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Moringa oil is derived from the seeds of Moringa oleifera, a small tree native to the Himalayan mountains. Virtually all parts of the moringa tree, including its seeds, roots, bark, flowers, and leaves, can be used for nutritional, industrial, or medicinal purposes.
For this reason, it’s sometimes referred to as “the miracle tree.” It’s also called the drumstick tree, in reference to the shape of its seed pods.
Moringa seeds have a high oil content and contain many nutritional compounds, including monounsaturated fats, protein, sterols, and tocopherols. Moringa oil is produced through a variety of industrial processes, including solvent extraction and cold-pressing.
It’s available as an essential oil and as a cooking oil. It’s also an ingredient in hair and skin products.
Moringa oil has been used as a medicinal folk cure and as a topical, cosmetic ingredient since ancient times. Today, moringa oil is manufactured for a wide range of personal and industrial uses.
- Cooking oil. Moringa oil is high in protein and oleic acid, a monounsaturated, healthy fat. When used for cooking, it’s an economical, nutritious alternative to more expensive oils. It’s becoming a widespread nutritional staple in food-insecure areas where moringa trees are grown.
- Topical cleanser and moisturizer. Moringa oil’s oleic acid makes it beneficial when used topically as a cleansing agent, and as a moisturizer for skin and hair.
- Cholesterol management. Edible moringa oil contains sterols, which have been
shownto lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
- Antioxidant. Beta-sitosterol, a phytosterol found in moringa oil, may have antioxidant and antidiabetic benefits, although more research is needed to confirm this.
- Anti-inflammatory. Moringa oil contains several bioactive compounds which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, both when ingested and used topically. This may make moringa oil beneficial for acne breakouts. These compounds include tocopherols, catechins, quercetin, ferulic acid, and zeatin.
Moringa oil can be found as:
- Cooking oil to be used in frying and baking.
- Essential oil to be used topically on skin and hair. Always dilute any essential oil with a carrier oil before using.
- An ingredient in skin and hair care products, such as soap, liquid cleanser, hydrating toner, massage oil, shampoo, and hair conditioner.
Moringa oil is sometimes referred to as behen oil, or ben oil, because of its behenic acid content.
- Determine if it’s a carrier oil or essential oil. Always look to see if the oil you’re purchasing is a carrier oil or an essential oil. As with any essential oil, moringa essential oil should be mixed with a carrier oil before using topically. Moringa essential oil may not be edible and should not be taken internally.
- Choose cold-pressed, food grade oil for cooking. Some forms of moringa oil are manufactured in large batches via solvent extraction, to be used as fuel or as a machinery lubricant. If you plan to use moringa oil for cooking or topically on skin, look for an oil that is cold-pressed, organic, and labeled for those purposes.
- Check how it’s manufactured. Also look for a manufacturer that’s transparent about the sourcing and production of its product.
- Look at the oil color and clarity. Look for an oil that is pale yellow in color with a slight scent of peanut. Some bottled brands may contain little-to-no moringa oil.
There are commercially-produced products, such as Herbal Essences Golden Moringa Oil for hair, that may provide easy-to-access benefits.
You can also create a skin or hair care oil treatment with moringa essential oil.
- 2 cups of a carrier oil, such as almond oil, that has moisturizing properties
- 5 to 10 drops of moringa oil
- 5 to 10 drops of a beneficial essential oil, such as lavender or tea tree oil
Shop for moringa oil online.
- Mix the oils together in a glass bowl or bottle.
- Apply to the hair, massaging into the roots.
- Cover hair, and leave on overnight.
- Shampoo and condition hair as usual.
- You can also heat this mixture for a few seconds in a microwave, prior to applying. Some people like the heightened scent that heating gives the oils.
- Use the same ingredients as the hair treatment. Try experimenting with different carrier oils and essential oils to vary the scent.
- Massage gently into your skin on the face or the body.
- Tissue off any excess.
Moringa oil has a relatively long shelf life up to about 1 year. However, you should store any oil blend in glass at room temperature, in a dark space, to prevent it from going rancid.
The entire moringa tree is used for various purposes. Keep in mind that moringa oil comes solely from its seeds, not from its leaves or flowers.
Some purported benefits of moringa may not be derived from the oil, but from other forms, such as leaf powder.
Ingestion of the bark, leaves, and flowers of the moringa tree can generate uterine contractions severe enough to cause a miscarriage. Moringa oil has not been linked to this risk. However, it’s important to discuss the use of moringa oil with your doctor, especially while trying to conceive and during pregnancy.
Food-grade moringa oil is a healthy, monounsaturated fat that’s high in protein and other compounds. As an essential oil, moringa has benefits for moisturizing and cleansing the skin. It can also be used for acne and as a moisturizing hair treatment.