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Great morinda, Noni
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Leaves, flowers, and fruit of Morinda citrifolia
Leaves, flowers, and fruit of Morinda citrifolia
Plant Info
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Scientific classification
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Kingdom: Plantae
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Division: Magnoliophyta
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Class: Magnoliopsida
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Order: Gentianales
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Family: Rubiaceae
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Genus: Morinda
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Species: M. citrifolia
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Binomial name
Morinda citrifolia
Trinomial name
Type Species

Morinda citrifolia, commonly known as Great morinda, Indian mulberry, Beach mulberry, Tahitian Noni, or since recently: Noni (from Hawaiian), Nono (in Tahitian), Mengkudu (from Malay), Nonu (in Tongan), and Ach (in Hindi), is a shrub or small tree in the family Rubiaceae. Morinda citrifolia is native to Southeast Asia but has been extensively spread by man throughout India and into the Pacific islands as far as the islands of French Polynesia, of which Tahiti is the most prominent. It can also be found in parts of the West Indies.

Flowers and unripe and ripe fruit of Morinda citrifolia

Noni grows in shady forests as well as on open rocky or sandy shores. It reaches maturity in about 18 months and then yields between 4-8 kg of fruit every month throughout the year. It is tolerant of saline soils, drought conditions, and secondary soils. It is therefore found in a wide variety of habitats: volcanic terrains, lava-strewn coasts, and clearings or limestone outcrops. It can grow up to 9 m tall, and has large, simple, dark green, shiny and deeply veined leaves.

The plant flowers and fruits all year round and prodces a small white flower. The fruit is a multiple fruit that has a pungent odor when ripening, and is hence also known as cheese fruit or even vomit fruit. It is oval and reaches 4-7 cm in size. At first green, the fruit turns yellow then almost white as it ripens. It contains many seeds. It is sometimes called starvation fruit. Despite its strong smell and bitter taste, the fruit is nevertheless eaten as a famine food[1] and, in some Pacific islands, even a staple food, either raw or cooked.[2] Southeast Asians and Australian Aborigines consume the fruit raw with salt or cook it with curry. The seeds are edible when roasted.

The noni is especially attractive to weaver ants, which make nests out of the leaves of the tree. These ants protect the plant from some plant-parasitic insects. The smell of the fruit also attracts fruit bats, which aid in dispersing the seeds.



Nutritional information for noni fruit is reported by the College of Tropical Agriculture, University of Hawaii at Mānoa who published analyses of fruit powder and pure juice.


Analyzed as a whole fruit powder[3], noni fruit has excellent levels of carbohydrates and dietary fiber, providing 55% and 100% of the Dietary Reference Intakes, respectively, in a 100 g serving. A good source of protein (12% DRI), noni pulp is low in total fats (4% DRI).

These macronutrients evidently reside in the fruit pulp, as noni juice has sparse amounts of macronutrients[4].


The main micronutrient features of noni pulp powder include exceptional vitamin C content (10x DRI) and substantial amounts of niacin (vitamin B3), iron and potassium[5]. Vitamin A, calcium and sodium are present in moderate amounts.

When noni juice alone is analyzed and compared to pulp powder, only vitamin C is retained at a high level, 42% of DRI.

Nutrient analyses for a major brand of noni juice (Tahitian Noni Juice™, TNJ) were published in 2002 by the Scientific Committee on Food of the European Commission on Health and Consumer Protection (ECHCP) [6] during a test for public safety of TNJ. TNJ ingredients include noni purée and juice concentrates from grapes and blueberries.

For antimicrobial purposes, TNJ must be subjected to the high temperatures of pasteurization which essentially nullifies most of the nutrient contents of the natural purée.

As shown by the ECHCP analyses, excepting vitamin C content at 31% of DRI, TNJ bears no significant nutrition. Its macronutrient content provides just 8% of the DRI for carbohydrates, only traces of other macronutrients and low or trace levels of 10 essential vitamins, 7 essential dietary minerals and 18 amino acids.

Although the most significant nutrient feature of noni pulp powder or juice is its high vitamin C content, this level in TNJ provides only about half the vitamin C of a raw navel orange[7]. Sodium levels in TNJ (about 3% of DRI) are multiples of those in an orange. Although the potassium content appears relatively high for noni, this total is only about 3% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance and so would not be considered excessive. TNJ is otherwise similar in micronutrient content to a raw orange[8].


The history of published medical research on noni phytochemicals numbers only around a total of 120 reports which began appearing in the 1950s. Just since 2000, about 105 publications on noni have been published in medical literature, defining a relatively young research field (August, 2007). Nearly all noni research is at a preliminary stage, still in the laboratory as in vitro or basic animal experiments.

