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Efficacy of Moringa oleifera leaf powder as a hand- washing product: a crossover controlled study among healthy volunteers

Belen Torondel1*, David Opare1, Bjorn Brandberg2, Emma Cobb1 and Sandy Cairncross1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Disease Control, Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK

2 SBI Consulting Lda, Av V Lenine 3092-1E, Maputo, Mozambique

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:57  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-57

Published: 14 February 2014



Moringa oleifera is a plant found in many tropical and subtropical countries. Many different uses and properties have been attributed to this plant, mainly as a nutritional supplement and as a water purifier. Its antibacterial activity against different pathogens has been described in different in vitro settings. However the potential effect of this plant leaf as a hand washing product has never been studied. The aim of this study is to test the efficacy of this product using an in vivo design with healthy volunteers.


The hands of fifteen volunteers were artificially contaminated with Escherichia coli. Moringa oleifera leaf powder was tested as a hand washing product and was compared with reference non-medicated liquid soap using a cross over design following an adaptation of the European Committee for Standardization protocol (EN 1499). In a second part of tests, the efficacy of the established amount of Moringa oleifera leaf powder was compared with an inert powder using the same protocol.


Application of 2 and 3 g of dried Moringa oleifera leaf powder (mean log10-reduction: 2.44 ± 0.41 and 2.58 ± 0.34, respectively) was significantly less effective than the reference soap (3.00 ± 0.27 and 2.99 ± 0.26, respectively; p < 0.001). Application of the same amounts of Moringa oleifera (2 and 3 g) but using a wet preparation, was also significantly less effective than reference soap (p < 0.003 and p < 0.02, respectively). However there was no significant difference when using 4 g of Moringa oleifera powder in dried or wet preparation (mean log10-reduction: 2.70 ± 0.27 and 2.91 ± 0.11, respectively) compared with reference soap (2.97 ± 0.28). Application of calcium sulphate inert powder was significantly less effective than the 4 g of Moringa oleifera powder (p < 0.01).


Four grams of Moringa oleifera powder in dried and wet application had the same effect as non-medicated soap when used for hand washing. Efficacious and available hand washing products could be useful in developing countries in controlling pathogenic organisms that are transmitted through contaminated hands.

Moringa oleifera; Hand-washing product; Antibacterial; Diarrhoea; Tropical countries