Scientific Name(s): Morinda citrifolia L.
Common Name(s): Ach, Achi, Anino, Awltree, Bengkudu, Bo-aal, Caribe te, Dilo-K, Eagugu, Hag apple, Hog apple, Ice leaf, Indian mulberry, Kura, Mengkoedoe, Mengkudu, Minamaram, Morinda, Mulberry, Nhau, Nho, Nhor, Noko, Nona, Noni, Nono, Nonu, Nui, Nuna, Oko, Pain killer, Patje, Pemii, Prey, Riro, Rra, Ruibarbo, Te non, Thom, Yeiawa harachan, Yo
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Nov 30, 2022.
Noni has traditionally been used for colds, flu, diabetes, anxiety, and hypertension, as well as an antidepressant and anxiolytic. All plant parts are used for a variety of illnesses in Samoan culture, and noni is one of the most frequently used Hawaiian plant medicines. Claims that have often been unsubstantiated in clinical trials include: the use of bark for the treatment of bacterial infections, cough, diarrhea in infants, and stomach ailments; the flowers for sore or irritated eyes, styes, conjunctivitis, ocular inflammation, and coughs; the fruit for asthma, wounds, broken bones, mouth and throat infections, tuberculosis, worms, diarrhea, fever, vomiting, eye ailments, arthritis, depression, seizures, bacterial and fungal infections, viruses, and as a tonic; the fresh fruit juice for cancer; the dried leaves used externally for infections, burns, children's chest colds, and inflammation, and internally for boils, pleurisy, inflamed gums, and arthritic pain; the fresh leaves used externally for burns and internally for fevers, hemorrhage, bacterial infections, and inflammation; and the roots for oral ulcerations, fevers, and cancerous swellings.
30 to 750 mL/day; dosing of 500 mg extract is nontoxic.
Contraindications have not been identified.
Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.
A case of noni juice consumption leading to subtherapeutic phenytoin levels has been reported.
Drug-induced liver injury has been reported.
Potential hepatotoxicity has been observed. Patients with kidney disease and unexplained hyperkalemia should be queried about their ingestion of herbal remedies and alternative medicinal products because noni may increase potassium levels.
The morinda plant, native to Asia, Australia, and the islands of Polynesia, is a 3 to 8 m evergreen shrub or small tree.Chan-Blanco 2006 The leaves are opposite, glabrous, elliptic to ovate, with 2 to 3 lobes, 10 to 12 cm in length, and pinnately veined. The inflorescence is an ovoid globose head, with white tubular flowers. The fruit is a yellow-green-white soft and fleshy syncarp about the size of a potato with a bumpy surface.Chan-Blanco 2006 The ripened fruit has a characteristic cheese-like, offensive odor.Mueller2000 The light dull yellow or whitish pulp is juicy, bitter, and gelatinous when the fruit is ripe; numerous hard triangular reddish-brown pits are found, each containing 4 seeds (3.5 mm).Dittmar 1993
Polynesian healers have used the morinda plant for thousands of years. It is best known by its Hawaiian name noni. The fruits, which have a strong butyric acid odorChan-Blanco 2006 have been used to treat a variety of health problems (eg, aches; pains; burns; diabetes; high blood pressure; arthritis; parasitic, viral, and bacterial infections; inflammation; tumors; and the effects of aging), although these uses have not been scientifically confirmed.Chan-Blanco 2006, Coe 1996 Ancient healing manuscripts cite the fruit as a primary ingredient in natural healing formulations. Today, fruit preparations are sold as juice, in dried "fruit-leather" form, and as a dry extract in capsules. United States patents are held for processing morinda fruit into powderMoniz 1994 and for xeronine, an alkaloid isolated for medical, food, and industrial use.Heinicke 1983
About 160 phytochemicals have been identified in the noni plant, including phenolic compounds, organic acids, and alkaloids. Of the phenolic compounds found, the most important are anthraquinones (eg, damnacanthal, morindone, morindin), aucubin, asperuloside, and scopoletin. The main organic acids are caproic and caprylic acidsDittmar 1993 while the principal reported alkaloid is xeronine.Chan-Blanco 2006
Chemical composition differs according to the part of the plant. The complete physicochemical composition of the fruit has not been reported, and only partial information is available on noni juice. The fruit contains 90% water, and the main components of the dry matter appear to be soluble solids, dietary fibers, and proteins. The fruit protein content is 11.3% of the juice dry matter, and the main amino acids are aspartic and glutamic acids as well as isoleucine.Chan-Blanco 2006
Minerals account for 8.4% of the dry matter and are mainly potassium, sulfur, calcium, and phosphorus, with traces of selenium in the juice.Chan-Blanco 2006
