Noni: Background. Actions

Common Name


Other Names

Ba Ji Tian, cheese fruit, Indian mulberry, mengkudu, nhau, nono, nonu

Botanical Name / Family

Morinda citrifolia (family Rubiaceae)

Plant Parts Used

Roots, stems, bark, leaves, flowers, fruit and juice

Chemical Components

Noni contains terpenoids, alkaloids, anthraquinones (e.g. damnacanthal, morindone and rubiadin), the coumarin scopoletin, beta sitosterol, carotene, vitamin A, flavone glycosides, linoleic acid, the orange-red pigment alizarin, L-asperuloside, caproic acid, caprylic acid, ursolic acid, octoanoic acid, potassium, vitamin C, rutin, as well as a natural precursor for xeronine named proxeronine.

Historical Note

Noni has been used throughout South-East Asia and Polynesia for morethan 2000 years as a food source, a medicine and a dye. Polynesian legends tell of heroes and heroines that used noni to survive from famine.

Noni: Main Actions

Noni is purported to have many different effects including analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, antimicrobial, immune enhancement and antihypertensive activity.


Noni root extract has exhibited opioid-like properties, with dose-dependent analgesic properties in mice that were reversible by naloxone, together with sedative effects at higher doses. Analgesic activity has also been reported in controlled trials using rats and mice.


Fruit, leaf and root extracts have all been shown to exhibit antioxidant activity and NO scavenging activity in vitro, with some extracts showing comparable antioxidant activity to tocopherol, grape seed powder and pycnogenol. The neolignan, americanin A, has shown to be a particularly potent antioxidant in vitro.

Noni juice has been shown to reduce free radicals and liver damage in the livers of carbon-tetrachloride treated rats. A 1 -month double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial involving 68 smokers found that 50 mL of noni juice twice daily significantly reduced plasma superoxide radicals and lipid peroxides. Noni juice inhibits the enzymatic activity of COX-1 and COX-2 in vitro. The clinical significance of these findings is yet to be determined.


An alcoholic precipitate of noni juice significantly prolonged the life of mice with implanted tumors. It is suggested that this antitumour activity is due to immunostimulatory activity, because the noni precipitate was not directly cytotoxic to tumour cells, but did activate immune cells in vitro with its activity reduced by immunosuppressant drugs. Noni juice has also been observed to increase the wet weight of thymus tissue in animals and protect against DMBA-induced DNA adduct formation in rats.

Noni also improved survival times in cancer-implanted mice when combined with suboptimal doses of standard chemotherapeutic agents and this is supported by in vitro studies demonstrating synergistic effects with chemotherapeutic agents.

In vitro studies have also found that noni fruit has antiproliferative activity against SKBR3 human breast adenocarcinoma cells, and that glycosides extracted from noni inhibit cell transformation and UVB-induced activator protein-1 activity. The anthraquinone, damnacanthal, is reported to stimulate UV-induced apoptosis in vitro.


Constituents of noni have been reported to have in vitro activity against Escherichia coli and Mycobacterium tuberculosis, as well as the parasite Ascaris lumbricoides; however, the clinical significance of this is undetermined.


The antihypertensive effects of the root extract of noni were first investigated in the 1950s and a hot-water extract of noni root is reported to have lowered the blood pressure of an anaesthetised dog.

Noni: Other Actions

Noni has been shown to inhibit gastric emptying in male rats via a mechanism involving stimulation of cholecystokinin (CCK) secretion and CCK1 receptor activation.