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Morinda citrifolia, also known as noni or Indian mulberry, is a small evergreen shrub or tree of the plant family Rubiaceae. Native to the Pacific islands, Polynesia, Asia, and Australia, it grows up to 10 feet high. The leaves are 8 or more inches long, dark green, oval shaped, and shiny, with deep veins. The flower heads are about an inch long and bear many small white flowers. These heads grow to become the mature fruit, 3 to 4 inches in diameter with a warty, pitted surface. Noni fruit starts out green, turns yellow with ripening, and has a foul odor, especially as it ripens to whiteness and falls to the ground.
Some cultures may eat noni fruit in times of scarcity (the unripened fruit is less noxious). Traditional Polynesian healers have apparently used the fruit for many purposes including bowel disorders (constipation and diarrhea), skin inflammation, infection, mouth sores, fever, contusions, and sprains—but it is said that only sick and desperate people will take it, due to its unpleasant odor and bitter taste. However, the primary indigenous use of this plant appears to be of the leaves, as a topical treatment for wound healing.
In Chinese medicine, the root of M. officinalisis also a standard medication (known as bai ji tian or pa chi tien) used for the digestive system, kidneys, heart, and liver.
Other traditional uses for the plant include making a red dye from the bark and a yellow dye from the root.
Commercial products that contain noni juice or a juice concentrate are widely available and heavily promoted. These preparations have either eliminated the odor or altered the taste to make it more palatable. Tablets and capsules of the fruit and of the whole plant are also available.
The usual recommendation is the equivalent of 4 ounces of noni juice 30 minutes before breakfast. The typical recommendation is 2 tablespoons daily for liquid concentrates or 500 to 1,000 mg daily for powdered extracts.
According to noni promoters, it should be taken on an empty stomach and not together with coffee, tobacco, or alcohol. 1 However, there is no scientific evidence for this recommendation.
- Heinicke RM: The pharmacologically active ingredient of noni [HyperMedia Technologies Web site]. Available at: http://www.hmt.com/noni/activel.