Toxicity potentials of the nutraceutical Moringa oleifera at supra-supplementation levels

J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Jan 6;139(1):265-72. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2011.11.009. Epub 2011 Nov 11.


Moringa oleifera Lam. (order -Moringales, family -Moringaceae and genus -Moringa) is a well known nutraceutical used in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia and hyperglycemia, and also, as a nutritional supplementation. Its popularity use raises the question of possible toxicity at supra-supplementation levels. The objective of the study was to ascertain possible acute toxicity with supra-supplementation using Sprague-Dawley (S-D) rats. In experiment 1, human peripheral blood mononuclear cells were given graded doses of Moringa oleifera aqueous leaf extract to induce cytotoxicity. In experiment 2, two groups of rats received low and high dose (LD and HD, respectively) levels (1,000 and 3,000 mg/kgb.wt, respectively) per o.s. alongside negative and positive control rats (0.9% saline and 10mg/mL N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea - administered i.m., respectively). Each group consisted of five rats. Rats were killed after 48 h and the femur bone marrow aspirate examined for polychromatic micronucleated erythrocytes (PCEMN)/normochromatic micronucleated erythrocytes (NCEMN) ratios after Giemsa/Leishman staining. In experiment 3, control, LD and HD groups were established. The LD and HD extracts were administered per o.s. to the respective groups and observed for 14 days. Each group consisted of five rats. Blood was sampled after 48 h and 14 days and examined biochemically and haematologically for acute toxicity. Experiment 1 showed that Moringa oleifera was cytotoxic at 20mg/mL. In experiment 2, PCEMN/NCEMN ratios were: negative control=2.087; LD=1.849; HD=1.397; positive control=1.257. Statistically, LD and HD ratios were significant (p=0.020). Experiment 3 showed that hepatonephro-toxicity was nil with no abnormal haematology results. Genotoxicity results have hitherto not been shown. Moringa oleifera is genotoxic at supra-supplementation levels of 3,000 mg/kg b.wt. However, intake is safe at levels ≤ 1,000 mg/kg b.wt.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow / drug effects
  • Chlorides / blood
  • Dietary Supplements / toxicity*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Hematologic Tests
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / drug effects
  • Male
  • Micronucleus Tests
  • Moringa oleifera*
  • Mutagens / toxicity*
  • Plant Extracts / toxicity*
  • Plant Leaves
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Serum Albumin / analysis
  • Sodium / blood
  • Toxicity Tests, Acute
  • Urea / blood


  • Chlorides
  • Mutagens
  • Plant Extracts
  • Serum Albumin
  • Urea
  • Sodium
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase