam.

Parts and its form

Pharmacological activities

Crude ethanolic extract of dried seeds,
Hot water infusion of flowers, leaves, roots, seeds and bark,
Crude methanolic extract of the roots

Antiinflammatory 19

Oil from dried seeds,
Methanol and ethanol extract of free dried leaves


Antioxidant 20

Defatted and shell free seeds,
Fresh leaves juice,
Roots and bark


Antimicribial 21

Aqueous extract of stem bark,
ethanolic extract of leaves,
Ethanolic and aqueous extracts of whole pod and their parts, namely, coat, pulp and seed


Cardiovascular 22

Leaves and fruits

Antihyperlipidemic 23

Methanolic extract of roots

CNS depressant 24

Aqueous or ethanolic extract of bark and roots

Antifertility 25

Paste of leaves,
Ethanolic extract of seeds

Anticancer 26

Aqueous and ethanolic extract of roots and flower,
Ethanolic extract of leaves

Antihepatotoxic 27

Methanolic extract of leaves and flower buds

Antiulcer 28


Hot water infusion of flowers, leaves, roots, seeds and stalks of bark

Seed infusion

Carotene of M. olifera

Extract of M. olifera



Antispasmodic 19

Diuretic 19

Produces Vitamin A
Rises blood Hemoglobin level 29

Increases blood glucose level 30
Regulate hyperthyroidism 31


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  10. Bennett RN, Mellon FA, Foidl N, Pratt JH, Du pont MS, Perkins L and Kroon PA, Profiling glucosinolates and phenolics in vegetative and reproductive tissues of the multi-purpose trees Moringa oleifera L. and Moringa stenopetala L., J Agric Food Chem., 2003, 51(12), 3546-3553.
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  12. Bhattacharya SB, Das AK and Banerji N, Chemical investigations on the gum exudates from Sajna (Moringa oleifera), Carbohydr Res, 1982, 102, 253-262.
  13. Khare GC, Singh V and Gupta PC, A new Leucoanthocyanin from Moringa oleifera Gum, J Indian Chem Soc, 1997, 74, 247-248.
  14. Faizi S, Siddiqui BS, Saleem R, Siddiqui S and Aftab K, Isolation and structure elucidation of new nitrile and mustard oil glycosides from Moringa oleifera and their effect on blood pressure, J Nat Prod, 1994, 57(9), 1256-1261.
  15. Faizi S, Siddiqui BS, Saleem R, Siddiqui S and Aftab K and Gilani AH, fully acetylated carbamate and hypotensive thiocarbamate glycosides from Moringa oleifera, Phytochemistry, 1995, 38(4), 957-963.
  16. Pramanik A and Islam SS, Chemical investigation of aqueous extract of the mature and premature flowers of Moringa oleifera and Structural studies of a polysaccharide isolated from its premature flowers, Indian J Chem, 1998, 37B, 676-682.
  17. Dahot MU and Memon AR, Nutritive significance of oil extracted from Moringa oleifera seeds, J Pharm Univ Karachi, 1985, 3(2), 75-80.
  18. Memon GM, Memon SA ans Memon AR, Isolation and structure elucidation of moringyne, a new glycoside from the seeds of Moringa oleifera, Pak J Sci Ind Res, 1985, 28(1), 7-9.
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  20. Lalas S and Tsaknis J, Extraction and identification of natural antioxidant from the seeds of the Moringa oleifera tree variety of Malawi, J Am Oil Chemists’ Soc, 2002, 79(7), 677-683.
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  22. Limaye DA, Nimbakar AY, Jain R and Mansoor A, Cardiovascular effects of aqueous extract of Moringa pterygosperma, Phytother Res, 1995, 9(1), 37-40.
  23. Ghasi S, Nwobodo E and Ofili JO, Hypocholesterolemic effects of crude extract of leaf of Moringa oleifera Lam. In high fat diet fed wistar rats, J Ethnopharmacol, 2000, 69(1), 21-25.
  24. Gupta M, Mazumdar UK and Chakrabarti S, CNs activities of methanolic extract of Moringa oleifera root in mice, Fitoterapia, 1999, 70(3), 244-250.
  25. Prakash AO, Tewari RK, Shukla S, Mathur R and Tewati KK, Post-coital antifertility effect of some medicinal plants in rats, Indian Drugs, 1987, 25(2), 40-44.
  26. Guevara AP, Vargas C, Sakurai H, Fuziwara Y, Hashimoto K, Maoka T, et al. an anti-tumor promoter from Moringa oleifera Lam. , Mutation Res., 1999, 440(2), 181-188.
  27. Ruckmani K, Kacimani S, Anandan R and Jaykar B, Effect of Moringa oleifera Lam. On paracetamol-induced hepatotoxicity, Indian J Pharm Sci, 1998, 60(1), 33-35.
  28. Pal SK, Mukherjee PK and Saha BP, Studies on the antiulcer activity of Moringa oleifera leaf extract on gastric ulcer models in rats, Phytother Res, 1995, 9(6), 463-465.
  29. Absar N, Uddin MR, Malek MA and Ahmad K, Studies on green leafy vegetables of Bangladesh-2, Biological availability of carotene, Bangladesh J Bio Sci, 1977, 6(1), 5-9.
  30. Mossa JS, A study on the crude antidiabetic drugs used in Arabian folk medicine, Int J Crude Drug Res , 1985, 23(3), 137-145.
  31. Tahiliani P and Kar A, Role of Moringa oleifera leaf extract in the regulation of thyroid hormone status in adult male and female rats, Pharmacol Res, 2000, 41(3), 319-323.

About Author:

Mehnaz Kamal

Mehnaz Kamal
Lecturer, Faculty of Pharmacy, Integral University, Lucknow

Talha Jawaid
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Pharmacy, Integral University, Lucknow

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G D Gupta's picture

Nice article. It is well written and up to the point

Sumeet Dwivedi's picture

Dear mam

Really a nice review of the plant