Noni, scientifically known as Morinda Citrifolia, is a small, flowering shrub native to the Pacific Islands, Polynesia, Asia and Australia. It grows to a height of up to 10 feet and the leaves are dark green and oval shaped. The flower heads grow to become mature yellow fruit that have a strong odour.
Other common names for Noni include hog apple, canary wood, beach mulberry, Indian mulberry, cheese fruit, great morinda and mengkudu, depending on the locale. This member of the coffee family is native to Malaysia and harvested for its leaves, roots and fruit. The two main iridoid glycosides in this plant are asperulosid and deacetylasperuloside. According to a study published in the “Journal of Natural Products” in 2001, scientists at Rutgers University isolated a new iridoid glycoside from Noni called citrifolinoside A. Although the flesh of the fruit is inedible, its juice is extracted and drunk as a beverage. Noni is widely available as juice or liquid concentrate. It can also be found in tablet and capsule form.
Nutritional and phytochemical components of Noni
Noni fruit powder contains carbohydrates and dietary fibre in moderate amounts. These macronutrients evidently reside in the fruit pulp, as Noni juice has sparse nutrient content. The main micronutrients of Noni pulp powder include vitamin C, niacin (vitamin B3), iron and potassium. Vitamin A, calcium and sodium are present in moderate amounts. When M. citrifolia juice alone is analysed and compared to pulp powder, only vitamin C is retained in an amount that is about half the content of a raw navel orange. Sodium levels in M. citrifolia juice (about 3% of Dietary Reference Intake, DRI) are high, compared to an orange, and potassium content is moderate. The juice is otherwise similar in micronutrient content to a raw orange.
M. citrifolia fruit contains a number of phytochemicals, including lignans, oligo- and polysaccharides, flavonoids, iridoids, fatty acids, scopoletin, catechin, beta-sitosterol, damnacanthal and alkaloids.
As a typical iridoid-containing plant, Noni is considered as a good source for obtaining bioactive iridoids. Speaking with a nutritional expert, Dr. Paul Nanna, in an exclusive interview on the health benefits of iridoids to the human system, he said absence of iridoids in the human body may lead to a long term disorder.
“Iridoids are secondary metabolites which are organic compounds that are not directly involved in the normal growth, development and reproduction of an organism. Because they are such, their absence does not result in immediate death of the organism. However, absence of these secondary metabolites may lead to a long term impairment of the ability to survive, the reproductive capacity and structure of the organism. Absence of the secondary metabolites may show no significant change at all. They are produced by the plant for their defence against herbivores and other interspecies defensive needs.”
Explaining on the sources of Iridoids, which he said are commonly found in medicinal plants, he defined them as bioactives with wide range of activities which include analgesic, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular, antimutagenic, antitumour, antihepatotoxic, hypoglycaemic, pugative, immune enhancement, antimicrobial and antiviral activities.
“Iridoids can be found in a wide variety of plants like blue berries, Noni, olives and cornelian cherries. Specifically, researchers have found Noni iridoids to be DNA protective, promote healthy inflammatory response, protective of cells, promote joint flexibility, cholesterol-friendly supportive of healthy blood glucose level, prevent and protect against cancer and protect against stroke,” he said.
Daily consumption of noni juice
Nutritional experts on Noni juice have recommended that 5ml of the juice should be taken twice a day during the first three days. Then the person can continue with 10 ml twice a day, from the fourth day onwards.
It was also suggested that Noni should be taken for 3 to 6 months, and then either reduce the quantity or stop as per individual’s needs. Also, Noni can be taken twice a day on empty stomach 30 minutes before food. Keep 12 to 14 hours gap between two intakes. It was also advised that a minimum of two litres of good clean water should be drunk throughout the day, to help the body to flush out toxins.
Health benefits of Noni juice
According to Dr. Nanna, “Noni juice is a usual part of the protocol that we use for the management of cancer. Having said that, I will like to add that not one supplement is sufficient for the treatment of any kind of cancer. We usually use a collection of supplements that we refer to as protocol. Be that as it may, Noni juice is an important part of any protocol. In the third annual International Iridoid symposium held on the 21st of August, 2012 at the Morinda Bioactives in Provo Utah, researchers from all over the world made the following conclusions about Noni iridoids: 1. Support healthy circulatory function; 2. Enhance cognitive function; 3. Support healthy inflammatory response; 4. Reduce advance glycation end products; 5. Promote healthy angiogenesis; 6. Help normalise blood sugar level and 7. Augment immune system function.”
“Apart from enhancing cognitive function, the other findings are very important in the management of cancer. I believe that Noni iridoids, being part of the protocol for the treatment of cancer, play significant roles in the treatment of cancer. It may also be useful in other conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.”
Animal studies, evaluating the effects of Noni, suggest that it may have anti-cancer, pain-relieving and immune system-enhancing effects.
