Moringa pterygosperma

scientific name: 
Moringa pterygosperma Gaertn.
Moringa oleifera Lam.
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Tree, 5-10 m high, trunk brittle, root with taste and odour of horseraddish. Leaves deciduous, alternate, 30-60cm long, compound 3-pinnate, leaflets opposite, numerous, short-petiolate, 1-2.5 cm x 0.6-1.5 cm, variable in shape; inflorescence a panicle, axillary, flowers fragrant numerous, petals white,14-18 mm x 6-8 mm; fruit a linear capsule, triquetrous, 20- 45 cm long, 2 cm thick, usually pendulous tan; seeds globular 10 mm in diameter usually winged.




  seed, oil, applied locally1

The seed of Moringa pterygosperma is widely used for human consumption.

For burns:

Wash the injury with boiled water and soap.  Apply the seed oil (cold extraction being the recommended procedure) to the affected area.  Cover the injury with a dressing or clean cloth and replace 2 times a day.

According to published and other information:

Use for burns is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use documented in the TRAMIL surveys, toxicity studies, scientific validation and available published scientific information.

Traditional use should be limited only to superficial burns (skin injuries) that are not extensive (covering less than 10% of body surface) and are located away from high risk areas such as face, hands, feet and genitals.

For topical application, strict hygienic measures should be observed in order to avoid contamination or additional infection.

TRAMIL Research19

The seed oil of the plant, added to the culture medium of human fibroblasts (0.4 to 250 µg/mL stated in dried seed weight) did not induce any toxic effects.

TRAMIL Research20

The infusion of the seed and leaf, orally administered to rat (5 g/kg), did not show signs of toxicity.

The powdered seed, administered orally to rat for 6 weeks, did not cause histological alterations in any of the 28 internal organs examined30.

The seed cotyledons were toxic to fish, protozoa and bacteria, inhibiting acetylcholinesterase.  However, they do not represent a risk for human health at the concentrations used for nutritional, medicinal or water purifying purposes31.

The LD50 of pterygospermin, orally administered to mice, was 350-400 mg/kg32.

The ingestion of great quantities of the fruit may cause toxic effects28.

The benzenoids derived from the phenylacetic acid of the roasted seed are claimed to have mutagenic activity on micro-nuclear polychromatic erythrocytes (PCE) of rat and some are attributed genotoxic activity4-5.

There is no available information documenting the safety of medicinal use in children or in women during pregnancy or while breast feeding.

TRAMIL Research2

100 g of seed render at least 20 mL of fixed oil, which is the biologically-active extract related traditionally used. Fixed oil, accounts for roughly 21% of the seed weight.

The seed contains fixed oil (21%)3, which consists of triglycerides mainly of oleic acid (67.5%) and stearic acid (10.5%)4; benzenoids: 4-(a-L-rhamnosyl-oxy) phenylacetonitrile, 4-hydroxy-phenylacetonitrile and 4-hydroxy-phenylacetamide5-6, moringine5, niazirin7, benzyl-carbamate derivatives; miscellaneous: niazimicin7; sulfur compounds: benzyl-4-rhamnosyl-oxy-glucosinolate8, pterygospermin9, 4-(a-L-rhamnosyloxy)-benzyl isothiocyanate and derivatives5,10-11; sterols: daucosterol derivatives7.

The leaf contains benzenoids: benzyl-carbamate derivatives and benzyl-thiocarbamates12; alkaloids: choline, nicotinic acid13; flavonoids: gossypitin, quercetin and derivatives14, rutin15; sulfur compounds: isothiocyanate derivatives16; miscellaneous: niazicin A, B, niazimin A, B17.


TRAMIL Research18

The seed oil obtained by pressing did not show antimicrobial activity in vitro at a concentration of 1000 µg/mL against Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Candida albicans, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Mycobacterium smegmatis or Salmonella gallinarum, but it did show activity at 1000 µg/mL against Escherichia coli.

TRAMIL Research19

The dried seed oil in a MOLT-4 model with human splenocytes and fibroblasts (immunocompetent cells) at a dosage of 0.4 and 250 µg/mL (stated in terms of dried-seed weight) caused immunosuppressant effects and did not inhibit tumor growth.  The aqueous extract from the seed inhibited dehydrogenase activity.  Dosage higher than 50 µg/mL showed immunosuppressant activity on previously stimulated splenocytes.  The ethanolic extract (80%) of the seed induced dose-dependent effects on splenocytes, with a stimulation of the proliferation at doses below 5 µg/mL and immunosuppressant activity at doses above 100 µg/mL.

