Noni is a small evergreen tree in the Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, Australia, and India that often grows among lava flows. Historically, noni was used to make a red or yellow dye for clothing. It was also used as medicine, usually applied to the skin.
Today, noni fruit, leaves, flowers, stems, bark, and roots are still used to make medicine for a long list of ailments. However, the effectiveness of noni for these uses has not been proven. A study of noni freeze-dried fruit extract is underway at The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, but the results are not yet in. In the meantime, the FDA has issued multiple warnings to noni manufacturers about health claims that aren’t backed up by fact.
People take noni by mouth for colic, convulsions, cough, diabetes, painful urination, stimulating menstrual flow, fever, liver disease, constipation, vaginal discharge during pregnancy, malarial fever, and nausea. It is also used for smallpox, enlarged spleen, swelling, asthma, arthritis and other bone and joint problems, cancer, cataracts, colds, depression, digestive problems, and gastric ulcers. Other uses include high blood pressure, infections, kidney disorders, migraine headache, premenstrual syndrome, stroke, pain, and sedation.
The fruit juice is used for arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, muscle aches and pains, menstrual difficulties, headaches, heart disease, AIDS, cancers, gastric ulcers, sprains, depression, senility, poor digestion, atherosclerosis, circulation problems, and drug addiction.
The leaves have been used in medicines for rheumatic aches and swelling of the joints, stomachache, dysentery, and swelling caused by a parasitic infection called filariasis. The bark has been used in a preparation to aid childbirth.
Noni is sometimes applied to the skin. It is used as a moisturizer and to reduce signs of aging. The leaves are used for arthritis by wrapping around the affected joint; for headache by applying to the forehead; and for burns, sores, and wounds by direct application. A mixture of leaves and fruit is applied to pockets of infection (abscesses), and preparations of the root are used on stonefish and sting-ray wounds, and as a smallpox salve.
In foods, the fruits, leaves, roots, seeds, and bark are eaten.
The smell and taste of some Noni fruit and juice are unpleasant.
How does it work?
Noni contains many substances, including potassium. Some of these substances might help repair damaged cells in the body, activate the immune system, and have other activities.
Insufficient Evidence for Cancer
Early research suggests that taking 6-8 grams of noni daily might improve physical function, fatigue, and pain in people with advanced cancer. However, noni does not seem to reduce tumor size.
Age-related spinal damage (cervical spondylosis)
Early research suggests that taking noni juice while participating in physiotherapy for 4 weeks can reduce neck pain and improve neck flexibility compared to physiotherapy alone. However, treatment with physiotherapy alone seems to relive pain and improve flexibility better than noni juice alone.
Early research suggests that drinking a juice containing noni, grapefruit, and blackberry juices for 21 days can increase exercise endurance in distance runners.
High blood pressure
Early research suggests that drinking 4 ounces of a specific noni juice (Tahitian Noni Juice) daily for one month can reduce blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.
Early research suggests that drinking 3 ounces of a specific noni juice (Tahitian Noni Juice) daily for 90 days can reduce the need for pain relievers and improve quality of life in people with osteoarthritis.
Nausea and vomiting after surgery
Noni fruit might reduce nausea. Some research shows that it reduces nausea after surgery. However, it does not appear to affect vomiting.
Reducing signs of aging.
More evidence is needed to rate noni for these uses.