UPDATE: Our recruitment period for this pilot study has closed. We've published the results in a follow-up blog post.
Getting good sleep is not always easy and is often a luxury enjoyed by the privileged. Most of the world thinks of Hawai'i as a relaxing getaway, but the truth is that Hawai'i is the state with the highest percentage of adults who get less than the recommended 7 hours of sleep each night (43 percent), according to the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. A poll of 500 Hawai'i residents by the Sleep Foundation found that stress may be a top reason. About 45 percent said stress, mental health and anxiety kept them awake at night. Nearly 30 percent of people didn’t get enough sleep due to their work schedules, and nearly 25 percent named their sleep environments.
Many hard-working people in Hawai'i are hustling to make rest, care and ease possible for others without experiencing it for themselves. Reclaiming rest is beneficial for everybody. We owe it to our bodies to make the most of our time to sleep. That’s where we hope moringa (a.k.a. malunggay or kalamungay) seed oil can help.
A Gateway for Better Sleep
You’re invited to join a group of people who want to improve their sleep by taking our farm-grown, cold-pressed moringa seed oil. This pilot study is designed to measure the oil’s effect on sleep and how rejuvenated you feel when you wake up.
Qualified participants will receive a care package with a complimentary 5mL dropper bottle of moringa seed oil ($20 value). They will be asked to take two drops of moringa seed oil under their tongue at bedtime every night. Each morning, they will receive surveys via text message to track their sleep progress during the 22-day study.
How Moringa Can Help with Sleep
The moringa tree is our plant ally in sleep and restoration. A scientific study suggests it can help us fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer. In the study, a healthy flavonoid in moringa seeds called kaempferol–which is also being researched as an anti-cancer compound–increased a neurotransmitter called GABA, which slows the brain to a calming pace and helps to induce sleep. It is no surprise that this nutrient-dense tree may also offer nourishment through sleep.
Why Sleep is Essential
About 1 in 3 American adults do not get the sleep they need, according to the Centers for Disease Control. A chronic lack of sleep has long-term health consequences, such as a higher risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke and a weakened immune system. Sleep deprivation affects our learning, problem-solving, memory, attention, and decisiveness. A sleep-deprived mind can resemble an intoxicated mind.
Our bodies need rest to be creative. Our bodies need rest to advocate for our needs and those of our community. Our bodies need rest to find a way to do things differently.
Moringa’s Benefits Extend Beyond Sleep
An increasing number of scientific studies have explored the medicinal benefits of moringa seeds. This edible oil contains healthy compounds such as quercetin and isothiocyanate. Studies suggest that moringa seed extract can heal liver damage, treat asthma, alleviate rheumatoid arthritis, improve heart structure and function, and treat type 1 diabetes. A 2022 study found that eating moringa seed extract may also help to reduce symptoms of anxiety, reduce symptoms of depression, and improve memory during periods of chronic stress.
Hawai'i locals often know moringa by its Filipino names, malunggay or kalamungay. Around the world, people in India and Africa have also eaten moringa for centuries. Its nicknames include the drumstick tree, horseradish tree, the miracle tree and mother’s helper. Moringa is drought-tolerant and can survive in poor soil, yet every part (leaves, pods, seeds, flowers, bark, roots) can be eaten or used medicinally. The tree grows rapidly and can reach heights of 20 to 30 feet. People eat moringa leaves raw, sauteed and cooked in soups. The leaves taste like watercress with a slight arugula-like spiciness.
The fruits of the tree are pods that look like drumsticks. They grow to about an inch in diameter and about 2 feet in length on our farm. At first, young, thin moringa pods can be cooked like string beans. As the fruit matures into a thicker green pod, its seeds can be cooked, scraped out and eaten.
Left on the tree, the pods dry out and turn a dark brown. Our moringa seed oil comes from fully mature pods whose seeds have reached their peak oil content. We cold-press the seeds using pressure to maintain the oil’s nutrients and healthy phytochemicals. The oil is golden yellow in color and has been used as a salad and cooking oil in India, Haiti and Africa. It has a subtly sweet, peanut-like flavor. Moringa seeds are high in oleic acid and have a high ratio of good to bad fats (monounsaturated to saturated fatty acids), similar to olive oil, which has heart health benefits.
I already sleep soundly and wake up refreshed. Should I join the study?
No. We are looking for people who want to improve their sleep. We can’t measure sleep improvements if you are already fully satisfied with your sleep and how refreshed you feel in the morning.
Do I need to live in Hawai'i to join the study?
No, we can mail your 5mL moringa seed oil bottle anywhere in the United States, free of charge. You will need a mobile device or computer that has access to the Internet to complete the online surveys.
I am pregnant. Should I join the study?
Sorry, but not at this time. Because there is no research on pregnant women eating moringa seed oil, we aren’t including expecting mothers in this study. However, research on breastfeeding mothers suggests that eating moringa leaf powder confers nutritional benefits to both mother and child.
Does moringa seed oil interact with any other medications?
Studies suggest the below medications interact with moringa:
Is this moringa seed oil food grade?Yes. We have ensured the highest quality oil through a meticulous process. We shuck the seeds by hand while wearing gloves. We remove chaff from the seed kernels prior to cold-pressing them to produce oil. We filter the oil to remove seed particles and microbes. We wash each dropper bottle by hand with soap and water, sanitize it once with boiling water, and then again with a sterilizing UVC light, which is a sanitization method used for medical instruments. In the room where the oil is poured into bottles, we sterilize the air using a UVC light. Once the oil is poured, the bottles remain unopened until you receive them.
How are the moringa seeds grown?Since 2016, we have been growing the moringa trees regeneratively on our family farm in Kona, Hawai'i. We use a compost made by our brother through his company, Organic Matters Hawai'i. We do not spray herbicide or pesticide on our trees. Instead, we remove weeds around the trees by hand and by hula hoe. We use a “chop-and-drop” method by cutting old twigs and leaves, and letting them fall to the ground to create a nutrient rich layer of mulch. Larger branches are composted on site to create a closed-loop system, where green waste is regenerated into rich soil to feed the trees.
What are the possible health benefits of eating moringa seeds beyond improving sleep?Studies have explored the potential of moringa seeds to: