When I walked into my favorite juice bar last week, I was excited to see a new ingredient on the menu. Noni juice was part of the 'Special Drink of the Week.' I'd heard of noni before but had honestly never tried it, mainly because I'd been told it's pretty stinky and doesn't taste good!
However, it was being advertised as a "superfood". As you know, superfoods are one of my favorite things so I grabbed my juice then sat down with my laptop to find out exactly what makes noni so special (and smelly!)
The cashier told me that the taste wouldn't be too potent because the noni had been blended with many other juices. She said that the benefits I would feel from drinking it were well worth overcoming the strange taste and odor. Have you ever heard of noni juice? If not, come join me as I explore all the benefits that noni and noni juice have to offer you.
What is Noni?
According to WebMD, noni is a small evergreen tree, sometimes referred to as a shrub, that grows in the Pacific Islands, Australia, Southeast Asia, and India. You'll mostly find it growing in areas with lava flow. The noni plant has white flowers while the fruit is a yellow-greenish-white color with a bumpy surface and is known to have a bad, cheese-like odor.
The following YouTube video with Dr. Tim in Honolulu gives a great overview of noni fruit. He takes you on a tour of his noni fruit plantation so you can see the fruit tree and how it's harvested. He agrees that it doesn't taste or smell good!
Back in the day, noni was used to make red and yellow dyes for clothing and to help treat skin conditions.
The East West School of Planetary Herbology states that noni was so special that it was one of the plants "the Polynesians regarded highly enough to bring them in their 2000 mile-long open sea voyage from the Marquesas' islands around 400 A.D., which led to their discovery of the Hawaiian islands."
Today you'll find it being used for a whole host of ailments. One thing to bear in mind is that the FDA warned that some noni juice manufacturers make claims that aren't backed by facts.
FDA aside, the internet is littered with claims that noni juice is a great addition to your diet. You'll find it referred to as a "tropic fruit with 101 medical uses" or the "Aspirin of the Ancients" and you'll see it advertised as a way to help with a variety of disorders such as cancer, depression and anxiety, AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, and senility.
These are just a few of the many conditions that noni has been said to assist. Drugs.com lists even more potential uses - such as using the bark to treat bacterial infections, infant diarrhea, and stomach issues.They note that the flowers have been used to treat eye conditions such as soreness, irritation, styes and conjuctivitis.
The fresh fruit is used for cancer while the dried leaves can treat burns, fevers and bacterial infections. I do have to mention again that none of these claims are backed by much research or the FDA, so your mileage may vary.
I always find it interesting when the FDA hasn't approved something but there are thousands of claims online that it's a super cure or a super food. When that happens, I like to let the evidence speak for itself. So here goes...
What's in Noni Juice?
Noni includes components such as:
- Flavonoids (antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory compounds)
- Fatty acids
- Anthraquinones (anticancer, antiviral compounds)
If you want a comprehensive list of the ingredients, check out Science Direct. It details everything you could ever want to know about noni fruit.
Okay, so you might be thinking, "But I have no idea what most of those words mean!" That's why I'm here to help you. Stick with me as I discuss the benefits of all these scientific and seemingly boring words.
5 Noni Juice Benefits for Health
Noni contains very important phytonutrient compounds called flavonoids. Phytonutrients are plant chemicals found in almost all fruits and vegetables. They are responsible for the beautiful and vivid colors you see in the produce aisle.
Flavonoids are more than just a pretty color however. They are also the largest group of phytonutrients out there. According to LiveScience, "flavonoids are powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits."
Diets high in flavonoids have been associated with preventing cancer, neurodegenerative disease and heart disease, though it's not specifically certain if its flavonoids themselves that are responsible but not a bad association to be a part of!
Research on the anticancer benefits of noni is still in its infancy, however there are studies that show hopeful results when it comes to this topic. This study found "a possible unidentified substance in unpasteurized noni fruit juice that may have a small degree of anticancer activity."
Quercetin is also a phytonutrient found in noni that is said to possibly help reduce our risk of cancer.
Another study, conducted by researchers at the University of Hawaii, found that laboratory mice who were injected with cancer cells and then treated with several daily doses of noni had 105-123% longer lifespan than mice with no treatment.
It was concluded that "Noni juice acts as an anti-cancer agent by indirectly enhancing the cancer host's immune system of macrophages and/or lymphocytes.
Dr. D.L. Davis, Senior Science Advisor to the U.S. Public Health Service, states, "Phytochemicals can take tumors and defuse them. They can turn off the proliferative process of cancer."
Dr. Paul Taladay of John Hopkins Medical Institute also found that certain phytochemicals can prevent animals from developing cancer even when they were exposed to chemicals that cause cancer.
