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Traditionally, Noni was eaten daily to help prevent and heal a variety of acute and chronic conditions. Ancient healers believed that noni could heal the body from the inside out.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the roots of the noni, ba ji tian, are used to help with impotence, abdominal pain and menstrual disorders.
While noni was used traditionally to cure ailments, the most common reason people ingested noni was prevention. Noni was used to help maintain overall health, boost energy levels and decrease the signs of aging. Ancient Polynesians valued noni because it helped them stay healthy.
Noni may actually promote health and recovery from long-term or chronic conditions. Examples include diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, joint pain and high blood pressure. Long ago, when ancient Polynesians became ill, they increased their intake of noni until they became better.
Topical application is another traditional use for noni. Raw fruit was liberally applied to the skin where it can penetrate deep into the tissue to promote pain relief. Noni promotes healing the skin from the outside in, which can help maintain healthier skin and tissue.
Noni was also used traditionally to ease chronic pain. Traditionally, noni fruit was applied to bruised, inflamed, strained or other painful areas of the body to help provide relief and promote healing.
Recent studies show that the compounds in noni are nearly 75% as effective as the chemical compounds in morphine in promoting pain relief, without the harmful side effects associated with pharmaceutical drugs. Many professional athletes eat and use noni to help alleviate pain.
The Morinda bark creates a brown-purple dye that is used to make batik. In Hawaii, this yellow-tone dye is extracted from the root of the tree and used to dye cloth.
Noni, or Morinda citrifolia, is a tree in the coffee family, Rubiaceae. It is located throughout Southeast Asia and is found as far south as Australia. There are more than 100 different names for the noni fruit worldwide. The most common English names include noni, great morinda, beach mulberry, Indian mulberry and cheese fruit.
Noni grows in shady forests but can also occupy areas along open rocky or sandy shorelines. It takes approximately 18 months for the tree to reach maturity. Once mature, the tree yields between 8-½ and 17-½ pounds of fruit per month throughout the entire year. The tree is tolerant of drought conditions, saline soils and even secondary soils. This allows it to grow in a variety of habitats, including limestone outcrops, volcanic terrains, coralline atolls and even lava-strewn coasts. It grows up to 30 feet tall with large, dark green, shiny leaves that highlight deep veins.
The noni fruit is 3.9 to 7.1 inches in size and starts green, turning yellow to almost white as it ripens. It contains many seeds. The fruit is very pungent in smell and is commonly called “cheese fruit.”
The plant attracts weaver ants, which make nests in the leaves helping to protect the tree from several types of parasitic insects. The smell of the fruit attracts fruit bats, which help disperse the seeds and spread the plant. One type of fruit fly, Drosophila sechellia, eats only noni.
Noni plants have both male and female organs within the flower. Plants can begin bearing fruit between nine months to one-year of age, but they are generally rather small and few at this stage. Some farmers elect to wait until the second year to harvest the fruit, preferring to prune the branches during their adolescence. Noni fruit can be harvested at any stage of development, but most noni juice is processed from fruit at the hard white stage of development.
Traditionally, noni is harvested year-round, usually two to three times each month. Commercial noni farms can grow approximately 290 plants per acre. Noni fruits are hand-picked from the branches. They do not bruise or damage easily, nor do they require refrigeration after harvest, which makes them easy to transport to processing facilities.