Malungai is a small tree growing as high as 9 meters, with a soft and white wood and corky and gummy bark. Leaves are alternate, usually thrice pinnate, 25 to 50 centimeters long. Each compound leaf contains 3-9 very thin
leaflets dispersed on a compound (3 times pinnate) stalk. The leaflets are thin, ovate to elliptic, and 1 to 2 centimeters long. Flowers are white
and fragrant, 1.5 to 2 centimeters long, on spreading panicles. Pod is 15 to 30 centimeters long, pendulous, three-angled, and nine-ribbed. Seeds are three-angled, and winged on the angles.
• Planted throughout the Philippines in settled areas at low and medium altitudes.
• Introduced from Malaya or some other
part of tropical Asia in prehistoric times.
• A common backyard
vegetable and a border plant.
• Now pantropic.
• Propagation by seeds and stem cuttings.
• Mature malunggay cuttings should be 2 cm or more in diameter and not less than 80 cm (30 inches) in length. Mature cuttings are preferred as they sprout earlier and grow faster.
• The only pests known to attack malunggay are mites of the Tetranychus spp.
has the taste of horseradish.
• Considered galactagogue,
rubefacient, antiscorbutic, diuretic, stimulant, purgative, antibiotic,
• Antiinflammatory, antitumor activities on mice studies.
• Antioxidant, anti-aging, anti-ulcer.
• Estrogenic, antiprogestational, hypoglycemic, antihyperthyroidism,
hypocholesterolemic, antihyperthyroid, antispasmodic.
• Considered abortifacient and emmenagogue.
• Purported to be beneficial for decreasing blood pressure, relieving
headaches and migraines, reducing inflammatory and arthritic pains,
anti-ulcer, anti-tumor. Purported to be beneficial for decreasing blood
pressure, relieving headaches and migraines, reducing inflammatory and
• Root yields a essential oil, pungent and offensive in odor.
• Seed contains traces of an acrid and pungent alkaloid, Ben of Behen oil, which contains palmitic, stearic, myristic, oleic, and behenic acids, phytosterin;
two alkaloids the mixture of which has the same action as epinephrine.
• Bark exudes a reddish gum with the properties of tragacanth, which is utilized for tanning.
• Gum yields bassorin, dextrin, enzyme myrosin and emulsin. The astringency of the gum is attributed to the presence of moringo-tannic acid
• Studies of MO leaves have yielded phytochemicals to which are
attributed hypotensive effects and anti-cancer properties. The root
bark has sex hormone-related properties.
• Root bark contains alkaloids, moringine which is similar to
benzylamine, and moringinine; traces of essential oil, phytosterol,
waxes and resins. Also contains a rich combination of zeatin, quercetin,
beta-sitosterol, caffeoylquinic acid, pterygospermin and kaempferol.
• Comparative content: Gram for gram, 7 times the vitamin C in
oranges, 4 times the calcium and twice the protein in milk, 4 times
the vitamin A in carrots, 3 times the potassium in bananas.
• 100 gms or 1 cup of cooked malunggay leaves contain 3.1 g protein,
0.6 g fiber, 96 mg calcium, 29 mg phosphorus, 1.7 mg iron, 2,820 mg
beta-carotene, 0.07 mg thiamin, 0.14a mg riboflavin, 1.1 mg niacin,
and 53 mg of vitamin C. (Dr.
Lydia Marero of the Food and Drug Research Institute -FNRI)
Flowers, leaves, young
• Flowers, young leaves
and young pods eaten as a vegetable inn the Philippines, Malaya, and India.
• In Malaya, seeds also eaten as peanuts.
• Roots are used as seasoning because of it horseradish flavor.
• Young leaves are a rich source of calcium, iron, phosphorus and vitamins A, B and C.
• High in HDL (high density lipoproteins); a source of amino acids,
omega oils, antioxidants.
• Young fruit yields a high amount of protein and phosphorus, a fair source of calcium and iron,
Decoction of leaves used
for hiccups, asthma, gout, back pain, rheumatism, wounds and sores.