Noni fruit contains phytochemicals for which there are no established DRI values. Examples:

  • oligo- and polysaccharides – long-chain sugar molecules that serve a prebiotic function as dietary fiber fermentable by colonic bacteria, yielding short chain fatty acids with numerous potential health properties not yet defined by scientific research on noni
  • glycosides – sugar-phenolic compounds including flavonoids such as rutin and asperulosidic acid, are common in several Rubiaceae plants; specifically named noni isolates called iridoides and morindoides have been reported, but are not well characterized to date
  • trisaccharide fatty-acid esters, "noniosides" - resulting from combination of an alcohol and an acid in noni fruit, noniosides are chemicals giving noni its noxious smell and taste
  • scopoletin – may have antibiotic activities; research is preliminary
  • beta-sitosterol – a plant sterol with potential for anti-cholesterol activity not yet proven in human research
  • damnacanthal – an anthraquinone having potential as an inhibitor of HIV viral proteins
  • alkaloids – naturally occurring amines from plants, often attributed to causing bitter tastes and so may contribute to the foul taste of noni. Some internet references mention xeronine or proxeronine as important noni constituents. However, as no reports on either of these substances exist in published medical literature, the terms are scientifically unrecognized.

Although there is evidence from in vitro studies and laboratory models for bioactivity of each of the above phytochemicals, the research remains at best preliminary and too early to conclude anything about human health benefits provided by noni or its juice. Furthermore, nearly all these compounds exist in many plant foods, so are not unique to noni.


Although noni has a reputation for uses in folk medicine extending over centuries[9], no medical applications as those discussed below have been verified by modern science.

In China, Samoa, Japan, and Tahiti, various parts of the tree (leaves, flowers, fruits, bark, roots) serve as tonics and to contain fever, to treat eye and skin problems, gum and throat problems as well as constipation, stomach pain, or respiratory difficulties.[citation needed] In Malaysia, heated noni leaves applied to the chest are believed to relieve coughs, nausea, or colic.[citation needed]

The noni fruit is taken, in Indochina especially, for asthma, lumbago, and dysentery.[citation needed] As for external uses, unripe fruits can be pounded, then mixed with salt and applied to cut or broken bones.[citation needed] In Hawaii, ripe fruits are applied to draw out pus from an infected boil. The green fruit, leaves and the root/rhizome have traditionally been used to treat menstrual cramps and irregularities, among other symptoms, while the root has also been used to treat urinary difficulties.[10]

The bark of the great morinda produces a brownish-purplish dye for batik making; on the Indonesian island of Java, the trees are cultivated for this purpose. In Hawaii, yellowish dye is extracted from its root in order to dye cloth.[11] The fruit is used as a shampoo in Malaysia, where it is said to be helpful against head lice.[citation needed]

There have been recent applications also for the use of oil from noni seeds.[citation needed] Noni seed oil is abundant in linoleic acid that may have useful properties when applied topically on skin, e.g., anti-inflammation, acne reduction, moisture retention.[12] [13] [14]

In Surinam and different other countries, the tree serves as a wind-break, as support for vines and as shade for coffee trees.

File:Wild noni.jpg
Wild noni growing in Kuliouou Valley, Hawaii

Noni juice

The noni juice market

Sold in capsule form, pulp powder was the first noni product brought to the commercial market in Hawaii by Herbert Moniz of Herb's Herbs in 1992 after patenting a unique noni dehydrating method. (Template:Cite patent) In 1995, David Marcus, of Hawaiian Herbal Blessings Inc., began marketing the first traditionally fermented noni juice from Maui, Hawaii.

There are now approximately 300 companies marketing noni juice in a global market estimated at more than $2 billion annually[15][16]. In 1996, Morinda Inc. (now Tahitian Noni International with headquarters in Orem, Utah) acquired noni from French Polynesia to manufacture juice, capsule and personal care products for the western market, achieving $1 billion in sales over the next seven years. Today, raw materials for noni juices on the world market mainly come from Polynesia but most manufacturers are in the United States.

Regulatory warnings and safety testing

In August 2004, the US Food and Drug Administration issued a warning letter to Flora, Inc. for violating section 201(g)(1) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) [21 U.S.C. § 321(g)(1)]. Flora made twelve unfounded health claims about the purported benefits of noni juice as a medical product, in effect causing the juice to be evaluated as a drug. Under the Act, this necessitates all safety and clinical trial evidence for the juice providing such effects in humans. [17]

The FDA letter also cited 1) absent scientific evidence for health benefits of noni phytochemicals, scopoletin and damnacanthal, neither of which has been confirmed with biological activity in humans, and 2) lack of scientific foundation for health claims made by two proponents of noni juice, Dr. Isabella Abbot and Dr. Ralph Heinicke[18].