Phenolic compounds are the major group of compounds in noni juice: scopoletin, morindone, alizarin, aucubin, nordamnacanthal, rubiadin, rubiadin-1-methyl ether, and other anthraquinone glycosides have been identified.Chan-Blanco 2006, Dittmar 1993, Dixon 1999, Morton 1981 Damnacanthal is an anthraquinone that has been characterized and may have anticarcinogenic properties. Scopoletin is a coumarin with analgesic properties as well as an ability to control serotonin levels in the body. Other studies have shown that scopoletin may also have antimicrobial and antihypertensive effects.Chan-Blanco 2006
Another noni component, proxeronine, is the precursor of xeronine, an alkaloid that is claimed to combine with human proteins, improving their functionality. Researchers attribute most of the beneficial effects of noni to xeronine. Nonetheless, neither the chemical characterization of this alkaloid nor the method used to assess its content have been published, and its very existence should be viewed with skepticism.Chan-Blanco 2006
About 51 volatile compounds have been identified in the ripe fruit, including organic acids (mainly octanoic and hexanoic acids), alcohols (3-methyl-3-buten-1-ol), esters (methyl octanoate, methyl decanoate), ketones (2-heptanone), and lactones ([E]-6-dodeceno-gamma-lactone).Mueller 2000
Unfermented noni juice contains approximately 10% of dry matter consisting mainly of glucose and fructose (3% to 4% each), protein (0.2% to 0.5%), and lipids (0.1% to 0.2%). The potassium content is relatively high (30 to 50 ppm), followed by calcium, sodium, and magnesium. Vitamin C content varies from 30 to 155 mg/kg. The polysaccharide fraction consists primarily of the pectins homogalacturonan, rhamnogalacturonan I, arabinan, and type I and II arabinogalactans.Potterat 2007
Among the phytochemicals in the fruit, the fatty acid glycosides and alcohols are unique in structure and content in ripe fruits, consisting of 1 or occasionally 2 short-chain fatty acids or an alcohol attached to a sugar moiety consisting of 1 to 3 glucoses. Due to their structure, they possess more or less pronounced amphiphilic properties and may be, in part, responsible for the ripe fruit's soapy taste.
Noni fruit contains numerous iridoids, with the main compounds asperuloside, asperulosidic acid, and deacetylasperulosidic acid. Minor iridoids include deacetylasperuloside, dehydromethoxygaertneroside, epi-dihydrocornin, 6-alpha-hydroxyadoxoside, citrifolinin B epimers a and b, and 6b,7-beta-epoxy-8-epi-splendoside. A number of other compound classes have been reported. Flavonol glycosides include rutin, narcissoside, and nicotifloroside. Several known and new lignans, such as 3,3′-bisdemethylpinoresinol, americanol A, americanin A, americanoic acid A, morindolin, isoprincepin, and balanophonin, have been isolated. The coumarin scopoletin has also been identified. Similar to other plant parts, the fruits contain a wide spectrum of 1-hydroxyanthraquinones, albeit in much lower concentrations. These include novel compounds, such as 2-methoxy-1,3,6-trihydroxyanthraquinone and 5,15-dimethylmorindol. Finally, miscellaneous compounds, such as J-sitosterol and its 3-O-glucoside, ursolic acid, and 19-hydroxyursolic acid, cytidine, borreriagenin, and epiborreriagenin, iridoidderivative, succinic acid diesters, 4-hydroxy-3-methoxycinnamaldehyde, J-hydroxypropiovanillone, and vanillin have been isolated. Morindacin, previously reported as a new iridoid from noni fruit, was shown to be identical to borreriagenin.Potterat 2007
M. citrifolia fruits contain essential oils with hexanoic and octanoic acids, paraffin, and esters of ethyl and methyl alcohols.Morton 1981 Ripe fruits contain n-caproic acid, presumably responsible for the distinctive odor, known to attract insects such as Drosophilia sechellia.Higa 1993 Fresh plants contain anthraquinones, morindone, and alizarin.Morton 1981 A new anthraquinone glycoside from morinda heartwood has been described.Srivastava 1993 Damnacanthal, morindone, and alizarin are present in cell suspension cultures.Morton 1981
Uses and Pharmacology
Research examined the analgesic properties of a commercial juice in rats. The results showed that rats fed 10% and 20% noni juice had greater pain tolerance (162% and 212%, respectively) compared with the placebo group.(Chan-Blanco 2006) The analgesic and sedative effects of noni on mice using writhing and hotplate tests have been studied. Noni root extract (1,600 mg/kg) showed analgesic activity similar to the effect of morphine (75% and 81% protection using noni extract and morphine, respectively), and was nontoxic.(Chan-Blanco 2006)
Anoxiolytic and antidepressant
