Moringa oil: characteristics and uses

The moringa or moringa is a genus of trees of tropical and subtropical climates composed of 13 species. The best known is the Moringa oleifera, originally from India and with which the oil is made.

However, moringa oil is known to have properties that can benefit health and skin care. In general, it is often used to clean and moisturize both the dermis and the hair.

Moringa can also be found in other forms, such as powder, capsules, powdered leaves, and seeds. Find out what the oil of this plant is, how it is extracted and used, as well as its benefits and possible side effects.

What is moringa oil?

Moringa oil is made from the seeds of the tree Moringa oleifera. This plant, which is also known by the name of ben, is a native of Kerala, a state that is located in the extreme south of India.

Another notable characteristic of this species is that all its parts (seeds, roots, bark, flowers and leaves) can be used in different areas (cooking, cosmetics and medicine), which is why it is usually attributed the nicknames of miraculous tree or tree of Life.

In that sense, it is not surprising that the oil is available in essential oil and cooking oil presentations, as well as serving as an ingredient in many cosmetic products for skin and hair care.

Also read: Vegetable oils to hydrate our hair

How is it obtained?

As we have seen, moringa oil is extracted from the seeds. These have a shell that protects the core and contain around 40% oil by weight.

The most common method to obtain it is based on compressing the seeds with a vise. However, it should be noted that while cold pressing produces the highest quality oil, it also extracts less of the seeds.

For this reason, there are manufacturers that heat the seeds or use solvents to obtain a greater quantity. This practice is believed to increase the extracted oil by almost 50%, but decreases the purity and quality of the final product, so it is always recommended to purchase cold-pressed moringa oil.

It may seem curious to know that it takes, on average, 500 moringa seeds (about 35 pods) to get 1 ounce (29.6 milliliters) of cold-pressed oil, which explains why this oil can cost so much.

How can moringa oil be used?

The uses of moringa oil date back to ancient times, when it was used as an herbal remedy and ingredient in topical cosmetics. Today, some of these applications have been maintained, while others have been expanded, such as the following:

  • For the perfume industry acts as a cleanser, moisturizer and lubricant, which is due to its high content of oleic acid (a monounsaturated fatty acid that belongs to the omega 9 family).
  • In the food industry and gastronomy can be considered an inexpensive and nutritious substitute for expensive oils, thanks to its richness of proteins and oleic acid.
  • For the renewable energy industry, moringa oil is also an ally. A study published in Bioresource Technology showed that can serve as biofuel or biodiesel, that is, an alternative to oil.

In gastronomy, moringa oil could be a substitute for others that have higher costs.

What are the benefits of moringa oil?

The seeds of Moringa oleifera They are a source of chemical compounds (monounsaturated fats, proteins and sterols, among others) that are beneficial for health. Let's see in detail how the oil of this plant can help.

Health and cooking

When it comes to overall health, moringa oil can be beneficial in the following ways:

  • Improve cholesterol levels: according to research published in Nutrients, the sterols present in edible moringa oil are capable of lowering cholesterol levels bad or LDL.
  • It is a source of antioxidants: This oil is high in beta-sitosterol, a phytosterol that is found naturally in plants and has antioxidant and antidiabetic effects. However, more research is still required.
  • It has anti-inflammatory properties: The active compounds present in moringa oil (tocopherols, catechins, quercetin, ferulic acid and zeatin) provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that are obtained both topically and orally, which is why it is believed that it can also be effective in fighting acne .

Skin care and beauty

Now, its benefits in skin care include the following:

  • Hydrate: Moringa oil is considered 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 serves as support for the skin's protective barrier, responsible for preventing water loss and exposure to possible environmental damage.
  • Clean up: Thanks to its high content of oleic acid, moringa oil can be used as a facial cleanser.
  • Has possible anti-aging effects: Although it is true that moringa oil is effective for filling in fine lines and having a healthy and fresh skin, you should opt for one that indicates that its content is fresh and with low amounts of free oleic acid.
  • It has healing and healing properties: according to a study published in Advances in Traditional MedicineMoringa oil can also be used to heal scrapes, cuts, and burns.
  • Fight and eliminate acne breakouts: according to a study published in Lipids in Health and Disease, this oil has anti-inflammatory properties capable of lightening the skin and fighting possible breakouts. For this reason, it is often an essential ingredient in products that treat pigmentation, fine lines, wrinkles, and acne-prone skin.
  • Carrier oil: Moringa oil is used in aromatherapy sessions as a carrier oil, since it has a long shelf life.

What other uses is given to moringa?

The seeds are not only used to extract oil. Together with the fruits and leaves they serve as feed for livestock.

Similarly, there are countries in southern Africa where the seeds are used in the drinking water disinfection process. For their part, the leaves act as ecological fertilizer in the plantations.

Moringa oil side effects

Despite being considered miraculous by folk medicine and relatively safe to use, there is not enough scientific evidence about possible side effects of moringa oil.

For this reason, if you intend to use it topically, a skin test is recommended. In this case, you should apply a little behind the ear, leave it on for 24 hours and, if a reaction is triggered, discontinue its use.

Moringa oil would have adequate properties to prevent and treat acne breakouts.

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What to remember about moringa oil?

Moringa oil is extracted from the seeds of Moringa oleifera, the best known species of this genus of tropical and subtropical trees. In the same way, its most common presentations are as essential oil and food.

As for its benefits, it should be noted that it is a source of antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory properties and would be able to reduce bad cholesterol levels.

Also, it can be advantageous for skin care. It cleanses and hydrates, fights acne breakouts and reduces fine lines.

However, the side effects of this substance are unknown. Therefore, it is recommended to do a topical test before proceeding with its use, as well as consulting with a specialist.