TRAMIL Research20-21

The topical application to mice of an ointment prepared with the seed extract shortened healing time in an experimental model of pyoderma with Staphylococcus aureus, evidencing a behavior similar to that of neomycin20.

TRAMIL Research20,22

The aqueous extract from the seed (infusion 750 mg/mL), by intravenous administration (1 g/kg) exhibited anti-inflammatory activity in the carrageenan-induced rat paw edema test. The infusions of the bark, leaf and dried flower were inactive in the same test.

The seed, added to water reservoirs, has the ability to make water potable for human consumption23.

Pterygostermin showed in vitro activityagainst Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus24-27.  This constituent exhibited antimycotic effects against filamentous fungi and broad-spectrum antimicrobial effects against gram + and gram - microorganisms, including Micrococcus pyogenes var.aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, Aerobacter aerogenes, Salmonella typhi, S. enterides, Shigella dysenteriae and Mycobacterium tuberculosis26.

The 4 (a-L-rhamnosyloxy) benzyl isocyanate present in root and seed is claimed to have in vitro activity against Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus9; broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity against non-pathogenic microorganisms, gram - bacteria9,28, Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa; however, activity has not been proven against Shigella, dermatophytes and Ascaris lumbricoides29.  At a minimum concentration of 40 micromoles/L, this constituent inhibited in vitro Mycobacterium phlei, and at 56 micromoles/L, it inhibited Bacillus subtilis9.

Spirochin (an alkaloid present in the root) showed antimicrobial activity in vitro against Staphylococcus aureus even at a dilution of 1:7000027; it promoted epithelialization and is claimed to have antipyretic and analgesic properties27.


1 WENIGER B, ROUZIER M, 1986 Enquête TRAMIL. Service Oecuménique d'Entraide SOE, Port au Prince, Haïti.

2 CARBALLO A, 1995 Cálculo de concentración y dosis de las drogas vegetales TRAMIL: Mensuraciones farmacognósticas y aproximaciones técnico-clínicas. Laboratorio provincial de producción de medicamentos, Sancti Spiritus, Cuba.

3 DELAVEAU P, BOTTEAU P, 1980 Huiles a intérêt pharmacologique, cosmétologique et diététique. IV.- Huiles deMoringa oleifera. Plantes Médicinales and Phytothérapie 14(1):29-33.

4 KHAN FW, GUL P, MALIK MN, 1975 Chemical composition of oil from Moringa oleifera. Pak J For 25:100-102.

5 VILLASENOR IM, FINCH P, LIM-SYLIANCO CY, DAYRIT F, 1989 Structure of a mutagen from roasted seeds of Moringa oleifera. Carcinogenesis 10(6):1085-1087

6 VILLASENOR IM, Lim-Sylianco CY, Dayrit F, 1989 Mutagens from roasted seeds ofMoringa oleifera. Mutat Res 224(2):209-212.

7 GUEVARA AP, VARGAS C, SAKURAI H, FUJIWARA Y, HASHIMOTO K, MAOKA T, KOZUKA M, ITO Y, TOKUDA H, NISHINO H, 1999 An antitumor promoter from Moringa oleifera Lam. Mutat Res 440(2):181-188.

8 VILLASENOR IM, DAYRIT FM, LIM-SYLIANCO CY, 1990 Studies on Moringa oleifera seeds. II. Thermal degradation of roasted seeds. Philippine J Sci 119(1):33-39.

9 BADGETT BL, 1964 The mustard oil glucoside from Moringa oleifera seed ascorbic acid analogs with deoxy side chains. Diss Abstr 25:1556.

10 EILERT U, WOLTERS B, NAHRSTEDT A, 1981 Antibiotic principle of seeds of Moringa oleifera and Moringa stenopetala. Planta Med 42(1):55-61.

11 DAYRIT FM, ALCANTAR AD, VILLASENOR IM, 1990 Studies on Moringa oleifera seeds. Part I. The antibiotic compound and its deactivation in aqueous solution. Philippine J Sci 119(1):23-32.

12 FAIZI S, SIDDIQUI BS, SALEEM R, SIDDIQUI S, AFTAB K, GILANI AUH, 1995 Fully acetylated carbamate and hypotensive thiocarbamate glycosides from Moringa oleifera. Phytochemistry 38(4):957-963.

13 RAMACHANDRAN C, PETER KV, GOPALAKRISHNAN PK, 1980 Drumstick (Moringa oleifera): A multipurpose Indian vegetable. Econ Bot 34:276-283.

