Native to Polynesia, the noni plant (also known as Indian mulberry) is a small tree that usually grows to a height of ten feet. The fruit, which starts out green and turns yellow, is used medicinally.
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Studies show noni to have some immune-enhancing activity.
Animal and test tube studies show noni to have some immune-enhancing activity. Specifically, the polysaccharide component has been shown to increase the release of immune-enhancing compounds that activate white blood cells to destroy tumor cells.1 The usual recommendation is 4 ounces of noni juice 30 minutes before breakfast (effectiveness is thought to be best on an empty stomach). Human studies are needed to confirm the usefulness of noni.
Traditional Polynesian healers have used the fruit of the noni plant for just about everything—from a tonic drink to mending broken bones—but it is said that because of its strong, unpleasant odor and bitter taste, a person won’t take it until they are too sick and desperate. The bark yields a red dye while the root yields a yellow one. Both colors were used in the ceremonial outfits of Hawaiian chiefs. In the early 1990s, noni juice became heavily marketed in the United States primarily through network marketing companies. However, despite tremendous claims and testimonials, there is little scientific documentation on noni.
The major constituents in noni appear to be polysaccharides and a compound known as damnacanthal.2 , 3 , 4 The developer of a commercial noni product claims the alkaloid xeronine is an important constituent, but there has been no confirmation by independent researchers. Animal and test tubes studies show noni to have immune-enhancing activity, and an earlier animal study seemed to indicate the fruit exerts a mild sedative effect.5 , 6 , 7 Specifically, the polysaccharide component has been shown to increase the release of immune-enhancing compounds that activate white blood cells. Also, damnacanthal is thought to be responsible for producing sedative effects in animal studies.
The usual recommendation is 4 ounces (120 ml) of noni juice 30 minutes before breakfast (effectiveness is thought to be best on an empty stomach). Commercial products are now available that have either eliminated the odor, altered the taste, or made it available as an extract in tablets or capsules to increase palatability. For liquid concentrates the typical recommendation is 2 tablespoons (30 ml) per day. For powdered extracts the typical recommendation is 500 to 1,000 mg daily.
There have been no commonly reported side effects following the ingestion of noni. Since the use of noni during pregnancy and breast-feeding has not been adequately studied, it is recommended that it not be used during these times.
1. Hirazumi A, Furusawa E, Chou SC, Hokama Y. Immunomodulation contributes to the anticancer activity of morinda citrifolia (noni) fruit juice. Proc West Pharmacol Soc 1996;39:7–9 .
2. Levand O, Larson HO. Some chemical constituents of Morinda citrifolia. Planta Med 1979;36:186–7.
3. Hirazumi A, Furusawa E. An immunomodulatory polysaccharide-rich substance from the fruit juice of Morinda citrifolia (noni) with antitumour activity. Phytother Res 1999;13:380–7.
4. Hiramatsu T, Imoto M, Koyano T, Umezawa K. Induction of normal phenotypes in ras-transformed cells by damnacanthal from Morinda citrifolia. Cancer Lett 1993;73:161–6.
5. Hirazumi A, Furusawa E, Chou SC, Hokama Y. Anticancer activity of Morinda citrifolia (noni) on intraperitoneally implanted Lewis lung carcinoma in syngeneic mice. Proc West Pharmacol Soc 1994;37:145–6.
6. Hirazumi A, Furusawa E, Chou SC, Hokama Y. Immunomodulation contributes to the anticancer activity of morinda citrifolia (noni) fruit juice. Proc West Pharmacol Soc 1996;39:7–9 .
7. Younos C, Rolland A, Fleurentin J, et al. Analgesic and behavioural effects of Morinda citrifolia. Planta Med 1990;56:430–4.
Last Review: 05-01-2013
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2014.
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