What is it?
Noni is a small evergreen tree in the Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, Australia, and India that often grows among lava flows. Historically, noni was used to make a red or yellow dye for clothing. It was also used as medicine, usually applied to the skin.
Today, noni fruit, leaves, flowers, stems, bark, and roots are still used to make medicine for a long list of ailments. However, the effectiveness of noni for these uses has not been proven. A study of noni freeze-dried fruit extract is underway at The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, but the results are not yet in. In the meantime, the FDA has issued multiple warnings to noni manufacturers about health claims that aren’t backed up by fact.
People take noni by mouth for colic, convulsions, cough, diabetes, painful urination, stimulating menstrual flow, fever, liver disease, constipation, vaginal discharge during pregnancy, malarial fever, and nausea. It is also used for smallpox, enlarged spleen, swelling, asthma, arthritis and other bone and joint problems, cancer, cataracts, colds, depression, digestive problems, and gastric ulcers. Other uses include high blood pressure, infections, kidney disorders, migraine headache, premenstrual syndrome, stroke, pain, and sedation.
The fruit juice is used for arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, muscle aches and pains, menstrual difficulties, headaches, heart disease, AIDS, cancers, gastric ulcers, sprains, depression, senility, poor digestion, atherosclerosis, circulation problems, and drug addiction.
The leaves have been used in medicines for rheumatic aches and swelling of the joints, stomachache, dysentery, and swelling caused by a parasitic infection called filariasis. The bark has been used in a preparation to aid childbirth.
Noni is sometimes applied to the skin. It is used as a moisturizer and to reduce signs of aging. The leaves are used for arthritis by wrapping around the affected joint; for headache by applying to the forehead; and for burns, sores, and wounds by direct application. A mixture of leaves and fruit is applied to pockets of infection (abscesses), and preparations of the root are used on stonefish and sting-ray wounds, and as a smallpox salve.
In foods, the fruits, leaves, roots, seeds, and bark are eaten.
The smell and taste of some Noni fruit and juice are unpleasant.
How effective is it?
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
The effectiveness ratings for NONI are as follows:
Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...
- Cancer. Early research suggests that taking 6-8 grams of noni daily might improve physical function, fatigue, and pain in people with advanced cancer. However, noni does not seem to reduce tumor size.
- Age-related spinal damage (cervical spondylosis). Early research suggests that taking noni juice while participating in physiotherapy for 4 weeks can reduce neck pain and improve neck flexibility compared to physiotherapy alone. However, treatment with physiotherapy alone seems to relive pain and improve flexibility better than noni juice alone.
- Exercise performance. Early research suggests that drinking a juice containing noni, grapefruit, and blackberry juices for 21 days can increase exercise endurance in distance runners.
- Hearing loss. Early research suggests that drinking 4 ounces of noni juice daily for 3 months does not improve hearing in hearing-impaired women.
- High blood pressure. Early research suggests that drinking 4 ounces of a specific noni juice (Tahitian Noni Juice) daily for one month can reduce blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.
- Osteoarthritis. Early research suggests that drinking 3 ounces of a specific noni juice (Tahitian Noni Juice) daily for 90 days can reduce the need for pain relievers and improve quality of life in people with osteoarthritis.
- Nausea and vomiting after surgery. Noni fruit might reduce nausea. Some research shows that it reduces nausea after surgery. However, it does not appear to affect vomiting.
- Urinary problems.
- Menstrual problems.
- Liver problems.
- Vaginal discharge.
- Enlarged spleen.
- Kidney disorders.
- Eye cataracts.
- Digestion problems.
- Stomach ulcers.
- Heart trouble.
- Reducing signs of aging.
- Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate noni for these uses.
Noni contains many substances, including potassium. Some of these substances might help repair damaged cells in the body, activate the immune system, and have other activities.
Noni is POSSIBLY SAFE when the fruit is consumed as food. However, there is concern that taking noni in medicinal amounts is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. Noni tea or juice might cause liver damage in some people. There are several reports of liver damage in people who drank noni tea or juice for several weeks. However, it is not known for certain if noni was the cause.
Special precautions & warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Do not take noni if you are pregnant. Historically, noni has been used to cause abortions. It is also best to avoid noni if you are breast-feeding. Not enough is known about the safety of taking noni during breast-feeding.
