Moringa is a relatively unknown herb, however, this plant is thought to have several benefits during pregnancy. Similar to many other herbals, consuming moringa tree products comes along with several considerations when pregnant.
Nearly the entire moringa tree can be used and eaten. Not all of its parts are created equal, however. During pregnancy, stick to moringa leaf products only, as other parts of the moringa plant may be unsafe due to a higher risk of uterine contractions.
With so many different parts of the moringa tree available nowadays, knowing which products are safe and which are best avoided can get confusing. I’ll break down how to select safe moringa foods and supplements, as well as any benefits of using the plant during pregnancy.
Is Moringa (Drumstick Leaf) Safe During Pregnancy?
Moringa is a tropical tree and is also known as drumstick tree or horseradish tree. Traditionally used in its native countries across Asia, nearly the entirety of the Moringa plant is used. While moringa has long been used in traditional medicine, its popularity as a nutritional supplement is rising around the world.
Most popularly, the leaves are steeped to make tea. Not only are the leaves used for tea, but the bark, flowers, seeds, and even the roots can be used in a variety of both foods and medicines.
Unlike many other herbs and traditional medicine ingredients, there have been a number of different studies on the effectiveness and safety of moringa use while pregnant.
It is important to point out that these studies have been limited to moringa leaves, which are listed as possibly safe during pregnancy (source: Enfermeria Clinica, Food Science and Human Wellness). On the flip side, compounds in moringa root, bark, and flowers may lead to uterine contractions (source: WebMD).
Moringa Tea During Pregnancy
Moringa tea is often made using the tree’s leaves, which are thought to be safe to use when expecting. Moringa leaves are high in many vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, vitamin A, and several B vitamins.
These nutrients are also present in moringa leaf tea, making a cup of moringa leaf tea a concentrated nutrition source.
Moringa leaf tea might be best known for its high iron content, which is necessary to continue to build up blood volume and support circulation between mom and baby during the prenatal period (source: Food Science and Human Wellness, Nutrition During Pregnancy).
Another benefit to moringa tea is that many versions are herbal and therefore naturally caffeine-free. A few popular varieties available in stores include moringa mint, strawberry moringa, and moringa with spearmint and sage.
Moringa Seeds and Oil During Pregnancy
The use of moringa seeds and oil produced from moringa seeds is less common than other parts of the plant- but can still be found on store shelves. Moringa seed oil is also sometimes called ‘Ben oil.’
The seeds of the moringa plant are more often used in traditional medicine, rather than eaten or used in foods. Their reported medicinal properties are likely due to their antioxidant content (source: Antioxidants).
Limited research has been done on the effectiveness of moringa seeds, much less their safety during the special time of pregnancy. For this reason, it is best to avoid moringa seed products while expecting.
Moringa Powder and Supplements When Pregnant
Quickly rising in popularity, moringa powders and supplements are made from various parts of the moringa tree. When produced with only the leaves, moringa powders and supplements can be safe additions to your routine while pregnant.
If you are looking to try moringa but are not a tea drinker, using moringa leaf powder in smoothie recipes might be a more palatable choice.
As with all supplements, moringa leaf powders are not FDA regulated. Be sure to choose products from a reputable and trustworthy brand. Look for seals from third-party testing groups that certify the purity and quality of supplements.
What are the Benefits of Moringa for Pregnant Women?
Moringa has been used as a nutritional supplement in traditional medicine for many years, and there is a good reason why!
Note: Because moringa leaves are the only part of the moringa plant that is thought to be safe during pregnancy, I will focus solely on the benefits of moringa leaves.
Coming from a plant, it is no surprise that moringa leaves are a hearty source of fiber (source: Metabolism Open). Along with drinking adequate fluids each day, their fiber can aid in relieving or preventing pregnancy-related constipation.
As I mentioned above, the leaves of the moringa tree are also high in a number of vitamins and minerals. Iron is the most commonly talked about benefit of moringa, especially for pregnant women.
While it would take nearly 30 cups of fresh, chopped moringa leaves to meet your daily iron requirement, dried and powdered moringa leaves are much more concentrated. Many brands of powdered moringa leaf provide 4-5 grams of iron per serving (source: USDA).
It is important to remember that moringa is a plant, and so its iron is in the form of non-heme iron, which is a less absorbable form of iron compared to animal iron sources.
Moringa is also high in antioxidants. Antioxidants can promote a healthy and strong immune system- always beneficial during pregnancy when the immune system is naturally lowered.
Can Moringa Cause a Miscarriage or Prevent Pregnancy?
It can seem like just about every plant can cause concern for miscarriage or uterine contractions. Moringa is no different, with an old wives’ tale reporting that taking moringa root extract can lead to uterine contractions and even induce miscarriage!
While there are some small studies done in animals that show moringa root extract is associated with decreased fertility, there are no reports of spontaneous abortion or miscarriage due to a mother taking moringa. Similarly, moringa is not considered to be a form of birth control or effective at preventing pregnancy.
If you have concerns about family planning or contraceptives, reach out to your medical provider or local family planning centers.
Despite the lack of a clear connection between moringa root extract and miscarriage, only the leaves of moringa have been researched are thought to be safe during pregnancy. It is best to avoid moringa root, bark, flowers, and seeds throughout pregnancy.
Differentiating which plant products are safe and which may have unintended side effects can be overwhelming. Hopefully, you have found this article helpful in providing guidance on which moringa products are safe (the leaves) and which are best avoided while pregnant.