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Noni JuiceNoni Juice is very much a hot topic. Many people buy it regularly because they believe it has has nutritional and/or health benefits (1). Other people dismiss it as pointless sugar water, the modern equivalent of snake oil (2).
So is noni a valuable natural dietary supplement? Is there anything behind the noni phenomenon? Or is it just clever marketing with pictures of palm trees and grass skirts?
What Is Noni Juice?Noni juice is formed from the Morinda citrifolia plant, a tree or small shrub of the Rubiaceae family. Also known as the Great Morinda this plant is found in a variety of countries including some in South East Asia, Polynesia and the Pacific Islands.
The most well known source of noni juice is Tahiti and much of the bottled juice you can buy today is Tahitian. Traditionally all parts of the plant have been gathered by the noni farmer and used for various purposes (3). The juice is usually made from the fruit and some premium brands you can buy today use pure organic fruit.
On its own the pure noni fruit has a bitter, unpleasant taste. Most of the commercial products for sale in your local store or cafe probably have other ingredients such as grape juice added.
Does It Work?Skeptics are quick to point out that there is no real scientific proof that noni is worth buying. In the US the FDA has not evaluated any possible benefits and Europe it is classified as a "novel food", not a medicine.
Nutritional analysis of Noni juice (4) reveals little reason to believe that it is any better for you than any other fruit juice, organic or otherwise.
Yet many thousands of people buy it and drink it regularly.
More importantly, native peoples have been using it for generations. It seems arrogant to assume we know best and dismiss ancient customs simply because our scientific analysis can't understand them.
Could there be some trace element or combination of elements that make noni juice effective? Perhaps an alkaloid such as proxeronine makes it a "super food"? Or is any such "miracle ingredient" simply the placebo effect at work?
So where does all this leave us? Unfortunately little the wiser. According to current Western science there is no appreciable health benefit to drinking noni juice. Yet there is considerable anecdotal evidence that it could have some value as a general tonic.
All we can do is hope that someone does the research necessary to decide the issue once and for all. Until then my recommendation would be to discuss the issue with your doctor.
(1) Noni Juice UK Testimonials
(2) Tahitian Noni Juice Research - Hot or Not?
(3) Some Traditional and Modern Uses of Noni
(4) Nutritional Analysis of Hawaiian Noni (Pure Noni Fruit Juice)