What is Noni?
Noni is the fruit of Morinda citrifolia, a tree native to Australasia, South East Asia and the Carribean. The fruit is large and white, and also known as Great Morinda, Indian or Beach Mulberry and Cheese Fruit. Traditionally, the fruit is eaten as a "last resort" food, due to its strong odour and unpleasant taste, and along with leaves and root, used in traditional Polynesian medicine to treat a number of ailments. It has been sold commercially for its many claimed health benefits since 1992 and is a popular alternative treatment and has surged in popularity since then, with celebrities like Miranda Kerr coming out as devotees.
Where does Noni come from?
Noni is grown widely throughout the tropics, and the tree bears fruit year round. The fruit is generally processed into a sweetened or flavoured juice, or a powder before it is sold as a nutritional supplement.
Noni Health Benefits
Noni contains a number of phytochemicals which may have biological activity. These are not specific to Noni, and are also present in other plants.
Manufacturers have attributed a huge number of health benefits to Noni, including anti-cancer effects, relief of symptoms of arthritis, muscle pain and sprains, cardiovascular issues such as high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, blood vessel disease and heart disease, blood lipid profile, diabetes, gastric ulcers, poor digestion, senility, headache, menstrual difficulties, drug addiction and HIV/AIDS (1). While investigation of Noni and its metabolites is a growing and emerging area of research, compared to many other plants, there is little research establishing any extraordinary health benefits (2).
Noni Benefits for Bodybuilding
The main reason a bodybuilder would take Noni would be for the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. These have been demonstrated in vitro (6,8), and Noni has demonstrated antioxidant effects in smokers (7).
There was some thought that Noni may prove an effective ergogenic. A single study was undertaken in mice, showing that consumption improved endurance, balance and flexibility, although these effects were noted at very high doses, which would equate to between 800mL and 3.2L per day for an average 80kg person (3).
A study in mice has showed that Noni may be able to improve the lipid profile and promote weight loss (4). In addition, it has been shown to improve the lipid profile in smokers, but has not been tested in healthy people (5).
Noni Side Effects, Safety and Negatives
Whilst Noni is an interesting area of research, a number of high profile organisations, such as the American Cancer Society and FDA have declared that this plant has no medicinal benefit (9,10).
On top of this, there is some concern that compounds contained within the fruit may be toxic to the liver after a number of people came down with hepatitis after consuming Noni juice, although this is contentious (11, 12).
Noni is a particularly foul tasting fruit, and many people may find it unpalatable.
Noni Dosage and Timing
There is no defined effective dosage of Noni. A clinical trial is currently underway to determine this and is using doses of 60, 120 and 240mL of a fruit juice drink containing Noni (13). In previous trials, doses have varied hugely, from less than 50mL to more than 3 litres per day.
Noni generally comes as a stand alone supplement in the form of juice or powder, but it is included in some supplement formulations, such as the superfood-rich BSc Immugreens.
Noni will stack well with anything, but because it has antioxidant activity, it would be good as part of a recovery stack.
(1) Gupta RK, Patel AK. Do the health claims made for Morinda citrifolia (Noni) harmonize with current scientific knowledge and evaluation of its biological effects. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2013;14(8):4495-9.
(2) Nina L. Etkin, PhD, and Heather L. McMillen. The Ethnobotany of Noni (Morinda citrifolia L., Rubiaceae): Dwelling in the Land between Lä'au Lapa'au and TestiNONIals. Proceedings of the 2002 Hawai'i Noni Conference, S.C. Nelson (ed.), University of Hawaii at Manoa, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, 2003
(3) Ma DL, West BJ, Su CX, Gao JH, Liu TZ, Liu YW. Evaluation of the ergogenic potential of Noni juice.Phytother Res. 2007 Nov;21(11):1100-1.
(4) Mandukhail SU, Aziz N, Gilani AH. Studies on antidyslipidemic effects of Morinda citrifolia (Noni) fruit, leaves and root extracts. Lipids Health Dis. 2010 Aug 20;9:88
(5)Wang MY, Peng L, Weidenbacher-Hoper V, Deng S, Anderson G, West BJ. Noni juice improves serum lipid profiles and other risk markers in cigarette smokers. ScientificWorldJournal. 2012;2012:594657
(6) Su BN, Pawlus AD, Jung HA, Keller WJ, McLaughlin JL, Kinghorn AD. Chemical constituents of the fruits of Morinda citrifolia (Noni) and their antioxidant activity. J Nat Prod. 2005 Apr;68(4):592-5.(7) Wang MY, Lutfiyya MN, Weidenbacher-Hoper V, Anderson G, Su CX, West BJ.Antioxidant activity of Noni juice in heavy smokers. Chem Cent J. 2009 Oct 6;3:13.
(8) Dussossoy E, Brat P, Bony E, Boudard F, Poucheret P, Mertz C, Giaimis J, Michel A. Characterization, anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects of Costa Rican Noni juice (Morinda citrifolia L.). J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Jan 7;133(1):108-15.
(9) Noni Tahitian Plus. Fda.gov. 2009-04-30. Retrieved 17th December 2013
(10) "Noni Plant". American Cancer Society. 1 November 2008. Retrieved 17th December 2013
(11) Millonig, Gunda; Millonig G, Stadlmann S, Vogel W (April 2005). "Herbal hepatotoxicity: acute hepatitis caused by a Noni preparation (Morinda citrifolia)". European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology 17 (4): 445–7.
(12) West, BJ; West B, Jensen C J, Westendorf J (June 2006). "Noni juice is not hepatotoxic".World Journal of Gastroenterology 12 (22): 3616–3619
(13) http://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT01597076 Accessed 17th December 2013