Alternative names: Morinda citrifolia, Great morinda, Morinda, Indian mulberry, Noni (Hawaii), Nono (Tahiti), Nona, Nonu, Polynesian bush fruit, Tahitian Noni Juice, and Ach (in Hindi). Also, "starvation fruit", "cheese fruit", "cheesefruit" or "vomit fruit" because of its smell.
Morinda citrifolia is a medicinal herbal substance derived from the noni tree, which is found in various areas of the South Pacific. Since the mid-1990s noni has grown in popularity and has become one of the fastest growing nutritional supplements on the market.
Despite its strong smell and bitter taste, the fruit is nevertheless eaten as a famine food and, in some Pacific islands, even a staple food, either raw or cooked. The seeds are edible when roasted.
Note that no noni products have been licensed for medical or therapeutic use.
Noni was first found in India, and migrating peoples may have carried it around regions in the Pacific. In Polynesia, the plant is considered a sacred healing herb with many uses.
Noni juice became an increasingly popular health drink during the 1990s, when a group of Hawaiians began internationally marketing the juice as an herbal remedy. Since then, many claims have been made about its healing powers, a few of which have been somewhat validated by controlled studies. However, there is a lack of research to conclusively back up the optimistic claims regarding the herb's healing powers, and most evidence of the herb's success exists in testimonial accounts.
Noni juice was first brought to the commercial market by a company named Morinda, Inc., in 1995, which continues to market noni juice today under its subsidiary company Tahitian Noni International. There are now hundreds of companies marketing noni juice. Most of the noni juice in the world being consumed comes from French Polynesia: Noni juice has surpassed the black pearl to become the number one export of French Polynesia.
Noni grows in shady forests as well as on open rocky or sandy shores. It reaches maturity in about 18 months and then yields between 4-8 kg of fruit every month throughout the year. It is very tolerant of different soils and environments. It is oval and reaches 4-7cm in size. At first green, the fruit turns yellow then almost white as it ripens. It contains many seeds.
Traditionally, the fruit has been used for aging, diabetes, halitosis, hemorrhoids, tumors, tuberculosis, high blood pressure, and as a tonic for overall health and energy. The leaves have been ingested in remedies for arthritis, digestive problems, parasites, and dysentery (severe infection of the lower digestive tract characterized by acute diarrhea and dehydration). Topically, the leaves, fruit, and roots are used in poultices for arthritis and joint pain, headaches, for burns and lesions, poisonous bites, and to improve signs of aging.
In China, Samoa, Japan, and Tahiti, various parts of the tree (leaves, flowers, fruits, bark, roots) serve as tonics and to contain fever, to treat eye and skin problems, gum and throat problems as well as constipation, stomach pain, or respiratory difficulties. In Malaysia, heated noni leaves applied to the chest are believed to relieve coughs, nausea, or colic, and used as a shampoo it is said to be helpful against head lice.
The noni fruit is taken, in Indochina especially, for asthma, lumbago, and dysentery. As for external uses, unripe fruits can be pounded, then mixed with salt and applied to cut or broken bones. In Hawaii, ripe fruits are applied to draw out pus from an infected boil. The green fruit, leaves and the root/rhizome have traditionally been used to treat menstrual cramps and irregularities, among other symptoms, while the root has also been used to treat urinary difficulties.
The noni seed oil is abundant in linoleic acid, found in products in the beauty industry, as research points to its affective properties when applied topically on the skin, i.e. anti-inflammatory, acne reduction, moisture retention properties.
Scientific studies have investigated noni's effect on the growth of cancerous tissue. One such study found that noni inhibited and reduced growth of the capillary vessels sprouting from human breast tumor explants and, at increased concentrations, the noni caused existing vessels to rapidly degenerate.
Another scientific study showed one brand of noni juice to have prevented formation of cancer cells in rats. The same study looked at the effective anti-oxidant properties of this Tahitian Noni brand of noni juice, comparing it with the free-radical properties of vitamin C, grape seed powder, and a commercial product containing specific bioflavonoids extracted from pine bark, at the daily dose recommended by U.S. RDAs or manufacturers. This noni juice brand was shown to be more effective than all three. Their conclusion: "The results suggest that prevention of carcinogen-DNA adduct formation and the antioxidant activity of TNJ may contribute to the cancer preventive effect of Morinda citrifolia." [Wang MY, Su C. "Cancer preventive effect of Morinda citrifolia (Noni)". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 952: pp.161-8.]
Some sufferers from immune-compromising diseases such as AIDS and chronic fatigue syndrome use noni to boost immune system function. People with diabetes and hypoglycemia have reported that noni helps stabilize blood sugar levels in the body. People with arthritis, joint pain, and inflammatory conditions have used noni. It is also used as a sedative, painkiller, and sleeping aid. Noni juice is recommended to remove parasites, to cleanse the digestive tract and improve digestion, and to control weight. It is used as a general health tonic to improve energy and resistance and to slow the effects of aging. It is also used for asthma; digestive disorders including ulcers; irritable bowel syndrome; constipation and diarrhea; and fibromyalgia, a condition characterized by fatigue and chronic pain.
Some commercial brands of noni juice can be high in potassium. While potassium is a valuable nutrient in a normal diet, persons with advanced kidney disease cannot excrete it properly and should avoid certain brands noni juice which have been known to cause hyperkalemia.
Noni promotes NK function and immunity against cancer.