The Noni tree produces bumpy pitted fruit, whose skin becomes semi translucent when the fruit ripens. The fruit has an offensive odour and is quite unpalatable. The Polynesians have used the noni fruit and leaves as folk remedies for over 2000 years. In India, the Ayurveda and Siddha texts refer to noni as an internal cleanser, and a remedy for joint aches and skin conditions. In recent times, research has shown that, noni is a fruit with immense medicinal value for various conditions ranging from menstrual pain to cancer prevention.
Botanical name – Morinda citrifola
Hindi – Ach
Common Name – Indian mulberry, Noni
Tamil – Nunaakai
Sanskrit – Ashyuka
Health Benefits of Noni
The numerous health benefits of noni is attributed to the many phytochemicals that are present in it. Phytonutrients are compounds found in plants, which have have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. They also boost the immune system and repair cellular damage. According to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering website, “in vitro and animal studies suggest that the plant extracts have antifungal, antitumor and immunomodulatory properties. Noni also inhibits low-density-lipoprotein oxidation and may be useful in preventing arteriosclerosis.”
Clinical trials have found that noni stimulates the production of T-cells in the immune system, which play a major role in fighting disease. Noni is said to be an adaptogen. Adaptogens help to increase the body’s ability to adapt to stress by normalising imbalances in the body without affecting normal body functions. Glycosides and other constituents isolated from the fruits and leaves have shown antioxidant effects. Some of the nutrients in the noni are Vitamin C, Vitamin A, some of the B complex vitamins, calcium, and potassium.
Since the fruit has a strong odour and an unpalatable taste, it is usually had in the form of a juice. The main issue with the nutritional content of noni juice seems to be its highly processed make up. As the fruit has a very bitter taste, it is highly sweetened and processed to create an acceptable taste, as a result of which, the chances of the fruit juice having the nutrients greatly decreases. But many noni juice testimonials say that it does help in the treatment of cancer. (Noni Juice Treatment For Cancer)
Traditional Medicinal Uses of Noni
Noni has been used in traditional medicine because of its numerous health benefits. This fruit has been mainly used for alleviating menstrual cramps, urinary tract infections, and bowel problems. The leaves, flowers, fruit and bark are used to treat eye problems, skin wounds and abscesses, gum and throat problems, respiratory ailments, constipation, arthritis, dysentry, lumbago and fever.
- Tea made from leaves of the plant, is used as a remedy for tuberculosis, arthritis, rheumatism, and as an anti-aging treatment.
- The unripe noni fruit is mashed together with salt and applied on cuts and broken bones.
- Ripe fruit is used as a poultice for facial blemishes or as a remedy for skin sores, boils, or infections.
- The leaves and bark are sometimes made into a liquid tonic for urinary complaints and muscle or joint pain.
- The juice, which has an unpleasant taste and odor, is used on the scalp as a treatment for head lice.
- In Malaysia, heated leaves are applied to the chest to relieve coughs, nausea and colic.
- Pounded unripe fruit is mixed with salt and applied to cuts and broken bones and ripe fruit is used to draw out pus from an infected boil in Tahiti and Polynesia.
Noni Health Benefits for Cancer
There is an enormous amount of scientific evidence about the anticancer activities of individual nutrients that are known in Noni. Reports of studies, done in animals, show that noni extract exhibits anti-tumor properties. The anti cancer agents in noni are polysaccharides, anthraquinones, monoterpenes, terpenoid compounds, and proxeronine.
Polysaccharides, help to block the mutated cell’s ability to adhere to new cells, stopping metastasis.
Anthraquinones found in Noni helps in fighting inflammation, bacteria, parasites and tumors. They also boost the body’s immune system. Damnacanthal an anthraquinone which is found in Noni helps inhibit the formation of tumours. Alizarin another anthraquinone, blocks blood circulation to malignant tumors.
EGCg found in noni, is a polyphenolic flavonoid antioxidant, which helps in stopping the growth of cancer, by limiting the formation of new blood vessels.
Limonene is a monoterpene that is found in noni juice. Monoterpenes are known to prevent the cancer process at both the initiation and progression stages. Monoterpenes such as limonene have been shown to prevent mammary, liver, lung, and other cancers. In vitro studies suggest that limonene maybe effective in treating neroblastomas and leukemias. Cancer chemoprevention and therapy by monoterpenes
Tepenoid compounds found in noni, include eugenol, beta carotene and ursolic acid. Beta carotene is an anti-oxidant and urosolic acid prevents the growth of cancerous cells. Proxeronine combines with proxeroninase to form xeronine, which helps to rebuild damaged cells in the body. (Source: Healthsciences.ac.in )
The noni fruit has enormous health benefits especially in the treatment and prevention of cancer. Experiments so far have been on animal or in vitro studies. A group of Hawaiian researchers caused tumors to grow in mice and then injected specially prepared noni juice into their abdomens. Mice who received the treatment survived twice as long as the untreated mice. Other scientists studying freeze-dried extract from the roots of the plant, found that the substance appeared to prevent pain and induce sleep in mice. In the USA, NCCAM (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine) is funding a research, that includes a study on noni for cancer to determine its safety, and potential effects on tumors. This also includes a laboratory study of noni’s effects on prostate cancer cells. Another preliminary research on noni for breast cancer prevention and treatment, is being funded by the National Cancer Institute (USA).
Avoid noni if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Since noni contains large amounts of potassium, it could be a problem for people with kidney disease. Noni has been linked to several cases of liver damage, hence avoid using noni if you have liver disease.