Kidney problems: Noni contains large amounts of potassium. This can be a problem, especially for people with kidney disease. There is one report of a person with kidney disease developing high levels of potassium in the blood after drinking noni juice. Don’t use noni if you have kidney problems.
High potassium levels: Drinking noni fruit juice might increase potassium levels and make them even higher in people with already too much potassium in their body.
Liver disease: Noni has been linked to several cases of liver damage. Avoid using noni if you have liver disease.
Be cautious with this combination.
Medications for high blood pressure (ACE inhibitors)
Some medications for high blood pressure can increase potassium levels in the blood. Consuming noni juice along with these medications for high blood pressure might cause too much potassium in the blood.
Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril), ramipril (Altace), and others.
Medications for high blood pressure (Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs))
Some medications for high blood pressure can increase potassium levels in the blood. Consuming noni juice along with these medications for high blood pressure might cause too much potassium to be in the blood.
Some medications for high blood pressure include losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), irbesartan (Avapro), candesartan (Atacand), telmisartan (Micardis), eprosartan (Teveten), and others.
Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs)
Drinking noni juice can lower blood pressure in some people. Taking noni along with medications used for lowering high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low. However, it's not known if this is a big concern. Do not take too much noni juice if you are taking medications for high blood pressure.
Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), Amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDiuril), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.
Medications that can harm the liver (Hepatotoxic drugs)
Noni might harm the liver. Taking noni along with medication that might also harm the liver can increase the risk of liver damage. Do not take noni if you are taking a medication that can harm the liver.
Some medications that can harm the liver include acetaminophen (Tylenol and others), amiodarone (Cordarone), carbamazepine (Tegretol), isoniazid (INH), methotrexate (Rheumatrex), methyldopa (Aldomet), fluconazole (Diflucan), itraconazole (Sporanox), erythromycin (Erythrocin, Ilosone, others), phenytoin (Dilantin), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), simvastatin (Zocor), and many others.
Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. Taking noni juice might decrease how well warfarin (Coumadin) works to slow blood clotting. This could increase the chance of blood clotting.
Water pills (Potassium-sparing diuretics)
Noni contains large amounts of potassium. Some "water pills" can also increase potassium levels in the body. Taking some "water pills" along with noni might cause too much potassium to be in the body.
Some "water pills" that increase potassium in the body include amiloride (Midamor), spironolactone (Aldactone), and triamterene (Dyrenium).
Be watchful with this combination.
Noni juice can increase how much rantidine the body absorbs. This might increase the effects and side effects of rantidine.
Herbs and supplements that can harm the liver (Hepatotoxic herbs)
There is concern that noni might cause liver damage in some people. Using noni with other herbs or supplements that might harm the liver could increase this risk. Some of these products include androstenedione, chaparral, comfrey, DHEA, fo-ti, germander, kava, niacin, pennyroyal oil, red yeast, and others.
Herbs and supplements that might lower blood pressure
Drinking noni juice can lower blood pressure. Using it along with other herbs and supplements that have this same effect might increase the risk of blood pressure becoming too low in some people. Some of these products include andrographis, casein peptides, cat's claw, coenzyme Q-10, fish oil, L-arginine, lycium, stinging nettle, theanine, and others.
Noni juice contains a lot of potassium. Drinking noni juice along with potassium supplements might increase potassium levels too much.
There are no known interactions with foods.
The appropriate dose of noni depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for noni. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.
Ba Ji Tian, Bois Douleur, Canarywood, Cheese Fruit, Hai Ba Ji, Hawaiian Noni, Hog Apple, Indian Mulberry, Jus de Noni, Luoling, Mengkudu, Menkoedoe, Mora de la India, Morinda, Morinda citrifolia, Mulberry, Mûre Indienne, Nhau, Noni Juice, Nono, Nonu, Pau-Azeitona, Rotten Cheese Fruit, Ruibarbo Caribe, Tahitian Noni Juice, Ura, Wild Pine, Wu Ning, Yor.
To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.methodology (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/methodology.html).
To see all references for the Noni page, please go to http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/758.html.
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Last reviewed - 10/30/2014
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