Noni fruit (Morinda citrifolia, or great morinda) comes from the Nono (in Tahiti), a shrub or small tree in the family Rubiaceae. The Noni Fruit is native to Southeast Asia but has been extensively spread by man throughout India and into the Pacific islands as far as the islands of French Polynesian, of which Tahiti is the most prominent. It can also be found in parts of the West Indies.
For thousands of years, ancient Polynesians treasured and protected many of nature’s gifts in the form of trees, plants, fruits and nuts as foods and sources of health-promoting vitamins and minerals. The great canoe voyagers of the Pacific often carried along seeds or seedlings of many plants as they discovered, explored and colonized hundreds of islands in the millions of square miles of the ocean.

All year grower

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 tolerant of saline soils, drought conditions, and secondary soils. It is therefore found in a wide variety of habitats: volcanic terrains, lava-strewn coasts, and clearings or limestone outcrops. It can grow up to 9 m tall, and has large, simple, dark green, shiny and deeply veined leaves. The richest of the soils in which noni grows are found in French Polynesia.

The Fruit

The plant flowers and fruits all year round. The flowers are small and white. The fruit is a multiple fruit that has a pungent odor when ripening, and is hence also known as cheese fruit or even vomit fruit.
It is oval and reaches 4-7 cm in size. At first green, the fruit turns yellow then almost white as it ripens. It contains many seeds.

Noni Uses

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.
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 bark of the great morinda produces a brownish-purplish dye for batik making; on the Indonesian island of Java, the trees are cultivated for this purpose. In Hawaii, yellowish dye is extracted from its root in order to dye cloth. In Surinam and different other countries, the tree serves as a wind-break, as support for vines and as shade trees for coffee bushes. The fruit is used as a shampoo in Malaysia, where it is said to be helpful against head lice.
There have been recent applications also for the use the oil from noni seeds. 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, ie. 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 (using detection methods of bio-chemical markers called DNA adducts). It further showed to reduce the number of DNA adducts in rats induced with carcinogenic DMBA, in some cases, by up to 90%. The same study then also looked at the effective anti-oxidant properties of this Tahitian Noni brand of noni juice, (via LPO and TNB-SAR assays) comparing with the free-radical properties of vitamin C, grape seed powder (GSP), and pycnogenol (PYC) at the daily dose per serving level 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.”

Noni Juice

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 approximately 300 companies marketing noni juice. Most of all 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.
Good Noni fruit juice should be:

  • 100% pure, undiluted Noni Juice.
  • Noni Fruit only, but not leaves or roots are juiced.
  • No rotten fruit is used.
  • No Pesticides or Herbicides are used.

Not all Noni Juices are the same. As the saying goes You pay for what you get. A Cheaper and poorer quality Noni juices can cut corners by using rotten Noni fruits, diluting it with water or juices, using poor processing and dealing with bacterial problems by irridation and fumigation and using old dirty storage containers.

Controversy: Health, research and leagal aspects

In 2005, two scientific publications described incidents of acute hepatitis caused by ingesting noni. One study suggested the toxin to be anthraquinones, found in the root of the noni, while the other named juice as the delivery method. This was however followed by a June 2006 scientific publication in the World Journal of Gastroenterology which referenced the above cases. The researchers concluded that noni juice is not toxic to the liver in high doses. They also countered the previous publications by stating the insignificant quantities of anthraquinones in noni which cannot cause damage to liver tissue. The persons being studied in these cases had also been ingesting large amounts of other herbs over a prolonged period, causing some questions about the validity of the noni-toxicity correlation. The Physicians Desk Reference (“PDR”) for Non-Prescription Drugs and Dietary Supplements lists only one particular commercial brand of noni juice, with no side-effects mentioned. Consumers of noni juice are advised to carefully check the label, because warnings may vary from brand to brand. The most common warnings are “Not safe for pregnant women” or “Keep out of reach of children.” There are no warnings required for the specific brand mentioned in the PDR for Non-Prescription Drugs and Dietary Supplements. In addition, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) initiated an evaluation which determined there is no convincing evidence for a causal relationship between the acute hepatitis observed in the case reports and noni juice (specific for one brand only). They did not comment on the claimed health benefits of the juice.
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 has been known to cause hyperkalemia, as written by Mueller et al. One month after the hyperkalemia paper publication, on March 28, 2000 Mueller pointed out in the USA Today that they had used the brand of noni juice from Body Systems Technology Inc for their study.
Of further significance is a scientific paper published by The International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition wherein it was shown that there is high variability in the amounts of minerals between various companies’ brands of noni juices. The paper advised consumers, health professionals, and governmental / licensing bodies alike to be aware of these differences among brands.
Athletes intending to use noni juice to supplement their diet should be aware that only two brands of noni juice are listed on ConsumerLab.com’s “Athletic Banned Substance Screening Program” as having been screened for substances on the World Anti-Doping Code Prohibited List].

Sources: wikipedia, emaxhealth

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