What is Noni Juice? Benefits & Side Effects

Noni juice is a popular health beverage that provides numerous health benefits. Derived from the fruit of the Morinda citrifolia tree, noni juice is rich in potent antioxidants. People have used this egg-shaped fruit since ancient times for boosting the immune system and detoxification.

Studies also show that noni juice improves joint health, increases physical endurance, raises immune activity,  lowers cholesterol, and prevents cancer.

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What is noni fruit?

Noni is the fruit of the Morinda citrifolia tree that belongs to the Rubiaceae family. It is found in South East Asia, Australia, and the island of Polynesia. It is known as mengkudu in Indonesia and Malaysia, pace in Java, apatot in the Philippines, and Indian mulberry in India.

The height of the noni tree ranges from three to ten meters. It has rounded branches and thick, shiny leaves and reddish brown seeds.

This yellow fruit is the size of a mango and is bitter. It has a distinct flavor that is similar to stinky cheese.

History of noni juice

Noni fruit and leaves have a long history of use as a folk medicine among the Pacific Islanders and in the South and Southeast Asia. The Rarotongans ate this fruit, and the Burmese used it to make curries. The Australian aborigines in the northern territory of Australia also ate noni fruit during the cool-dry season.

In Java and Thailand, noni leaves are eaten in both raw and cooked form. In Tahiti, people wrap fish in noni leaves before baking to impart an appealing flavor.

Noni was brought to Hawaii about 1700 years ago by Polynesian explorers.

Noni was also used traditionally for intestinal issues. The leaves were applied to wounds and injuries that caused swelling.

Nutritional facts of noni juice

Noni juice is often mixed with sweeteners and other fruit juices to mask its bitter taste. This blending of different juices often leads to nutritional variability in different brands of noni juice. The Tahitian Noni Juice is one of the most popular brands of noni juice, and it contains 98 % noni juice and 11% grape and blueberry juice concentrates.

A 100 ml serving of  Tahitian Noni juice contains (1) –

  • Calories: 47
  • Carbohydrates: 11 grams
  • Proteins: Lower than one gram
  • Fat: Lower than one gram
  • Sugar: 8 grams
  • Vitamin C: 33% of RDI
  • Biotin: 17% of RDI
  • Folate: 6% of RDI
  • Magnesium: 4% of RDI
  • Potassium: 3% of RDI
  • Calcium: 3% of RDI
  • Vitamin E: 3% of RDI

Health benefits of noni juice

1. Rich in antioxidants

Noni juice is rich in powerful antioxidants like beta carotene, iridoids, vitamin C, and vitamin E (2). According to researchers, the health benefits of noni juice are due to its antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties (3).

Antioxidants improve health by preventing cellular damage caused by free radicals.

2. Helps reduce damage caused by tobacco smoke

Tobacco smoke contains many toxic and carcinogenic chemicals, unstable free radicals, and reactive oxygen species in the particulate and the gas phase that can cause biological oxidative damage.

According to a study from Department of Pathology, UIC College of Medicine, Rockford, when heavy smokers were given 118 ml of noni juice from Tahiti for 30 days, they experienced a 30 % reduction in free radicals compared to their baseline levels (4).

Research also showed that noni juice was able to mitigate the damage of DNA in heavy smokers, an activity associated with the presence of iridoids (5).

3. Prevents cancer

Noni juice had been used in Polynesian cultures to prevent cancer. Scientific research shows that noni juice acts as an antioxidant and slows the transformation of healthy cells to cancer cells in animal studies.

According to a 2001 study from UIC College of Medicine, noni juice prevents carcinogen-DNA adduct formation and antioxidant activity of TNJ, which contributes to its cancer preventive effect (6).

4. Improves joint pain and mobility

The noni plant is used as a topical treatment for pain in alternative tropical medicine. Noni possesses some anti-inflammatory properties that help improve joint pain.

During a study, 90 patients with cervical spondylosis were treated with noni juice, a combination of noni juice and physiotherapy or physiotherapy alone for four weeks. The results showed a more significant reduction in pain and improved neck flexibility in the group that received noni juice combined with physiotherapy as compared to the other two groups (7).

In another study, when patients of osteoarthritis took three ounces of noni juice every day for three months, they noticed a significant reduction in pain and a marked improvement in the quality of life (8).

