For centuries, noni has been used for healing in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. The Noni tree (Morinda Citrifolia) also known as Indian mulberry or cheese fruit has been used by the Polynesians as a medicinal plant, natural health tonic and food supplement. The fruit, leaves, flowers, bark and roots all contain useful and active compounds.
- As a tonic. It has traditionally been extracted as follows: the fruit is picked before it is fully ripe and placed in a jar in the direct sunlight. When soft and ripe, the fruit is mashed into a puree and the juice is extracted through a cloth. In this form the juice has an unpleasant smell and bitter taste.
- In the Philippines it is used as an intestinal cleanser, particularly to rid the body of parasites.
- In Malaysia, it is known as Mengkudu, and it is used to treat urinary disorders, coughs, diabetes, painful menstruation and haemorrhages.
- In Southeast Asia, it is known as Nhau, and is used for sore throats, mouth and gum diseases.
- In the Caribbean, it is known as the Pain Killer Tree, and is used to treat a wide variety of disorders including sprains, broken bones, bruises and fever.
Claims made by those selling Tahitian noni juice include that it:
- increases mental clarity and attention span.
- supports the immune system's natural ability to fight disease and infection.
- is a superior antioxidant that helps neutralise harmful free radicals.
- increases your energy level and allows greater physical performance.
- supports good digestion and helps you absorb more nutrients at the cellular level.
- contains components that are specifically important to the skin and hair.
There seems to be little objective and peer-reviewed scientific research available to support these claims.
Commercial noni processors do not extract the juice using traditional methods. They use different (proprietary) methods, which almost certainly do not extract as much of the beneficial components as the old methods. However, the juice tastes much better. It is further "enhanced" by blending with the juices of different fruits. What you end up buying in bottles in Western countries probably has little of the good stuff left. It is often sweetened with fruit sugars, so its overall effect can be harmful.
When it is processed for export it is pasteurized and filtered to stabilize it and give it a long travel and shelf life. As with all processed foods, it is left with only a shadow of its raw nutritional profile.
Noni juice is often sold through multi-level or network marketing systems. This method of marketing makes Noni juice very expensive. It also makes it difficult to get unbiased information.
Suppliers sell to their friends, relatives and neighbours. The more people they can recruit into their network the more money they make. Their product supplier provides them with seemingly objective newsletters, press releases and web sites. A successful marketing network is based on scientific-sounding evidence, coupled with a credible and compelling story, a doctor who is willing to endorse the product, and finally some patients (who may themselves be distributors) willing to testify that the product led to astounding cures. Aloe vera, colloidal minerals, gingko biloba, ginseng and mangosteen juice have also been successfully sold this way.
My personal experience
I tried freshly squeezed Noni juice in Thailand, most mornings for breakfast for two weeks. I have also tried a bottled juice at home in Australia for a few months, and know several people who have been drinking other bottled juices regularly. It is difficult to attribute any improvements in our health to the noni juice.