According to the world’s authority on Noni, Dr Neil Solomon, who has spent a decade, studying the health benefits of Noni Juice, he said Noni is a gift of nature to man. In the four books which he has published, he detailed all the enormous range of benefits of Noni juice. In particular, he refers to high blood pressure, cancer, arthritis and chronic pain being the most common and debilitating conditions known to man, and how Noni juice cures or contributes significantly to curing these ailments.
He also describes the extensive modern day research on Noni juice and how it provides countless testimonials regarding the health benefits of Noni juice.
For example, he reported on a survey conducted on more than 25,000 Noni juice drinkers, which was collected from 1,227 doctors and health professionals. The benefits listed included, but were not restricted to, cures for allergy, arthritis, asthma, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, cholesterol, fibromyalgia, depression, diabetes 1 & 2, digestions, enlarged prostrate, heart disease, high blood pressure, immune system, kidney disease, pain, respiratory problems, skin disorders, sleeplessness, stress, Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis and even assisting people to give up smoking.
“The leaves of the Noni plant are known to relieve gout pain, and act as a tonic and as a healer of wounds and ulcers. Doctors in ancient India used all parts of the Noni plant for medicinal purposes and it is well known for the same beneficial effects in countries as far flung as Burma, Fiji and Australia (especially amongst the Aborigines). In Africa, the health benefits include being used to cure malaria, fever, jaundice, yellow fever and dysentery.”
Prevents and protects against cancer:
Noni might exert a preventative and protective action against cancer during the initiation stage, which is the first phase of the formation of the cancer. Many feel antioxidant activity is an important function of noni juice and one of the reasons so many people have reported success with cancer while using the juice. There are more than 300 alternative therapies for cancer and Noni is supposed to stand among the top ten.
Alleviates symptoms of arthritis:
There are several ways in which Noni may alleviate the undesirable symptoms of arthritis. Pain is the number one complaint with arthritis. Because Noni has analgesic qualities, it can help relieve this pain. Noni has also been shown to contain scopoletin, which has anti-inflammatory and histamine-inhibiting effects, both of which are excellent for the promotion of smooth joint movement. The cellular-enhancing qualities of Noni may also minimise damage to the joints and other involved tissues.
Fights heart diseases:
Noni juice can help with high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Some scientists believe that Xeronine can help promote a healthy cell structure within the circulatory system. Noni juice can also lessen the symptoms of heart disease.
Lowers high blood pressure:
In a research study, 85 per cent of Noni juice drinkers reported decreased blood pressure while drinking Noni juice.
Strengthens the immune system:
Noni juice boosts the overall immune system of the body and helps to maintain optimal health. Noni may help modulate a healthy immune system by either enhancing an already functioning system, by stimulating the components of a sluggish one, or by decreasing an overactive immune system. The mechanism by which Noni can do these different functions is called adaptogenisis.
Reduces symptoms of fibromyalgia:
Many people who suffer from fibromyalgia experience loss of energy. An increase in energy from Noni is a very positive side effect from the juice. Seventy seven per cent of people with fibromyalgia reported lessened symptoms after they began drinking Noni juice.
Fortifies cell structure:
Noni is believed to fortify and maintain cell structure. This can be accomplished by Noni helping the body heal itself and because Noni can aid “sick” cells in repairing themselves.
Helps control diabetes:
Noni can aid in the regulation of insulin secretion by the pancreas, helping control diabetes. Drinking Noni may also help relieve diabetic symptoms through its ability to stimulate the body’s production of nitric oxide. Both may also be important factors in decreasing symptoms such as poor circulation and vision problems.
Reduces Symptoms of Asthma:
Noni may help in reducing the severity of the symptoms of asthma by boosting and modulating the immune system and enhancing the cellular structure of the bronchioles.
Noni’s ability to modulate natural bio-chemicals, such as brain hormones, might be why many people have felt less depressed after drinking Noni juice.
Promotes weight loss:
Noni may help you lose weight by promoting better sleep, aiding in the regulation of blood sugar levels, and by boosting the number of antioxidants in the body.
Helps control Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD):
Noni may be helpful for this condition in both children and adults through its ability to modulate the production of some of the chemicals in the brain, as well as increase overall cellular health in the brain.
Helps treat migraines:
Preliminary results show that there is a non/serotonin relationship. Studies suggest that noni juice was clinically helpful in the treatment of migraines.
Successful in the treatment of addictions:
Noni juice has been said to be successful in the treatment of addictions to heroine, cocaine, marijuana, nicotine, alcohol, prescription drug use and caffeine.
Protects against strokes:
Noni may help inhibit premature coagulation in the blood, preventing platelets form clumping together into clots associated with strokes.
Noni is a potent free radical scavenger that can contribute to lower cholesterol levels and prevent LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) from oxidising.
Noni may be used by the brain to encode long-term memory and enhance blood flow to the brain.
Strengthens the nervous system:
Noni functions as a “messenger molecule” that may allow nerve cells in the body and the brain to communicate effectively.
Improves skin condition:
Noni can be used topically. Its anti-inflammatory and histamine-inhibiting effects can help fight allergies, skin conditions and inflammation.
Advance Journal of Food Science and Technology 4(2): 91-96, 2012