Noni juice has strong antioxidant properties due to its key active compounds such as Vitamin C, beta carotene, iridoids and Vitamin E. Different in vitro studies have found anti-cancer effects of noni juice on liver, breast, oral, cervical and lung cancers. Few clinical trials which evaluated the impact of noni juice in cancer found that taking the right dose of noni juice might help improve the quality of life of advanced cancer patients and also reduce the levels of cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco smokers. However, more clinical trials on the effect of noni juice in humans are needed to validate these benefits and evaluate its impact on tumor growth and progression. We should also be aware of the side-effects of noni juice before consuming it.
Noni and its Key Bioactive Components
Noni, also known as Morinda citrifolia or Indian mulberry, is an evergreen plant found in Southeast Asia, Australia, and the Polynesian islands. The fleshy yellow-white fruit of this plant has been used in traditional medicine to treat various conditions for hundreds of years. Noni juice is known to be rich in antioxidants. Noni fruit has a foul smell due to the active component compound called Caproic acid present in them. Noni is also available in the form of capsules, pills, and powders are sold as dietary supplements.
The following are some of the key bioactive Components of Noni:
- Vitamin C
- Anthraquinones such as Damnacanthal (DAM) and Nordamnacanthal (NDAM)
- Vitamin A
- Flavone glycosides
- Linoleic acid
- Caproic acid
- Ursolic acid,
- Vitamin E
Among these, beta carotene, iridoids, vitamin C and vitamin E are some of the key antioxidants in noni juice.
Purported Uses/Benefits of Noni/Indian Mulberry Juice
Different experimental and animal studies suggested that noni juice has immunomodulatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties. Noni juice has been used for thousands of years in traditional/folk medicine for different health conditions including wound healing, infections, diarrhea, skin conditions and as a tonic.
Following are some of the purported benefits of Noni/Indian Mulberry juice:
- Cancer treatment
- High Blood Pressure
- Hearing loss
- Nausea and vomiting after surgery
Side-effects of Noni Juice
Noni may be possibly safe for most adults when taken by mouth. Some of the known key side-effects of Noni include:
- Liver toxicity/Hepatotoxicity
- High potassium levels
- Stomach discomfort – Consuming dried noni fruit might increase stomach discomfort.
Avoid taking Noni if you:
- Are Pregnant and Breast-feeding
- Have a Kidney disease
- Have high potassium levels, as it can further increase potassium levels in the blood.
- Have liver disease
Beware of the side-effects before consuming noni juice.
Clinical Studies Associated with Noni Juice Intake and Cancer
Following are examples of some of the few clinical trials available which evaluated the impact of Noni intake in cancer care and prevention.
Noni Intake may improve Quality of Life of Advanced Cancer Patients
In 2009, the researchers from Scripps Health, San Diego, in the United States, carried out a clinical study to determine the maximum tolerated dose of noni in advanced cancer patients. The study included 51 patients who were enrolled at seven dose levels. They found that the maximum tolerated dose was six capsules four times daily (12 g). Their findings suggested that taking 6 to 8 grams of noni daily, might improve the quality of life such as physical function, fatigue, and pain in people with advanced cancer. However, higher and lower doses of noni may not be effective for improving these symptoms in cancer patients. (Brian F Issell et al, J Diet Suppl., 2009)
Also, the study did not find regression of the tumor at any dose of noni.
Drinking Noni Juice may Reduce Cancer-Causing Chemicals in Tobacco Smokers
Some chemicals from tobacco smoke can bind to cells in our body and promote tumor growth.
In another study published in 2009, the researchers from the University of Illinois, Chicago in the US, assessed the effect of Tahitian Noni Juice levels on cancer causing chemicals in current tobacco smokers, by evaluating its impact on carcinogen-DNA adducts (chemical modifications of DNA) of peripheral blood lymphocytes. The study included a total of 283 smokers of which 203 completed the trial. They found that drinking 1 to 4 ounces of noni juice daily for 1 month reduced the levels of cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco smokers by 44.9%. (Mian-Ying Wang et al, Nutr Cancer., 2009)
Another paper which was published later by the same research group from University of Illinois, Chicago and Research and Development, Morinda in Utah again found that drinking 29.5-118 ml of noni juice significantly reduced carcinogen-DNA adducts (chemical modifications of DNA) by 44.6-57.4%. The researchers also highlighted that this effect of Noni juice was contributed by the presence of iridoids in noni. (Mian-Ying Wang et al, Food Sci Nutr., 2013)
Findings from Experimental Studies
Following are the findings from few experimental studies:
Liver Cancer : An experimental study done by the researchers from Spain found that Damnacanthal, an anthraquinone present in noni plants, which targets several tyrosine kinases has antitumoral effects and could have the potential for the treatment and/or chemoprevention of liver cancer/hepatocellular carcinoma through its inhibitory effects on the gene c-Met. (Javier A García-Vilas et al, Sci Rep., 2015)
Lung Cancer : A study done by the Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University,China found that Noni juice inhibited the proliferation of A549 lung cancer cells, induced apoptosis, and inhibited cell invasion and migration via regulating AKT/NF-κB signaling pathway. (Ling-di Ma et al, Chin J Integr Med., 2020)
Oral Cancer : A study done by the University of Malaya, Malaysia found that Damnacanthal (DAM) and Nordamnacanthal (NDAM), anthraquinone compounds isolated from the roots of Noni can inhibit oral squamous cell carcinoma proliferation, lead to early apoptosis (cell death), and inhibit cell migration. (Gohar Shaghayegh et al, Asian Pac J Cancer Prev., 2017)
Breast Cancer : A study done by the CSIR-Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow, India found the anticancer effects of the extracts from the fruit of Morinda Citrifolia (Noni) in Breast Cancer Cell Lines (K Sharma et al, Drug Res (Stuttg)., 2016)
Cervical Cancer : A study done by the All India Institute of Medical Science, New Delhi in India found that Morinda citrifolia (Noni) could induce mitochondrial-mediated apoptosis (cell death) in human cervical cancer cells. (Rakesh Kumar Gupta et al, Asian Pac J Cancer Prev., 2013)
Noni juice has many key bioactive components with strong antioxidant properties such as Vitamin C, beta carotene, iridoids and Vitamin E. Several experimental studies have found anti-cancer effects of noni juice on cell lines of different types of cancers including liver, breast, oral, cervical and lung cancers. Very few clinical trials are available which evaluated the impact of noni juice in cancer. Findings from these studies showed that taking the right dose of noni juice might help improve the quality of life of advanced cancer patients and also reduce the levels of cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco smokers. However, more clinical trials on the effect of noni juice in humans are needed to confirm these benefits. Also, beware of the side-effects of noni juice before consuming it.
Cancer patients often have to deal with different chemotherapy side effects which affect their quality of life and look out for alternative therapies for cancer. Taking the right nutrition and supplements based on scientific considerations (avoiding guesswork and random selection) is the best natural remedy for cancer and treatment related side-effects.