Noni: Island fruit bursting with benefits

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The herb noni -- especially noni fruit -- has been generating enthusiasm within the natural health industry. Noni fruit is beneficial for both prevention and self-help for a wide range of health problems.

Noni (Morinda citrifolia) grows primarily throughout the South Pacific, and is also found in China and the Caribbean. In Hawaii, the noni plant has been used for centuries by the native people as an extremely important health remedy.
Traditional medicinal uses

The Kahunas, or traditional medicine men, of the South Pacific use this plant and its prized fruit for a wide variety of health problems, including: pain relief, sinus infections, arthritis, digestive disorders, colds, flu, headaches, infections, menstrual problems, injuries, and skin disorders.

Noni's many medicinal uses became part of the folklore as the native people also referred to the noni as the "Headache Tree." So successful were the Kahunas at utilizing this botanical gift that it, and other plants, constituted the herbomedicinal armamentarium of Hawaiians for more then 1,500 years with great success.
Numerous studies confirm noni's benefits

Western research into this remarkable plant and its fruit date back at least to 1950 when the scientific journal, Pacific Science, noted that the noni fruit showed antibacterial properties.

Repeated tests by a group of researchers, and documented in the journal Planta Medica, verified noni's reputed pain-relief benefits.

The journal, Cancer Letter, reported that Keio University and The Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Japan, claimed isolation of a compound from noni, called damnacanthal, appeared to reverse cellular changes that could lead to cancer.

A landmark paper on noni was presented at the 83rd meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in San Diego, Calif., in 1992. In this study, laboratory mice were given active Lewis Lung Carcinoma, a type of cancer. All of the untreated mice died in nine to 12 days as the cancer progressed. The mice treated with noni lived 105 to 123 percent longer; some 40 percent of these mice lived for 50 days or more. This study was repeated numerous times, and each time noni was shown to significantly prolong the life of cancerous mice versus the cancerous mice not given noni. Simply put, noni may block tumor growth.

While the precise mechanisms of noni are not fully understood, noni does contain a number of enzymes (proteins) and alkaloids, including a compound called "morindin," that are believed to play a pivotal role in good health.

Noni stimulates and enhances your immune system, including macrophages and lymphocytes -- vital components of your body's natural defenses. Noni fruit also contains two of the best antioxidants -- vitamin C and selenium -- plus other substances that counteract inflammatory and irritating free radicals in your body, reduce inflammation and significantly decrease pain.
REFERENCE

Bushnell, O.A., Fukuda, M., Makinodan, T. "The Antibacterial Properties of Some Plants Found in Hawaii," Pacific Science 4:167-183, 1950.

Hiramatsu, T., et al. "Induction of normal phenotypes in ras-tranformed cells by damnacanthal from Morinda citrifolia," Cancer Letters 73:161-166, 1993.

Hirazumi, A. "Antitumor Activity of Morinda citrifolia on IP Implanted Lewis Lung Carcinoma in Mice," Proceedings of Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, 1992, pp. 33, 515.

Hirazumi, A., et al. "Anticancer Activity of Morinda citrifolia (Noni) on Intraperitoneally Implanted Lewis Lung Carcinoma in Syngeneic Mice," Proceedings of the Western Pharmacological Society 37:145-146, 1994.

Younos, C., Rolland, A., Fleurentin, J., Lanhers, M., Misslin, R., Mortier, F. "Analgesic and Behavioral Effects of Morinda Citrifolia," Planta Medica 56:430-434, 1990.

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By Steven Schechter

Steve Schechter, N.D., H.H.P., is a naturopathic doctor, consultant, and medical writer. He directs the Natural Healing Institute, Inc., a state-licensed and certified college and clinic of Naturopathy in Encinitas, Calif., providing license and certification programs. He is also available for telephone health consultations at (760) 943-8485.

10 FUNCTIONS OF NONI

1. reduces pain (analgesic);
2. decreases inflammation (anti-inflammatory);
3. boosts your immune system;
4. cleans your GI tract;
5. regulates cell function and cellular regeneration of damaged cells;
6. repairs damaged cells;
7. improves transportation of cellular oxygen;
8. increases energy and elevates mood;
9. inhibits certain tumors and cancer growth; and
10. fights bacteria.

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