Morinda citrifolia, also known as noni or Indian mulberry, is a small evergreen shrub or tree of the plant family Rubiaceae. Native to the Pacific islands, Polynesia, Asia, and Australia, it grows up to 10 feet high. The leaves are 8 or more inches long, dark green, oval shaped, and shiny, with deep veins. The flower heads are about an inch long and bear many small white flowers. These heads grow to become the mature fruit, 3 to 4 inches in diameter with a warty, pitted surface. Noni fruit starts out green, turns yellow with ripening, and has a foul odor, especially as it ripens to whiteness and falls to the ground.

Some cultures may eat noni fruit in times of scarcity (the unripened fruit is less noxious). Traditional Polynesian healers have apparently used the fruit for many purposes including bowel disorders (constipation and diarrhea), skin inflammation, infection, mouth sores, fever, contusions, and sprains—but it is said that only sick and desperate people will take it, due to its unpleasant odor and bitter taste. However, the primary indigenous use of this plant appears to be of the leaves, as a topical treatment for wound healing.

In Chinese medicine, the root of M. officinalis is also a standard medication (known as bai ji tian or pa chi tien) used for the digestive system, kidneys, heart, and liver.

Other traditional uses for the plant include making a red dye from the bark and a yellow dye from the root.

Noni has been heavily promoted for an enormous range of uses, including: abrasions, arthritis, atherosclerosis, bladder infections, boils, bowel disorders, burns, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, circulatory weakness, colds, cold sores, congestion, constipation, diabetes, drug addiction, eye inflammations, fever, fractures, gastric ulcers, gingivitis, headaches, heart disease, hypertension, improved digestion, immune weakness, indigestion, intestinal parasites, kidney disease, malaria, menstrual cramps, menstrual irregularities, mouth sores, respiratory disorders, ringworm, sinusitis, skin inflammation, sprains, stroke, thrush, and wounds.1 However, there is no real evidence that it is effective for any of these conditions.

Several animal studieshave evaluated the effects of extracts derived from noni. The results suggest noni may have anti-cancer,2,3,4immune-enhancing,5and pain-relieving properties.6 However, most of these studies used unrealistically high doses that would be difficult to get from taking the juice itself. There have been no meaningful human trials of noni.