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-A receptor binding assays found weak activity in the hydrophilic fraction of noni fruit: the butanol and water partitions showed 78% and 81% displacement of GABA, respectively, from the GABA-A receptor at a concentration of 100 mg/mL. Hydrophobic petroleum ether and ethyl acetate partitions did not display remarkable binding activity with GABA-A receptors at this concentration.(Deng 2007)
The crude extract and hexane fractions inhibited M. tuberculosis at the high concentration of 100 mg/mL.(Saludes 2002)
Animal and experimental data
Noni precipitable fraction (ppt) also appears to stimulate the release of several mediators from murine effector cells, such as cytokines, which slow the cell cycle in tumors, increase the response of cells to other immunized cells that fight tumor growth, and have a potent macrophage activator activity, suspected of playing a role in the death of tumors.(Chan-Blanco 2006, Hirazumi 1996, Hirazumi 1999)
The immunomodulatory properties (capacity to enhance the host immune system) of noni juice have been studied(Hirazumi 1996, Hirazumi 1999); the juice appears to stimulate the production of T cells and thymocytes.(Hirazumi 1999) The ethanol-ppt of noni juice, a crude polysaccharide composed of glucuronic acid, galactose, arabinose, and rhamnose, had immunomodulatory and antitumor effects against Lewis lung carcinoma. In cell models, noni-ppt seems to stimulate the production of T cells, thymocytes, and macrophages that produce cytokines, important mediators of tumor cytostasis and cytotoxicity.(Chan-Blanco 2006)
In the same study, mice were implanted with Lewis lung carcinoma. Those ingesting a daily dose of 15 mg per 0.2 mL of noni juice had an increase (119%) in life span. Nine out of 22 tumored mice survived for more than 50 days. In addition, the ingestion of noni-ppt, combined with conventional chemotherapy in the treatment of mice with cancer, proved to increase life spans.(Hirazumi 1996)
Another study investigated the influence of damnacanthal, an anthraquinone extracted from a chloroform extract of noni roots, which induced the normal morphology in highly malignant K-ras-NKR cells.(Chan-Blanco 2006)
Another study showed that commercial noni juice (Tahitian Noni Juice) prevents the formation of chemical carcinogen-DNA-adduct. In this study, rats with induced cancer fed for 1 week with 10% noni juice in their drinking water and rat chow ad libitum showed reduced DNA-adduct formation, depending on gender and organ. Reduction rates were as follows: in female rats, heart 30%, liver 42%, lungs 41%, and kidneys 80%; in male rats, heart 60%, liver 70%, lungs 50%, and kidneys 90%.(Chan-Blanco 2006)
Noni-ppt showed synergistic or additive beneficial effects when combined with a broad spectrum of chemotherapeutic drugs, including cisplatin, adriamycin, mitomycin-C, bleomycin, etoposide, 5-fluorouracil, vincristine, or camptothecin. However, it was not beneficial when combined with paclitaxel, cytosine arabinoside, or immunosuppressive anticancer drugs such as cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, or 6-thioguanine. Noni-ppt also demonstrated beneficial effects when combined with the T helper cell, type 1 (Th1) cytokine, interferon gamma, but its activity was abolished when combined with Th2 cytokines, interleukin-4 or interleukin-10, thereby suggesting that noni-ppt induces a Th1 dominant immune status in vivo. The combination of noni-ppt with imexon, a synthetic immunomodulator, also demonstrated beneficial effects, but not when combined with the MVE-2 copolymer, a high molecular weight immunomodulator. It was also not effective when combined with interleukin-2 or interleukin-12.(Furusawa 2003)
M. citrifolia has been evaluated for its anticancer activity on Lewis lung carcinoma in mice. It increased life span repeatedly in different batches of mice, all yielding similar results. The proposed mechanism is enhancement of the immune system, with macrophage and lymphocyte involvement.(Furusawa 2003, Hirazumi 1994)
Glycosides NB10 and NB11 were isolated from noni fruits. These compounds, used in in vitro testing, suppress 12-O-tedtradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate or epidermal growth factor and AP-1, which may indicate a potential to reduce epidermal tumor cells by the inhibition of AP-1.(Liu 2001)
New anthraquinones were isolated from noni fruits that have potential as chemopreventive agents. More research needs to be completed on hepatotoxicity before chemoprevention is confirmed.(Pawlus 2005)
Damnacanthal from M. citrifolia root induced normal morphology and cytoskeletal structure in Kirsten-reticular activating system (RAS) normal rat kidney transformed cells (precursors to certain cancer types). This extract was most effective in inhibiting RAS function among the 500 extracts tested.(Hiramatsu 1993)