- Young leaves, usually boiled, used to increase the flow of breast milk.
- Pods for intestinal parasitism.
- Leaves and fruit used for constipation.
- Decoction of boiled roots used to wash sores and ulcers.
- Decoction of the bark used for excitement, restlessness.
- In India pounded roots used as poultice for inflammatory swelling. Flowers used for catarrh, with young leaves or young pods.
- In Nicaragua decoction of roots used for dropsy.
- Roots have been used as abortifacient. In India, bark is used as abortifacient.
- Decoction of root-bark used as fomentation to relieve spasms; also, for calculous affections.
- Gum, mixed with sesamum oil, used for relief of earaches. Same, also reported as abortifacient.
- In Java, gum used for intestinal complaints.
- Roots chewed and applied to snake bites.
- Decoction of roots is considered antiscorbutic; also used in delirious patients.
- Juice of roots is used for otalgia.
- Bark used as rubefacient remedy.
- Decoction of roots is use as gargle for hoarseness and sore throat.
- Leaves used as purgative.
- Chewing of leaves used in gonorrhea to increase urine flow.
- Fresh roots used as stimulant and diuretic.
- Seeds for hypertension, gout, asthma, hiccups, and as a diuretic.
- Rheumatic complaints: Decoction of seeds; or, powdered roasted seeds
applied to affected area.
- Juice of the root with milk used for asthma, hiccups, gout, lumbago.
- Poultice of leaves applied for glandular swelling.
- Pounded fresh leaves mixed with coconut oil applied to wounds and cuts.
- The flowers boiled with soy milk thought to have aphrodisiac quality.
- Root is rubefacient and plaster applied externally as counterirritant.
- In Egypt, powder from dried seeds has been used as a handwash.
- In West Bengal, India, roots
taken by women, esp prostitutes, for permanent contraception (Studies
have shown total inactivation or suppression of the reproductive system).
- In African savannah, used in the treatment of rheumatic and articular pains.
• Dye: In Jamaica the wood is used for dyeing blue color.
• Oil: known as ben oil,
extracted from flowers can be used as illuminant, ointment base, and
absorbent in the enfleurage process of extracting volatile oils from
flowers. |With ointments, the oil allows longer shelf life without undergoing oxidation. The oil, applied locally, has also been helpful for arthritic
pains, rheumatic and gouty joints.
• Malunggay leaves
and pods are helpful in increasing breast milk in the breast-feeding
months. One tablespoon of leaf powder provide 14% of the protein, 40%
of the calcium, 23% of the iron and most of the vitamin A needs of a
child aged one to three. Six tablespoons of leaf powder will provide
nearly all of the woman's daily iron and calcium needs during pregnancy
/ Anti-tumor: A
study showed the crude ethanol extract of dried seeds inhibited the
carrageenan-induced inflammation in the hind paw of mice by 85% at a
dosage of 3 mg/g body weight; the mature green seeds by 77%. The
crude ethanol extract also inhibited the formation of Epstein-Barr virus-early
antigen (EBV-EA) induced by 12-0-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA).
At a dosage of 100 ?g/ml, the extract inhibited EBV-EA formation by
100% suggesting its antitumor-promoting activity. (1)
• Ovarian Cancer: Possible Role of Moringa
oleifera Lam. Root in Epithelial Ovarian Cancer: A hormonal etiology of epithelial ovarian cancer has been long suspected. Study suggests
M Oleifera can interfere with hormone receptor-related and neoplastic growth-related cytokine pathways through centrally acting mechanisms.
