The fruit of a shrub called the noni plant (Morinda citrifolia) has been part of herbal medicine for thousands of years. Native to the Polynesian Islands, Southeast Asia and Australia, noni produces a small, greenish-yellow, bumpy-surfaced fruit. You can use noni fruit in several ways, including pressing it into a juice or consuming it in supplement form. Noni flesh contains several compounds with possible health benefits, but you should discuss these with your doctor to decide if consuming noni might be helpful for your situation.
Fresh noni fruit may be available at specialty stores, but the entire fruit isn’t usually consumed because it contains many seeds and has flesh with an odd, slightly unpleasant odor. You can press noni fruit into juice, either with a juicer or by squeezing ripe fruit through cheesecloth. The bland flavor of noni juice can be enhanced by mixing it with other juices, such as grape or peach juice, or by adding a splash of raspberry or strawberry syrup to freshly squeezed juice. Noni juice and blended juices containing noni are also available in cans or bottles at health food stores. Use processed noni juice with caution if you are diabetic, since some products may contain added sugar.
Noni fruit supplements are available at health food stores, either as a liquid extract or as dry powder in capsules or tablets. No recommended daily dose of noni supplements has been established, but 500 milligrams of extract daily is considered safe and nontoxic for healthy adults. The safety of noni supplements during pregnancy or breast-feeding hasn’t been established, and noni shouldn’t be consumed by people with kidney disease because of its high content of potassium, which can place stress on the kidneys.
Reducing Inflammation and Pain
If you have or are at risk for a painful inflammatory condition such as arthritis, laboratory research suggests that consuming noni juice or supplements could help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. For example, a study published in 2009 in “Phytotherapy Research” found that laboratory animals given water containing a puree of noni flesh showed reduced pain sensitivity, compared to a group that drank only plain water. In the same study, cultured human immune cells called monocytes released less of a factor related to inflammation when exposed to a noni extract than control cells. While the results are promising, these laboratory studies still need confirmation in trials of noni’s effects on human subjects.
Potentially Preventing Cancer
The noni fruit contains several antioxidant compounds that may have anti-tumor effects, according to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Antioxidants help the body rid itself of free radicals — chemicals that can raise your risk of chronic disease, such as cancer, Such chemicals form during digestion or after exposure to toxins. A study published in 2001 in “Cancer Research” showed that one of these compounds, called noni-ppt, suppressed conversion of normal cultured cells into cancer cells, while another study published in 2003 in “Phytotherapy Research” found that the compound suppressed cancer in 25 percent to 45 percent of laboratory animals with tumors. The cancer center reports that a clinical trial with human subjects is under way to test noni’s possible anti-cancer effects, but the findings were not yet available as of January 2014.