Noni (scientific name Morinda citrifolia) is a tree known for its foul tasting, bad smelling (smells like blue cheese), but nutritious fruits and its ability to grow nearly anywhere in a tropical to subtropical environment, including volcanic landscapes and limestone cliffs. It probably originated in Southeast Asia then made its way to India, and eventually to the Polynesian Islands.
The noni tree has large, smooth, deep green edible leaves as well as white flowers when blossoming. The fruit is said to resemble lumpy off-white colored cheese or a tumor (Mother Nature’s hint) when ripe and is more firm and green when unripe. The color of the fruit typically starts out green, then turns white and then yellowish or light brown cream color when ripe. The tree flowers and fruits all year round. The fruit contains many dark-brown seeds.
Considered a superfood and a famine food, the fruit is rich in enzymes, antioxidants, selenium, and phytonutrients such as xeronine and proxeronine (the building block of xeronine), which aid in the management of pain and regulate the shape and structure of certain proteins. A prevalent enzyme in noni is proxeroninase, which helps synthesize xeronine and serotonin (i.e. the “feel-good” neurotransmitter). Noni is also a good source of vitamin C, A, B3 (niacin), E, iron, potassium, calcium, and sodium.
Noni is famous due to the multi-level marketers, whom sell an overpriced, highly processed and sweetened form of the juice which does not contain the full health benefits of the pure, unadulterated juice. However, even the juice doesn’t contain the level of nutrients as the fruit because it lacks the pulp.
Noni fruit, leaves, flowers, and roots have been used medicinally for more than 2000 years for its analgesic (painkilling), anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-histamine, and anti-depressant properties. Noni is used to treat a variety of conditions such as AIDS, cancer, DNA damage, diabetes, high blood pressure, blood clots, heart problems, liver disease, joint/muscle pain, abdominal/menstrual cramps, menstrual disorders, impotence, neurological and autoimmune diseases (e.g. multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, epilepsy), digestive and elimination problems, eczema, psoriasis, urinary tract infections, colds/flu, fatigue, burns (when applied topically and ingested), anxiety, and depression.
In a clinical trial studying the effects of noni on mice with cancer it was found that tumor growth was reduced and the lifespan of the mice prolonged by 75%. Noni stimulates the immune system to reject tumor cells. The polysaccharides in noni are immuno-modulating compounds which means that they intelligently support the immune system, boosting it when it needs it, and regulating it to suppress auto-allergic responses. In addition, anthraquinones (damnacanthol) are antiseptic and anti-bacterial plant chemicals found in noni that have been shown in laboratory tests to kill pre-cancer cells, Lewis Lung carcinoma, and prevent DNA damage. They stimulate the immune response to cancer by activating the body’s T-cells, or “Cancer Killers.” T-cells are extremely important for people suffering from cancer, AIDS, or other diseases which compromise the body’s immune systems. Together with glycosides (newly discovered compounds that prevent cancer and scavenge free radicals) and limonene (a bitter cancer-fighting compound commonly found in noni and citrus fruits), noni packs a powerful punch against cancer.
Noni helps decalcify the pineal gland (the third eye) thereby improving its function in the production of serotonin, melatonin (i.e., the sleep hormone and antioxidant), human growth hormone. (i.e. the “fountain of youth” hormone), and the cellular regeneration of the substantia nigra, leading to the reversal of symptoms attributed to neurological diseases.
Selenium is an antioxidant and trace element that slows down the aging process by preserving the skin’s elasticity. It also increases oxygen flow to the heart, prevent blood clotting and hypertension, and along with vitamin E, prevents and stops epileptic seizures.
Big Pharma, once again, has tried to cash in on an already existing plant food by isolating what they consider to be the active ingredient of noni, scopoletin, in order to patent and sell it as a drug. However, it was found that the compound lost it’s potency after being separated from the fruit. Scopoletin is the anti-inflammatory, anti-histamine, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial compound in noni. It also regulates serotonin which helps to ward off feelings of anxiety and depression, and is a vasodilator which lowers blood pressure. It binds to melatonin to regulate sleep, hunger, and body temperature. In addition, scopoletin is also an analgesic (painkiller). Unlike pharmaceutical painkillers, noni decreases pain and inflammation while protecting the stomach, kidney, and liver.
Noni also contains terpene, a cousin of cannabinoids (the medicinal CBD, not the psychotropic THC component of marijuana) which rejuvenates cells and rids the body of toxins.
Adaptogens are plants that have a global balancing effect on all body systems protecting the body from the effects of physical and emotional stress. There are 12 known adaptogens and noni is the considered the “premiere” adaptogen. The antioxidants in noni are the most effective of all known antioxidants.
To the western palate, noni tastes the best in juice form when diluted with water and mixed with other ingredients, but you can eat the fresh fruit when it is ripe when you need it in a more potent, medicinal form. It is most commonly consumed as a daily health tonic or as a medicine when needed. To make noni taste good, juice the noni (with seeds and all) in a slow masticating juicer (e.g. Omega J8006 Nutrition Center Juicer). Then blend the pulp that is produced with water in a 1 to 1 ratio (50% pulp, 50% water), a healthy sweetener (we use evaporated cane juice called tapa de dulce here in Costa Rica or raw honey), lemon juice (or tamarind paste), and cinnamon to taste. Store any left overs in glass jars in the refrigerator. Noni is so rich in antioxidants and enzymes that it will keep fresh in the refrigerator for long periods of time.
There’s some conflicting information about the fermentation of noni. Some say it is good and some say it is bad so we will present both sides. The Luzardo family have personally found more potency from the fresh noni and not the fermented noni. Here’s some more views for either side:
I have found that fermented noni is the most bioactive-rich and medicinally-rich way to consume the fruit. I put a bunch of ripe noni in a glass jar – mash it – put a screen over the top, and allow to sit for 2-6 weeks – strain the liquid and bottle – drink 1 shot daily. I have used the leaves, roots, and flowers in both tinctures and teas. ~ Zahrah Sita, co-founder of Awakening Soul
Noni was eaten raw as a preventative – to keep people from getting sick. In another two days after ripening, the fruit will naturally start to rot, decompose and ferment. Fermentation occurs when noni fruit destroys itself and all the Noni Juices are fermented. Research has shown that there are 165 compounds in the pulp of fresh, ripe, noni fruit. However, fermentation destroys all the digestive enzymes and about 50% of the compounds in noni. ~ Dr. Brian Issell, University of Hawaii
In Thailand, the noni tree leaves (referred to as bai yor in Thai) are commonly cooked in curries and soups. Southeast Asians and Australian Aborigines consume the fruit raw with salt or cook it with curry. The seeds are edible when roasted and the roots and flowers can be boiled in water to make tea.
Because noni smells and tastes a little like blue cheese, it is also used in raw vegan recipes to make vegan blue cheese. Do a keyword search on the Internet for “noni recipes” to learn other ways to prepare or consume noni.
Noni can be planted from seed, or cutting in nearly any kind of soil. It is tolerant of saline soils, drought conditions, and secondary soils. It only requires a warm tropical to subtropical climate in order to survive and can mature in 18 months when planted from seed, yielding between 4 and 8 kg (8.8 and 17.6 lb) of fruit every month throughout the year. Weaver ants like to make nests from the noni tree leaves and protect the plant from some plant-parasitic insects.
The Ardent Light Motherland already has a mature noni tree near the old wooden house the Luzardo family lives in and the whole family regularly enjoys drinking the homemade noni-lemon-cinnamon juice concoction mentioned above.