If you've spent any amount of time reading our blog, you should be no stranger to moringa by now. The moringa plant is as close to a miracle plant as we've ever found, with a huge array of health benefits, very few downsides, and a lot of studies ongoing in the scientific community.
Throughout history, moringa has been used for a wide range of different medicinal and health purposes. Some of those are disproven, of course – moringa can only do so much – but some of them may have a strong basis in fact. Among those are the potential benefits for mothers, particularly new mothers who are still breastfeeding their children.
We've written about some of the general benefits of moringa specifically for women before, which you can read here. We'll go over those briefly here, though, so you have an idea of what moringa can do for you even if you're not currently actively breastfeeding. Afterward, we'll go over what it can do for mothers of newborns, and even for their children.
Moringa's General Benefits for Women
The first primary benefit of moringa is simply that it's a healthy and nutritious vegetable. Vegetables in general are always going to be helpful for a woman looking to improve her health. Eat more greens, they always say, and what can be more green than something like moringa?
Moringa has high levels of vitamin E. Vitamin E is a vitamin specifically beneficial to women, because it can help fight off the symptoms of PMS. Specifically, the grogginess and bloating that accompanies PMS can be minimized or eliminated with vitamin E, which means moringa can play a big role in alleviating the discomfort you experience.
Moringa is rich in B vitamins. The B vitamins are all related, and they all have a variety of benefits on the body. Usually, you'd want to be taking some sort of B Complex as a supplement, particularly when you're breastfeeding, but you might not want the full array, especially if you get one or two of them from dietary sources. No one likes an overdose, even of vitamins, after all.
B vitamins in moringa include B1, B2, and B3 specifically. These vitamins are all good to have; they stimulate your metabolism, give you energy, help clear fatigue, and they can reduce stress. What's not to love, especially when you're fresh out of pregnancy and dealing with a newborn?
Moringa has a lot of iron. Iron deficiency is a common ailment for women, and it leads to anemia. Anemia is dangerous; it prevents your blood from carrying oxygen to and from your cells, which reduces healing, energy, and focus. Getting more iron in your diet isn't hard, but moringa is one of the best, easiest sources of trace minerals available as a supplement.
Moringa is a great antioxidant. While it might seem like everything is an antioxidant these days, moringa is the real deal. Oxidative stress is well-recognized as a source of a variety of health issues, and including more antioxidants in your diet can help reduce that stress and those resulting ailments.
Moringa is a mood stabilizer. The herb helps your brain produce more serotonin, the chemical responsible for a stable and happy mood. It's not as potent as some of the actual drugs psychologists can prescribe, but if you're not in a situation where you need a prescription, moringa can help a lot. Lord knows, dealing with a newborn is a stressful time, and mood swings are very difficult to cope with in a way that is healthy for both you and your child.
On top of all of that, moringa is basically a very healthy version of something like spinach or kale. It's a dark leafy green, and even if you're taking it in juice or supplement form, it still carries with it a ton of nutrition. Any change to your diet that gives you better nutrition is going to be good, so long as you're not contradicting a doctor's orders. If the juice is the way that you'd prefer to take your moringa, be sure to check out our brand of Moringa Juice! It comes with all the benefits of moringa and more!
All of this is great in a generalized healthy sense, but what about in regards to new mothers who are actively breastfeeding?
Moringa and Breastfeeding
Up above, we mentioned that moringa has been used for a wide variety of health effects throughout history. One of those health effects, widely seen in Africa, is as a lactation enhancer. Traditional and historical wisdom holds that moringa can increase both the quantity and the quality of your breast milk, which helps nourish your child and allows them to grow bigger, stronger, healthier.
This effect has been studied, but there aren't many studies available that have been performed on a broad selection of women. The best study comes from all the way back in 2003, where it was performed on mothers with premature babies.
As you may know, having a child prematurely can be very difficult, not just for the health of the child and the mother, but for side effects. Breast milk production in mammals, including humans, typically starts closer to the natural birth date of a baby. A premature baby needs food, but a mother may not be able to provide it in the quantity necessary right away.
Enter moringa. Women throughout antiquity discovered that moringa has a tangible effect on increasing breast milk production in women, and has a particularly strong effect on women who are on the verge of producing milk but who aren't producing the quantities necessary for a premature child.
You can find a PDF of that original study here, though it's not quite formatted or written in the way you might expect from a more modern scientific journal. It is, unfortunately, a fairly narrow and limited study, but even then it proves that moringa can have a tangible beneficial effect on milk production.
A second beneficial effect is that moringa increases milk quality. Mothers know that anything they consume while breastfeeding is likely to transfer to breast milk. If you're eating junk food and poor-quality nutrition, your breast milk will be correspondingly terrible. If you're eating a robust, healthy diet full of nutrients your child needs, your breast milk will carry them through and deliver them to your child.
