Noni

Wild noni growing in Kuliouou Valley'', Hawaii
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Botanical Name:Morinda citrifolia
Family: Rubiaceae

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Gentianales
Genus: Morinda
Species: M. citrifolia
Common Names:commonly known as great morinda, Indian mulberry, beach mulberry, Tahitian noni, cheese fruit or noni (from Hawaiian) is a tree in the family Rubiaceae.
Habitat: Morinda citrifolia is native to Southeast Asia but has been extensively spread throughout the Indian subcontinent, Pacific islands, French Polynesia, and recently the Dominican Republic. Tahiti remains the most prominent growing location.

Description:

It grows to a height of up to 10 feet high, and the leaves are dark green and oval shaped. The flower heads grow to become mature yellow fruit that have a strong odor.

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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 produces 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 and, in some Pacific islands, even a staple food, either raw or cooked. 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.

Propagation of Noni
Noni is propagated either from seed or stem cuttings. The primary disadvantage of seed propagation is that without seed treatment, germination takes 6-12 months or more, whereas stem cuttings can be rooted in approximately 1-2 months. The disadvantage of producing plants vegetatively from cuttings is that they may not be as strong and disease-resistant as seedlings, and the trunk and branches may split and break during the first years of fruit production.

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

Macronutrients
Analyzed as a whole fruit powder, noni fruit has excellent levels of carbohydrates and dietary fiber, providing 55% and 100% of the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI), 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.

Micronutrients
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. 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 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 content of the natural purée.

Excepting vitamin C content at 31% of DRI in each 100g, TNJ has limited nutritional content. 100g of juice provides 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. 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.

Phytochemicals
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, over 100 publications on noni have been published in medical literature (reviewed in August 2007), defining a relatively young research field. Noni research is at a preliminary stage, as it is mainly still in the laboratory as in vitro or basic animal experiments.

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

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lignans – a group of phytoestrogens having biological activities shown by in vitro experiments.
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

flavonoids – phenolic compounds such as rutin and asperulosidic acid, common in several Rubiaceae plants
iridoids – secondary metabolites found in many plants
trisaccharide fatty acid esters, “noniosides” – resulting from combination of an alcohol and an acid in noni fruit
free fatty acids –
most prominent in noni fruit are caprylic and hexanoic acids, responsible for unique pungent (cheese-like) aroma of ripe noni fruit.
scopoletin – may have antibiotic activities; research is preliminary
catechin and epicatechin.
beta-sitosterol – a plant sterol with potential for anti-cholesterol activity not yet proven in human research
damnacanthal – a potentially toxic anthraquinone, putatively an inhibitor of HIV viral proteins
alkaloids – naturally occurring amines from plants. 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. Further, chemical analysis of commercially processed juice did not reveal presence of any alkaloids.

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, these phytochemicals are not unique to noni, as nearly all exist in various plant foods.

Laboratory experiments demonstrated that dietary noni juice increased physical endurance in mice. A pilot study in distance runners showed increased endurance capacity following daily intake of noni juice over three weeks, an effect the authors attributed to increased antioxidant status.

Uses:

Although noni’s reputation for uses in folk medicine extends over centuries, 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. In Malaysia, heated noni leaves applied to the chest are believed to relieve coughs, nausea, or colic.

The noni fruit is taken, in Indochina especially, for asthma, lumbago, and dysentery. As for external uses, unripe fruits can be pounded, then mixed with salt and applied to cut or broken bones. 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.

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. The fruit is used as a shampoo in Malaysia, where it is said to be helpful against head lice.

There have been recent applications also for the use of oil from noni seeds. 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.

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

In traditional Polynesian medicine, noni (Morinda citrifolia) fruit has been used for many health conditions, such as constipation, diarrhea, skin inflammation, infection, and mouth sores. It has an unpleasant odor and taste, so it is believed to be a last resort fruit by many cultures. Manufacturers today sweeten noni juice to improve the taste.

Traditionally, the leaves of the noni tree were used topically for healing wounds.

Noni juice, like the juice of many other fruits, is a source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The antioxidants may help to prevent certain diseases and help slow age-related changes in the body.

Animal studies evaluating the effects of noni suggest that it may have anti-cancer, pain-relieving, and immune system-enhancing effects. However, these studies mostly used extremely high doses that would be difficult to obtain from taking the juice. More importantly, there’s insufficient reliable evidence about the safety or effectiveness of noni for any health condition in humans.

Noni is heavily promoted for a very wide variety of conditions, such as arthritis, atherosclerosis, bladder infections, boils, bowel conditions, burns, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, circulatory weakness, colds, cold sores, constipation, diabetes, drug addiction, eye inflammation, fever, fractures, gastric ulcers, gingivitis, headaches, heart disease, hypertension, improved digestion, immune weakness, indigestion, kidney disease, malaria, menstrual cramps, menstrual disorders, mouth sores, respiratory disorders, ringworm, sinusitis, skin inflammation, sprains, strokes, thrush, and wounds. There is no real evidence, however, that noni is effective for these conditions.

The Noni tree produces a tropical fruit that helps the body heal itself. For over 2000 years, Pacific Islanders have used the juice of the Noni fruit to improve their health in a multitude of ways. Western researchers have begun to confirm this ancient wisdom.

Safety:
There are no formally established side effects of noni juice. Due to the lack of evidence, noni should not be used by pregnant or nursing women, children, or people with liver or kManageidney disease.

Noni juice is high in potassium, so it should be avoided by people with kidney disease or those taking ,potassium-sparing diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers, because it may result in hyperkalemia, the dangerous elevation of potassium levels.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noni
http://altmedicine.about.com/cs/herbsvitaminsad/a/Noni.htm
http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/noni/horticulture_production.asp
http://www.e-village.jp/opc/03evc/03tree00/40/index.html

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