14 DANIEL M, 1989 Polyphenols of some Indian vegetables. Curr Sci 58(23):1332-1334.

15 SHAFT N, IKRAM M, 1982 Quantitative survey of rutin-containing plants. Part I. Int J Crude Drug Res 20(4):183-186.

16 FAIZI S, SIDDIQUI BS, SALEEM R, SIDDIQUI S, AFTAB K, GILANI AUH, 1994 Isolation and structure elucidation of new nitrile and mustard oil glycosides from Moringa oleifera and their effect on blood pressure. J Nat Prod 57(9):1256-1261.

17 FAIZI S, SIDDIQUI BS, SALEEM R, SIDDIQUI S, AFTAB K, GILANI AUH, 1994 Novel hypotensive agents, niazimin A, niazimin B, niazicin A and niazicin B from Moringa oleifera: Isolation of first naturally occurring carbamates. J Chem Soc Perkin Trans I 1994(20):3035-3040.

18 SOLIS PN, RODRIGUEZ N, ESPINOSA A, GUPTA MP, 2004 Estudio antimicrobiano de algunas plantas TRAMIL con usos en Martinica. Informe TRAMIL. Centro de Investigaciones Farmacognósticas de la Flora Panameña CIFLORPAN, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad de Panamá, Panamá, Panamá.

19 WENIGER B, 1992 Activités biologiques (cytotoxicité, effet sur la croissance, effet inmunomodulateur) de drogues végétales de la Caraïbe utilisées par voie locale contre les brûlures, dans des systèmes de cellules animales et humaines en culture. Rapport TRAMIL. Faculté de Pharmacie, Université de Strasbourg, Illkirch, France.

20 CAceres A, LOpez S, 1992 Informe TRAMIL sobre Moringa pterygosperma. Facultad de Ciencias Químicas y Farmacia, Universidad de San Carlos USAC, Guatemala, Guatemala.

21 CAceres A, LOpez S, 1991 Pharmacological properties of Moringa oleifera. 3: Effect of seed extracts on the treatment of experimental pyodermia. Fitoterapia 62:449-450.

22 CAceres A, SARAVIA A, RIZZO S, ZABALA L, DE LEON E, NAVE F, 1992 Pharmacologic properties of Moringa oleifera. 2: Screening for antispasmodic, antiinflammatory and diuretic activity. J Ethnopharmacol 36:233-237.

23 AL AZARIA JAHN S, 1981 Traditional water purification in tropical developing countries. Existing methods and potential application. Eschborn, Germany: Ed GTZ.

24 KERHARO J, 1969 Un remède populaire sénégalais: le "nebreday"(Moringa oleifera Lam). Plantes médicinales et phytothérapie 3:214-219.

25 RAGHUNANDANA R, GEORGE M, 1949 Investigation of plant antibiotics. III. Pterygospermin: The antibacterial principle of Moringa pterygosperma Gaernt. Indian J Med Res 37:159-167.

26 KURUP PA, NARASIMIHA RAO PL, 1954 Antibiotic principle from Moringa pterygosperma IV: Effect of addition of vitamins and aminoacids on the antibacterial activity of pterygospermin. Indian J Med Res 42:101-107.

27 DAS B, KURUP P, NARASIMHA R, 1957 Antibiotic principle of Moringa pterygosperma VII: Antibacterial activity and chemical structure of components related to pterygospermin. Indian J Med Res 45:195-196.

28 OLIVER-BEVER B, 1986 Medicinal plants in tropical West Africa. London, England: Cambridge University Press.

29 CACERES A, CABRERA O, MORALES O, MOLLINEDO P, MENDIA P, 1991 Pharmacological properties of Moringa oleifera. 1: Preliminary screening for antimicrobial activity. J Ethnopharmacol 33(3):213-216.

30 BERGER M, HABS M, JAHN SA, SCHMAHL D, 1984 Toxicological assessment of seeds from Moringa oleifera and Moringa stenopetala, two highly efficient primary coagulants for domestic water treatment of tropical raw waters. East Afr Med J 61(9):712-716.

31 GRABOW W, SLABBERT JL, MORGAN WSG, JAHN SAA, 1985 Toxicity and mutagenicity evaluation of water coagulated with Moringa oleifera seed preparations using fish, protozoa, bacterial, coliphage, enzyme and Ames Salmonella assays. Water SA (Pretoria) 11(1):9-14.

32 Ingel TH, Bhide BV, 1951 Chemical Investigation of the gum from the drumstick plant Moringa oleifera. Curr Sci 20:107-108


The information provided is for educational purposes only for the benefit of the general public and health professionals. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Since some parts of plants could be toxic, might induce side effects, or might have interactions with certain drugs, anyone intending to use them or their products must first consult with a physician or another qualified health care professional. TRAMIL has no responsibility whatsoever towards the user for any decision, action or omission made in relation to the information contained in this Pharmacopoeia.