5. Boosts immunity

Fermented noni juice contains anti-inflammatory and quinine reductase inducing compounds (9). Noni also contains amino acids which help boost the immune system. Of the 17 amino acids present in noni juice, serine, arginine, and methionine are particularly helpful in keeping the body healthy.

Noni juice is also rich in vitamin C, which supports the immune system by protecting the cells from free radical damage and environmental toxins. The beta carotenes present in noni juice also help boost immunity.

6. Improves physical endurance

Pacific islanders believed that consuming ripe noni fruit could invigorate the body during long fishing trips and ocean voyages.

A 2008 study evaluated the ability of noni juice to improve endurance in athletes. During the study, 40 highly trained athletes drank 100 ml of Tahitian noni juice twice daily. The results showed that noni juice consumption increased endurance (time to fatigue) by 21 % and improved antioxidant status as measured by a 25% decrease in blood chemiluminescence (10).

A 2007 animal-based study from China also showed that noni juice could combat fatigue, improve endurance, and increase overall physical performance (11).

Researchers believe noni improves physical endurance thanks to its increased antioxidant content. The antioxidants reduce damage to muscle tissue that occurs during exercise.

8. Reduces cholesterol levels

According to a study published in The Scientific World Journal, when 132 heavy smokers drank noni juice for a month, their total cholesterol and LDL levels decreased significantly, and the levels of DHL improved.

Another study evaluated the potential cholesterol-lowering effect of a commercial noni fruit juice blend, Tahitian Noni Original Bioactive (TNOB) in 10 non-smoking subjects with normal to mild cholesterol levels.

TNOB showed a trend towards lowering total cholesterol and LDL levels while increasing HDL levels in nonsmokers. Noni fruit juice has the potential to reduce cholesterol levels in nonsmokers, perhaps via its inhibitory effects on HMG-CoA reductase and ACAT enzymes as its possible mechanism of action (12).

9. Cellular repair

Noni juice contains alkaloids, which help to maintain a healthy balance in the body and are essential for cellular repair.

According to Dr. Ralph Heinicke, a biochemist who has researched the active compounds of noni for many years, noni contains proxeronine, which is an alkaloid precursor to xeronine. Noni helps to normalize the abnormally functioning cells by providing proxeronine, which cells then assemble into tile alkaloid xeronine.

According to Dr. Ralph Heinicke, noni offers a safe and effective way to increase xeronine levels, which can be decreased by stress, trauma, injury, anger, and disease (13).

10. Prevents leishmaniasis

Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease that occurs in tropical areas and southern Europe. This disease caused by parasites affects thousands of people around the world, causes lesions on the skin. The treatment for this disease is chemotherapy, which can be debilitating.

A 2016 animal-based study found noni to be effective in decreasing lesion size and parasitic load. Researchers observed no toxicity at the end of the treatment (14).

Side effects of noni juice

Noni is safe when consumed in food amounts. However, it can cause some problems when consumed in medicinal amounts. In 2005 some cases of liver toxicity were reported in people drinking noni juice (15). However, the European Food Safety Authority later re-evaluated the fruit and concluded that noni juice alone did not cause these issues.

Noni juice also contains large amounts of potassium, which can cause problems for people with kidney disease.

Avoid taking noni juice if you are pregnant as this juice can cause abortions. We do not know enough about the safety of drinking noni juice while breastfeeding, so it is best to avoid it if you are breastfeeding.

Medications for high blood pressure like ACE inhibitors and Angiotensin receptor blockers interact with noni.

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Noni can also interact with Warfarin and increase the change of blood clotting. Taking noni, along with water pills, can increase the levels of potassium in the body.

Final thoughts

Noni juice is a tropical drink that is derived from the fruit of the Morinda citrifolia tree. This yellow fruit is the size of a mango and is bitter to taste. It has a distinct flavor that can be compared to stinky cheese. Noni juice is rich in powerful antioxidants like beta carotene, iridoids, vitamin C, and vitamin E.

These nutrients provide this beverage with many health benefits. It helps reduce damage caused by tobacco smoke, prevents cancer, improves pain and mobility, boosts immunity, improves physical endurance, lowers cholesterol levels, is essential for cellular repair, and prevents leishmaniasis.

Though noni juice is safe for most people, in some rare cases, it can cause liver toxicity. People with kidney disease, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid consuming noni juice.

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