Two other FDA letters have been issued for the same types of violations[19][20].

In the European Union, after safety testing on one particular brand of noni juice (Tahitian Noni), approval was granted in 2002 as a novel food by the European Commission for Health and Consumer Protection Directorate-General. [21] In their report, the European Commission's Scientific Committee made no endorsement of health claims.

No noni products have achieved sufficient scientific foundation for being licensed as medicines or therapies. Companies today must still apply to the European Commission for Health and Consumer Protection Directorate-General to have their own brand of noni juice included as a novel food under the initial approval.

Health and research issues

In 2005, two scientific publications described incidents of acute hepatitis caused by ingesting noni. One study suggested the toxin to be anthraquinones, found in roots, leaves and fruit of the noni,[22] [23]while the other named juice as the delivery method.[24]

This was, however, followed by a publication [25] showing that noni juice 1) was not toxic to the liver even when consumed in high doses, and 2) contained low quantities of anthraquinones which are potentially toxic to liver tissue.[26].

The potential for toxicity caused by noni juices remains under surveillance by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)[27], individual food safety authorities in France[28], Finland[29] and Ireland[30], and medical investigators in Germany[31].

The Physicians Desk Reference ("PDR") for Non-Prescription Drugs and Dietary Supplements lists only one particular commercial brand of noni juice, with no side-effects mentioned.[32]Consumers of noni juice are advised to carefully check labels for warnings which may say, "Not safe for pregnant women" or "Keep out of reach of children."

Some commercial brands of noni juice can be high in potassium[citation needed]. While potassium is a valuable nutrient in a normal diet, persons with advanced kidney disease cannot excrete it properly and should avoid noni juice which has been known to cause hyperkalemia.[33]. Of related significance is a report showing high variability in mineral contents between various brands of noni juice.[34]

Athletes intending to use noni juice to supplement their diet should be aware that two brands of noni juice are listed on's "Athletic Banned Substance Screening Program" as having been screened for substances on the World Anti-Doping Code Prohibited List.[35].

Preliminary medical research

Over the years since 1994, noni has increasingly stimulated the interest of medical science, with 114 papers published since then and 36 just in 2006-7[36] (search "noni"). Despite the large market for juice products and research developments, the nutrient and phytochemical profiles of noni have not been extensively studied.

Furthermore, 1) numerous health claims made in noni juice marketing are not supported by scientific research[37][38] and 2) in human clinical trials, only one cancer study completed under NIH peer-review in 2006 has been conducted, the results of which remain unpublished[39] as of August 2007.

Likewise, in a university-based clinical trial funded by the noni juice manufacturer, Tahitian Noni International, Inc., it was shown that noni juice consumption lowered blood cholesterol levels[40]. Completed in 2006, however, the results of this study have not been published under peer-review and have met critical judgment by experts[41][42].

Laboratory studies have investigated noni's effect on the growth of cancerous tissue in mice.[43] One such study in vitro found that noni reduced growth of capillary vessels sprouting from human breast tumor explants and, at increased concentrations, caused existing vessels to degenerate.[44] It remains unknown whether such effects occur in vivo in other animal models or in cancer patients.

Another study showed noni juice to inhibit formation of cancer cells in rats (using detection methods of biochemical markers called DNA adducts). It further showed a reduced number of DNA adducts in rats induced with a carcinogen. The same study showed effective antioxidant properties of noni juice compared with those of vitamin C, grape seed powder, and pycnogenol. The results indicated reduced carcinogen-DNA adduct formation in this laboratory model and antioxidant activity that may be relevant to anti-cancer mechanisms.[45]

As such findings have neither been confirmed by other laboratory experiments nor demonstrated in expert-reviewed human clinical trials, no inference can be made about whether noni has anti-cancer properties.