• Asthma: Antiasthmatic activity
of Moringa oleifera Lam: A clinical study: Study showed improvement
in forced vital capacity, FEV1, and peak expiratory flow rate. It suggests
a usefulness for MO seed kernel in patients with asthma. (3)
• Antibiotic: 50 years ago, a
study yielded Pterygospermin, a compound that readily dissociates into
two molecules of benzyl isothiocyanate which has been shown to have
antimicrobial properties. Unfortunately, many of the reports of antibiotic
efficacy in humans were not from placebo controlled, randomized clinical
trials. Recent studies have demonstrated possible efficacy against
• Hormonal properties / Abortifacient:
Biochemical observations and histologic findings have been correlated
with the anti-implantation action of aqueous extracts, one possible
explanation for its use as an abortifacient. source
Study showed lowering of stone forming constituents in the kidneys of
calculogenic rats with the use of aqueous and alcoholic extracts of
MO suggesting antiurolithiatic activity. (6)
• Antimicrobial / Water Purifying:
Study of MO seeds paste for water purification yielded a steroidal glycoside,
strophantidin, a bioactive agent in the seed. The seed paste was found
effective in clarification and sedimentation of inorganic and organic
matter in raw water, reducing total microbial and coliform counts by
55% and 65% respectively, in 24 hours, compared to alum with 65% and
83% reduction. (7) Study has shown that the water purifying ability of moringa seed powder was due to a positively charged protein called the Moringa Oleifera Cationic Protein (MOCP), which when added to water was observed to kill some of the microbial microorganisms.
• Antipyretic / Wound Healing:
Study of the ethanolic and ethyl acetate extracts of MO showed significant
antipyretic activity in rats; the ethyl acetate extract of dried leaves
showed significant wound healing on rat wound models. (8)
• Analgesic / Seeds: Previous
studies have shown analgesic activity from the leaves of MO. This study
on the alcoholic extract of MO seeds showed potent analgesic activity
comparable to that of aspirin dose of 25 mg/kg BW. (9)
• Hepatoprotective / Antioxidant:
Study concluded that the alcoholic extracts of MO produced significant
hepatoprotective and antioxidant activity, the aqueous extracts of the
fruit less than the alcoholic extract. (10)
• Anti-Ulcer: Study of M oleifera extract showed ulcer by protection by modulating 5-HT secretion through EC dell via 5-HT3 receptors in the gastrointestinal tract. (18)
• Anthelmintic: In a comparative study of the anthelmintic activity of M oleifera and V negundo against Indian earthworm Pheretima posthuma, dose-dependent activity was observed with M oleifera showing more activity than V negundo. (14)
• Comparison with Atenolol: Study comparing the effects of M oleifera with atenolol in adrenaline-induced rats on serum cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose level, heart and body weight showed the M oleifera leave extract made significant changes in each cardiovascular parameter. (17)
• Hepatoprotective: Study in acetaminophen-induced liver disease in mice showed that leaves of MO can prevent hepatic injuries by preventing the decline of glutathione level.
• Antioxidant / Hypolipidemic / Anti-Atherosclerotic: Study showed lowering of cholesterol levels and reduction of the atherosclerotic plaque formation. Results indicate MO possesses antioxidant, hypolipidemic and antiatherosclerotic activities and has therapeutic potential for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.(19)
• Chemomodulatory / Chemopreventive: Study showed the possible chemopreventive potential of Moringa oleifera against chemical carcinogenesis. (20)
• Anti-Diabetic: Study of the aqueous extract of MO leaves in STZ-induced sub, mild, and severely diabetic rats produced lowering of blood glucose levels, significant reduction in urine sugar and urine protein levels. Study validates scientifically claims on MO as ethnomedicine in the treatment of diabetes mellitus. (21)
• Anti-Inflammatory: Study of the aqueous extract of roots in rats reduced the carrageenan-induced edema similar to the anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin. (23)
• Analgesic / Leaves: Study showed the analgesic potential of leaves of malunggay in mice using the acetic acid-induced writhing test. (24)
• Antioxidant Activity / Phenolic Content / Young and Mature Leaves : Study evaluated leaf extracts in two stages of maturity using standard in vitro methods. Results showed extracts of both mature and tender leaves have potent antioxidant activity against free radicals, preventing oxidative damage to major biomolecules and providing protection against oxidative dames. (25)