There was no tumor regression from a dose of 500 mg extract (concentration not listed).(Legal 1994)
Animal and experimental data
The anti-inflammatory activity of an aqueous extract from noni juice was observed by inducing a locally acute inflammatory response, with the help of a proinflammatory agent (bradykinin). The oral administration of a noni juice extract (200 mg) rapidly inhibited the formation of rat paw edema possibly by interference with the B2 receptor-mediated mechanism by which bradykinin induces rat paw edema.(Chan-Blanco 2006)
Another study showed that commercial noni juice has a selective inhibition effect on the cyclooxygenase enzymes (COX-1 and COX-2).(Heinicke 1983) The inhibition of the activity of these enzymes by noni juice was compared with that of commercial traditional nonsteroidal inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, indomethacin, and celecoxib. Noni juice showed selective inhibition of COX enzyme activity in vitro and a strong anti-inflammatory effect comparable with that of celecoxib.
Noni fruit contains relatively large amounts of sugars that do not ferment at ambient temperatures when the fruit is stored in closed containers, used to transport the fruit by boat from scattered Pacific islands to processing plants without specific treatment.
It has been reported that noni inhibits the growth of bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Proteus morgaii, Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, Helicobacter pylori, Salmonella, and Shigella.(Chan-Blanco 2006) The antimicrobial effect may be due to the presence of phenolic compounds, such as acubin, L-asperuloside, alizarin, scopoletin, and other anthraquinones. One study showed that an acetonitrile extract of the dried fruit inhibited the growth of P. aeruginosa, B. subtilis, E. coli, and Streptococcus pyogenes.(Chan-Blanco 2006, Locher 1995)
Ethanol and hexane extracts of noni have an antitubercular effect, inhibiting the growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis by 89% to 95%.(Saludes 2002) The major components identified in the hexane extract were E-phytol, cycloartenol, stigmasterol, b-sitosterol, campesta-5,7,22-trien-3-b-ol, and the ketosteroids, stigmasta-4-en-3-one, and stigmasta-4-22-dien-3-one.
Other studies have reported an antimicrobial effect on different strains of Salmonella, Shigella, and E. coli.(Dittmar 1993) Furthermore, they showed that the antimicrobial effect is highly dependent on the stage of ripeness and on processing, being greater when the fruit is ripe without drying.(Hirazumi 1996, Hirazumi 1999)
The antioxidant properties of ethanol and ethyl acetate extracts of noni fruit have been assessed using the ferric thiocyanate method and thiobarbituric acid test. Ethyl acetate extract exhibited strong inhibition of lipid oxidation compared with the same weight of pure alpha-tocopherol and butylated hydroxy toluene.(Chan-Blanco 2006)
Radical scavenging activity was also measured in vitro by the tetrazolium nitroblue assay on a commercial juice, by assessing the potential capacity of the juice to protect cells or lipids from oxidative alteration promoted by superoxide anion radicals (SAR). The SAR scavenging activity of noni juice was 2.8 times higher than that of vitamin C, 1.4 times that of pycnogenol, and almost of the same order as that of grape seed powder.(Chan-Blanco 2006) New iridoid glucosides isolated from methanol extracts of noni fruits, neolignan, and americanin A were found to be potent antioxidants.(Su 2005)
Clinically, noni juice was observed to significantly reduce dyslipidemia induced by oxidative stress caused by smoking cigarettes. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 134 adult heavy smokers (average, 32 pack-years) were randomized to 30 days of noni juice (29.5 or 118 mL) or 118 mL of a placebo devoid of iridoid glycosides. Significant decreases (P<0.001 to P<0.05) in mean total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), triglycerides, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein were observed in both noni dose groups compared with baseline while slight increases were documented in the placebo group. The magnitude of the effect was proportional to the baseline parameter level.(Wang 2012)
M. citrifolia-leaf extract inhibited Epstein-Barr virus with a strongly active inhibitory effect of more than 70%.(Murakami 1995)
