In the 1970's a notable American biochemist, Dr Ralph Heinicke, had a ground-breaking revelation while studying pineapple enzymes. He discovered an alkaloid he called xeronine, which he found to play an important role in the management of pain. Xeronine is formed in the large intestine, where a chemical reaction occurs between proxeronine and proxeronase, Dr Heinicke discovered that these two compounds exist in abundance in the Noni fruit. Whilst our own bodies make xeronine, it is very difficult to measure because as soon as it is made it is used, with large amounts being used in times of physical and mental stress. Regarding pain relief, xeronine converts certain brain receptor proteins into active sites for the absorption of endorphins. According to Dr Heinicke, without xeronine all life would cease to exist and all healthy cells need xeronine to function correctly.
Other analgesic compounds found in this fruit are anthraquinones which are anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and antibacterial. In a study by Portland State University’s School of Community Health it was noted that “the analgesic efficacy of Noni extract was about 75% as strong as morphine, yet non-addictive and side effect free."
Immune System Support
Whilst Noni has been used traditionally to combat all manner of infections, fevers, respiratory problems and digestive disorders, many studies have now been undertaken to explain how Noni supports immune health. Researchers are finding that Noni activates multiple immune cells including dendritic cells – these important cells identify foreign invaders and help to mount a high powered adaptive immune response. This was highlighted in a May 2009 study showing that Noni activated dendritic cells and consequently boosted the production of "B cells" that make antibodies against specific invaders. Boosting the adaptive immune system can be helpful in fighting the flu, as well as other infections.
Another study by the Oncology Research Institute of Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center, South Carolina, showed that Noni boosts natural killer cells - a critical part of the innate immune system.
High blood pressure (hypertension) is one of the leading causes of heart disease, whilst low blood pressure (hypotension) can be indicative of heart or thyroid problems. Noni contains the phytonutrient scopoletin which has been found stimulate blood pressure normalisation – if it is too high it can bring it down and if it is too low it will help to raise it.
Research shows that scopoletin dilates blood vessels, allowing the blood to circulate with more ease, leading to the lowering of blood pressure. In cases of low blood pressure it is always recommended you contact your health care professional to address the root cause.
Neurons in the brain need GABA to induce calmness when over-excitement occurs. GABA also works to produce endorphins which fight depression and anxiety. Research shows that Noni acts as a natural sedative and anti-anxiety superfruit that supports GABA production and activity in the brain. A recent study found that Noni supports GABA mechanisms in the nervous system, naturally allowing it to calm down and thereby reducing anxiety.
Noni can provide the building blocks for digestive enzymes and help the gut to synthesise digestive enzymes. Poor production of these enzymes can be the result of a diet high in processed foods and can affect the body’s ability to absorb many important nutrients. Low digestive enzymes can also lead to indigestion and excess gas.
Folklore and history
Noni was considered a sacred plant in Ayurveda and is mentioned in ancient texts as Ashyuka, which is Sanskrit for “longevity.” Noni was noted to be a balancing agent, stabilizing the body in perfect health.
When Europeans began exploring the islands of the South Pacific in the late 1700's, they observed and noted the use of Noni among the native peoples. Captain James Cook’s own journals also mention his observation of the island natives using Noni.
During World War II, soldiers based on tropic Polynesian islands were taught by the native Polynesian people to eat the Noni fruit to sustain their strength. It went on to become a staple food for the people of Raratonga, Samoa and Fiji who ate the fruit raw or cooked. Australian Aborigines were also fond of Noni and consumed it raw with salt. Seeds, leaves, bark and root were also consumed by people familiar with the qualities of this unusual plant.
With a rich and varied history stretching back at least 3,000 years, Noni was considered a powerful medicine to the Polynesians – so much so that they took the plant with them in their canoes when they started to colonise other islands throughout the Pacific.
The peoples of Southeast Asia used the whole plant for various ailments and disorders – the leaves were made into poultices to treat headaches, arthritis, swollen joints and stomach problems. The fruit was used externally for similar problems and eaten for its pain killing properties. One of the nicknames for Noni is “The Painkiller Tree”.
Noni Fruit Powder can be added to smoothies, encapsulated or mixed with a little water or juice.
Various components have been identified in the Noni fruit including; scopoletin, proxeronine and proxeronase, octanoic acid, potassium, vitamin C, terpenoids, alkaloids, anthraquinones (such as nordamnacanthal, morindone, rubiadin, rubiadin-1-methyl ether, anthraquinone glycoside), ß-sitosterol, carotene, vitamin A, flavone glycosides, linoleic acid, alizarin, amino acids, L-asperuloside, caproic acid, caprylic acid, ursolic acid, rutin, and a putative proxeronine. Six anthraquinones, including 5,15-O-dimethylmorindol, and three iridoids, including morindacin, have also been isolated from Morinda citrifolia fruits
Due to its high potassium content, Noni is not recommended for anyone suffering kidney problems.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, please check with your healthcare provider before consuming Noni.