• Chemopreventive Potential / Colitis-Related Carcinogenesis: Study investigated the chemopreventive effect on azoxymethane (AOM)-initiated and dextran sodium sulfate (DSS)-promoted colon carcinogenesis in mice. Findings suggest M. Oleifera pod exerts suppressive effects in colitis-related induced carcinogenesis models and could serve as a potential chemopreventive agent. (26)
• Antidiarrheal / Roots: Study evaluated a hydroalcoholic extract of root against castor oil-induced diarrhea model in rats. Results showed a significant and dose-dependent reduction in severity and frequency of diarrhea, intestinal fluid accumulation, intestinal content volume and transit time. (27)
• Augmentation of Breast Milk Volume: A double-blind, randomized controlled trial sought to determine if there is a significant difference in the volume of breastmilk on postpartum days 3 to 5 among mothers with preterm infants who take malunggay leaves compared to those given placebo. (28)
• Benefits in Chronic Hyperglycemia and Hyperlipidemia: Review of current scientific data showed M. oleifera leaf powder holds some therapeutic potential for chronic hyperglycemia and hyperlipidemia. (29)
• Drinking Water Purification: The powder from seeds of M. oleifera tree has been shown to be an effective primary coagulant for water treatment. The powder acts as a coagulant binding colloidal particles and bacteria to form agglomerated particles (flocs). Study describes dosing methods: optimum dosage to remove turbidity, influence of pH and temperature and shelf life of the seeds. Seeds aged 24 months showed a significant decline in coagulant efficiency. (30)
• Arsenic Removal Using Activated Moringa oleifera: A new low cost adsorbent, activated Moringa oleifera has been developed for aqueous arsenic removal. Study concludes that M. oleifera is an effective and alternative biomass for removing As(V) from aqueous solution due to high bio-sorption capacity, easy availability, and being enviromentally friendly. (31)
• Antibacterial / Seeds: Moringa oleifera synergistically enhanced the cytotoxic effect of cisplatin on Panc-1-cells. It inhibited the growth of pancreatic cancer cells, the cells NF-kB signaling pathway, land increased the efficacy of chemotherapy inhuman pancreatic cancer cells. (32)
• Leaf Powder as Handwashing Product: Moringa oleifera leaf powder was tested as a hand washing product on hands artificially contaminated with E. coli. In dried and wet application forms, the powder had the same effect as non-medicated soap. M. oleifera could be very useful in places where soap or water is not available, and where the tree grows naturally. (33)
• Gastroprotective / Antioxidant / Induced Ulcers: Study of alcoholic leaves extract in pylorus-ligated, ethanol, cold restraint stress, and aspirin-induced ulcer in rats showed dose-dependent gastroprotective effects attributed to the antioxidant property of the extract. The antioxidant defense mechanism of the extract was probably due to metabolizing lipid peroxides and scavenging H2O2. (34)
• Moringinine / Cardioprotective / Blood Pressure Lowering Effect / Hypocholesterolemic: Root bark yields the alkaloid moringinine. Review reports on bioactive compounds from M. oleifera leaves that exert direct effect on blood pressure. Compounds with blood pressure lowering effect including nitrile, mustard oil glycosides, and thiocarbamate glycosides present in the leaves. (35)
• Adsorption / Municipal Solid Waste Leachate: Study showed M. oleifera seed coagulant could be employed effectively for removal of Chemical Oxygen Demand and Total Dissolved Solids in a municipal solid waste leachate. (37)
• Preformulation Study on M. oleifera Gum: A preformulation study on the gum of Moringa oleifera found the gum to be hygroscopic and organoleptically acceptable, with a potential to be used in different pharmaceutical formulations and food preparations. (38)
• Chelation of Heavy Metals: Study reports the use of Moringa oleifera as a natural chelating agent gave a significant improvement in the depollution of contaminated water sample. (39)
• Stem Bark in Urinary Tract Infection: Study evaluated stem bark of Moringa oleifera as a potential medicine for 30 patients with urinary tract infections. Results showed 66.67% cured, 13.33% improved, 13.33% with no change. Report suggests a large scale study. (40)
• As Biolubricant Blend with SAE40: Study evaluated a blend of Moringa oleifera oil with conventional lubricant SAE40 for industrial application. The MOL 10 blend showed nearly same properties comparable with the base lubricant (SAE 40) in terms of density, viscosity and wear rate, suggesting it could be commercially viable for industrial application. (42)
• Antiatherogenic Effect of M. oleifera & MK-886: Book reports on the antiatherogenic activity of a hydroalcoholic extract of M. oleifera leaves and 5-Lipoxygenase inhibitor MK-886 in experimental animals.