Recent research has demonstrated the effects of noni fruit on preventing arteriosclerosis, a disease related to the oxidation of LDL. Methanol and ethyl acetate extracts showed, using the thiobarbituric acid reactive substance method, an 88% and 96% inhibition, respectively, of copper-induced LDL oxidation. This beneficial effect could be due to the presence of lignans.(Chan-Blanco 2006)
It has been demonstrated that when noni-ppt is mixed with interferon-lambda, it produces high levels of nitrite offering immunomodulation, evidence that it is effective as an anticancer ingredient.(Hirazumi 1996) Noni-ppt increases macrophage activity and nitric oxide production.(Hirazumi 1999)
Postoperative nausea and vomiting
The American Society of Enhanced Recovery and Society for Ambulatory Anesthesia's 2020 updated guideline for the management of postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) recommends multimodal prophylaxis in adults with at least 1 risk factor. As a nonpharmacologic option, they noted results from one study that indicated 600 mg noni fruit (M. citrifolia) was more effective than placebo in reducing the incidence of early nausea (level A3).(Gan 2020)
M. citrifolia has been used medicinally as a heart remedy, and for arthritis (by wrapping the leaves around affected joints), headache (local application of leaves on the forehead), GI problems, and liver ailments.(Morton 1981)
It has been theorized that xeronine works at a molecular level to repair damaged cells, regulating their function. It has been claimed that all body cells and systems, including digestive, respiratory, bones, and skin can benefit.(Moniz 1994)
An overview of traditional applications of the plant in Samoan culture is available.(Dittmar 1993)
Alcoholic extracts of M. citrifolia leaves displayed anthelmintic activity in vitro against the human parasite Ascaris lumbricoides.(Raj 1975) Lyophilized aqueous root extracts of the plant showed central analgesic activity, among other effects, suggesting sedative properties.(Younos 1990)
The fruit of the plant is used as a food, layered in sugar. Leaves are also consumed raw or cooked. The roots yield a red dye, the bark a yellow dye.(Morton 1981)
A phase 1 clinical trial focusing on dosage, toxicity, and tumor-fighting capabilities of freeze-dried noni was completed.Issell 2005
Pregnancy / Lactation
Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.
Fosphenytoin-phenytoin: Noni may decrease the serum concentration of fosphenytoin-phenytoin. Monitor therapy.(Kang 2015)
Warfarin: Noni may diminish the therapeutic effect of warfarin. No action needed.(Carr 2004)
The European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) clinical practice guideline for drug-induced liver injury (2019) recommends physicians consider herbal and dietary supplements as potential causative agents associated with liver injury (Level 4; Grade C), including noni juice.EASL 2019
There is debate about whether hepatotoxicity is caused by noni or by other medically compromising situations.West 2006
High levels of octanoic acid are found in ripe noni fruits, which is toxic in flies, but no human studies have been completed.Liu 2001
The usual recommended dose of noni juice is 30 mL/day, which would result in the intake of 1.66 mEq/d of potassium. Given that the potassium content of noni juice is 56.3 mEq/L, patients with renal dysfunction who drink large volumes of noni juice may be at risk for hyperkalemia. Patients with kidney disease and unexplained hyperkalemia should be queried about their ingestion of herbal remedies and alternative medicine products because noni may increase potassium levels.Mueller 2000
The European Food Safety Authority found no link between adverse hepatic effects and consumption of noni juice; continued monitoring is advised.Potterat 2007
Dosages of 750 mL/day were found to be safe and a case report implicating noni anthraquinones in hepatotoxicity ignored coadministration of beta-interferon, a documented cause of hepatic impairment.West 2006, West 2006
The median lethal dose (LD50) of noni fruit is greater than 15,000 mg/kg. Compounds are considered nontoxic if the acute oral LD50 is greater than 5,000 mg/kg, or if the acute intraperitoneal LD50 is greater than 2,000 mg/kg. The LD50 's of noni fruit and crude extracts are greater than the minimum criteria for nontoxic status.West 2006
Rats treated with a noni juice concentrate did not show DNA repair synthesis in primary hepatocytes, nor were DNA adducts or DNA strand breaks observed. High-performance liquid chromatography analysis of noni juice for anthraquinones was negative, with a sensitivity of less than 1 ppm. In summary, chemical analysis and genotoxicity tests reveal that noni juice does not have genotoxic potential and that genotoxic anthraquinones are not detectable in noni juice.Westendorf 2007
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