Mention “noni” (Morinda citrifolia) to anyone who has tasted the fermented fruit, and the conversation is over. Some people would rather die than have to ingest fermented -- a polite word for ‘rotten’ -- noni juice, regardless of the well-supported claims of miraculous healing attributed to this humble fruit.
After visiting the island of Kauai once or twice a year for over 30 years where noni trees grow wild everywhere, I know too well the rotten smell of its fruit lying around the base of the trees. Hawaiian people put noni fruit in a jar, where they let it liquefy and ferment in the sun for a few days. They sip the resulting juice and even bring it to their loved ones battling serious diseases in the hospital. Despite knowing this, after experiencing the disgusting smell and taste I completely rejected it.
So what if noni was one of the 24 original ‘canoe’ plants that the Polynesians regarded highly enough to bring with 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, the most remote land mass on the planet? So what if it is the most highly revered healing plant of the Kahunas (healing priests of Hawaii), truly the greatest ‘superfood’ in the world? It still tastes terrible!
Some people, appreciating the healing virtues of certain herbs, are inclined to disregard the often nasty taste of them when in need of healing. As an herbalist, I’ve also ‘bit the bullet’ of bad taste but even I had to accede that the revolting ‘dirty-sock-cheesy-smell-and taste’ of noni was too much for my ‘haole’ (non-Hawaiian) sensibilities.
Noni juice has been touted and sold throughout the health supplement market in North America but this has been subjected to high pasteurization, killing off many of its live enzymes and is so highly diluted with fruit juice to be of negligible value, despite the claims.
But there is one way you can take bioactive noni and not have to stomach the vile taste and flavor: in the form of a fruit leather made from fresh unfermented tree ripened, deseeded, noni fruit.
After taking a wonderful free tour of Steve Frailey’s “Real-Noni” noni tree farm, which by the way, I highly recommend if you are ever visiting the island, Lesley and I have become an enthusiastic supporters of noni taken in this form and have given it to many friends and patients since. While it’s too soon to report any astonishing cancer cures in the short two or three months since we’ve been recommending and giving noni fruit leathers, from what I’ve read in numerous PubMed citations extolling the virtues of this botanical for promoting the healing of literally hundreds of diseases including type two diabetes and cancer, along with the mandatory healing anti-cancer mushrooms such as reishi mushroom, I consider noni fruit leather as an important botanical for patients to take battling cancer as well as diabetes and for that matter, any inflammatory disease.
Dispelling the prevailing myth that noni must be taken in this fermented form, Steve Frailey researched how the original Hawaiians ingested noni: fresh right off the tree before it falls to the ground and begins to rot in the tropic heat a mere three to four hours later. I learned that it was Chinese migrant workers on the old sugar plantations who first took fermented noni juice in a jar. Well, considering the great herbal healing tradition of the Chinese people, there’s probably more to fermented noni than meets the eye. But the fact is that fresh noni not only tastes better, it’s far better for you.
At least part of the secret of noni’s remarkable healing properties lies in its rich source of enzymes which causes it to rot so quickly after it ripens. But another part of its healing reputation can be attributed to an alkaloid precursor known as xeronine. I don’t know very much about this aspect of the plant but according to Dr. Ralf Heinicke, without xeronine, life would ceas, and noni fruit provides a safe way to increase our innate xeronine levels, which exert a crucial influence on cell health and protection. Xeronine’s enzyme precursors is evidently in abundance in fresh noni fruit, which seems to allow the body to retain as much as its endogenous xeronine levels it needs to deal with any of a wide number of diseases be they caused by pathogens, fungi, all inflammatory diseases, diseases caused by stress, trauma and injury. Yes, it seems that noni has the potential as the royal kahunas believe, to do it all.
Dr. Heinicke says that xeronine is a substance that our body needs to activate enzymes to promote most normal bodily functions. However, and this is perplexing, xeronine has never been found because as soon as the body manufactures it, it breaks down as soon as it is used. So no appreciable amount of xeronine has ever been detected in the blood. Nevertheless, knowing of noni’s remarkable healing properties and in need of some sort of explanation and scientific vindication, I can only take the respected Dr. Heinicke at his word when he says that without xeronine, we would die and further that normally we make pre-xeronine when we sleep so Dr. Heinicke posits that if we find other sources of it, we actually may not require as much sleep.
In our own limited use of noni fruit leather on ourselves and some of our patients we’ve been able to attest to the remarkable anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties of noni, which is about 75% to 81% compared to morphine – and with absolutely none of the side effects, drowsiness or addiction.
Inflammation is a component of most if not all diseases, especially those associated with pain. Inflammation occurs as a result of injuries, trauma, dietary and environmental stress, and many other causes. It is also now considered a major aspect of arthritis, cardiovascular disease and cancer. In so far as inflammation is a component of all of these and so many other diseases including viral and bacterial infection, noni can be of immediate benefit.
I recently prescribed it to a woman who tearfully and desperately called me at home on one of my days off, saying how she was suffering from the most excruciating pain from medically diagnosed pancreatitis which had not been relieved after several visits to the ER. I gave her a packet of noni fruit leather and told her to up the dose from the daily recommendation of two, two inch slices taken twice daily to 4. Within three days, she was virtually pain free and her pancreatitis was nearly completely cured. She is now a believer and continues to purchase her own noni fruit leather from online sources.