Moringa is a generally healthy, extremely nutritious, and healthy vegetable comparable to many other dark leafy greens.
In particular, one of the primary benefits of moringa is that it carries a lot of beta-carotene, which is the precursor to vitamin A. This nutrient passes through and into the nursing mother's milk, delivering it to the newborn right away. You may know, vitamin A is extremely important for new babies. It's responsible for bolstering the immune system, developing keen eyesight, and fighting off infections.
Unfortunately, this is one of those benefits that is known throughout traditional medicine circles but hasn't been truly studied. It's well-known that moringa is a highly nutritious vegetable, but not really as known how well those nutrients pass through to breast milk. That said, women have been using moringa for this purpose for literal centuries, so if it wasn't at least somewhat effective, it would have fallen out of favor a long time ago.
The third benefit for women is that moringa can be a health supplement for children as well. Since it's broadly nutritious and not dangerous, moringa can be a great supplement for children between the ages of one to three.
This impacts some breastfeeding, as moringa can supplement the nutrition delivered by milk through sporadic feeding from the six months to the two-year point. Babies need to be weaned eventually, and maintaining the nutrition of moringa through their development can be very useful. This, too, has not really been studied, and you should always talk to your pediatrician about what is and isn't safe for your child. Remember, everyone's situation is different, and you want to place your child's health above all else.
Risks and Warnings
One of the best things about moringa as a supplement is that there are virtually no drawbacks to taking it.
The trick is, you need to take the right kind, in the right quantities, for the right amount of time. Don't worry; it's not as difficult as that may make it seem.
The studies that proved moringa can increase lactation used a sample of 350 grams of moringa per day. This is a reasonable medicinal dose, but might not be something you want to take at all times. Our recommendation is to take a smaller amount of moringa (juice, powder, or concentrate) on a daily basis. When you're actively breastfeeding, you can up your dosage for as long as you're producing milk and actively feeding it to your child.
The right kind of moringa is important, but it's actually fairly broad. Moringa leaves, fruit, seeds, and powders are all fine. The only kind you have to watch out for is moringa roots. Moringa root contains a compound called "Spirochin", which is a toxic substance. Thankfully, most forms of moringa you find short of harvesting it yourself will be based on either the leaves or the seeds.
If you're actively pregnant, you might also want to avoid anything that uses the bark or the flowers of the moringa plant. These may cause uterine contractions and can lead to premature birth or, if taken too early, miscarriage. Obviously, you want to avoid those, so cut off your moringa intake if it includes the bark, flowers, roots, or an unknown origin of moringa, just to be on the safe side.
Likewise, if you're trying to become pregnant, you should avoid moringa. There's some evidence to suggest that it may be a contraceptive, at least in rats, and that can hamper your ability to conceive. Thankfully, there are a lot of other things you can do to help instead.
Moringa has three benefits that can also be drawbacks, as well.
- Moringa can lower blood sugar. If you're diabetic and have high blood sugar, this is good; if you're fighting hypoglycemia, this is bad.
- Moringa can lower blood pressure. Likewise, if you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure, moringa can help. If you have low blood pressure issues, avoiding moringa is a good idea.
- Moringa can lower thyroid activity. Hypothyroidism is common, so if you have it, moringa might make it worse.
On the plus side, moringa has no known interactions with prescription drugs, so it should be safe to take alongside any other medication you've been prescribed, so long as it doesn't fall into one of the three categories above. Even then, it might still be fine; just monitor your stats and consult your doctor to make sure.
How Much and How Long?
If you're convinced, naturally, your next question will be how much moringa should you take?
We can't give you a simple answer here. A lot depends on the kind of moringa you're getting. If you're using moringa juice, 1-3 tablespoons might be plenty for you when you're breastfeeding, or for general health purposes when you're not actively trying to become pregnant and not actively pregnant.
On the other hand, if you're finding the leaves fresh, you might need to talk to whoever is growing them to figure out an appropriate serving size. It can be more difficult to consume enough moringa in salad form than in powder or juice form, which is why we typically recommend getting it as a supplement instead.
A concentrate, likewise, has different dosing instructions. A smaller amount is necessary to achieve the same effects, though, with the stronger flavor, you might want to dilute it into a smoothie or shake anyway.
For babies between six months and two years old, you should limit yourself to a tablespoon of moringa in their diet each day, and make sure to start small to make sure it doesn't negatively impact their health. As always, talk to your pediatrician and monitor your child's health closely to make sure nothing goes wrong.
Have you used moringa? Are you a fan of the super-plant? Feel free to tell us your story below. We'd love to hear your evidence, in the absence of any more recent scientific studies.