3. Vitamin & Mineral Powerhouse
According to Science Direct, noni contains several important nutrients, such as vitamin C, E, manganese, selenium and niacin.
The list doesn't end there though. Organic Facts lists even more vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that are found inside noni juice. They include:
- Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12
- Beta carotene
B vitamins are essential for healthy living. According to MedLine Plus, B vitamins "help the process your body uses to get or make energy from the food you eat. They also help form red blood cells." If you don't get enough of certain B vitamins, it can actually cause disease. If you become deficient in vitamins B12 and B6, you can become anaemic.
Folate is important for converting your food into fuel. More specifically, it helps turn carbohydrates into glucose to give you energy. Beta-carotene does an incredible for your body, such as preventing eye disease, cancer and some forms of arthritis. These just scratch the surface though. You can see all that beta-carotene has to offer here.
Kinki University in Japan conducted a study on the anti-aging benefits of noni. Their article first explains that as you age, changes in your skin are more noticeable in areas that are frequently exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. The most affected areas are of course your hands and your face - the parts you cover the least when exposed to the elements.
Chronic UV exposure encourages "photoaging" which is the "pigmented spots and wrinkles in the skin." Current ozone layer depletion due to global lack of environmental concern increases the amount of photoaging that takes place.
Sunscreens and cosmetics companies have rushed to protect us from these harmful UV rays but some is still able to pass through the skin.
That being said, researchers on this study were looking for some natural resources that might also help protect your skin from the sun and aging. When hearing the benefits of noni, they chose that as the subject of their study.
Through their research they found that noni seeds are "related to prevention of pigmented spots and wrinkles by photoaging." Though further research is needed, they may be a useful supplement when it comes to aging and beauty regimens.
5. Antifungal and Antibacterial
Studies have shown that noni can have a positive effect on fighting fungus. This study found that noni can inhibit the growth of candida albicans. Candida albicans is a fungus that can live in your gastrointestinal tract and cause yeast infections.
Noni has also been found to have antibacterial properties. This is linked to compounds called anthraquinones. Plants containing anthraquinones have been used medicinally for centuries. According to Consumer Health, most have "significant antiseptic (antibacterial) effect to disease causing bacteria in the intestinal tract.
This compound is especially toxic to the pathogens shigella and salmonella." Anthraquinones are also known to be effective at fighting staphylococcus - a cause of serious skin infections.
Consumer Health goes on to state that "anthraquinones in noni prompt the digestive secretions of the stomach and small intestines, stimulate bile flow and promote the activity of the entire digestive process." Lastly, one of my favorite benefit of these compounds is that it can actually "reverse cancer cell proliferation at the gene level."
Just think, anthraquinones are just ONE of the many amazing components of noni fruit.
Where to Find Noni Juice
Now that you know all the amazing benefits of noni juice you are probably wondering where you can buy it. I recently ordered some organic, raw noni juice on Amazon. You can also buy it in capsule form or as I found, some fancy juice bars may add it to their drinks as well.
When I was researching additional ways to find noni juice, I found that you can actually go and pick your own! Noni is an extremely popular fruit and beverage in Hawaii and there are farms that allow you to go and pick your own fruit. What an amazing experience! I think maybe I'll tell my husband I have to go do some "research" in Hawaii!
Noni Juice Precautions
According to the National Institutes of Health, noni juice has been advertised in the United States since 1996, but is not currently approved by the FDA. The European Commission approved noni as a "novel food" in Europe in 2003.
There are a couple tidbits of information I must share with you before I go. While there are few side effects reported for noni, I must tell you about the most serious ones.
Noni has been linked to negative side effects in people with kidney problems. This is due to the its high potassium content. This means people on potassium-restricted diets should take extra caution and speak with their physician if they are considering noni juice.
WebMD also mentions using caution if you have liver disease. There have been several reports of noni being linked to liver damage.
In terms of normal toxicity, Drugs.com suggest that taking 30 to 750 mL per day would not be toxic, 500 mg if you are taking extract.
As with any supplementation or change in diet, you'll want to consult your physician, especially if you have liver or kidney issues. Otherwise, noni juice might be a great addition to your diet.
The Last Word on Noni Juice Benefits
Noni juice is another one of those amazing fruits that has the potential to address a multitude of illnesses. Noni's plethora of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals make it a great antifungal, anticancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-aging powerhouse.
While these numerous claims are not backed by the FDA, one thing is certain - there are tons of people out there who beg to differ. Have you tried noni or noni juice yourself? I would love to hear about it in the comments below. Let me know what, if anything, noni juice has done for you!