Moringa oleifera As Cancer Treatment?
Moringa oleifera is a supplement made from parts of the moringa tree (aka, the drumstick tree) and is highly honored around the world for its nutritional value and various health benefits. Among those benefits could be Moringa oleifera as cancer treatment if the discoveries from a new study continue to bear fruit.
Moringa oleifera is cultivated around the world in tropical and subtropical environments, but it is a native of the Himalayan region. It has been used among traditional cultures for hypertension, anemia, diabetes, skin disease, dental and ear infections, respiratory distress, and cancer, and in recent years the scientific community has been exploring and validating these uses.
Traditional medicine practitioners use the Moringa leaves, seeds, and roots in their remedies. In addition, some cultures cook the seed pods or eat them like nuts, cook or dry the leaves, press oil from the seeds, and consume the roots.
Moringa oleifera and cancer
A new study appearing in PLoS One reveals the work of a scientific team to determine the anti-cancer effect of Moringa oleifera bark, leaf, and seed extracts made from Moringa in the Saudi Arabian region. Specifically, the researchers applied the extracts to breast and colon cancer cell lines. Here’s what they discovered:
- While the leaf and bark extracts demonstrated remarkable anticancer abilities against both cell lines, the seed extracts showed little
- Leaf and bark extracts were associated with a 70 to 90 percent reduction in colony formation and cell movement
- Treatment with leaf and bark extracts resulted in significant low cancer cell survival in both cell lines
- Cell lines treated with leaf and root extracts showed a significant increase in the number of suicide cells (apoptotic, which means they destroy themselves) in the breast cancer cells (7-fold increase) and colon cancer cells (several-fold increase).
In addition, the scientists performed an analysis that revealed the presence of several anti-cancer agents, including D-allose, eugenol, hexadeconoic acid ethyl ester, and isopropyl isothiocynate. The presence of these bioactive compounds suggests they are associated with the cancer-fighting properties of Moringa oleifera.
This study was the first one to ever explore the anti-cancer abilities of Moringa in the leaves as well as the bark. The authors suggested that the leaf and bark extracts of Moringa growing in Saudi Arabia “possess anti-cancer activity that can be used to develop new drugs for the treatment of breast and colorectal cancers.”
Moringa oleifera is an excellent source of vitamin A, calcium, and iron, as well as a great choice for magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C. Individuals frequently take Moringa oleifera supplements and/or enjoy parts of the tree to boost energy, improve digestion, enhance immune system function, lower blood pressure, relieve stomach ulcers, or enhance mood.
Al-Asmari Ak et al. Moringa oleifera as an anti-cancer agent against breast and colorectal cancer cell lines. PLoS One 2015 Aug 19; 10(8): e0135814