Perhaps you recognize the natural phenomenon that superfoods that are super good for your health may oftentimes taste less than excellent. Raw garlic, for example. Great for your health, but maybe not the best raw. Noni falls right in this category.
So then, if you had to pick between flavor and function and the latter is your priority, then Noni may just be the superfood for you! But consider yourself warned: it tastes bad while doing your body nothing but good.
Hold Your Breath!
This exotic fruit (Morinda citrifolia) comes to you all the way from the Southeast Islands of the Pacific where it has been in traditional use as food and medicine for millennia. When the Polynesians first made their way across the Pacific Ocean to the shores of Hawaii, they took with them 24 special plants. Noni was one of treasures that they brought in their canoes. Since essentially every part of the plant is useful in times of scarcity, the early settlers gave it a fitting nickname – “starvation fruit.” (1)
Though seen as a gift of the gods by Polynesians, the strong bitter taste and disagreeable smell won it the reputation as “vomit” fruit or “cheese” fruit. Its from-another-planet appearance also gives it away. Though it resembles a larger version of a mulberry, the Indian Mulberry is anything but sweet. While being a relative of the coffee shrub plant it is not even remotely close in pleasantness. In fact, it’s described as the “most disgusting fruit in the world.” (2)
Appetized yet? Well, what it lacks to the senses it will more than make up for in health benefits.
Color and scent reflect a fruit’s nutrients. Noni has such antimicrobial properties, that it’s naturally self-preserving. Normally, fruit decomposes when not refrigerated, as the sugars naturally ferment. Not so with Noni! Apparently, it contains compounds that even ward off microbes.
“The fruit contains relatively large amounts of sugars that are not fermented when fruits are stored in closed containers at ambient temperature. This property is used to transport the fruit by boat from the scattered Pacific islands to processing plants without specific treatment.” (3)
Modern research has confirmed in vitro antimicrobial, antiviral, and antiparasitic activity of this awfully good plant. Several studies using the freeze-dried extract of the fruit confirmed its inhibiting effects on the growth of Candida, the fungus responsible for yeast infections. (4)
And viruses such as hepatitis C and Epstein-Barr are also knocked out by the mighty noni! (5)
The superfruit is rich in a phenolic compound called anthraquinone. This phytochemical works like an antibacterial and antiseptic in the gut to ward off pathogenic strains, such as Staphylococcus, Shigella, and Salmonella. (6)
When you think of polysaccharides you might remember the famous aloe vera, but did you know Noni juice has a third more than aloe? (7)
In fact, Noni is one of highest polysaccharide-rich superfoods on the planet! For example, one such long-chain sugar, 6-D-glucopyranose penta-acetate, helps enhance the efficiency of innate soldiers of the body (white blood cells). Furthermore, a 2013 study confirmed that fermented noni had the ability regulate the immune response by activating natural T killer cells to target and attack tumors. (8)
History shows this amazing fruit to be effective against infectious diseases. Another clinical trial assessed the stimulatory effects of Noni extract on lymphocytes. The study justified the traditional medicinal use of Morinda as an immune system stimulant. (9)
Noni: Cancer Fighter
Cardiovascular disease is still the leading cause of death worldwide (17.7 million). In high-income countries, however, cancer causes twice as much death as heart disease. (10)
Affluence comes at a high price, indeed! What’s more, when you crunch the numbers, lung cancer comes out on top as the most fatal, taking over 2 million lives every year. Chemotherapy is the conventional route of treatment. Unfortunately, it is extremely expensive, has deadly side effects, and has short-lived benefits.
Unsurprisingly, Noni demonstrates a more practical and effective alternative. A 2016 study analyzed the effects of noni leaf extract on metastatic lung cancer cell lines. The noni fruit proved “more effective” at arresting the cancer when compared to the treatment drug – all without exhibiting any toxicity! (11)
That’s a win win!
Noni: Final Takeaway
While much more could be said about its mood-enhancing, antioxidant-donating, and pain-relieving properties, there’s already a take-home message: you can encapsulate it, tincture it, or mask it in a smoothie, but no matter how you get it in you… just be sure you do!