Moringa oil — also referred to as Ben oil because of the behenic acid in the oil — comes from the seeds of the Moringa oleifera tree, or drumstick tree. Behenic acid makes the skin smooth, minimizing the appearance of fine lines and pores.
Although the tree is a deciduous tree native to the Himalayas in India, it is cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions in Africa, Asia, and South America. The tree is fast growing and able to survive in dry, desert soils. In the U.S., moringa is cultivated in parts of Arizona, California, Florida, and New Mexico.
Use of the oil for medicinal purposes dates back to ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt. Moringa was described as a medicinal herb as far back as 2000 BC. Perhaps one reason is its antibiotic property Pterygospermin — a bacterial and fungicidal compound. The Ayurvedic and Siddha systems of medicine, which originated in India thousands of years ago and are still practiced today, use moringa to treat hundreds of ailments.
Extracting the Oil
If a moringa tree is grown as an annual from cuttings, it may not yield fruit in the first year. But once the tree begins to grow, it can yield 1000 or more pods. The seed pods are long and slender. They are dark green in color with their three-sided shape resembling a drumstick. Inside the pods are soft, pea-sized seeds.
Moringa oil is extracted from freshly shelled, mature moringa seeds. While ancient users of the oil pressed it from the seeds with their hands, today both solvent extraction and cold pressing methods are used. A seed cake remains after the oil has been extracted. Once extracted, the oil can be kept at room temperature.
Healthful Skin Benefits
Applied as a massage oil, moringa oil gives the skin a healthy glow. The oil has many healthful benefits for the skin and can be used to:
- Exfoliate the skin and wash away dead skin cells
- Moisturize the skin
- Fight free radicals that damage skin
- Fight bacteria that can cause acne
- Reduce skin inflammation
The natural nutrients in the oil aid in tightening the skin, which reduces wrinkles and leaves you with a younger, healthier-looking complexion. By moisturizing the skin, moringa oil reduces oil buildup and the skin breakouts it can cause. Nutrients in the oil help fight acne and clear the skin.
Moringa oil contains a high protein content, which acts to protect the skin. Cosmetic products often contain moringa oil, as the protein in the oil can block the effects of hard metals, such as cadmium and mercury, on the skin. In addition to moisturizing your skin, you can use the oil to moisturize your scalp, and treat dandruff and other conditions such as scalp psoriasis that cause flaking. Moringa oil is also said to promote hair growth and strengthen the roots.
Historically, moringa oil has been used to treat wounds, as nutrients in the oil help to heal wounds faster. The oil may also make scars less noticeable.
Other Healthful Uses
Morigna is packed full of nutrients and antioxidants that work to keep the body healthy. While the natural antibiotic, antibacterial, and antifungal properties are said to help fight infections, additional uses of moringa oil to improve health that have been reported include:
- Increasing iron absorption
- Aiding in removing harmful toxins from the body, which helps to protect the kidneys
- Boosting the immune system to fight off illness
- Protecting retinal tissue and the vascular anatomy of the eyes
- Helping to maintain a healthy blood pressure
- Improving cardiovascular health and
- Reducing the risk of cancer perhaps due to the presence of niaziminin and isothiocyante — studies show that these organic compounds may neutralize carcinogens and prevent cancer cells from growing
- Relieving asthma and allergy symptoms