• Cardiac Benefits and Obstetrical Benefits: Aqueous, ethanol, and ether extracts of M. oleifera leaves contain compounds that cause reduction of heart rate and cardiac muscle relaxation and may have benefit in the management of hypertension. The herb may also have obstetrical uses, but caution is given as it may cause contractions leading to miscarriages and abortions. (44)
• In Leyte, extracted
malunggay juice is mixed with lemonsito juice to make ice candies or
cold drinks, making it more palatable and agreeable to children who
Because of its high vitamin A, C, and E content, all potent antioxidants,
malunggay is a very effective in removing unstable free radicals that
is damaging to molecules and pro-aging.
• For the men: The fruit is reported to increase sperm count!
• For increasing breast milk: One rounded tablespoon of leaf powder provides
14% of protein requirements, 40% of calcium, 23% of iron, and the daily
vitamin A needs of a child aged one to three. Six rounded tablespoons
of leaf powder will provide the woman's daily iron and calcium needs
during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
• Highest Antioxidant Score: In an independent, Moringa oleifera scored the highest antioxidant content of any food yet discovered, beating the record-holding aci berry by over 50% margin, measuring over 157,000 umoles using the Oxidant Source Absorbent Capacity (ORAC) system.
Recent uses and preparation:
Constipation: Eat one or two cups of the cooked leaves at supper time,
with plenty of water.
Wound wash: Apply crushed leaves directly to the wound, maintaining
cleanliness during the process.
• Moringa oil extracted
from the seed of the malunggay plant is now being tapped as source of
biodiesel. It is gaining preferable status over Jatropha as a source
of biofuel. All parts of the malunggay plant are used whereas Jatropha
is left with poisonous waste after oil extraction. Also, malunggay needs
only one to two years for seedling maturation compared to Jatropha's
three to five years. The math of malunggay's commercial potential is
attractive: Seeds are bought at P10 per kilo, and a hectare of malunggay
seedlings can harvest 20,000 kilos in 2 years with a potential profit
ª Root bark contains
2 alkaloids, as well as the toxic hypotensive moringinine. (Moringinine also stimulates cardiac function through its effect on the sympathetic nervous system.)
ª Has dose-dependent negative inotropic effect, in isolated frog heart
• Niazinin A, niazimicin and niaziminin A and B isolated from
the ethanol extract produced hypotensive, bradycardic and negative inotropic
effects in experimental animals.
• The bark may cause violent uterine contractions that can be
fatal. Chronic high-dose use may cause liver and kidney dysfunctions.
• In frequent or large doses, Interior flesh of the plant can
cause toxic nerve paralysis from the alkaloid spirochin. source
ingestion is avoided in the immediate period after a family member's
death. In the superstitions-laden isms of rural Tagalog
life, as a malunggay branch or twig will shed off all its leaves within a few hours of being snapped off a tree, ingesting malunggay might bring death to a relative. Avoiding
its use is strongly advised during the ritual of nine days of prayers after a death.
Garden and back-yard cultivation.
Commercial production of oil extracted from flowers.
Malunggay capsule (Natalac) - containing 250 mg dried young malunggay
leaves, one to two capsules daily.
Miracle tree products in the cybermarkets.