Moringa Genus: A Review of Phytochemistry and Pharmacology
作者#Nur Zahirah Abd Rani, Khairana Husain,* and Endang Kumolosasi
Moringa is a genus of medicinal plants that has been used traditionally to cure wounds and various diseases such as colds and diabetes. In addition, the genus is also consumed as a source of nutrients and widely used for purifying water. The genus consists of 13 species that have been widely cultivated throughout Asia and Africa for their multiple uses. The purpose of this review is to provide updated and categorized information on the traditional uses, phytochemistry, biological activities, and toxicological research of Moringa species in order to explore their therapeutic potential and evaluate future research opportunities. The literature reviewed for this paper was obtained from PubMed, ScienceDirect, and Google Scholar journal papers published from 1983 to March 2017. Moringa species are well-known for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antihyperglycemic activities. Most of their biological activity is caused by their high content of flavonoids, glucosides, and glucosinolates. By documenting the traditional uses and biological activities of Moringa species, we hope to support new research on these plants, especially on those species whose biological properties have not been studied to date.
The genus Moringa is one of the genera found in the Moringaceae family along with Anoma and Hyperanthera. It is well-known as the “drumstick” or “horseradish” family. The Moringa genus comprises 13 species distributed through southwest Asia, southwest Africa, northeast Africa, and Madagascar. The species and their distributions are listed in Table Table11.
Among the 13 species, current research is limited to Moringa oleifera, Moringa stenopetala, Moringa concanensis, and Moringa peregrina. As the other species are endemic to Madagascar and Northeast Africa, they are being evaluated less as there is less exploration for naturally occurring bioactive substances in these locations. In contrast, M. oleifera, which is native to India, is being studied widely. As a result, the species has been cultivated throughout the world, specifically in Asia, Latin America, Florida, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands (Fahey, 2005).
The species in this genus can be categorized into three groups depending on their type of trunk (Olson and Rosell, 2006). M. stenopetala, Moringa drouhardii, Moringa ovalifolia, and Moringa hildebrandtii have bloated water-storing trunks and are known as bottle trees. Meanwhile, M. peregrina, M. concanensis, and M. oleifera have slender trunks. The remaining species are tuberous shrubs endemic to Northeast Africa. Moringa species are also resistant to drought, and can grow fast without needing much care.
The Moringa genus has traditionally been widely used to improve health. Kings and queens used Moringa to improve their alertness and to maintain healthy skin. Indian warriors were fed M. oleifera leaves to enhance their energy and help to relieve their pain and stress during war (Mahmood et al., 2010). Other traditional uses of the genus are in healing skin infections, anxiety, asthma, wounds, fever, diarrhea, and sore throats.
The genus is well-known for its multiple uses. The seeds are used for purifying water, the leaves as nutrition supplements, the oil as a biofuel, the trunks as gum, the flowers as honey, and all of the plant parts can also be used for medicinal purposes (Fahey, 2005). M. oleifera, which is also known as the “Miracle Tree” and “Mother's Best Friend,” has been named the most nutrient-rich plant. Other than having a high concentration of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and calcium, the plant contains all the essential amino acids (Mahmood et al., 2010).
Various research has been conducted on this genus to study its biological properties, especially on M. oleifera that has been under study since the 1970s (Mahmood et al., 2010). Currently, it is well-known that the plant has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, and antidiabetic activities. Recently, more research has been conducted on other species such as M. concanensis, M. stenopetala, and M. peregrina. However, no profound research on other species has been found. This review will primarily compile all the traditional uses, phytochemical contents, and biological activities of the Moringa genus, aiming to encourage new research on other species.