Noni

Noni, an odd-looking fruit, has garnered substantial attention recently due to big claims about its medicinal uses.

Quick Facts
General Information
  • Common name(s)Great morinda, Indian mulberry, beach mulberry, cheese fruit, dog dumpling, mengkudu
  • Scientific nameMorinda citrifolia
  • Main producer(s)United States of America
  • Main Economic UseMedicinal
Noni

Noni is a fruit originally from Southeast Asia, where it has been used as part of culinary lore for hundreds of years. Nowadays, numerous people are familiar with noni as a part of mixed fruit drinks, although there is still much to learn about its immense nutritional and medicinal prestige


Medicinal and Nutritional Information

Quick Facts (Medicinal and Nutritional Information)
  • Medicinal actionAntioxidant, Immune stimulant
  • Key constituentsXeronin
  • Ways to useLiquid extracts, Food, Juiced
  • Medicinal rating(1) Very minor uses
  • Safety rankingUse with caution
Noni

Health Benefits of Noni

There have been claims that noni can be used for:

  • Stimulating the immune system. This is due to the presence of the alkaloid xeronin.

  • Delaying aging. This is thought to be because of selenium, thought to contribute to cell regeneration.

  • Lowering appetite. This may because of its large complex carbohydrate content.

How It Works

The main reason for noni's varied medicinal properties is the presence of xeronin - an alkaloid that can stimulate the immunological system - in the plant's fruit. In addition, the fruit's nutritional value is also remarkable: it is rich in complex carbohydrates and fructose, and with massive amounts of vitamins A, C, and B3 (niacin), as well as iron, selenium, potassium, and calcium. Likewise, a large number of flavonoids, fatty acids, and other phytonutrients have also been found in the fruit, and its diverse applications are still under research.

There is a wide range of medicinal uses toward which noni can contribute. The fruit is also thought to help people who are trying to lose weight, as well as increasing concentration and memory capacity. In addition, it is believed that noni may aid in the management of long-term respiratory issues, arthritic pains, and diabetes, though these uses are not yet clinically supported.

Noni contains selenium, which is believed to play a role in cell regeneration, and may also help protect the body from free radicals.

Noni Side Effects

More research into this herb is needed, and several food and drink manufacturers have been warned by the FDA about making unsubstantiated health claims in regard to noni. What is known is that side effects are generally minimal if even existent. Noni is not suitable for those limiting their potassium intake due to kidney problems, as the plant has high levels of this mineral. Links have also been drawn between liver disease and noni, and so it should be avoided by anyone with liver problems.

How to Consume Noni

Quick Facts (How to Consume)
  • Edible partsFruit
  • Edible usesBeverage
  • TastePungent

There are three main ways to consume noni: raw, cooked as part of a larger preparation, or in supplement form. In Western countries, consumption of raw noni is usually limited to people who are looking for a specific short-term health benefit, as its strongly pungent and acidic flavor is not favored by most.

Remedies

Main preparations: Liquid extracts

Most noni supplements come in liquid form, as either an extract or its seed's essential oil, and they have the advantage of allowing for a fast intake, easy dosage adjustments, and a consistent concentration of the active ingredients.

Food

Main preparations: Raw, juice

Noni is undoubtedly more commonly used in fruit juices than in main dishes. The taste of pure noni juice can be pungent, so it tends to be mixed with other fruits or sugar to be more palatable.

COOKED NONI HAS A SOFTER FLAVOR, AND IT IS USED IN ITS NATIVE REGIONS BOTH IN JUICE BLENDS AND CURRIES.

Buying

Mixed fruit juices containing noni are widely available.

Both raw noni and noni juice can be found in most large grocery stores and markets around the world. Aside from fruit juice, the most common presentation of raw noni is the leaves, which can then be boiled in water to make a hot infusion.

Noni supplements are mainly found in specialized health stores. In addition, there is a wide variety of noni supplement choices available through online retailers. Each brand of supplement may come with different concentrations or dosages. Although extracts or seed oils are overwhelmingly more accessible, capsules can also be found and purchased.

Growing

Quick Facts (Growing)
  • Life cyclePerennial
  • Harvested partsFruit
  • Growing habitatHumid regions
  • Plant spacing average3 m (9.84 ft)
  • Propagation techniquesCuttings, Stem cuttings
  • Potential insect pestsNematodes

Although noni naturally belongs to tropical regions, it is fairly easy to adapt it to a wide range of different light levels, from direct sun to shade, as well as to different soils.

Growing Guidelines

  • Noni can be grown from seeds, but it is usually more profitable to propagate it from stems or cuttings, since seed germination can take up to 12 months.
  • To get the best yields from noni, the plants should be spaced 10 feet (3 m) apart in order to avoid overcrowding and increasing pest susceptibility.

  • Moderate irrigation is necessary in order get the best possible fruit quality, although the plant can resist droughts if need be.

  • Pruning is strongly encouraged, since the noni tree can easily grow to 20 feet (6 m) tall, which would make it impossible to manage and harvest.

  • Stem propagation makes the plant more susceptible to plagues and diseases, particularly nematodes.

Additional Information

Quick Facts (Additional Information)
  • Other usesAnimal feed, Dye, Repellent

Plant Biology

  • Classification

    Noni is a member of the Rubiaceae family, which contains flowering plants, including approximately 13,000 species, the most famous of which is coffee (Coffea arabica). Other major and economically significant members of the Rubiaceae family include quinine, gambier, and Indian jasmine.

  • Varieties and Subspecies of Noni

    There are two main varieties of noni: Morinda citrifolia var. citrifolia, with enlongated leaves and cultivated mainly in Hawaii, and M. citrifolia var. bracteata, which grows mostly in Indonesia and can be recognized by the white bracts that surround the fruits. In addition, Hawaii also possesses a specific cultivar of noni known as 'Potteri', with white and green leaves.

Historical Information

For over 2,000 years, noni has been an important food source across different Pacific islands. The early French Polynesians consumed it in times of famine, while people in Burma (modern day Myanmar) cooked the unripe fruit in curries and ate the ripe fruits with salt. Australian aborigines were also fond of this fruit, and they were the first to apply its medicinal properties. On the Asian continent, the seeds, leaves, bark, and roots of the fruit were also eaten in India, Burma, and the Philippines. Nowadays, the production of noni and its related products are a multimillion-dollar industry.

Economic Data

The biggest commercial value of noni is in beverages, fruit powders, toiletries, and oil. The biggest markets for noni currently consist of Asia, Australia, and North America, and the largest producer is Hawaii. The worldwide market for noni moves an estimated $400 million USD annually.

Other Uses

  • Noni is often kept as an ornamental plant

  • The fruit's seeds are a popular bird feed

  • The trunk of noni tree is used as firewood.

  • The bark and roots are often used as pigment for red and yellow dyes

  • The juice can also be used as an effective insect repellent

Bibliography

  • NCCAM Herbs at a Glance, Noni
  • MedlinePlus Herbs and Supplements, Noni
  • New York University - Langone Medical Center, Noni
  • International Journal of Food Properties, Isolation and Identification of Antioxidative Compound from Fruit of Mengkudu (Morinda citrifolia L.), 2007
  • International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, A new vegetable oil from noni (Morinda citrifolia) seeds, 2008
  • National Tropical Botanical Garden, Meet the Plants: Morinda citrifolia
  • Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology & Physiology, Digital image analysis of the effect of topically applied linoleic acid on acne microcomedones, 1998
  • Acta Pharmaceutica Sinica, Morinda citrifolia (Noni): a literature review and recent advances in Noni research, 2002