Moringa is a genus of trees from tropical and subtropical climates composed of 13 species. Moringa oleifera, which is native to India and from which an oil is made, is the best known.
This kind of oil is known to have properties that can benefit health and skincare. In general, it’s often used to cleanse and moisturize both the dermis and hair. You can also find moringa in other forms, such as powder, capsules, powdered leaves, and seeds.
Continue reading to find out what the oil of this plant is, how they extract and use it, as well as its benefits and possible side effects.
What is Moringa Oil?
As we said above, this oil is extracted from the seeds of the Moringa oleifera tree. This plant, which also goes by the name ben, is native to Kerala, a state located in the extreme south of India.
Another remarkable feature of this species is we can use all of its parts (seeds, roots, bark, flowers, and leaves) in different fields (cooking, cosmetics, and medication). This is why it’s often called the miracle tree or tree of life.
In that respect, it isn’t surprising for the oil to be available as essential and cooking oils. It’s also an ingredient in many cosmetic products for skin and hair care.
The extraction process
As you read above, moringa oil is extracted from the seeds. These have a shell that protects the core and contain about 40% oil by weight.
The most common method to obtain it is by compressing the seeds with a screw press. However, note that one cannot extract too much from the seeds even though cold pressing produces the highest quality oil.
For this reason, some manufacturers heat them or use solvents to obtain a larger yield. Some believe this practice increases the oil extracted by almost 50% but decreases the purity and quality of the final product. This is why experts recommend purchasing cold-pressed moringa oil.
It may seem curious to know it takes approximately 500 moringa seeds (about 35 pods) to obtain one ounce (29.6 milliliters) of cold-pressed oil. It explains why this oil can cost so much.
Common uses of moringa oil
The uses of this kind of oil date back to ancient times, people used it as an herbal remedy and ingredient in topical cosmetics. Some of these applications are still around while others, such as the following, have been expanded:
- The perfumery industry uses it as a cleanser, moisturizer, and lubricant due to its high content of oleic acid (a monounsaturated fatty acid belonging to the omega-9 family).
- It’s an economical and nutritious substitute for expensive oils in the food industry and gastronomy thanks to its richness in protein and oleic acid.
- Moringa oil is also an ally for the renewable energy industry (a study published in Bioresource Technology revealed it’s a good biofuel or biodiesel alternative to petroleum).
The Benefits of Moringa oil
Moringa oleifera seeds are a source of chemical compounds (monounsaturated fats, proteins, and sterols, among others) that promote human health. Let’s see how the oil from this plant can help, in more detail.
Health and cooking
Moringa oil can be good in the following ways when it comes to overall health:
- According to research published in Nutrients, the sterols present in the moringa edible oil can lower bad cholesterol or LDL levels.
- This oil is high in beta-sitosterol, a phytosterol found naturally in plants that have antioxidant and anti-diabetic effects (there’s not enough research to prove this).
- The active compounds present in moringa oil (tocopherols, catechins, quercetin, ferulic acid, and zeatin) have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties people can obtain both topically and orally (some believe it can be effective against acne).
Skincare and beauty
The skin benefits include:
- Moringa oil is an effective moisturizer and can be good for treating dry and sensitive skin. This is because it contains 40% monounsaturated fats and 70% oleic acid, which supports the skin’s protective barrier that prevents water loss and exposure to environmental damage.
- This oil is a good facial cleanser thanks to its high oleic acid content.
- It has potential anti-aging effects. While it’s true that moringa oil is effective for filling in fine lines and having healthy, lush skin, you should opt for one that’s fresh and has low amounts of free oleic acid.
- According to a study published in Advances in Traditional Medicine, moringa oil is good for treating and healing scrapes, cuts, and burns.
- According to a study published in Lipids in Health and Disease, this oil has anti-inflammatory properties capable of clearing the skin and preventing possible breakouts. For this reason, it’s often an essential ingredient in products that treat pigmentation, fine lines, wrinkles, and acne-prone skin.
- People use moringa oil as a carrier oil in aromatherapy sessions, as it has a long shelf life.
Other uses of moringa
The seeds aren’t only for oil. People use them as cattle feed along with the fruit and leaves.
Similarly, there are countries in southern Africa where people use the seeds to disinfect drinking water. Also, they use the leaves as organic fertilizer in plantations.
Side effects of moringa oil
There’s not enough scientific evidence about the possible side effects of moringa oil, even though folk medicine claims it’s nearly miraculous and relatively safe to use.
For this reason, do an allergy test if you intend to use it topically. For example, apply a little behind the ear, leave it for 24 hours, and discontinue its use if there’s a negative reaction.
Things to keep in mind about moringa oil
Moringa oil is an extract from the seeds of Moringa oleifera. This is the best-known species of this genus. Likewise, its most common presentations are essential and edible oils.
As for its benefits, it’s a source of antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory properties, and can reduce bad cholesterol levels. Likewise, it can improve skin appearance. It’s also a cleanser, moisturizer, prevents acne outbreaks, and reduces expression lines.
Finally, there’s not enough evidence about the side effects of this substance. Thus, professionals recommend doing a topical test before use, as well as consulting a specialist.