As to the treatment of cancer, noni stimulates the immune system directly and increases both B and T lymphocytes, our own endogenous defense, in battling cancer. Noni appears to inhibit tumor development. “Drs. Hirazumi and Furasawa at the Department of Pharmacology in the University of Hawaii showed conclusively that the high polysaccharide content of noni inhibits tumors in mice. Bromelain, an alkaloid and enzyme also found in pineapples and used in some dietary cancer therapies, is found in high levels in noni and it is known to weaken the walls of cancer cells. The undoubted strength of noni lies in this multi-polysaccharide, alkaloid and high phytochemical content. Dr DL. Davis, the senior science advisor to the US Public Health Service, is very clear that these "phytochemicals can take tumors and diffuse them." Noni helps regulate cell function and cell regeneration. Dr. Neil Solomon MD, PhD, conducted research with mice and showed that those fed noni live 123% longer than normal.”
Steve Frailey told us of one especially remarkable cancer case of a man diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic colon cancer. After ingesting a 4-inch slice of noni fruit leather, more than the recommended dose, four times daily, his cancer went into full remission based on ‘before and after’ medical exams by his oncologists. This man is now cancer-free but continues to purchase noni fruit leather.
Steve Frailey has a book full of anecdotal reports of patients suffering from type II diabetes and after taking noni for a month or two had their condition significantly benefitted or completely reversed and there appears to be a considerable number of research articles substantiating these claims as well (see references at the end of this article).
Noni is a phenomenal antioxidant! Without knowing anything about xeronine, which frankly, I’ve never heard of before, we can certainly appreciate how the anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-diabetic, antibiotic, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties of noni as a superfood ‘par excellence,’ can be attributed to its high antioxidant content.
This alone would make it worth taking it on a daily basis. According to scientists at the Natural Institutes of Health (NIH) they rate the antioxidant properties of noni according to its ‘oxygen radical absorptive capacities’ (ORAC). This refers to the process of decay that cells undergo as a result of environment, dietary stresses and age.
Following is their comparison of the ORAC values of noni fruit leather compared to others foods considered high in antioxidants including noni juice per 100 grams.
340,000 ---- noni fruit leather
3,082 –- apples
2,400 --- blueberries
1,506 --- noni juice
This far exceeds other purported superfoods known to have high ORAC values including cinnamon, oregano, raspberries, and pomegranate.
This is important for anyone of us concerned with offsetting the ravages of aging, which has been largely attributed to oxidation.
Noni is a phenomenal pain reliever while eliminating the underlying inflammatory cause of most pain. Published research has equated noni’s pain relieving properties as comparable to hydrocortisone except but without the side effects [(January 2010 issue of Phytotherapy Research (24:38-42)]. Still, as mentioned, another study found that noni exhibited a highly effective dose-related analgesic effect comparable to about 75 percent as strong as that of morphine, again, without any side effects [(Acta Pharmocologica Sinica 923(12): 1127-114].
Oftentimes natural healing agents such as noni become popular as veterinary medicines even before doing so with humans. This is because vets have a certain unofficial license to try new products to relieve comparable diseases on animals. The fact that noni has widespread effective use in the world of veterinarians attests that the healing properties of noni are certainly not all due to a placebo effect.
In recent years, a special Icy-Heat Noni lotion made by Real-Noni is what the University of Hawaii’s sports teams used when their basketball team played Michigan State University in a highly competitive match. The Michigan state coach wondered why the UH’s players did not suffer from the common cramping complaints of highly competitive basketball. Learning that it was due to Steve Frailey’s noni lotion, the Michigan State players used this same lotions with similar pain-free results as the UH players experienced.
I want to be clear that I have absolutely no vested interest in the sale and distribution of noni in any form whatsoever. I’m writing this as an herbalist who is particularly happy at finding a way I could prescribe and recommend an effective noni product to my patients, students and other herbalists who, like myself, may have been ‘turned off’ by the hype surrounding the marketing of what I consider an inferior noni product.
I could go on with many similar positive reports of the use of noni to a variety of other diseases, including recalcitrant diseases such as psoriasis, eczema and acne for instance but for the sake of brevity, I hope I’ve conveyed my enthusiasm for noni fruit, especially in the form of fresh noni fruit leather. If you ever have the opportunity to visit the beautiful ‘garden isle’ of Kauai, be sure to call Steve Frailey and register for a free tour of his noni orchard which is listed as a 5 star tour of “things to do in Kauai” by Trip Advisor. To learn more about noni visit Rea-Noni website, read their documented uses of noni and listen to an interview with Steve Frailey (http://www.real-noni.com/Interview-with-Steve-Frailey-About-Noni-Fruit/).
Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. “Consumption of guava (Psidium guajava L) and noni (Morinda citrifolia L) may protect betel quid-chewing Papua New Guineans against diabetes.” 2008;17(4):635-43
Food Chemistry. “Study on antioxidant activity of certain plants in Thailand: Mechanism of antioxidant action of guava leaf extract” Volume 103, Issue 2. 2007, Pages 381-388
Med Chem. “Antioxidative activity, polyphenolic content and anti-glycation effect of some Thai medicinal plants traditionally used in diabetic patients.” 2009 Mar;5(2):139-47.
Med Chem. “Antioxidative activity, polyphenolic content and anti-glycation effect of some Thai medicinal plants traditionally used in diabetic patients.” 2009 Mar;5(2):139-47
Biological & pharmaceutical bulletin. “Chemical Constituents of Morinda citrifolia Roots Exhibit Hypoglycemic Effects in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Mice(Pharmacognosy)” 31(5), 935-938, 2008-05-01. The Pharmaceutical Society of Japan. http://ci.nii.ac.jp/els/110006663956.pdf?id=ART0008687185&type=pdf〈=en&host=