What is Noni Juice and What Should I Know About It?

What Should I Know About It?

noni fruit
Noni fruit hanging from a tree. Jaime Kowal/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Noni juice, pronounced NO-nee, come from the noni tree, which is found throughout Polynesia. Also known as Morinda citrifolia or Indian mulberry, the noni tree is a small, flowering tree that bears fruit. 

Why Do People Use Noni Juice?

People native to Polynesia have been using noni juice and fruit for their health benefits for many years. Noni became popular in the United States in the 1990s when the juice was marketed quite extensively in the United States by network marketing companies as a health beverage.

In Polynesia, noni fruit has been used for a variety of conditions such as constipation, diarrhea, skin inflammation, infection, and mouth sores. The leaves of the noni tree were used topically to heal wounds and for arthritis.

The Benefits of Noni Juice: Can It Really Help?

While preliminary laboratory research suggests that compounds in noni may have tumor-fighting properties, the safety and effectiveness of noni in people hasn't been adequately tested in clinical studies.

Many of these studies have used unrealistically high doses (or concentrated noni compounds) that would be difficult to safely obtain from drinking the juice. 

Most fruit contains antioxidants (compounds that protect your body's cells from damage), including noni. Other antioxidant-rich fruit include blueberry, raspberry, as well as goji berryacai berrymangosteencamu camu and tart cherries. By protecting the body's cells, antioxidants have the potential to prevent diseases like diabetes.

Where to Find It

You can find noni juice in health food store. The fermented juice or juice extract is most common, but noni is also available concentrated in tablet or capsule form. Noni tastes bitter and has a strong smell, so the juice is normally sweetened.

Side Effects and Safety

Noni juice is high in potassium.

It should be avoided by people with kidney, heart, and liver disease or those taking potassium-sparing diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, or angiotensin receptor blockers. Using noni may result in hyperkalemia (a dangerous elevation of potassium levels).

Noni juice is also high in sugar, so people with certain conditions such as diabetes should be cautious.

The noni plant contains anthraquinones, which are said to be toxic to the liver and carcinogenic. A small number of case reports of liver injury (including hepatitis and liver failure) have been attributed to noni. For example, noni juice was linked to acute liver toxicity in a 14-year old boy, according to a case report. While there were additional factors in many of the case reports and the risk when using commercial products appears to be low, It's important to note that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't analyze the content of dietary supplements before they are sold on the market.

If you are taking blood-thinning medication such as coumadin or have a bleeding disorder, you should avoid noni. Noni may also interact with other medications and treatments, such as phenytoin, UGT (uridine 5'-diphospho-glucuronosyltransferase), and chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Noni hasn't been tested for safety in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications. You can get tips on using supplements here.

The Takeaway

While there is interesting laboratory research on noni extracts, so far, claims that they can fight cancer, diabetes, or any other condition in people have yet to be scientifically proven. If you're still considering trying it, be sure to speak with your health care provider to discuss whether it's appropriate for you.

Sources:

Aziz MY, Abu N, Yeap SK, et al. Combinatorial Cytotoxic Effects of Damnacanthal and Doxorubicin against Human Breast Cancer MCF-7 Cells in Vitro. Molecules. 2016 Sep 14;21(9).

Huang C, Wei YX, Shen MC, Tu YH, Wang CC, Huang HC. Chrysin, Abundant in Morinda citrifolia Fruit Water-EtOAc Extracts, Combined with Apigenin Synergistically Induced Apoptosis and Inhibited Migration in Human Breast and Liver Cancer Cells. J Agric Food Chem. 2016 Jun 1;64(21):4235-45.

Lim SL, Mustapha NM, Goh YM, Bakar NA, Mohamed S. Metastasized lung cancer suppression by Morinda citrifolia (Noni) leaf compared to Erlotinib via anti-inflammatory, endogenous antioxidant responses and apoptotic gene activation. Mol Cell Biochem. 2016 May;416(1-2):85-97.

Sharma K, Pachauri SD, Khandelwal K, et al. Anticancer Effects of Extracts from the Fruit of Morinda Citrifolia (Noni) in Breast Cancer Cell Lines. Drug Res (Stuttg). 2016 Mar;66(3):141-7.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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