  1. Krauss, BH (1993). Plants in Hawaiian Culture. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. 
  2. Morton, JF (1992). "The Ocean-Going Noni, or Indian Mulberry (Morinda citrifolia, Rubiaceae) and Some of its "Colorful" Relatives". Economic Botony (New York) 46 (3): 241-256. 
  3. University of Hawaii nutrient analysis on noni fruit powder
  4. University of Hawaii nutrient analysis on noni juice
  7. World's Healthiest Foods, in-depth nutrient analysis of a raw orange
  9. McClatchey, Will (2002). "From Polynesian Healers to Health Food Stores: Changing Perspectives of Morinda citrifolia (Rubiaceae)". Integrative Cancer Therapies 1 (2): 110-120. 
  10. McClatchey, Will (2002). "From Polynesian Healers to Health Food Stores: Changing Perspectives of Morinda citrifolia (Rubiaceae)". Integrative Cancer Therapies 1 (2): 110-120. 
  11. Thompson, RH (1971). Naturally Occurring Anthraquinones. New York: Academic Press. 
  12. "Plant oils: Topical application and anti-inflammatory effects (croton oil test)". Dermatol. Monatsschr 179: 173. 1993. 
  13. "Digital image analysis of the effect of topically applied linoleic acid on acne microcomedones". Clinical & Experimental Dermatology 23 (2): 56-58. March 1998. PMID: 9692305. 
  14. "Impact of topical oils on the skin barrier: possible implications for neonatal health in developing countries". Acta Paediatrica 91 (5): 546-554. 2002. 
  17. Breen, Charles M. (August 26, 2004). "Warning letter from the FDA to Flora, Inc." (pdf).
  18. Breen, Charles M. (August 26, 2004). "Warning letter from the FDA to Flora, Inc." (pdf).
  21. European Commission Health and Consumer Protection Directorate-General (December 11, 2002). "Opinion of the Scientific Committee on Food on Tahitian Noni® juice" (pdf).
  22. "An anthraquinone with potent quinone reductase-inducing activity and other constituents of the fruits of Morinda citrifolia (noni).". J. Nat. Prod. 68 (12): 1720-2. December 2005. PMID: 16378361. 
  23. "Herbal hepatotoxicity: acute hepatitis caused by a Noni preparation (Morinda citrifolia)". European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology 17 (4): 445-7. April 2005. ISSN 0954-691X. 
  24. "Hepatotoxicity of noni juice: Report of two cases". World Journal of Gastroenterology 11 (30): 4758-60. August 2005. ISSN 1007-9327. 
  26. "Noni juice is not hepatoxic". World Journal of Gastroenterology 12 (22): 3616-3619. June 2006. ISSN 1007-9327 CN 14-1219/R. 
  31. "Hepatitis induced by Noni juice from Morinda citrifolia: a rare cause of hepatotoxicity or the tip of the iceberg?". Digestion 73 (2-3): 167-70. February 2006. PMID: 16837801. 
  32. Thomson Healthcare (Micromedex) (November 25, 2006). "Tahitian Noni Juice".
  33. "Noni juice (Morinda citrifolia): Hidden potential for hyperkalemia?". American Journal of Kidney Disease 35 (2): 310-312. February 2000. 
  34. "Mineral Variability Among 177 Commercial Noni Juices". International Journal of Food Sciences 57: 556-558. December 2006. DOI:10.1080/09637480601066794.,1,4;. 
  35. (September 2005). Athletic Banned Substance Screening Program. Retrieved 2007-01-12. 
  43. Furusawa E, Hirazumi A, Story S, Jensen J (December 2003). "Antitumour potential of a polysaccharide-rich substance from the fruit juice of Morinda citrifolia (Noni) on sarcoma 180 ascites tumour in mice". Phytotherapy Research 17 (10): 1158-64. ISSN 0951-418X. 
  44. "Inhibition of angiogenic initiation and disruption of newly established human vascular networks by juice from Morinda citrifolia (noni)". Angiogenesis 6 (2): 143-9. January 2003. ISSN 0969-6970. 
  45. Wang MY, Su C (December 2001). "Cancer preventive effect of Morinda citrifolia (Noni).". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 952: 161-8. PMID: 11795436. 

Further reading

  • Noni: The Complete Guide for Consumers and Growers. Permanent Agriculture Resources. August 2006. pp. 112. ISBN 0-9702544-6-6. 
  • Template:Cite website
  • "Some chemical constituents of Morinda citrifolia". Planta Medica 36 (2): 186-7. June 1979. ISSN 0032-0943. 
  • "Chemical constituents of Morinda citrifolia fruits inhibit copper-induced low-density lipoprotein oxidation". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 52 (19): 5843-8. September 2004. ISSN 0021-8561. 
  • Khurana H, Junkrut M, Punjanon T (2003). "Analgesic activity and genotoxicity of Morinda citrifolia". Thai J Pharmacol 25 (1): 86. 
  • Wang MY, West B, Jensen J, Nowicki D, Su C, Palu A, Anderson G (2002). "Morinda citrifolia (Noni): A literature review and recent advances in noni research". Acta Pharmacol Sin 23 (12): 1127. 
  • Template:Cite news
  • Thomas, Chris (August 30, 2002). "Noni No Miracle Cure".
  • Anthony, Mark. "Noni or NIMBY?".
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