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Noni

A small tree or shrub, noni can grow up to 8m high with leaves of up to 35 cm long. It has whitish flowers which bear a fruit that looks like a small, green, oval breadfruit and can be up to 15 cm long. When mature the fruits become whitish and almost translucent with a distinctive, unpleasant smell.

Traditional Uses

Noni Fruits

Scientific Name:
(Morinda citrifolia - Rubiaceae)
Other Names:
Duppy Soursop, Dog Dumpling, Indian Mulberry
Parts Used:
Leaves, Fruits, Bark, Roots

In Jamaica the fruit of the noni was not traditionally used for healing. The leaves were used as a poultice for headaches, wounds, and to relieve pain in joints. Similar use was made of the leaves in the Caribbean. The bark and roots were also used in Jamaica as an ingredient in traditional roots tonics.

Noni was used traditionally in Polynesia to treat chronic health conditions, counter infections and to aid in recovery from illness. In that part of the world noni has always been regarded as one of the most versatile and effective herbal remedies.

The leaves and leaf juice, applied externally, were thought to be effective in treating chronic ulcers, gout and snake bites, Taken internally the leaf juice or infusion was used mainly for dysentery

Modern Research & Uses

The juice from the fruit has in recent years been promoted in the West as a cure all for everything from depression to cancer, and this has made some people sceptical about its health benefits.

However there is enough research to suggest that noni can be beneficial in boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation and in repairing and regenerating cells. One of the main active plant chemicals in noni, proxeronine, is identified as having cell-regenerating properties. Noni has the potential to contribute to treatment and healing in cases of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions, heart and circulatory problems and even for some cancers.

Plant Chemicals

Noni Tree with Fruits

The bark, roots, and fruits contain anthraquinones. The fruit contains proxeronine, coumarins, scopoletin, triterpenes, ursolic acid and iridoids, asperuloside. The fruits and leaves have various alkaloids, polysaccharides and sterols.

Caution!
No significant side effects have been reported for noni, but it is preferable to drink the juice on an empty stomach.
 

References

  • Ayensu, ES – Medicinal Plants of the West Indies – (1981) – Reference Publications Inc.
  • Brown, D - The RHS Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses - (1995) - BCA
  • Chevalier, A - Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine - (1996/2000) - Dorling Kindersley
  • Honeychurch, PN Caribbean wild plants & their uses - (1986) - Macmillan Caribbean
  • Solomon, N - Tahitian Noni Juice - (2002) - Direct Source Publishing
  • Wang, MY & Su, C – Cancer Preventive Effect of Morinda Citrifolia (Noni) – Ann NY Acad Sci (2001); Dec. pp161-68