HL writes: “My neighbor recently gave me a bottle of this juice called Noni. It’s apparently this Tahitian fruit juice, which is distributed by a company called Morinda, that is supposed to have all sorts of healing effects. My neighbor claims that it has helped with all sorts of pain that she experiences, however she pays $40 per bottle for this stuff, which is quite a bit in my book. Not sure if this is a scam or the real deal. Any thoughts?”
It’s a scam – and a terrible tasting one too, I hear!
For those who have never heard of noni juice, it’s made from a noni plant which is a small evergreen tree in the Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, Australia, and India. Historically, its fruit, leaves, flowers, stems, bark and roots are used to make red or yellow dye and medicines. The taste is so bad, it’s known as “vomit fruit” in some places, which is why today’s health food industry, which reintroduced it to the supplement market as the new “superfood” about a decade ago, adds other ingredients to make it more palatable.
It’s now being sold to treat everything from depression and diabetes to swollen joints and heart disease.
Unfortunately, it’s all hype. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), which is part of the National Institutes for Health (NIH), “noni has not been well studied in people for any health condition.”
This runs contrary to what Morinda, one of the companies that market noni juice, states on its website. They claim that in 2003, the “first human clinical study proving the benefits of Tahitian noni juice is discovered” but they provide no link to the study or any further information.
The site also features photos of people in laboratories looking like professionals (which are available from any stock photo site, by the way) with the claim that Morinda relies on “an expert team of researchers and scientists to remain at the forefront of the health supplement industry.” For all their expertise, however, no studies proving the efficacy of their product are listed on the site. They give the consumer nothing more than the usual testimonials which could be entirely made up for all we know.
However, I did find evidence of some studies, such as those listed in this 2006 article appearing on the LiveScience website.
Author Christopher Wanjek explains that the active ingredient in noni is xeronine (also found in pineapples) and was discovered by a chemist named Ralph Heinicke. Although it was found only in minute quantities, Heinicke did receive a patent for xeronine in 1985. Heinicke now works with the noni industry and claims that xeronine is “an essential nutrient that enables proteins to enter and exit cellular walls”; however, none of his claims have ever been proven.
In 1994, a study conducted by the University of Hawaii found that noni cured a certain type of lung cancer in laboratory mice however the result was marginal and relied on a protocol that was not endorsed by the National Cancer Institute.
A few more “minimally positive” studies were conducted on noni but they involved injecting high concentrations of none directly into the cancerous organs of an animal or a test tube with cancer cells. This cannot be compared to drinking noni, with its scant concentration of the unproven xeronine, which explains why it has never been shown to slow cancer in anyone.
Wanjek also warns about several documented cases of individuals damaging their livers after drinking noni.
“More common is a kidney-related disease called hyperkalemia, or high potassium levels in the bloodstream. People prone to hyperkalemia know to avoid bananas or orange juice, naturally high in potassium, but many are unaware of the high potassium levels in noni.”
I could find no evidence of any more studies on noni that produced positive results.
Perhaps this is why several U.S. manufacturers of noni juice have been warned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to stop making these unsupported health claims about noni juice.
The bottom line is that noni juice is worthless and your dear friend has been wasting a lot of money on nothing.