Habitat & Cultivation : Native to South-East Asia originally, noni has extended its distribution to India in the west and across the Pacific to eastern Polynesia and Hawaii. Thriving in volcanic soils found in coastal areas and lowland forests, it tends to flourish up to approximately 400 m (1,300 ft) above sea level. Historically, noni was seldom cultivated, but in recent times, cultivation practices have increased. The harvesting of the fruit occurs when it reaches ripeness, and other parts of the tree are selectively picked as needed.
Parts Used : Fruit and juice, leaves, bark.
Constituents : The noni fruit is composed of polysaccharides, coumarins, iridoids, flavonoids, and alkaloids. No distinctive active compounds exclusive to noni have been specifically identified.
History & Folklore : In Polynesia, various parts of the noni plant have been utilized for a minimum of 2,000 years, primarily for combating infections and addressing chronic illnesses. For instance, noni leaves are employed in the treatment of boils and stomach ulcers, and when chewed, they are applied as a poultice to alleviate inflammation. Traditional healers in Hawaii have a longstanding practice of using noni to support the recovery process following episodes of serious illness.
Medicinal Actions & Uses : Since the late 1990s, information about the purported medicinal benefits of noni has become widespread, presenting it as a medicinal food with a wide range of potential applications. These include potential treatments for conditions such as obesity, diabetes, cancer, pain, compromised immunity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and depression. Given the extensive list, skepticism about the medicinal value of noni is understandable. Nevertheless, noni fruit and juice are unlikely to cause harm and may offer potential benefits in addressing chronic illnesses, including pain, inflammatory disorders, heart and circulatory issues, and cancer. Traditionally, the fruit juice is utilized as a mouthwash and gargle for infections in the mouth and throat. It is often recommended to consume noni juice on an empty stomach.
Research : Limited research on noni suggests its potential to support immune function and be beneficial in addressing chronic inflammation. A 2012 review of noni research suggested that the fruit “may have a small degree of anti-cancer activity.” One proposed theory is that noni contains substantial levels of proxeronine, necessary for the body to produce xeronine. This alkaloid is believed to assist cells throughout the body in countering inflammation, promoting healing, and supporting cellular regulation. During periods of stress or infection, the body’s demand for xeronine increases, and it is speculated that many individuals may lack sufficient proxeronine to maintain adequate xeronine levels.