Moringa — the new superfood on the block

Derived from a tropical tree that’s now being grown in the US, Moringa is packed with nutrients that can support and improve the health of dogs and cats.

Have you heard of Moringa yet? It’s a superfood herb that’s gaining global recognition for its health benefits – not just for people, but for dogs and cats too. Let’s take a look at this recent addition to the natural nutrition tool chest, how it can enhance your pet’s health, and what to look for when buying it.

What is Moringa?

Moringa is derived from a small fast-growing tree (Moringa oleifera) that’s native to the Philippines, Asia and Africa. Its rising popularity means it’s now being grown on farms in Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii and Texas. Moringa is also known as the horseradish tree, the drumstick tree or the ben oil tree. It’s a slender tree with gray bark and cream flowers. All parts of the tree are edible, including the bark, flowers, leaves, pods (drumsticks) and roots, as well as the seeds, which provide their own oil.

What health benefits does it offer?

This remarkable herb is fully loaded with vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids. It has a range of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, acts to lower cholesterol, promotes healthy digestion and circulation, boosts the immune system and increases mental clarity and energy levels.

“It’s an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals, as well as lots of antioxidants,” concurs veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker. “It is also an excellent natural chelator, so it’s one of my go-to herbs when it comes to detoxification. It’s particularly efficacious for binding heavy metals.”

Is there any proof?

Moringa’s medicinal benefits has been explored and confirmed by a plethora of scientific reports, many of which have been contributed by Dr. J. W. Fahey, Sc.D. and Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins University’s Schools of Medicine and Public Health. Dr. Fahey has studied Moringa for more than 15 years. His 2005 report affirms that “ounce-for-ounce, Moringa leaves contain more vitamin A than carrots, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach, more vitamin C than oranges, and more potassium than bananas”.

In her book Miracle Tree, author Dr Monica G. Marcu, PharmD, PhD writes: “Moringa provides a rich and rare combination of nutrients, amino acids, antioxidants, anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties used for nutrition and healing.” The book is based on conclusions Dr. Marcu formed at her clinical and analytical laboratory, giving evidence and supportive scientific proof that Moringa is a nutritional powerhouse.

How can Moringa help dogs and cats?

Moringa has been proven to be beneficial for disease prevention and long-term health issues. It is currently being used to assist with pet ailments such as cancer, obesity, digestive problems and diabetes.

“It’s a superfood that can be beneficial for mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles,” says Dr. Becker. “As a whole food, it carries far fewer potential side effects than synthetic multivitamins.” She adds that she has used Moringa as an iron supplement to assist anemic animals. She has also used it to strengthen cellular nutrition in shelter animals.

What forms does Moringa come in?

Moringa is available in the form of capsules, leaf powder, drops and seed oil. You can also find pet shampoos, soaps and natural repellents that contain the herb.

If you want to try Moringa with your pet, start by getting a list of recommended brands from a holistic or integrative veterinarian. Also be sure to ask for your vet’s advice on the correct dosage, which is determined in accordance with your pet’s weight, breed and specific condition.

Dr. Patricia Jordan, a Doctor of Veterinary Naturopathic Medicine, recognizes the nutritional profile of Moringa oleifera and says that she’s currently assisting with a project to formulate a pet food with Moringa as an ingredient. “Given its nutrition, I expect it to be a useful ingredient in whole food supplements,” she adds.

Moringa may increase energy levels in dogs and cats

Even though Moringa is still relatively new to the US as far as pet use goes, there are people who have tried it on their dogs and cats, and shared their experiences on various online forums.

For example, one woman noted that her 14-year-old cat was sluggish prior to being given Moringa, but that he’s now more energetic. Similarly, another pet parent said his 13-year-old dog was moving very slowly; after adding Moringa powder to his food, the dog regained his energy and was back to enjoying walks and runs in the park.

Again, it’s important to work with a holistic or integrative vet before introducing Moringa (or any other herb to supplement) to your dog or cat’s diet.

Although it’s a relative newcomer, Moringa is packed with potent nutritional and medicinal benefits for both pets and people. With the guidance of your vet, it’s well worth exploring as a way to enhance the health of your canine or feline companion.